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Old 01-07-2015, 03:33   #46
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Originally Posted by Cap Erict3 View Post
While it is a common practice on a fishing or dive outing for the guests to pay all expenses, it is not something I've seen out sailing.


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Outside commercial operations, never been asked to pay for fishing or dive outings and before we got into cruising that was mostly what we did boating, so not sure how common it is (of course chipping in voluntarily has always been nice)
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:16   #47
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Re: Guests share expenses

I have owned a house in the mountains of upstate New York for many years.
Quests fall into two categories those that have a standing invite and those
That never get asked back. Guess which ones contribute?
If you were my friend and I'm on your boat
I wouldn't let you spend a dime on expenses while onboard
But I wouldn't expect to pay for an engine overhaul
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Old 01-07-2015, 19:36   #48
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Re: Guests share expenses

It's very simple: if you require payment, you are operating a charter business. Period, end of sentence. If something goes wrong, you better have a captain's license, or things will go from civil to criminal in court.

That's all there is to it.


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Old 01-07-2015, 19:37   #49
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Originally Posted by Time2Go View Post
I have owned a house in the mountains of upstate New York for many years.

Quests fall into two categories those that have a standing invite and those

That never get asked back. Guess which ones contribute?

If you were my friend and I'm on your boat

I wouldn't let you spend a dime on expenses while onboard

But I wouldn't expect to pay for an engine overhaul

Some folks learn young the benefits of paying ones way in life. I did, as did most others that I respect.

It seems you follow the same rules.


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Old 01-07-2015, 19:40   #50
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Originally Posted by mstrebe View Post
It's very simple: if you require payment, you are operating a charter business. Period, end of sentence. If something goes wrong, you better have a captain's license, or things will go from civil to criminal in court.

That's all there is to it.


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Do you call a lawyer before offering to help pay for gas on a road trip?


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Old 01-07-2015, 19:59   #51
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Originally Posted by mstrebe View Post
It's very simple: if you require payment, you are operating a charter business. Period, end of sentence. If something goes wrong, you better have a captain's license, or things will go from civil to criminal in court.

That's all there is to it.


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Man, do you NEVER invite guests on your boat (outside the marina?)?
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Old 01-07-2015, 20:15   #52
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Re: Guests share expenses

On board vending machines for beer and soda. Even snacks. And in the cabins a mini fridge with computer sensors like in the hotels in New York. For meals have a menu printed with prices in bold. Do not return to port until everyone has settled their account. Offer a 10% discount for family and friends and those who pay in cash upfront. Call your boat a social club and register it in an a C Corp that you also have applied for tax exemption in as a social club. You could sell memberships to your social club prior to departure and give them a tee shirt with the name of the social club on it. Just to cover your backside in case anyone tries to say your operating your boat for hire.

Now that will sure take care of the freeloaders.
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Old 01-07-2015, 22:34   #53
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Originally Posted by mayacove View Post
My wife and I are live aboard our Cruising Cat. A lot of friends and acquaintances want to come down for a week or two. In the past when we had a smaller boat, we simply paid for the expenses and were happy when people asked to chip in. Now we have the space for 6 or more people and Re thinking of how to have them visit, but contribute to the food, moorings, diesel, water etc. Not looking to make a profit, just cove the added expense. How do others go about this? Something up front, contribute to a "Kitty" ?etc?
Rather than deal with all this speculation on legalities, why not do the simple thing, which is to call BVI Customs and ask their opinion? Ask to speak to Wade Smith, who is the head of Customs, or Mr. Lettsome, who often makes the call on such matters. The phone number for HQ is 284-494-3475.Try to get them to answer in writing, which may mean visiting them in downtown Road Town. It's these guys' opinion that counts, not what the USCG thinks.

A significant difference is that in many "foreign" countries, where chartering is big business such as the BVI, there are charges that differ, depending upon what category the guests fall into, and that tends to make the local officialdom a good bit more interested in things than in the US, since their business is to collect fees. For example, in the BVI, where I run a crewed charter yacht, every charter guest pays a per person, per day cruising tax. That fee depends upon the time of year and where the boat is legally based (BVI or non BVI), but not where it is flagged. A boat that is "offered for charter" either in the BVI or outside of it, is, under the law, considered a charter boat, although that clause is not always enforced. Note that "offered" doesn't mean that the boat was ever actually chartered.

A boat classified as a charter boat used to be able to take friends or family without having to pay the cruising tax. A few years ago, Customs got very sticky about this, and the current interpretation is that immediate family is as far as they will go. Government departments have been told to collect all the fees that are due, and some officials can be very aggressive about this.

I don't know what the cruising tax is on "private" boats, but it isn't a secret. Customs will be happy to tell you and you should expect to pay it.

Chartering is a big business here, and carries implications that involve Trade Licenses, Commercial Recreational Licenses, Work Permits, RYA Code Compliance, all of which are subject to inspection, and insurance, for starters. And big fines, as in $5000. So you do NOT want to be involved in any misunderstandings, which is why I suggested the OP do the simple thing of calling Customs, rather than ask for all of our opinions, although it certainly is fun to hash over what we think OUGHT to be the answer! Remember, the BVI is a very small country and you never know whose brother in law you are talking to. The earlier comment about a guest's incorrect answer getting you into hot water is certainly true.

When I read the OP's post, the phrase that sticks out as a red flag is the one about "friends and acquaintances", because it implies that some are friends and others are something else. And, there are certainly instances where the guest is a friend of a friend of a friend. Which isn's a friend, if the official is defining things in a narrow way. Remember, one of their jobs is to protect the legal operators here. The fact that the OP is "not looking to make a profit" is irrelevant; many charter boats do not make a profit and are quite relieved to simply make expenses. But, the OP's description sounds like it fits the definition of "charter", by our standards.

This all may sound a bit frank and brutal, but every year a few boats get nailed for skirting the regulations, and, when folk are pre-paying an agreed sum, it is very easy to slide from being a host to one's friends, to becoming a charter boat. Someone says, "can I bring along these other people who will be happy to pay their way", and one thing leads to another. And, Customs would rather charge you the fees for being a charter boat than not, so they do have a dog in the fight. Except, of course, if you are deemed to be a charter boat, you don't have any of the correct licenses nor insurance, and this has heavy consequences. So, although I am sure there are many who have done it, be very wary of any grey areas.

Note that everything I have said pertains to charter boats, and to the difference between charter and private boats. I don't know the regs for bona fide private boats, because I don't operate one, but, as I said, those regs are not hard to determine. Just ask Customs.

However, in order to avoid any misinterpretations, I definitely would not stipulate that my guests pay any fixed rates, particularly if they are acquaintances or friends of friends, because those folks are the ones most likely to think in terms of a quid pro quo, rather than a friendly invitation or donation.

When I have friends onboard, I always pay the cruising tax, as if they are charter guests, because I run a known charter boat and don't want to get into a discussion I might not win. The OP wants to operate as a private boat so his fees will be different.

Shifting from legalities to etiquette, inviting friends as the OP plans to do incurs some real costs. I never used to expect contributions, when I had a boat more like the size of most of the members of this forum, and the number of friends I might carry maxed out at two or three. But, when you have six or more guests on a cat, it adds up quickly, and, as someone mentioned, moorings are pricey, as is water and everything else. Additionally, you will almost certainly be expected to dine out at places where you would normally eat onboard, and that's pricey, too. Friends WILL ask to come and visit and it won't be just for a weekend. So, I don't think expecting some help from a group of people that may number six or more is being "cheap".

Having said all of this, I have never, ever, had friends on board who have not offered or insisted on paying more than their share. They will usually say that they will pay for any costs or expenses we incur and they are as good as their word. Sometimes they even cover the cost of cleaning the boat - again, remember that a good sized cat represents a lot more cleaning than the average boat. I am sure that the OP's friends will be equally courteous, and if they aren't, they shouldn't be invited back. But I would suggest that he stay as far away as possible from a pre-determined price, or anything else that is likely to be interpreted as a charter, and that may include giving some thought as to how loosely he should define the "acquaintances" that are invited, or, shall we say, included.
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Old 02-07-2015, 03:38   #54
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Originally Posted by contrail View Post
Rather than deal with all this speculation on legalities, why not do the simple thing, which is to call BVI Customs and ask their opinion? Ask to speak to Wade Smith, who is the head of Customs, or Mr. Lettsome, who often makes the call on such matters. The phone number for HQ is 284-494-3475.Try to get them to answer in writing, which may mean visiting them in downtown Road Town. It's these guys' opinion that counts, not what the USCG thinks. ........................................
It's most common for discussions to grow beyond the scope of the original post as we have seen here. There's nothing wrong with this; however, seeing that the original question was regarding guests aboard a vessel in the British Virgin Islands, this answer from contrail is the best!
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Old 02-07-2015, 10:36   #55
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Man, do you NEVER invite guests on your boat (outside the marina?)?

We take people out all the time. I just don't ask people to pay anything. That's just a guaranteed way to cause misunderstandings. If you can't afford to have guests, don't have guests.

Boats are different that RVs and houses because in the U.S. there are specific laws disallowing commercial operation without a license. I don't know the rules in BVI, but I assume it's somewhat similar.


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Old 02-07-2015, 11:51   #56
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Guests share expenses

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Originally Posted by mstrebe View Post
We take people out all the time. I just don't ask people to pay anything. That's just a guaranteed way to cause misunderstandings. If you can't afford to have guests, don't have guests.

Boats are different that RVs and houses because in the U.S. there are specific laws disallowing commercial operation without a license. I don't know the rules in BVI, but I assume it's somewhat similar.


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The op did request input on ways to request funds. No denying that could lead to unpleasant ramifications. Legal and otherwise.

As for a guest offering to share in the costs incurred, that is certainly a legally and socially accepted practice. Even if you don't have the funds to pitch much in, something to show your appreciation is a good idea.

It is no different than stepping in to help wash dishes, clear a table or pick up after ones self.

So many people carry themselves with a sense of entitlement. Blind to the fact they are carried on the efforts of the caring.


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Old 02-07-2015, 12:03   #57
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Re: Guests share expenses

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If you were my friend and I'm on your boat
I wouldn't let you spend a dime on expenses while onboard
we had guests fly in to spend a week with us, no payment was expected and none asked, they were guests. But as good friends, they picked up the cost of the marina slip (we only took one to make it easier for them to come on board) and they went with us for provisioning and they insisted on paying for provisions and also paid when we all went ashore for dinner one night. They said they had a terrific time (several times) and we hope to have them join us again. But I would be happy to have them again even if they did not contribute. As a boat owner and knowing the costs, I would do the same as a guest, offer without being asked and insist on paying more than my fair share.
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Old 02-07-2015, 12:11   #58
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Re: Guests share expenses

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..... If you can't afford to have guests, don't have guests.
Isn't this really the bottom line?

It's like:

Don't like guns? Don't buy one.
Don't like alcohol? Don't drink it.
Don't like cigarettes? Don't smoke them.
Can't afford guests? Don't invite them.
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Old 02-07-2015, 12:15   #59
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Re: Guests share expenses

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I've never had to ask anyone who came on my boat as a guest to help contribute. And, I would suggest that if you do, you are asking the wrong people to with you on your boat.
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Old 02-07-2015, 12:30   #60
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Re: Guests share expenses

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Do you call a lawyer before offering to help pay for gas on a road trip?


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No...but if I start putting out a fee schedule, probably not a bad idea to check on the insurance and licensing impacts.

The key point you missed is "require". Once it's required, it's no longer voluntary and you become a commercial operation with all the associated hassles and costs.

Some people fly under the radar by hinting around that they would like to be compensated. That's when it gets fuzzy.
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