Ways to Own Your Boat

Here’s a tip straight from the September issue of Blue Water Sailing!

By George Day

Owning a boat is immensely satisfying. You’re the master of your own ship and you can fit it out just the way you want it, then sail it wherever you want to go. The whole experience is incredibly liberating and makes coming ashore seem a surrender to the madding crowd.

But boat ownership can be both time consuming and expensive. These days, most of us have busy lives with many facets that require both time and money. And, given the recession, most of us are being extra careful with our cash. The decision to buy a new or brokerage boat on our own may be a tough one to justify.

But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to being boatless. That’s a terrible fate. Boats give us time on the water with our family and friends. They should be considered mental health clinics and therefore be tax deductible as a medical expense. But alas, they are not. Thankfully, there are ways to own boats that can reduce both the time and cash you have to dedicate to them.

Partnership is one of those words that always stirs a groan, but these days we are seeing more and more sailors, including Rosie and me, decide that owning a boat with friends makes sense. Partnerships can be tricky, so you need to have all ideas, issues and aspirations on the table at the outset. A partnership should be fun, but it also has to be businesslike and should probably involve a legal arrangement such as an LLC.

If you are happy to not have the use of your boat all the time, then buying a boat and placing it into a charter fleet provides you with lots of opportunities to go sailing, as well as some cash flow from the charter company—along with regular maintenance. If you partner with one of the big firms, such as The Moorings, Sunsail, Horizon, Kiriacoulis, Dream Yacht Charters and others, you will be able to use boats similar to yours all over the world. Not a bad option at all.

A similar idea is to buy a boat and put it into a SailTime or Pinnacle fractional sailing fleet, where you will have a chance to use the boat regularly, but will have all expenses taken care of and will earn some cash in the process. SailTime has 50 locations around North America and the Caribbean, and Pinnacle has eight, with three near Chicago. And, like the big charter companies, fractional sailing members can use boats at other locations.

Owning a boat is an important part of living the sailing life, and no one should give up on the dream—even if they can’t justify owning one all on their own. The really important part of owning a boat is using it and enjoying all the benefits that sailing, cruising and goofing off on the water bring. After all, it is your mental health at stake.

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