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View Poll Results: Which option do you think is the best?
Buy a non-chartered boat, sail it, and sell it 2 28.57%
Buy an ex-charter boat, sail it, and put it into charter 2 28.57%
Buy charter weeks 3 42.86%
Something else! 0 0%
Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 16-02-2010, 09:36   #1
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Sailing Sabbatical - To Rent or Own?

I'm planning a 6-12 month "sailing sabbatical" with my girlfriend and need some advice for you guys.

I've been sailing since I was a kid and have always dreamed of taking some time off to sail around the world. After speaking with some folks at boat shows and reading online, it appears that for a trip of this duration exploring the Caribbean and Central America might make more sense than an around-the-world trip. My girlfriend is not an experienced sailor, but fortunately she's adventurous enough to go along with the idea!

We've narrowed the field to a 38-44 foot catamaran, most likely a Lagoon 380 or Leopard 40. The question is, to rent or own?

After all my research thus far, I figure I have a few different options:

Option #1 - Buy a non-chartered boat, sail it, and sell it
This would probably be a 2-4 year old cat, owner's version. I'd rather buy used than new, so that someone else can take the initial depreciation hit and outfit the boat with all the bells and whistles that we'll need. The advantage is that we'd have a boat that is still relatively new and hopefully without any big maintenance issues. The disadvantage is that I'll incur a lot of transaction fees when it's time to sell, which might not make sense if I only only own it for a year. Of course I could just keep the boat for private use when the trip is over, but since I live in Atlanta it wouldn't be convenient to use it every weekend. It would probably drive me crazy to pay monthly bills for a depreciating asset that I can't enjoy very often.

Option #2 - Buy an ex-charter boat, sail it, and put it into charter
This would probably be a 3-5 year old cat, 4 cabin version. That advantage here is that I could buy it really cheap, though I may have more maintenance issues since charter boats work hard in their lives (hopefully this could be mitigated by buying from a reputable charter company and getting a good survey done pre-purchase.) Another advantage here is when I'm done with it I can just put it back into charter with a second-tier charter company, avoiding seller transaction costs and hopefully generating enough revenue to offset the costs of ownership. Plus, it would be there for me whenever I want to sail for another week or two after the big trip. If I went this route, I'd probably want to keep the boat in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami so I could get to it relatively inexpensively.

Option #3 - Buy charter weeks
A very crude friend of mine once advised, "If it floats, flies, or f**ks, better to rent than own" (my apologies to the ladies.) Another option is to just buy a bunch of charter weeks from either a private owner or charter company. There seems to be a healthy after market for unused "owner use" weeks, sometimes going for just 50% of the prevailing retail charter rates. One advantage of this is we could take the weeks at various charter locations around the world, perhaps leading us to a Land & Sea Adventure where we'd travel the world, splitting our time between weeks traveling inland and weeks aboard sailboats in the Caribbean, Greece, Croatia, Thailand, etc. It's a different kind of trip, but it wouldn't suck.

I welcome your thoughts, questions, and advice!

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Old 16-02-2010, 09:53   #2
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Option 3 sounds intriguing. Have you added up the costs of option one and two. I believe that option 3 would turn out to be cheaper even with airfares. If you don't love boats. I mean really love boats it really is not worth owning one. It would be much better to charter.

Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
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Old 16-02-2010, 14:17   #3
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I think all could work. You need to crunch the real numbers for the real options you see and make your decision based on that.

I'm currently on a sailing sabbatical. I actually own a boat in charter. For me it made more sense to keep that boat in charter, keep earning income and buy a second boat than take the first boat out of charter for my sabbatical.

Chartering/renting is expensive and usually restrictive. I think it rare and unlikely you can rent of that period of time cheaper than buying and reselling.

I don't think the previous use of a boat (charter or not charter) should be a significant part of your search criteria. Look at what ever boats suit you regardless of their past use. Privately owned boats can be in much better shape than charter boats or can have been let go and need a lot of work to bring them back to cruise ready condition. Be objective as you look at boats and get a survey.
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Old 16-02-2010, 15:17   #4
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Ah, six months at sea will definitely be enough of a test for your relationship. And if the "test of time/travel challenges" is what you were aiming for, good on ya -- it's an excellent revealer of character. For that reason, Option 3 seems to me to be insufficient -- too easy to bail when things are uncomfortable, even the rewards for perseverance won't feel quite the same if there was a security blanket the whole time. But that could just be me being too hardcore.

If you rent and you wind up deeply in love with each other (and with the boat, etc.), it could be wrenching to have to give it back at the end.

OTOH, if you own and your GF gets fed up and leaves you in the eighth week, that could be annoyingly complicated for you, as well.

So, as money seems less of an issue to you than to many, I fancy Option 2; the historic love vessel is preserved, and it makes you money if it charters well, and if you decide to chuck it all and sail with your lady love into an internet-and-phone-business-supported sunset, you "have the technology" :-D

Enjoy! May you both find strength, humor and happiness in each other, whatever the surrounds!
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Old 16-02-2010, 16:00   #5
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Another approach would be to find an owner, say in Florida, who would lease a boat for an extended period at a cost far less than chartering for the same number of weeks. Most owners would want to be able to reach a comfort level on your ability/responsibility, but there have to be some owners with nice boats on the sale market who would be willing to make such a deal and try to sell the boat later in a better market. There would be insurance, damage deposits, and other issues to work out.
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Old 18-02-2010, 13:00   #6
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Well I've been trying to figure out a similar fate for/with my wife and two kids.
It seems my research and desire to spend my wife's money to make the dream come true is sending us into spiraling divorce...
So, as mentioned earlier, no offense to anyone, but I float and I f*@k (haven't figured out the flying yet), and I could be rented for a great deal!!
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Old 18-02-2010, 13:26   #7
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A 38-44 ft catamaran for two? You sure you need that much boat?
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Old 18-02-2010, 14:19   #8
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There are at least two 'ready to go' Lagoon 380's that are newly on the market from liveaboard cruisers. I'd say that's the best way to go, especially since I suspect neither are broker listed. Much less hassle than chartering long term OR outfitting from scratch.

I'm not associated with either of them.
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Old 18-02-2010, 15:33   #9
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ALL: Thanks so much for your help thus far! I love this forum.

Charlie & nautical62: As you guys suggest, I started to crunch some actual numbers in a spreadsheet and here's what I've come up with thus far: Sabbatical Cost Estimates Do these numbers look realistic to you guys? If so, clearly Option #1 is a no-go but #2 and #3 are comparable.

AquatiCat: Interesting take on things! I was just thinking of this in terms of costs, but you raise a good point... the different options could have a different effect on our relationship. Definitely something worth considering.

TexSail: It's a good thought, basically something in-between Options #2 and #3. Now I have to add another damn tab to my spreadsheet!

solarbri: Maybe you should have following my crude friend's advice...

anotherT34C: You're right, a 38'+ catamaran is a lot of boat for 2 people, but my gf is a bit high-maintance (as am I sometimes) and if we're spending a year on the boat I think we'll need that level of space and comfort. If we're just chartering for a week or two, a 35-40' monohull should be sufficient.

cchesley: Would you mind sending a link to those listings?

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charter, lagoon 380, leopard 40, rent to own, renting

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