By Jack Silver

Owning a boat costs money, and I am not talking just about the cost of buying it. HOWEVER, there are “ways to own a boat” and “ways to have a boat” that can cut costs and, in some cases, eliminate costs. In a word: SHARING. And there are a number of ways this can be done.

Let’s begin by looking at the “owning side” of the equation. I am going to diverge a bit from the primary thrust of this topic and talk just a bit about “non cost” elements of ownership. I can highlight this by telling you that one of my boats was named “Priorities” … and yes, I was married and this name came about when my wife was telling me that I had “chores” around the house that needed doing. My response was that it was a beautiful day and I was going to go sailing and she needed to get her priorities in order. I am still married… but I do believe my day was spent doing chores! The point here is that owning a boat does bring with it a certain need to go check on it from time to time; be on top of maintenance, etc. Of course, these tasks also provide an excellent need to go to your boat…. If you get my drift. So ownership also has non-monetary elements that do demand your time and attention.

OK, there are several ways to mitigate costs. All of the options have positives and not so positive elements to them. I am not going into great detail about these. The mission here is to make you aware of options…. Which I am happy to discuss with you.


  1. Having a friend go in with you to either buy or just cover the monthly costs. This can be an informal arrangement, or it can be formalized in the ownership documents; agreements, etc.
  2. Putting your boat into a charter program. This generates revenue; potentially creates tax advantages resulting in “losses” i.e. operating costs greater than revenue.
  3. Sharing your boat. Again, this generally is done in a more formal manner (good fences, and all that). This is different than the friend and charter option in a number of ways. First the boat will be managed for you. This includes not just managing the boat, it’s maintenance, etc., but also finding the persons to share. An important element of this includes making sure the “members/partners” are fully checked out on the boat. Simply showing your ASA 101-104 certificates does not get you the boat. The “owner” no longer needs to worry about the boat’s care, scheduling, etc. money is collected and paid to owner; members/partners have someone on call for questions, help etc.

I can speak quite authoritatively of this system, because I have managed boats and own a boat using a shared approach to ownership. It is a proven approach for boat owners. If you are thinking of buying a boat or own a boat (should be on the newer side) I will be happy to answer any of your questions.

Now let’s look at options for the person who really wants to have a boat but may not be ready to go buy one. Here I am really going to focus on the Shared concept, since the friend and charter approaches are pretty well known. This method of “getting into boating” is based on one very simple concept: you want to be able to sail on a regular basis… and have a boat in which you have a sense of ownership – but without the cost and hassles. The “members/partners” pay a fixed monthly fee which varies with the size and age of the boat. The first question potential members ask is how often do I get to use the boat? There are two parts to the answer: everyone has a guarantee of 4 days a month (a week every 8 weeks). BUT the brain behind the program is a sophisticated online reservation system. Members are able to use the boat as many times as they want when the boat is not in use – there is a 48 hour window, if the boat is not reserved, you can reserve it; and you can do this as many times as you want, and it does not count against your guaranteed times.

This is all about creating win-win relationships; getting people into boating; and helping to create a lifestyle that is attainable… not just a far-off dream of “someday”. Please feel free to call me, ask questions, or just talk about boats.

-Captain Jack Silver