If you’re a regular charterer at your sailing club or if you rent in exotic destinations like the British Virgin Islands, chances are you’ve been pitched on buying and owning a boat in a rental program. For some, this is the absolute best way of owning a boat and for others this is not the best idea.

Let us explain a little bit of how it works from the perspective of a Sailing Club that’s been doing it since 1969.

The first thing one must understand is what type of charter program are you entering into? Are you doing full time charter, limited charter, owner operated charter, etc? For the purposes of this blog we will speak of limited charter like we do here at Harbor Sailboats. Limited charter is defined by most insurance companies and lenders as chartering less than 90 days per year.

Will I make money owning a boat in the charter fleet? Absolutely not. Limited charter boat ownership is not designed to make its owners money, it is designed to save you money. The goal for our owners at Harbor Sailboats is to cover roughly 50% of their annual cost of ownership while still allowing them to sail their new Beneteau on a regular basis.

How do the financials work? Every club is a little different but here at Harbor Sailboats revenue is split 50/50 between the boat owner and the club. An owner is responsible for the payment of all operating cost like slip rent, insurance, maintenance, loan (just like private ownership) but their portion of the charter revenue goes a long way towards covering those cost. At the end of each month an owner will receive a statement showing expenses (slip rent and maintenance) along with a statement of revenue. Most months an owner will have more revenue than expenses and a nice check from the club will accompany the statement, if this is not the case an owner will bring the balance to zero by writing a check to the club.

How often can I use my boat? It is mutually understood that the boat is part of the club for the main purpose of renting, that being said we want the owners to use their boats! Most of our agreements do not place a limit on owner usage but some owners try to be more active mid-week and off season as to take advantage of the peak rental periods. Use your boat!

What happens with damage? First, all reputable charter companies will have a fleet policy that covers the owner, renters, and the charter company in the event of major damage. For small mistakes, the person who causes the damage pays for the repair up to the boats insurance deductible amount. For example, if a charterer looses a winch handle or chips the bow with the anchor they will be financially responsible for the damage. Harbor Sailboats staff does detailed pre and post sail check outs to ensure all discrepancies are tracked. Normal wear and tear of sails and rigging is considered maintenance and the good charter companies will replace those items before they become a problem for the renter or owner.

How long can I keep a boat in the fleet? New boats enter the Harbor Sailboats fleet with a 5 year term, after 5 years we will look at the shape of the overall fleet a decide if its time to trade the boat in for a new boat, sell, enjoy privately, or keep in the fleet under another 1 year term.

What boats are eligible for charter fleets? Again every club is a little different but here at Harbor Sailboats we bring in new Beneteau sail and powerboats. We’re extremely proud to be a sub-dealer of the Beneteau brand as this gives our customers to best pre and post sale experience. Some clubs across the US will take in late model used boat so if new is not in the budget don’t worry as there is always an option.

Who Performs the Maintenance? The best run clubs across the US will have an in-house maintenance crew that will manage and maintain your boat to the highest standard. Preventative maintenance is key to any boats maintenance schedule but with an in house team these projects get done quicker and get worked around the charter schedule as not to interfere with owner revenue. Having your boat in a managed maintenance program through the charter club saves the owners hours of management and gives a piece of mind that your boat is maintained in top condition.

These are just a few topics on charter boat ownership, if your interested more details please contact Keenan Hirsh.