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Old 17-01-2017, 22:19   #1
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Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

A bit stuck on a decision for a few reasons and wanted some 3rd party input from people who have been through the decisions them selves. Bit about my sailing background. Taken Lido 14 classes (3 of them) and 30 foot keel boat classes with my local college, OCC. Recently completed my ASA 101 class and about to take my ASA 103 test after finishing the class. With plans to take a ASA 104/114 combo class next. Apart from some extra day day sails that about sums up my sailing history.

Looking to get out on the water more. And thinking of a few different ways to accomplish that.

1. Buy a cheap sailboat that's "turn key" from the 80's early 90's, 20-40K. And sail more. Thats a lot of money for me but i can afford it what i am not too found of is the slip cost in Orange County, CA. The ones i have been able to find are $6,000 a year for a 30 foot sailboat! Kills me to pay that much with such a cheap sailboat! Are there cheaper slips, or ways to store the sailboat when not in use? Plan to sail all year around.
Sail when ever i want
all mine

Older, more things to fix
Cost is higher then 2no one gives loans for this price range(see 2 for why i am ok with loans)

2. (My Favorite) Buy a newer sailboat for 100K to 130ishK with a mortgage. Then place the sailboat in my clubs charter program. The cost breakout from others renting it seems to be i would break even (or close to it) after, waxing, bottom diver, slip, insurance, tax, mortgage. I would be out my down, which is fine as thats how much i would spend for option 1. The charting is not to make money just to help with the cost as i wont be sailing every weekday and weekend and have no issues letting others take it out because of how the club handles the charters. Dont mind the mortgage, and not going in over my head with it. I invest my money and normally beat interest rates so i don't mind taking a bank loan while i invest the rest and get a greater return.
Get a nicer faster sailboat
Sail when i want and still pull in money to off set cost. Again plan is not to get rich just enjoy sailing for less then option 1!

May have to take another sailboat out if my chartered
More wear and tear!

3. Rent the clubs sailboats. Lots of restrictions, no night sailing, weekends have to rent all day, sailing in what i call fun weather restricted and a few others that reduce the joy of sailing. (these restrictions are part of the reason i am ok with my own sail boat in the charter)
Lowest cost
Less responsibility then the above two
Pay, sail, forget

May not be able to sail when i want
Costs can be high for no wind days! When i rent i have to plan ahead and southern CA has a lot of very low wind days. Even if i am going in circles in the ocean, i want to go in fast circles! (like at least 2-3 knots...) This con is huge for me and makes me not want to sail as much knowing i could be out with no wind.


Looking forward to your input!

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Old 17-01-2017, 23:36   #2
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

#4: do number 3 plus charter in places like the Bahamas and Carib

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Old 18-01-2017, 01:11   #3
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

I've been doing option 3 plus charters in the Carib and Med. (thinking of Thailand or Tonga next :-)

- Meeting other sailors. My club has a very active crew list, so I can get a crew together on a very short notice. Send a email to the club list and in 1-2 days to have a crew together for the upcoming weekend. Since most club members have the been through sailing classes I can generally count on adequate sailing skills. Over time I've got a group of regulars who I enjoyed sailing with so this was a great way to meet other sailors. I've heard of boat owners not getting out as often as they'd like for want of crew.
- Cost sharing. I can get a crew of 5 or 6 together and split the day charter fee. So I'm looking at a $100 for a full day of sailing or $200 for a weekend. That's way less than buying a boat.
- Socializing. Renting from the club has regular get togethers (monthly free bbq/beer, free seminars, weekend flotilla trips to local destinations, etc.
- Get to sail a variety of boats. I feel there are advantages to this. I've had access to anything from 24'-52' in a decent variety of makes, models, furling types, reefing systems, etc.

My club has fewer restriction than yours. Night sailing is no problem after a short checkout cruise to get you familiar with the bay at night (emphasis on returning from Sam's on Tiburon). The club doesn't have weather restrictions any stricter than I think are reasonable anyway.
I did have some area restrictions - limited to within SF bay - until I got my coastal nav / coastal passage certification. Not sure of the ASA equivalent.

Reliable wind. I'm so lucky to be in SF Bay and have good, fun, reliable wind. Can count of 20-25kts and higher during the summer months. I feel sorry for you in this regard.

If you go with buying a boat and putting it into local charter, oh man, run those numbers, ask for evidence of how much the boat will be chartered, be skeptical of that.

Good luck with it!
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Old 18-01-2017, 06:48   #4
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

My 2 cents worth would be to rent for a year or more and rent as many different types of boats that are available, and as has been said, crew on other boats. The more experience you have before you spend the big bucks, the better choice you will make when you do. See if you can catch a crew spot on a SoCal to San Francisco delivery. That will get you a variety of conditions to learn from. Maybe see if you can line up a berth on the Hawaii cruiser races that Latitude 38 sponsers. I agree that slip fees are a large damper towards boat ownership. Best of Luck. _____Grant.
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Old 18-01-2017, 08:34   #5
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

I just heard a funny line that makes a lot of sense to me as I start on the third year of a restoration project (38' ketch) that's maybe my 5 or 6th:
"If it floats, flies or fornicates, RENT IT."
The restoration projects have all been a labor of love and should never, ever be confused with a way to save money!
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Old 18-01-2017, 08:36   #6
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

do you want to do maintenance
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Old 18-01-2017, 08:53   #7
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

My wife and I started out on Sailtime.

It was essentially a time share and was an easy way to get our feet wet on a "big" cruising boat - we started on a 2005 33' Hunter. Private and semi-private ASA classes were an option. They have different levels of membership and an easy-to-use time scheduling website. The boats are newer and very well kept.

In retrospect, it was expensive (I remember it being over $5k), but we had instruction when we wanted it, zero commitment, and a nice newer $150k plus well-maintained boat that we had all to ourselves when we booked it.

We learned a ton and it also helped us realize what we wanted in our first boat... the Hunter 33 was nice as a condo, but it was super tender and we wanted something stiffer.

FWIW I later bought my first boat - a 1976 C&C 30 - for about half the cost of Sailtime, but I wouldn't have known what I wanted had I not done Sailtime.

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Old 18-01-2017, 09:24   #8
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

We had a similar set of circumstances when we bought our first houseboat. My work schedule would equate to your low wind.....Every time we planned ahead and rented a boat, there would be some sort of an "emergency", and I'd have to send my family on without me. This would make me very grouchy, and an overall pain in the ass to deal with for a month or two.
Our solution was to buy in. Our first boat was in the $25K class, and was meant to be a test to prove that we would use it. We did, in fact, use it. We used it hard for 5 years or so, and as time went on, I could see the twinkle in my wife's eyes, so we started shopping.
When we stepped up, we bought a $100K class boat. This leads me to the only major flaw I can find in your line of thinking.....Newer and nicer does not translate to cheaper to maintain. It doesn't translate to more expensive, per se, but don't count on it being cheaper. Everyone in this camp is happier on the new boat, but it hasn't been any less maintenance than the old one.
Boat ownership is expensive, and sometimes frustrating, but it has given us great pleasure. As a matter of fact, it's giving me great pleasure as I sit here on it and type this message. (And it was frustrating when I got here late last night and the master head had lost prime.)
Good luck whichever way you go, and remember that shopping for a boat is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process.
The dream is free. Hustle sold separately.
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Old 18-01-2017, 10:35   #9
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

It's a question I hear a lot. I'd suggest #3 to start. You will have an opportunity to both gain experience in a variety of boats, and determine what you want to buy, new or used. #4 is to remember that sailors spend as much time and $ on maintaining their boats as they do playing on the water. In the meantime, go to one or more of the yacht clubs in your area (Newport Beach?), and get on the racing crew lists. You'll learn, have fun, and get some real world advice (mostly good) on boats you may want.
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Old 18-01-2017, 12:03   #10
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

I'm in a similar situation just up the coast from you in Santa Barbara, although here the slip costs are even higher. We've gone the sailing club routes and while it is more restrictive, it is much easier and lower cost. Plus, with the clubs you will have more opportunity to meet others which will likely lead to more sailing opportunities in general.

Another option to consider is a partnership with someone that already has a boat but is looking to share some of the slip / maintenance expense.
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Old 18-01-2017, 12:18   #11
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

I cringe every time I hear a new sailor begin to ask about how to own a boat. It's not like a car where you get a license and a car on the same day. There are many, cheaper ways to get on the water. Owning a boat is buying a to-do list. After years of sailing on other people's boats (OPB), I finally bought a production coastal cruiser. It was relatively new, in really good condition, clean survey, and we sailed well our first summer. I made up a list of improvements the first month, and total cost was about half the purchase price, plus many weekends of my labor. I knew this going in, and boat work was one of the skills I wanted to gain, so I'm not whining. If I had jumped into such a project right after learning to sail (those decades ago) and without some saved money, this would have been overwhelming. Learn to sail well and maintain other-people's boats -- rent, crew on racing boats, make friends, volunteer at the youth sailing program. Unless you can quickly make a budget off the top of your head for the costs of maintaining, improving, and storing a boat, and then not freak out about the total of your list, do not own.
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Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt." -- Eric Sevareid
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Old 18-01-2017, 12:23   #12
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

1. Mythical unicorn. There is no "turn key" 80's-early 90's sailboat for $20-40k. Yes, you might find one well cared for, but not having owned a large boat before I don't think you appreciate the maintenance costs involved. Unless virtually every system on an 80's boat has already been replaced, you'd be looking forward to a constant march of refit items for the next few years. If you're bitching about the slip cost, wait till you have to buy new sails, or refrigeration, batteries, etc.

2. One word: Depreciation. Yes, the charter arrangement will cover soft "operating costs" but you're losing money fairly quickly on a newer boat at around $100k. Probably around $10k per year.

3. Do it. Nothing lost, you can find out if it fits your needs, and you can always buy something later. You'll have a much better sense of what you want/need, and probably a better appreciation of what it takes to maintain a boat, at least through conversations with other boat owners.

My ex-BIL was a member of an outfit in Annapolis that had J/80's, a few larger J boats (which you could take out for weekends), and some Harbor 20s. Did it for a few years and it was great, but he did not like being beholden to the reservation system.

He bought a Rhodes 22 a few years ago, refurbished from the factory for $25k. Slipped it down Bay because it was cheaper, which meant a longer drive. Didn't take care of it, never ended up going on the weekend trips he imagined, etc. Boat is probably worth $10k max now. He's probably going to unload it and join the club again.

4. You like going fast. Volunteer as crew for boats racing out of a local yacht club; race boat owners are always looking for crew. Always. Learn a &^#%-ton about sailing a boat well and fast, enjoy the thrill of racing and the camaraderie, pay zero dollars, buy later.
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Old 18-01-2017, 13:13   #13
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

You forgot the best route. Get on the racing crew of a larger (40' +) ocean racing boat run by a good skipper (hopefully a winning skipper) who campaigns his boat regularly. The bigger the boat the larger the crew and the more willingness the skipper and crew will have to help out a newbie on boat. You will learn for ever crew member. They all know something that you don't. You will learn more in a season than with any of the other options you have mentioned or the classes you have taken. After that your decision on the options will be much clearer. And the beer will be free, at least if you race with me.
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Old 18-01-2017, 13:43   #14
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

My situation is/was very similar to yours. I started with sailing classes at UCLA and was considering the same scenarios you outlined. I first went the cheap route, sort of, purchased a Nacra 5.8 and eventually fell into a group that raced them on a regular basis. I was lucky in that there were some phenomenal sailors in the club and they were incredibly helpful. I ended up learning a boat load about rigging, sail trim etc... If I could offer some advice, regardless of what option you go figure out how to sail with experienced sailors.

I did want to get a bigger boat (to take the whole family out) and after pricing boats and maintenance costs (!) opted for a sailing club. Another pro to add to the sailing club list, is the ability to start on the smaller boats and move up. I started with the 25-30 footers and every few charters moved up a few feet. The club had 48 foot mono hulls and 40 foot cats. With the bigger boat experience, it then opened up chartering the big cats in the BVI and Mediterranean. Also, the club I was in had locations from San Diego up to the Channel Islands (Oxnard) so you could rent out of the Channel Islands one week, day sail to Ana Capa or Santa Cruz, next time out of Long Beach to Catalina... Southern California is pretty limited on sailing destinations and I'm a working stiff so time is limited, having the ability to change starting points opened up more destination options.

I just recently went with option 2 and put a boat in the sailing club. For the same reasons you listed. The biggest reason is the restrictions placed on chartering a boat and the ability to keep it maintained and outfitted to my liking. And I'm at a point I can get out more often, before the limited number of sailing days just made the sailing club much more cost efficient.

Also, I don't know your abilities but, a another potential pro for putting a boat in a sailing club vs owning is working with people who know sailing, maintenance and repair. Having a network of knowledgeable people is really valuable.

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Old 18-01-2017, 13:48   #15
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Re: Do I Charter, Buy or Rent

Rent is the only real choice. You don't know enough to even start looking to buy. Get some experience first. Don't bother looking for charters. Nobody is about to hand over the keys to a pricey boat to a newbie and his insurance company would keelhaul him. Rent enough to start getting a feel for sailing, then trade up to an inexpensive trailer-able boat to learn more. Remember, the bigger the boat the higher the maintenance and operating costs (including slip rental). Also remember that boats depreciate. Unless you get a fantastic deal you will not get your money back or even close to it.

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