Our charter company Let’s Go Sail offers a special Boat Buyer Cruise for those inclined toward acquisition. The three-hour cruise is a challenge because the prospective buyer is often a fellow whose wife isn’t all that crazy about the idea. In fact, some women are hell bent against it.
For both of them, I suggest getmyboat.com and boatbound.com as alternatives to ownership. You get to rent a boat near you and take it for the day. Kick the tires, rev it up, sail till you drop,maybe sleep on board overnight, and generally get the urge out of your system. Then if you’re still interested in buying a boat, I offer them four specific tips.
Determine where you’re going to sail, because unless the boat is trailerable you’re pretty much stuck at a given marina. The distinction between trailer boats and mid-size boats is the keel. If you can crank it up to slide the boat onto the trailer, fine. All others have fixed keels and are known as keel boats. They require large steel trailers driven by semi-trucks.
Trailer sailboats are less expensive and can go anywhere on land. Not so much on the water. The small size (up to 21 feet) limits the speed and therefore the range to a few miles at a time, maybe ten tops in a day. With our trailerable 16-footer, we sailed for 11 years on the James River before moving to the York River 16 years ago with keel boats. The 32-footer used for Let’s Go Sail can sail the entire Chesapeake Bay, which is fantastic.
Consider the illustration above of anchoring the boat in a cove vs. a marina slip. A mid-size slip at York River Yacht Haven runs $3,000 a year. But during the spring and summer, people come into Sarah Creek and simply drop anchor for days or weeks at a time. It’s free! Others tie off to a mooring ball, which precludes the threat of fouling the anchor.
The scene is picturesque, as shown in photos of Catalina Island, Sarasota Bay or Monte Carlo. But you have to climb into a dinghy to get back and forth to shore. Marina life is much more enjoyable if you have a slip because you get to enjoy the people and the amenities. And if there’s a storm coming, you definitely want to be in a slip.
Compatible couples and friends find nice arrangements by throwing in together. One group I know agreed to every other weekend schedules, with a third weekend together. The permutations are endless, the savings considerable. Try to bring a mechanical guy in the mix, since he’ll prove invaluable.
Some sort of contract has to be drawn up to cover contingencies for moving away or otherwise backing out. It can be hard to find a replacement. The aggravation is worth it for the immense cost savings. A variation of partners is to own a boat in the Caribbean for leasing by companies. Moorings is the leader.