Uncle T


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Anyone who has shared, or thought of sharing, a boat has had to face the question of how much to charge partners. In a shared ownership or syndicate scenario the question gets a little easier, i.e., split all costs according to percentage of ownership for each owner. When you want maintain ownership but share your boat with other people however, the question is a bit more complex.

What will the Market Bear?

This is the idea that you should set prices based on what a sharing partner is willing to pay. This pricing paradigm is difficult in the boat sharing market because there isn’t a lot of data about what others are charging. Without some external data, what the market will bear become a guess. You may price your share too low and lose money or you may price to high and never get anyone on the boat.

How can you put some intelligence on “what the market will bear?”

Relate to Current Cost of Owning a Similar Boat

Notwithstanding your actual costs, you might price a share of your boat according to the cost of owning a similar boat at today’s prices.

Let’s say you own a boat with a $30,000 mortgage, have a $350/month mortgage payment and pay $200/month is other miscellaneous costs. Your actual costs are $550/month.

However, the current value of the boat is $20,000. If you bought your boat today, your payment would be around $150/month (just to make the math easier) and you still have the $200/month in miscellaneous costs.

A 50% share based on what you’re actually paying would be $275/month. A 50% share based on your boat’s current cost would be $175/month. Thus, under this analysis you would offer a 50% share for $175/month

While this simple analysis might be a backdoor method to get at “what the market will bear” it leaves some important facts off the table.

The Cost of the Boat is the Cost of the Boat

It is difficult to put a price on the countless hours most of us have spent caring for, fixing and maintaining our boats. Regular oil changes, a new generator, adding a set of fenders, upgrading the stereo, underwater lights, a satellite TV system, fuel meters, etc., etc. Most boat owners have spent a lot of money and time keeping their boats in tip top shape. You know the boat and you know its particularities.

By contrast, when you purchase a used boat you really have no idea what problems you’re going to encounter once you get it on the water. Has this boat been taken care of? Is it really worth what I paid for it? Only time will tell.

When you bring a partner on your boat you’re not selling him a used boat, you’re sharing something you’ve cared for and maintained for years. A shared boat also comes with a kind of built-in or implied guarantee that that boat is in good shape and if something breaks you will fix it – something you would never get when purchasing a used boat.

For these reasons, I think pricing your boat based on the current cost of a similar used boat is probably less then what the share is actually worth. The right price is probably somewhere between your actual costs and the cost of a similar used boat.

If your boat is in great shape and you’ve done a lot of upgrades you could push the price to the higher end of the range. If your actual costs are way out of line with the current cost of a similar used boat you would probably want to set your price at the lower end of the range.

We would love to hear any other methods you have used and, generally, what kinds of prices you’re getting to share your boats – feel free to add your thoughts and comments below.
You should be able to add their names to your insurance. It is done by an endorsement to your policy that the agent can take care of it. It shouldn't matter that they are paying you, etc. and you shouldn't need a "commercial" insurance policy which would be very expensive.
Thanks for the reply - I'm not sure I'd be up for that, especially if it's not really going to hurt anything, but for the future, what's involved in doing the gel coat patch, etc?
The boat has a black stripe along the side and the rest is white. The chip/injury is in the black area and is right next to the aluminum ring that goes around the port hole. Have not worked with Gelcoat, but have "buffed out" a few smaller scratches in the past.
it is through to the fiberglass but not all the way through - like no water could get into the boat. And you're right it's gel coat not paint.
I have a pretty good scratch/ding on my boat just above one of the windows on the side - hit the dock while coming in the other day. The boat is fiberglass and the ding goes through the paint into the fiberglass.

Can I repair this myself? Should I? Can I "patch" it until the winter?
Not looking specifically for a legal opinion here, but just generally speaking, trying to understand who is responsible when someone gets seriously injured on my boat and I was not the person driving it.

Suppose I loan my boat to a friend and someone is injured, am I responsible?

What if one of my partners is driving and someone is injured?

What if one of my partners allows one of his friends to drive the boat, who is the responsible party then?
I used Travelers for a number of years but my broker just switched me to State Farm. Had a claim under Travelers that went pretty smoothly and would recommend them for that reason. The premiums were largely the same between the two companies so I would agree with Beach G's comment about rates - you have to do your homework, but they should be pretty close between companies for you (although someone else with different circumstances may be able to get a much better rate from the same company).
Read the article on your blog - nice article - I have had a partner on my boat for the past few years (didn't meet him online incidentally) and things are going well. We have actually become quite good friends - go out on the boat together and attend each other's get-togethers. We actually shared the same boat with Sailtime - boat sharing club - and decided to go in together on our own boat when our contracts came up. My partner is a much more avid boater than I am and I have definitely learned a lot from going out with him on the lake. We share costs, labor, etc., and I imagine it would be a completely different (and probably more painful) experience if I was going it alone.
Well, following that logic, you should share your car Don 🙂