A self-drive boat hire refers to renting a boat that you'll operate yourself; you need to understand and use this term when on a beach holiday, as some boat rentals refer to a vessel with a skipper or captain who takes you out onto the water. If you've never opted for a self-drive boat hire, especially for larger or faster boats that you take onto the ocean or other large bodies of water, you want to ask all the right questions of the rental agency. This will ensure you know what's involved in the rental and that you get the right boat and don't do anything that might cost you a deposit or added fees.
Ask if there are areas to be avoided
It's always good to avoid certain rocky areas when on a boat, and you may not be allowed to drive onto ramps with a boat hire, but note if there are areas in particular that you should avoid. Many water bodies have certain spots that are especially weedy or which have underground reefs which can damage a boat, and taking a hired boat to those areas may mean damage that causes you to lose your deposit. Be sure you note the GPS coordinates for areas to avoid or ask if there is a particular distance you should stay away from certain shorelines because of reefs and the like.
Ask about smoking
You actually may not be allowed to smoke on a boat hire because of the risk of getting too close to the engine; even the fumes can be flammable. This might cause some inconvenience for smokers in your group, but note that a boat rental agency can often discern when someone has violated this policy--if the boat's accessories smell like cigarette smoke when the boat is returned. Don't risk violating this policy. Instead, ask about it beforehand and be prepared to come back ashore when you need a smoke break if necessary.
Ask if they demonstrate the boat's usage
Even if you're an experienced boater, you may want to ask for a demonstration for how to manage the boat's engine, steering, rudder, and everything else. Be sure you understand all the navigational tools and gauges, and know where there are life jackets and other such emergency equipment. It's also good to ask what to do if the boat should stall or get damaged while on the water, and ensure you know how to call ashore in case of such emergencies.