I really don't think there is one 'right' answer to this. The simpelist example is when I have been hired to deliver a boat for someone I didn't know. That was strait up a financial deal and I charged a day rate and travel expenses. If the owner balked at this then I walked away from a job because that's what it was.
I have also delivered boats back from distance races, if I did the race
on the boat I would normally do it for free or just cost. Figuring the owner spent a huge amount on my fun and I could do at least this to defray his cost. Hopefully so he would want to do it again next time. But if I was paid to race
then I would charge for the delivery
. At that point I was doing the entire thing for the owners benefit not mine and felt I should get paid for it.
When it comes to 'friends' I have no idea what the right answer is. I just always did what felt right at the time. If it was a pleasure trip then I never charged we were there to hang out, if it was a strait delivery
then I may or may not depending... If I travel to hang out on someone's boat for a week or two doing vacation
stuff then I think it's only fair I contribute to the cost (food, booze, etc) and always buy more than my fair share, whatever that is.
On the other hand I have been invited aboard some incredible boats as a guest, such that I couldn't possibly contribute meaningfully to the operations cost, and would have refused to go if that was expected. Donating my fair share to keep a 40' sailboat running is one thing, paying a pro rate fuel bill on a 90' sports fishing
boat with a captain, cook, and steward is another.
To me this is a lot like 'who pays when you go to dinner'. It simply depends, and the only fair answer is to be clear ahead of time what everyone's expectations are. If I don't feel they are 'fair' or if the budget
that seems 'fair' is still too much then you walk away ahead of time.
So what do I expect if it's my boat? Nothing at all. I certainly appreciate when people offer to donate, but I expect to pay for it all unless it has been arranged ahead of time.
I will always remember the ghost white face of a friend of mine who offered to cover the fuel bill before a fishing
rodeo. He had never been deep sea fishing before and thought that was a reasonable expense to pick up... Right up until the fuel bill was tallied and he was on the hook for about $25,000 for three days of fishing, now this guy was a hard worker, but made maybe 30,000 a year as a mechanic
there was no way he could cover that bill. While we were at the fuel dock
I pulled him aside and told him there was no way anyone expected him to cover that bill. His offer was appreciated, but the running cost was paid for by the owner, and that was the end of it. If we actually won the tournament then that was also why the boat got a share of the prize money
He was invited back fishing all the time, because he volunteered to keep the engines running, but never again offered to contribute to the fuel bill.