Co-owning a boat seems like a great idea on the surface. You saved significant money on a shiny, new watercraft. You’ve got friends that you know are down to go boating. You get to split all the hassles that come with owning your own vessel. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s smooth sailing. Then the clouds roll in and the waters become difficult to navigate. Your co-captain wants to take their family out the same weekend you wanted to entertain friends. You show up at the marina when it’s your turn to enjoy the boat and it’s trashed, scratched and the tanks on E. The four-stroke outboard starts acting up and your partner thinks you should pay for it because, “I don’t even use the boat that often,” even though they’re the throttle jockey.
Many boaters wonder if the money saved is worth the headache gained when co-captaining a vessel. There are risks and benefits when co-owning a boat. Make sure you know what you’re getting into, or you may find yourself friendship-wrecked.
Let’s start with some of the pros.
For starters, the obvious benefit of splitting the cost of a boat is well, of course, the cost. It’s no surprise that boating can be an expensive hobby. You’d be a fool not to consider cutting the price of your new vessel in half, right? Maybe even into thirds or quarters, depending on how many friends want to get in on the fun. However, the more owners, the more issues could arise, but we’ll get to that later.
Another benefit of co-owning a boat is sharing the workload. When you purchase a boat, you are not only making a financial investment, you are making a time investment. Many boat-owners spend as much time taking care of their boats as they do enjoying them. Having a co-owner means sharing those responsibilities, and ideally splitting the upkeep as much as the fun.
Buying a boat usually scores you a lot of popular points already. An added bonus of co-ownership is having like-minded friends that will be down when you’re seeking a fishing friend or boating buddy.
Now, some of the risks of co-owning a boat.
Having a co-captain who is also a friend to spend time on the water with is great. But what about when you want to take other people boating? Maybe it’s a holiday weekend and you want to impress some friends. However, your partner wants to take out the in-laws from out of town. How do you decide who gets the boat and when? Things get even more complicated when there are more than a couple owners. Like we mentioned earlier, more owners can mean more risks and less time on the water for everyone.
While this can be a benefit of co-ownership, it can also be a risk. When it comes to cleaning and maintaining the vessel, it’s rare that everyone pulls their weight. You might get stuck spending significantly more time than your partners working on the boat. Or even worse, you could be stuck with the bill when it’s time for the inevitable repairs all boats face. From fuel bills to broken props and damaged motors, even the tiniest expenses can sink friendships.
You’ve heard it before, the two best days of a boater’s life are when they buy it and sell it. So, what happens when someone wants out of the partnership after discovering some of these risks? You can’t afford to pay off their half, that’s why you split the price in the first place. Determine how long you want to be a boat owner and make it clear with your co-owner from the beginning to avoid this tough situation.
So now you’re probably still wondering if co-owning a boat is a good idea. It can be a difficult endeavor, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Take for example Robert and Tim, two co-captains who have been successfully sharing the fun and work of owning a boat since 2001. Robert says their rare partnership works because, “we’re really not a 50-50 relationship; each of us is 60-40 — for the other guy!” If you can create a relationship like these two, then co-owning might be for you.
However, co-ownership isn’t the only affordable boating alternative. Boat clubs like Freedom Boat Club have perfected the concept by maintaining a fleet large enough to accommodate all members. And these owners don’t even have to worry about the hard-work associated with boat-ownership. They provide all the joys of boating without any of the hassles or stress from sharing with a co-owner.
Freedom even offers co-sharing membership options. Rather than splitting the cost of a boat, you might be better off splitting the cost of a boat club membership. And these members don’t even have to worry about the hard-work associated with boat-ownership. Freedom Boat Club provides all the joys of boating without any of the hassles or stress from sharing with a co-owner.
Maybe co-owning is the right choice for you. Maybe there’s too many risks. Or maybe you’d be a better fit with a different boat-owning alternative like a boat club. As long as you are on the water and having fun, it’s all a good idea, right?
Have you ever gone in on a big boat buy with someone and realized you made a mistake? Or was it smooth sailing like Robert and Tim? Let me know, I’d love to hear about your experience.