Boat Sharing Article by Grant Headifen: Director of Education for NauticEd.
So I always get questions like this “How can I get time logged into my logbook when I don’t own a boat?” There are heaps of ways including friend’s boats and yacht clubs and boat share clubs and fractional membership companies. But there is another one that most people miss out on …
Here is how to get a free boat
Preamble: In 2001, I started SailTime – it is a fractional sharing membership program for sailboats. I grew it out to 30 franchises worldwide. We put 160 boats into the fleet in 5 years. It was the fastest growing dealership of boat sales in the word. We put over 3000 members into our program each paying $500-$600 per month for 1/8th access to the boat via a world first boat sharing software program. I sold the company to the franchise owners in 2007. Whence upon I started NauticEd. While operating SailTime, I had found a massively unserved niche in the market – no one was teaching people how to sail using high-tech multimedia courses and quality practical sailing schools all backed by software. No one! And even today – NauticEd is the only high tech sailing education company in the world. But I digress…
The Crux: Now-a-days, I, along with my friend, operate a single Beneteau 373 “Siyagruva” on Lake Travis with friends being our members and helping defray the costs of the boat – I mean why pay for 100% of a boat when most of the time it sits lonely in the water, right? It is a personal use boat – not a school boat.
Last weekend, I was doing the numbers on the boat with my friend and a revelation hit me. While I ran SailTime as a for profit company, he is running the boat as a “defray the costs with minor profit company”. Wow, why doesn’t everyone do this? Well not every one because that wouldn’t work but think about this – for thousands (yes thousands) of years, people have been sharing boats.
So here is a scenario that anyone can consider:
Let’s say you (or you and a friend) have access to $100k (Home equity, stocks etc) (you can buy a nice second hand boat for $100). In this market – that money will cost you about 4% on home equity or $4k per year (tax deductible).
A slip will cost about $600 per month. Insurance will cost about $500 per month and maintenance about $4000 per year. That adds up to about $22k per year or so including the cost of money.
Now if you have 4 members paying $500 per month that is $2000 per month or $24000 per year. That’s a slight profit. If you’re running a for profit business, you can qualify for a lot of tax benefits. Here is a HUGE one – in the USA, check out IRS code section 179 whereby you can depreciate the first 50% of the cost of the equipment in the first year. So all that Tax you paid last year from your personal job income – can be gained back and used to pay down the $100 k you borrowed. You can adjust all the numbers as you see fit on size and cost of the boat.
So in a sense – after a couple of years, you don’t have a money cost any more and you are making $4000 to say $6000 per year. Even if you did not get fancy with the tax, you at least have a free boat. Note: be careful with tax and depreciation and personal use of a company asset. Get some good accounting advice on that.
(Note: With depreciation, if you depreciate something to nothing, when you sell it you will need to pay capital gains tax on the sales price of the asset – speak to your accountant. It is no big deal really because you gained the money up front and paid it back at the end.)
How do you get 4 members? Well, that is simple – just put an ad on Craigslist and Facebook. It is completely realistic, at SailTime we sold people on sharing the boat with 7 others at a higher cost. The nicer the boat, the easier is the sale. How do you manage 4 members regarding scheduling time? Whatever you do don’t draw up a rotation schedule – that sucks. It means that everyone gets only 20% of the time on the boat. Instead use a scheduler calendar and we happen to have the best in the world – how do I know? Because I developed it when running SailTime for 6 years. In fact, it is essentially what they use but it is better because I made some improvements to it. When you use scheduling software it means that everyone has access to about 90% of the time on the boat each – it is based on that no one uses the boat for all of their allocation.
Here is a link to our boat scheduling software.
We also have membership agreements that you can use that are available inside the software.
You can even use a check-on check-off form for each member so that you can track maintenance requests and boat condition remotely. Go to www.jotform.com
Our selfish advice … make sure all your members are at least Skipper Rank Level II (for bigger boats) (Skipper Small Keelboat Level II for smaller boats) on NauticEd so that they are properly trained up. Once I had a potential member call me and say they had Basic Sailing 101 certification – that was not enough. I wanted to make sure that they at least had proper knowledge and proper experience. Having a 101 certification isn’t enough. Skipper Rank Level II means they have passed the NauticEd Skipper and Maneuvering Under Power courses and have sailed at least 25 days with 13 of those being Master of the vessel on a boat greater than 25 feet. For a really nice boat you might require Level III which is 50 days.
Anyway – I’m just sayin – if you want a really nice free boat … It is literally as simple as that.
Oh and here is another way to take advantage of something like this. Call a friend who has a boat and ask them to share it for a monthly fee. They’ll probably appreciate the break on monthly costs.
Global Director of Education
NauticEd International Sailing Education
NauticEd is the world’s most advanced sailing education and certification company accepted by yacht charter companies worldwide.
Check out all our Sailing Courses and globally accepted sailing certification and resume
Here is a great question from one of our students to one of our Vancouver based instructors at Vancouver Sailing School regarding experience and Rank advancement
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How Can I Rise In Rank To Charter With Out Master of the Boat Experience?
I had assumed that with the courses for Bareboat Charter Master Rank completed and the days authenticated I would see the certificate. I was wrong. It turns out that some of the experience must be as Master of the Vessel. I had put all my experience with you on our cruise and learn outings as crew, not master.
Would it be reasonable to claim that on those days that you assign a student as skipper, that student is for all intents and purposes the master of the vessel for the day? If not I will never get certified until I buy my own boat or do many charters on my own, not as a student. That may be impossible because I may not be able to charter without the BBMC designation.
What do you think? Can I legitimately edit some of my days to reflect Master for the day rather than crew?
And here is our answer to the student and the instructor
When we set out the certification it was based on what the Charter Companies were wanting with some safety logic thrown in as well.
In this case they would not want to charter a boat to someone who has not been master of a vessel.
Akin to giving the keys of a car to a teen ager who has been passenger plenty of times.
Yet we see your dilemma. But charterers want skipper experienced people. If any resume submitted showed no master of the vessel time the client would not be allowed to take the vessel out. We guarantee this, if you show up with a NauticEd BBCM Rank Resume you will be authorized to charter a boat. There are many certifications issued by associations who hand out Bareboat Certificates that are not worth anything. Proof? You can get one with no Master of the vessel experience in 2 weekends. Thus giving a student a massive disappointment with wrong expectations but also giving the student a false sense of security for venturing out to sea. This is irresponsible.
Our Skipper Rank designation exempts Master time to level 1 by having 4 days of instruction. This is fair under your chicken/egg request. However for chartering in unfamiliar waters and big crushing boats and with navigation and tidal issues, and being far from base and shore, there simply and logically MUST be skipper experience.
Under the strict rules then of logic in your scenario – the Instructor would have to say to a student – You are Master of the vessel today and that student would have to for all intents and purposes be Master. The instructor would be there on an advisory basis. Other ways to gain Master experience is to go on friends boats but ask to be Master for that day.
I hope this clears this up.
Be also advised that a charter company may (I believe wrongly) take a student on with out the full certification. They will look for some skipper experience. It is up to them. Our advice however from what we have seen is that we provide a good guide to safety by requesting at least 25 days as the designated master – things happen. Almost every charter trip we take – something happens where by I know a rookie would never figure it out properly. There are too many what if scenarios.
Thanks again for a great question. It is relevant and right on topic. I’ve included our Resume vs a Sailing Certification video here to help understand the logic also.
Director of Education
This is the 2012 New Years Resolution Sailing Tip
This issue’s sailing tip is a pretty simple one. It will lead to you having more valuable practical sailing experience than you’d ever imagine. And it fits nicely in with any new years resolutions you might be considering.
When I lived in Austin Texas, I raced a lot with the local sailing club there on Lake Travis, an inland small lake. And I have to admit that much of my finer technical sailing knowledge came from those many regatta races.
When a sailboat racing next to you is inching ahead moment by moment you learn quickly the importance of accurate sail trim. And talk about drilling the rules of the nautical road – wow when you’re on collision course with dozens of yachts you’ve got to know the rules.
Here’s the tip: Join a local yacht club this year.
At NauticEd we REALLY believe that practical sailing experience is one of the keys to becoming an excellent sailor (of course we’re making a big assumption that you don’t have a goal to be a crappy sailor).
A bit of History: When we designed the NauticEd sailing certifications, we consulted with dozens of sailing instructors and many of the world’s largest charter companies. With out any hesitation, they all rated practical sailing experience as a must have to becoming a competent sailor (durh). When we looked at every other global sailing certification, none required practical sailing experience as a prerequisite to gaining the certification. That’s a bit strange we thought because in this digital age, it’s easy to write an algorithm that can combine theory knowledge and practical experience (well not that easy but you get the point).
Then we looked at the scuba diving industry and the scuba certifications. We found that the theory education was excellent but practically – if you can barely swim, you’ll still end up with a certification. Still strange! The scuba magazine editorials are full of complaints about new divers banging into the protected reefs because they can’t do the most basic buoyancy control.
When it comes down to it I guess, most certifying companies are more interested in the $ than the true competency of the student. Thus we decided to set the competency bar high so that the charter companies could truly trust a experience and theory based certification.
So here’s the big “but” that people ask us all the time then.
“But … how do I get sailing experience when I don’t own a boat”.
Well… in virtually every city with a sailing waterway there is a yacht club.
- Joining a yacht club is pretty simple and relatively inexpensive for the return you’ll get. Costs range from $40 to $80 per month. And if you own a boat, many times the marina fees are less expensive than a regular marina.
- Some clubs are very racing focused some are not. I’ll maintain however that even if you’re not a racing type person, racing experience will improve your cruising sailing skills vastly. Racing is like learning a language by immersion.
- Yacht clubs are highly social and so you’re going to meet a lot of very cool and interesting people who will become your friends. Throw away the preconceived notions of the stereotype snooty stuffy yacht club and just join one and find out for yourself.
- Yacht clubs many times have a nice pool for the kids to hang out in and they will get to hang out with other yachting type kids. A vast improvement from learning life skills at the mall.
- Yacht clubs organize weekend sailing trips away. These are usually very fun flotilla events. Here you can learn a lot of overnighting and anchoring skills.
- Occasionally yacht clubs will also organize a bareboat charter sailing holiday to places like the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the pacific islands. This is a great opportunity to join in on the safety of a flotilla.
Some people think that if you don’t own a boat, then what’s the point of joining a yacht club. However, if you don’t own a boat, then you should definitely join a yacht club. Here’s a big fact. Virtually all boat owners are desperate for crew for either racing or cruising events. This is proven by the dozens of post-its on the yacht club notice board from skippers looking for crew.
Typical Yacht Club Notice Board
So – this year, join your local yacht club. Put your name up on the notice board that you’re willing to crew. Commit to some regatta race series. Do some boat jumping to find the boat/crew/skipper that you like. Make some friends. Get lots of sailing experience and most importantly, fill out your free NauticEd electronic sailing logbook. As with above, your logbook is the single most important thing that the charter companies look at when you are trying to charter a boat.
And one more comment – years ago when I ran a large yachting membership program, the biggest reason that people dropped out was that they did not have friends to go sailing with them. A mistake that I made was that we should have promoted our boat owning members to also join a yacht club. There, they would have found plenty of new friends to go sailing with, from the exact same notice board mentioned above. If you own a boat – join your local yacht club this year.
Happy Sailing Experience!
You’ll notice a new NauticEd sailing school widget next time you login to NauticEd. It’s a quick snapshot of your Sailing Certificate Progress through the ranks and levels.
Sailing Certificate Progress
The widget views your completed NauticEd theory experience and your practical experience logged in your NauticEd online logbook. It runs an algorithm against that data and presents a graphical representation of how close you are to reaching each rank and level.
In the example above, the student has completed the Skipper requirements, is 76% of the way towards Bareboat Charter Master and 48% of the way towards Captain. The slider bar is weighed according to course effort and practical experience logged.
When you click on the [more] button you are lead to a page which shows in more detail what your requirements would be to achieve 100% in the next Ranks above.
You’ll notice that NauticEd does place significant weight on practical experience. We absolutely believe that after taking classes you can’t expect to step on a boat and know everything. And we also believe that students must have a grounding in theory. Rules of the Nautical Road, navigation, turbulence theory vs laminar flow theory, knowledge of what to do in an emergency etc etc are all theory based elements in learning to sail. I guess we might compare this to an electrician. I would assume that most people would want their electrician to have studied the theory as well as spent many hours as an understudy working in the field in a practical manner before he comes to rewire a house. In fact this is why State governments require such theory and practical experience combo licenses.
It’s an interesting debate as to weather state governments should require boating licences. But I digress…
Anyway, next time you’re logged into NauticEd take a look at your Sailing Certificate Progress widget.
For more info on how to navigate and reach each Rank with the NauticEd Sailing School – Sailing Certificate go to our website.
Here is a question posted by one of our students today with our response following.
On 6/4/10 1:54 PM, “Ted” wrote:
I have recently started through your courses in the hope of chartering next winter. My own boat is a 25′ Catalina. From your information it appears that I will not receive credit for my days on water due to my boat being under 28′. Is that correct and therefore will I not be able to progress beyond crew level 0?
Thank you for your time
Some of your small sailboat experience is counted. However, the sailing certification and experience that the yacht charter companies are requiring is that their customers have some experience on larger sailboats before they responsibly release a sailboat to anyone on a chartered sailing vacation. As you can imagine, sailing experience is a major factor for them in lending out their charter sailboats. When we consulted with the major yacht charter companies in the world to put this program together they were adamant and rightly so that a proper and valuable sailing certification would include some big boat time.
My advice would be to buddy up with some one the local yacht club who has a larger boat to gain the experience you’ll need.
You will be able to advance to Skipper as soon as you log 5 days more on a sailboat 28ft or longer whilst you are acting as master of the vessel.
I hope that answers your question.
There is a myth that you need a sailing license to charter a boat. Call any charter company outside of Croatia, Greece and Spain (whose governments legally require a certification) and none will insist on a certification. What charter companies want is competence. And they will take competence in lieu of a certification any day. How does anyone define competence? The charter companies define it as total time on the water as master of the vessel which is within 10 feet of the vessel being chartered. They also list yacht ownership, blue water sailing experience, previous charters as master of the vessel, time sailing in the last 5 years, anchoring experience, and experience as crew as important factors in deciding whether or not to release the boat to a potential customer. No question however, they also certainly do put credence into a sailing certification and practical teaching by a professional.
What the charter company does then is look at the combined factors above and then make a decision. They most certainly would not charter a boat to some one who showed up with a Bareboat Charter Certification from any organization or association with just the minimum time required on the water to get the certification with the exception of perhaps the RYA Day Skipper certification – who require a significant amount of sailing experience for the certification.
In addition to the theory side of the certification, what NauticEd provides is easy access to the information you need to be safe. NauticEd also recognizes that you must have the experience to handle situations that arise and thus there is no substitute for time on the water. In addition to that – if you can get practical competence verification from a sailing school then you’re really good to go.
If you don’t have any experience and don’t have access to a boat, then starting out with practical training by a sailing school is the best way to get “helm time”. Then once you’re deemed competent, many schools can charter you a sailboat by the day. After about 20 times out, you’ll be at a point whereby you’re probably feeling pretty comfortable and a sailing vacation destination company would probably charter a boat to you.
Documented sailing experience including some of:
- 20 + outings as master of 30ft (9m) plus vessel
- yacht ownership
- blue water experience
- crew experience
- last 5 years experience
- Mediterranean mooring
- previous charter experience
Documented sailing experience above and documented education
Documented sailing experience above, documented education, verified practical competence.
When you show up at a charter company with time on the water as master of the vessel and proven education from any certifying body, they’ll be delighted to let you charter their boat. NauticEd recommends that you show up practiced, educated and taught by a professional.
Regarding Education we recommend a minimum of