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Another Take on Boat Share

Given the current state of the economy, it’s no wonder new boat sales are suffering. Buying a new sailboat is a considerable financial commitment that can be difficult to justify, but when you see the boat you really want, it’s hard to deny yourself!

Given the current state of the economy, it’s no wonder new boat sales are suffering. Buying a new sailboat is a considerable financial commitment that can be difficult to justify, but when you see the boat you really want, it’s hard to deny yourself! My wife, Carmela, and I had long been interested in buying a new catamaran, but money was the stumbling block.

The idea of sharing a boat had not really entered our minds until our friend Kurt Jerman, who owns West Coast Multihulls and is the importer of the Seawind line of catamarans, planted a seed. He brought us together with three other sailors who were in the same position as ourselves. After an exploratory meeting on a beautiful evening, sharing wine while discussing our mutual desire to own a Seawind 1160, we started work on the financial arrangements that ultimately allowed us to purchase Razzle Dazzle.

Three of us agreed to put down 20 percent each of our share and finance the remaining balance. The fourth partner chose to not participate in the financing and put full equity into the partnership instead. This meant we had to finance around 75 percent of the overall purchase price of the boat. We have recently refinanced the boat at 4 percent, which saves us about $7,000 per year. 

We had a marine attorney draw up a legal agreement, and I took on the chores of opening a bank account, managing the overall finances and arranging insurance. Three of us have our monthly finance payments and all four of us chip in for the maintenance costs—around $2,100 a month, including slip fees. As boat manager, I try to anticipate unplanned expenses that will not be covered by the maintenance money. When this occurs, all of us understand and we have an additional assessment.

We set up a schedule giving each of us approximately one week a month to sail Razzle Dazzle. We’re also in daily contact via phone and e-mail, which allows us to be flexible about the schedule. We’ve become good friends and often sail together.

Everythree months we meet to review finances, talk over any issues about the boat, and so on. I provide full documentation of all expenses with bank statements, and keep minutes of our meetings. We have some good food and wine and enjoy ourselves as we celebrate how fortunate we are to have responsible boating friends with similar interests! 

Photos courtesy of Terry Wepsic

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