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Okay, so you have had a legitimate problem.  I define "legitimate" as a mechanical failure beyond your control.  Running over a submerged rock and punching a hole the size of a dinner plate in the underside of a rental boat does not fall into this category.   Most rental companies have seen so much damage, they generally can tell what you did to the boat before you have a chance to explain.

Realize that when you damage equipment, the machine will have to be repaired and therefore, will not be available for someone to use the next day. 

Should you really damage the equipment, acting like a jerk will be the surest means of having the contract you signed enforced to the fullest.  Being apologetic will get you a whole lot further and the smaller rental companies may cut you some slack.  It could mean the difference of several hundred dollars.

If you have a legitimate mechanical failure, contact the rental company  Reputable businesses will bend over backward to try and help you repair the problem over the radio.  Sometimes it is a matter of simple operator error and you could be on your way in just a few minutes. (I know, it's happened to me.)

Should that fail, the smaller companies will usually try to compensate you by offering additional time, a partial refund or even springing for the fuel.  Out of all stories ever told to me (and that is a whole bunch), I have never heard of rental companies going way overboard for someone who screamed and threw a fit.  I have heard of people who were patient and courteous having their rental fees completely refunded and getting a different boat for the entire next day, free of charge.  It pays to be nice.

If you were left on hold for 30 minutes when you tried to make a reservation, can you imagine how your complaint will be handled? Great customer service starts before you make your reservation. 

My father used to say, "If they treat you like dirt before they have your money, it certainly isn't going to get better after you pay them."  Okay, so his version was a bit more colorful than that, but you get the idea.