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Yacht Rentals For Super Bowl In Tampa Surge During Pandemic

The Vanguard is docked on Harbour Island.
Courtesy: Dustin Swope
The Vanguard is docked on Harbour Island.

This year's Super Bowl is a home game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, some fans are looking for socially distant ways to watch the big game.

The demand for yacht and boat rentals is surging.

If you have ever strolled around Harbour Island in downtown Tampa, you’ve probably walked past the Vanguard. The gleaming 60-foot yacht id docked right in front of Jackson’s Bistro.

“Our job has really just been to keep the boat in immaculate condition.” said Dustin Swope.

His family owns the Vanguard and . Swope says the yacht booked up soon after the Bucs won the NFC championship.

“It’s always nice to be able to justify keeping the boat here at Harbour Island, paying the dock premiums that come with a holiday weekend like that,” he said. “And, you know, it's always a nice look to see people having fun on the boat.”

Swope welcomes the business. He had to suspend charter operations for most of 2020.

Valerie Streif is with , a website and app that allows private boat owners to rent everything from small power boats to pontoons. She says GetMyBoat saw a surge in Tampa-area rentals after the Bucs made it to the Super Bowl.

“On the water, you're isolated from crowds," Streif said. "You're staying away from other people, you're just with your family.”

Rory Conforti owns three boats that are booked for most of the weekend.

“It's a great opportunity for families to get out there and do something everyone's kind of locked down,” he said. “They’re small group boats, so it's not like you're going on a yacht with a bunch of people or something like that.”

State restrictions limit boats to 10 people on board. The Coast Guard and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office have stepped up patrols on the water to make sure boaters follow safety guidelines.

Expect to see lots of boats of all sizes if you are in downtown Tampa this weekend. The Super Bowl host committee has set up a next to the Tampa Convention Center.

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit .

Bradley George comes to WUSF from Atlanta, where he was a reporter, host, and editor at Georgia Public Broadcasting. While in Atlanta, he reported for NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and The Takeaway. His work has been recognized by PRNDI, the Georgia Associated Press, and the Atlanta Press Club. Prior to his time in Georgia, Bradley worked at public radio stations in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.