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Old 13-10-2015, 16:56   #1
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To Buy or To Charter?

... that is the question.

I've said in a couple of places that I'm thinking of buying, but keep wondering if it really makes sense for me (or us, because there's another opinion involved).

We're "cruising" sailors in the sense that it's the style of sailing that appeals to us, but we have limited recent experience. Good news: the interest is mutual. My wife is pushing to do more sailing, although she is less adventurous than I regarding conditions and destinations. So we're not looking at crossing oceans, more likely Great Lakes, islands down south, and that kind of thing.

I would love to own a sailboat but wonder if that's just ego talking. Realistically, considering all of the other activities and priorities, we might spend eight weeks a year on the water.

Ownership: Pride, the chance to set up a boat the way I really want it, getting to know a cruising area well before moving on to another.

Charter: No committment, flexibility, the boat is somebody else's problem.

We're not filthy rich, but at my estimate of eight weeks a year the financial considerations one way or the other are probably not the deciding factor.

I've seen this group provide an impressive range of informed comments on open questions like this one, so am putting it out there. I'm not expecting "the" right answer, but expect that your feedback will help me think it through.

Thanks, all.
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Old 13-10-2015, 17:40   #2
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

My wife and I faced this exact decision earlier this year. We had chartered twice a year for several years and had the opportunity to consider a purchase of our own boat. We chose to buy and closed on a 2009 Leopard 37 powercat in June. Since then I've travelled from our home in Atlanta to the boat in Cape Coral 4 times. We are going to end up using the boat much more than when we chartered and my personal knowledge and ability to run and maintain is already far beyond what I would have been exposed to as just a charterer. So it's a simple choice between rent but walk away, versus own but have to be involved. Good luck with whatever choice you make!


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Old 13-10-2015, 18:13   #3
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Great question!
Given your interest in cruising the mainstream US destinations.... and the plethora of rarely used yachts, I think chartering to fit your other priorities makes more sense .

You may even find a hybrid solution of a private charter arrangement with an owner who trusts you and has a similar cruising itinerary(Dream), but can only use his boat part time.

Why not map out your cruising windows and then advertise your desire to become a frequent charterer to help owner defray costs.
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Old 13-10-2015, 18:23   #4
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Why not buy a boat in a charter fleet and have the charter income offset some of the expenses of being an owner. Works in my case. I'll qualify this remark by stating that I'm in the PNW and our charter season is very different than in the Carib or similar local.
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Old 13-10-2015, 18:46   #5
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
...

Charter: No committment, flexibility, the boat is somebody else's problem.

...
Ok. I'll take pro charter.

To the above list add:

- No maintenance time or money
- No dockage
- No insurance
- Variety of boats: Choose from, and develop experience on, a variety of boats
- Variety of locations: Choose from, and develop experience in, a variety of locations.

Given your limited time, which usually works out to actually be less, I think chartering makes more sense (well...as much as anything about boats makes sense).

Also, if chartering turns out to not be the right call for you, then no harm, no foul...go buy a boat. Whereas if buying a boat turns out to be the wrong choice...thats uglier to unwind.
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Old 13-10-2015, 19:20   #6
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Ok. I'll take pro charter.

To the above list add:

- No maintenance time or money
- No dockage
- No insurance
- Variety of boats: Choose from, and develop experience on, a variety of boats
- Variety of locations: Choose from, and develop experience in, a variety of locations.

Given your limited time, which usually works out to actually be less, I think chartering makes more sense (well...as much as anything about boats makes sense).

Also, if chartering turns out to not be the right call for you, then no harm, no foul...go buy a boat. Whereas if buying a boat turns out to be the wrong choice...thats uglier to unwind.
What he said....
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Old 13-10-2015, 20:28   #7
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Do both! Years ago I bought a Catalina 22. It was small & inexpensive but fine for learning and overnighting on our nearby lake. I took a few sailing courses & began chartering in various regions, trying out different boats. The C22 was sold for a C27. My wife finally became hooked (thank goodness) and my 1-week charters turned into 2-week cruises. When we realized that we needed even more cruising time it finally made sense to stop chartering and buy a more capable cruising boat. We sold the C27 for a Bavaria 37 (which we absolutely love and it's roomy enough for her cello :-). If you are spending just a few weeks on the water then charter and get to know different boats. You'll know when it's time to buy. But keep in mind that if you're destined to cruise- your first boat will certainly not be your last. Cheers!
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Old 13-10-2015, 21:03   #8
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Nobody can justify owning a boat, a motorcycle, or an airplane. That's not what ends up mattering. It's a matter of passion. If you feel it, you will have your answer.
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Old 13-10-2015, 22:10   #9
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Ha, as was predictable, you now have at least one post supporting every combination you could choose! Now all you have to do is pick one!
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Old 14-10-2015, 06:03   #10
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Ha, as was predictable, you now have at least one post supporting every combination you could choose! Now all you have to do is pick one!
Exactly what I was expecting , but also a lot of helpful food for thought. Thanks, all.
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Old 14-10-2015, 06:15   #11
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

I think you'll start out chartering, but end up owning.
I've never chartered a boat, just rented airplanes, but with the airplanes, it wasn't always available when you wanted it to be, sometimes wasn't clean, often you would get there to find it's not there yet or ready at the promised time, lot more mechanical problems than one you own, often questionable repairs, shoddy maintenance.
Are boats like this?

What finally did it for me was when we got to the airport to take some friends out to eat, only to find the last renters passenger had thrown up in the back seat.
Uh, no thank you.
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Old 14-10-2015, 08:44   #12
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Check out 'Sailtime'. See if there program works for you.
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Old 14-10-2015, 09:07   #13
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Hilda and I chartered for 5 years consecutively, one month at a time in various part of the Mediterranean. Clearly there was no point in buying. We purcchased Dance Me 5 years ago as We were moving into our retirement. We since then sail 5 to 6 months each year. Buying proved to be the proper decision. From a financial point of view, I think that charter vs ownership tipping point is about 3 to 4 months. Less than 3 months you are far better chartering while gaining experience. Over 4 months you'll love your own ship. Buying in a charter fleet is certainly an option I would consider if I was you as it offers real advantages. What ever option, "just do it" while you can! If the Med is of interest to you, try SKYachting. They charter and offer ownership packages. They are a small German company based in Marmaris, Turkey. They offer first quality services, well prepared and well maintained boats with personalized support. We know them well as they maintain our ship with their charter staff. So Good luck!
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Old 14-10-2015, 09:23   #14
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldFrog75 View Post
What he said....
+1


Well thought out and worded question also
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Old 14-10-2015, 13:42   #15
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Re: To Buy or To Charter?

So far you don't like the maintenance every year again and again, keep on chartering!
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