Float DC is now GoBoat US, a start-up that launched electric picnic boats at The Wharf in D.C. in 2021, after coming to an exclusive agreement with Denmark-based GoBoat ApS, and plans to bring the boats to watering communities nationwide.
Float DC owner Lavert Phillips signed a licensing agreement with GoBoat, a recreational boat company started in Copenhagen in 2014 with its electric-powered Scandinavian-designed picnic boats, for U.S. expansion.
Phillips said that Float DC has had more than 7,000 customers since in launch at The Wharf, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who celebrated his third anniversary with husband Chasten on a picnic boat in 2021.
“He called a couple of days before his wedding anniversary and said his name was Pete. I had no idea who he was and treated him like every other caller. The next day I got a call from the Secret Service and they told me a VIP was coming out on one of our boats and they wanted to come down prior to do a security check,” Phillips said.
“Naturally, I was like ‘who’s coming that has a Secret Service detail,’ and then they told me.”
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GoBoat ApS has 15 locations worldwide, including Australia, England, Germany and Sweden.
Phillips’ GoBoat US will launch in the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on April 1 with eight boats, with plans for additional water communities in Chicago, Tampa, Austin and Fort Lauderdale in the works. His goal is 10 U.S. locations within the next three years.
Float DC at The Wharf currently has 12 rental boats that require no captain. They are confined to the Washington Channel, not on the Potomac River, and have a top speed of about five miles per hour. Renters can get a one-day safety certificate on same-day rentals, and no license is required.
The boats, with picnic tables in the center, are rented for $150 for one hour to $400 for three hours and include biminis for shade. The boats can accommodate eight passengers.
Phillips is majority-owner of GoBoat US with partner GoBoat ApS.
Phillips initially saw the boars on a trip to Sweden and Denmark, where he and friends rented one of the picnic boats, and later purchased a dozen of the boats from the manufacturer.
The boats, which cost about $45,000 each, are BYOB-friendly for renters (driver excluded), with one exception — no red wine. Red wine spills do not do well with boat deck cleaning.