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  #1  
Old 06-03-2014
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Buy? Or Charter?

Our first venture into the sailing world as a couple was a resounding success over the holiday weekend. We spent four nights (3 at marinas, one on the hook) with family and it appears the bug has bitten pretty hard and I'm starting to decide which way to go - purchase or charter?

Pros: Chartering give us a wider range of boats to sail and the responsibility starts and ends at the pier. Once the charter is done the bills stop.

Cons: Chartering is expensive which means the opportunity to sail is probably 3 to 4 times a year at best.

From the captain's perspective (cousin) he advised OPB's are the way to go. While the up front cost is expensive (we were looking at ~2k to charter for 4 days) there's no liability for maintenance, slip fees, insurance.

From my perspective four charters a year and I'm well on my way to purchasing a sail-able boat (28-35 ft). Of course this makes a big assumption that the maintenance costs would be minimal (yeah, risky assumption! ) but the opportunity to sail more than 4 times a year seem to balance that risk. Additionally, the experience of maintaining a boat would be a bonus. I spent many a weekend bench wrenching my BMW airhead so I don't mind getting my hands dirty.

Is there anything I'm missing? Any words of wisdom?
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Old 06-03-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

We were debating something similar, but in our case it was to whether to buy a membership that would allow us to reserve a boat whenever it was available. The pros in favor of the membership included the fact that it was one flat fee - no added costs of maintenance, upgrades, etc. The cons were that the boat might not always be available when we wanted it, we would be on a schedule when we took it out, and it simply wouldn't be "our boat".

In our case we decided to buy the boat and we haven't once regretted it. Last season there was a particularly stunning day weather-wise so we spontaneously left work early and headed down to the boat. After our sail we were sitting in the cockpit drinking a cocktail, and I said to Mr. Cthoops that this was why we owned a boat as opposed to a membership or a charter. It was ours, and we could go whenever we wanted to, wherever we wanted to, and for as long as we wanted to.

I only wish we had bought one sooner.
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Old 06-03-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

Like many answers to marine related questions, the best answer is probably "It depends." Boat ownership can be heaven or hell. Do you like fixing stuff? Do you have time to keep the boat in shape, or will you be farming it all out? Do you live in an area where you can keep the boat close at hand, or will you have to travel to it? Do you have lots of other hobbies that compete for your time?

Owning usually gives you a lot more opportunities to go sailing on nice days, but comes with overhead. Chartering is painless, but expensive, and if the weather stinks during your week, well, those are the breaks. You'll probably never know if boat ownership is for you unless you give it try...maybe try a bit smaller boat first?
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Old 06-03-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

There is another option there are groups that you pay into and can sail quite frequently. Sail time is one that I have heard of happy members, but there are others including locally owned ones. Especially if you have a flexible schedule as weekends would tend to fill up, but week days are often available even on short notice. It would not work out for me, but I could see it working out for lots of folks. You can even often get to try out different boats.
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Old 06-03-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

You have to be careful about how much you will use the boat. If you can use it regularly, then buying is the way to go. If its only a couple of long weekends, then charter. I figure basic costs for my Cal 33 are about $5000 a year for mooring, winter storage, insurance, and routine maintenance. I've already got about 10 days out on the water and usually end up with 70 to 80 for the season. Sounds like you are handy which makes a big difference in the costs of ownership.
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Old 06-03-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarbird View Post
You'll probably never know if boat ownership is for you unless you give it try...maybe try a bit smaller boat first?
Thanks for the reply, sugar, and great feedback. My only hobby at this point in life are my grandson, the occasional beer league hockey game and the motorcycle. I grew up with a great father who provided tools and encouragement so working with my hands seems therapeutic now. Then again, I know my limits.

I'm about an hour away from the closest marina and with my HOA, well, trailering is out of the question. As for the boat we'd like someplace with at least a galley and a head so we can overnight. Unless I'm mistaken (it happened once ) that pretty much puts me at something over 26'?
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Old 06-03-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

As has been mentioned, owning means you can get out on the water on a whim, on a nice evening, or go for weeks at a time should the opportunity arise.

But along with that is the upkeep and running costs. Sounds like the work won't faze you, but try to have a good idea on how often you'd actually be able to make good use of your own boat - so many people are limited to a couple of dozen days a year - which would itself be pretty expensive as a charter plan, but if you can get to 80 -100 trips a year then it's easy to justify the efforts of ownership.

Good luck!
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Old 06-04-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

I have been a member of a boat "club" for many years. My annual membership fee allows me to take out a Pearson 36 or smaller boat in the fleet whenever they are available. I also get one full week during the season and two or three reserved weekends. The boats are all older and well maintained.

The boat club has been great, But I think at the end of this season I am going to buy my own boat. I want to be able sail the boat myself. The club requires at least two people on the boat. The person doesn't have to be experienced sailing. And sometimes it's hard for me to get crew during the week. On weekends it's harder to get the boat I want, but I usually get something to sail.

I want to do more overnights, and the club limits the overnights. So if I want to take a spontaneous trip, I am somewhat restricted. But I think more than anything else, I just want a boat that is my own. One that I can get to know intimately, and know her best points of sail and other nuances. I want to equip her with the gear and instruments that I want.
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Old 06-04-2014
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Švejk View Post
I'm about an hour away from the closest marina and with my HOA, well, trailering is out of the question. As for the boat we'd like someplace with at least a galley and a head so we can overnight. Unless I'm mistaken (it happened once ) that pretty much puts me at something over 26'?
Yes, I suggest buying because you will learn more and sailboats are a relatively inexpensive hobby and weekend/vacation residence these days. Your skill sets and past experience will serve you well. Buy fully depreciated classic plastic so you can learn about all the different systems in a boat: engine, electrical, septic, plumbing, fuel, etc. Your size range is about right for your purposes. If you tire of the hobby, you should be able to sell without too great a loss. If you discover boat ownership fits you, than you can always move up to newer, larger, and/or more expensive boats.

Charters are expensive. The boats designed for charter emphasize accommodations over sailing ability. You will likely end up with shiny boat-show boats eschewed by many who care about real sailing performance.

There are some great bargains out there. Look for an older boat that sails well from a quality builder, well-maintained, inboard diesel and decent sails. Start reading about how to inspect older boats and get a marine survey before you close on your purchase.

The Chesapeake Bay is such a great place for a sailboat owner, numerous cruising destinations, relatively benign conditions, and low ownership costs. You could spend every weekend exploring different towns and anchorages around the Bay, then cruise outside the Bay for a week or two for summer vacations. I kept my boat in Mayo, Maryland while I lived in Northern Virginia, a relatively easy drive out Rte. 214 from 495.
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Re: Buy? Or Charter?

As stated...IT DEPENDS is the only answer. How much you and whomever will REALLY use the boat makes the difference between good decision and bad decision. I will use my own experience as an example.

I have had boats all my life. Started at 10 years old and continues 50+ years later. The sailing bug bit me hard again after I retired and took a couple of classes. Absolutely fascinated me sailing bigger boats. So, like you, the decision had to be made.

I worked out a deal with a charter compnay to sail 20 half days a year for XX dollars, just to makie sure that I was going to like it as much as I thought I would. The following year I bought a new C34, but also put the boat in a charter fleet to hedge my bet on the costs and usage. Absolutely loved the boat, working on the boat, staying on the boat, etc..

Ten years later my average number of days sailing (some two hour days, some 24 hour days) was 20 days a year. Sailing in northern L. Michigan our season is May to October for the most part. I live 30 minutes from the boat. I and my family also have other hobbies and requirements that keep us busy. However, I found that my marina neighbors also averaged somewhere near the same amount of use as our boat...so it was not just me. I did have friends that used their boat as a summer home and obviously they used it more, but more as a home than actually sailing. I also a dock neighbor that never used the boat once all season. The only people that used the boat were the marina folks who put it in and out, and the cleaning staff that came around once a week to clean it.

Balance those 20 days with an additional 20 days ( some 1 hour, some 10 hour) of working on the boat. Fixing things, cleaning things, etc.. Add in an additional number of days checking it over the winter and you have my mix.

I have no regrets that I bought the boat. She was wonderful. However, at the end of last year I decided to sell her because for me the balance of time spent on the boat, and time spent working on the boat, no longer worked. I have not given up sailing as I will sail on OPB's, and I will continue to charter. My guess is that I will in fact still sail the same 20 days a year. However, my time working on the boat will be cut to 10 days or less(working on OPB's).

Financially, what you buy and the amount of work it needs, depnds on how much you spend on the boat. Add days to my work if you buy an older boat. Mine took more time to clean, wax, fix as it aged. Bottom line, no matter what anyone claims, a boat is a depreciating asset that you continue to put money into. Worth every penny if you love it, but still a depreciating asset.

Sailing partners also become huge. I sailed solo most of the time. It started out with regular sailing partners, but dwindled as I and they aged. Kids, grand kids, significant others, also have restraints on there time. As you age what you can do easily changes. All of that has to be factored in.

So..It DEPENDS! I am fortunate that I live on a lake not far from L. Michigan where the boat was kept. I still have a few water toys to play with in addition to chartering so I still get my fix.

Oh, if I remember your post I think that you are not a 20 something. You have already gotten a few responses to go smaller. Determine how you will want to sail and what creature comforts that you and those sailing with you require. Charter for a year if you are not sure. Then buy a boat that fits your needs or you certainly not use it. If you need 30 plus feet buy it now, because if the sailoing bug bites hard you will buy it later.

Good Luck!
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