Skip to main content

Is Charter Yacht Ownership Right for You?

Owning a yacht in charter can be an excellent investment—for the right sailors

Owning a yacht in charter can be an excellent investment—for the right sailors

Owning a yacht in charter sounds exotic and enticing, and it may have crossed your mind to give it a try. Maybe you’ve heard stories of good experiences (or bad ones). Maybe you haven’t heard any stories, but you’ve romanticized the idea into the perfect lifestyle. Before you even of speaking to a company, though, about its ownership programs, you may want to see if you fit the mold. Here are 10 signs you may be the ideal owner.

1. You have a flexible schedule and can travel on short notice

As an owner, you’ll earn time to sail your boat. Some companies work on a points system, while others offer a combination of high- and low-season weeks. Most also offer last-minute owner bookings where you get extra time, but have to travel within 16 days of the free date. For both the Caribbean and Europe, it helps if you live on the East Coast so you can get to your yacht within one or two flights. It also helps if you’re self-employed, have few competing interests like golf or tennis and have few family obligations. Taking advantage of your owner time optimizes the value of the program, so if spending three months on the water doesn’t absolutely thrill you, this may not be the right choice.

2. You love to travel

If you go with a charter company that has reciprocals around the world, you’ll need to love to travel and experience different cultures and languages to take full advantage of your owner weeks. If getting on an airplane has you wincing, look to local options.

3. You have the time to treat this as an active investment

Some people opt for an ownership program that allows them certain tax benefits, but this only works if you treat the program as an active versus passive investment. This means that you (as well as the charter company) regularly market your boat in charter. You’ll need a website, business cards, the time to attend boat shows and more. It’s estimated you’ll need to dedicate 500 hours per year to this venture. If your work time is already stretched, consider a guaranteed (passive) income option or none at all.

4. You want to sail more/better

Owning a charter yacht can work well if you and/or your spouse wants learn to sail beyond the basics. With some couples, one may already be a strong sailor while the other wants to work on skills and maybe bring a group of friends without the spouse. Charter ownership can be like captaining with training wheels thanks to the peace-of-mind provided with company’s assistance.

5. You want to mini-cruise

For those with large blocks of time (like teachers), ownership in some programs allows for long charters. If you have two months and want to explore a swath of the Caribbean, you can do it on your “own” boat. This works especially well if you charter during the low season when the boat isn’t earning much money anyway.

6. You want to eventually take that boat long-term cruising

If you and your spouse want to cruise in retirement and would like to work down some of the cost of a new boat, ownership is excellent. However, this is a long-term plan, so both of you must be honest about wanting the same thing to make sure one isn’t just pressuring (or selling) the other on the idea.

7. You have the necessary financial resources

Yacht ownership should never stretch the family budget, no matter how good the program sounds. At the very least, you’ll need 20 percent of the cost of a new boat for a down payment. Depending on the boat, the company and the economy, the vessel also may not sell for as much as you expected at the end of the program, leaving you short.

8. You want some handholding as you buy a new boat

Buying a new boat can be daunting. There are decisions on outfitting, financing, warranties and more. Charter companies can help new owners through the process and possibly provide factory-direct pricing as well.

9. You have friends who can go with you

This may sound ridiculous, but it’s hard to get people to go sailing. No matter how much your friends may want to go, they may have family and work commitments that simply won’t mesh with your schedule. Also, as much as they may want to go, not everyone will have the money to travel, either often or on short notice.

10. You’re young enough to still contemplate cruising in five or 10 years

This one kind of hurts—are you too old? If you put a boat in charter for five years and then see yourself cruising for another five, how old will that make you? Cruising isn’t easy. It’s not at all like a charter vacation. You need to be able to care for the boat and yourself in ways you don’t have to on a weeklong getaway. More honesty now will serve you well later.

Unlike in popular online quizzes, there is no magic formula of “fit into five of these and you’re the right type.” You may fit one or all and it still may or may not work out. If you fit none of the above, stick with the flexibility of chartering. 

May 2019

Related

maintenance-02

Cruising: Old Sailors Never Die

“Old sailors never die, they just get a little dinghy.” It may be a hoary old joke, but one of my problems at age 79 is I can no longer get easily in and out of a little dinghy, and neither can my (several years younger than me) wife. For this, and various other reasons I will ...read more

01-LEAD-DSC_0953

The Mighty Compass

Here’s to the humble magnetic compass, without a doubt the sailor’s most reliable instrument onboard. It’s always there for you and with the rarest of exceptions, always operational. Yes, I love my chartplotter, autopilot, radar and AIS. They help me be a safer and more ...read more

02-En-route-Jost-Van-D

Chartering: Swan Song in the BVI

Joseph Conrad once wrote, “The sea never changes.” And while this may or not be true, something most definitely not open for debate is the fact we sailors, “wrapped in mystery,” as Conrad put it, are continually changing—whether we like it or not. I found myself thinking these ...read more

220307FP51_1JML0332

Boat Review: Fountaine-Pajot Aura 51

If you can sell more than 150 catamarans off-plan before the resin has even hit the fiberglass, you must be doing something right. Despite costing around $1.1 million once fitted out and on the water, Fountaine-Pajot’s new 51 has done just that. The French yard has been at it ...read more

00LEAD-IMG-9035

Ready to Fly a New Sail

It’s a typical humid, southern Chesapeake Bay summer day when I show up on the doorstep of Latell & Ailsworth Sailmakers in the one-stoplight, one-lane-roadway, rural tidewater town of Deltaville, Virginia. I’m late getting here to work on a new jib for my 29-foot, Bill ...read more

m5702_RACE-AREA-6

Dates for the 2024 America’s Cup Announced

Ever since making the controversial decision to hold the next America’s Cup in Barcelona, Spain, instead of in home waters, Defender Emirates Team New Zealand has been hard at work organizing logistics for the event.  The Racing Area for the Challenger Selection Series and the ...read more

00LEAD

A Force for Change: Captain Liz Gillooly

I first heard about Capt. Liz Gillooly in 2016 from my cousin while working three jobs in our shared hometown on the North Fork of Long Island and living with my parents to save money for a boat. But despite being the same age and growing up only 13 miles apart, Liz and I never ...read more

291726157_3222349914654950_8713674249134934221_n-2-1024x684

Sailing in the Growth Zone

The Goal This year, I’ve had a specific goal to be a better sailor. Some people have laughed and said, “Why do you need to be a better sailor? This was my 22nd year racing on the same boat, with the same crew. I like to win and want to make sure we stay at the top of the fleet. ...read more