Owning a boat is expensive.
First you’ve got to buy one, then you also have to pay for berthing, mooring and storage fees, registration and boat insurance, engine maintenance and cleaning costs – all before you even cast off!
And that’s not to mention any repairs or damage that happen from time to time.
But there are alternatives to outright ownership that can allow you to realise the dream of being out on the water, without it costing a fortune.
Boat sharing, also known as syndicated boating isn't new, but it's growing in popularity in Australia.
There are basically three types of boat share programs.
- Managed ownership syndicates
- member boat share
- and private boat share syndicates.
Managed syndicated ownership is where there's a number of owners that require the expertise of a specialised management company who acts as mediator of usage rights, so that the various owners get the time on the boat when it works for them.
There are different arrangements to these syndicated models but in essence they function to facilitate boat ownership to many people at once.
Some cater for unequal ownership of a vessel, for example, a boat could be owned by two people but one person owns 1/3 and the other 2/3 of the boat.
Member boat share
Member boat share, works without the hassle and cost of ownership or the long term commitment of boat share.
Pacific Boating is a Sydney based company that runs member boat share programmes.
Members pay a monthly subscription starting at $995 to enjoy 20 days per year access to an 18 strong fleet of Sea Ray luxury sports cruisers.
There are several companies across Australia that have membership and/or syndication programs that include training, multiple location availability and a wide range of fleet options that mean you can get on the water faster, and for less.
Small group syndicates
Private or ‘small group’ syndicates, are a common form of boat share ownership and usually consist of two to five members who all own a part of the boat.
Normally they self manage usage and pay an equal share of the upfront and ongoing costs.
Private syndicates are usually less formal arrangements so it’s important that an agreement is in place that covers every eventuality, including what happens if the boat is damaged, fair usage and rules for selling shares.
Boatshare is a website that helps people buy and sell shares in boats across Australia.
Merrick is a sailor from the NSW North Coast and part owner of an 18-foot trailer sailor with a syndicate of friends.
“We bought the boat together as a group which made the difference of owning or not owning a boat.
We share all costs and maintenance and as there are four of us the boat gets used more.”
Because they're friends they're pretty relaxed about usage rights and “often there are at least two of us who go for a sail together,” says Merrick.
"Our philosophy is we bought the boat to sail and be on the water so we tend to work things out and get out there and enjoy it.”