We were involved in a boat partnership that lasted 15 years (longer than many marriages
). We had a rather informal written agreement that mostly addressed how to eventually terminate the arrangement. Unfortunately I can't find a copy but I remember it being very brief and to the effect that in the event we had to terminate we would a)have the boat assessed by a mutally agreed third party/surveyor and either partner had the option to buy out the other or b) simply sell the boat and divide the proceeds. In the end we did the latter.
We also had a clause that, in the case of damage to the boat or equipment the user at the time was responsible for the costs and/or deductible if it was an insurance claim. This item never came to the fore because we mostly used the boat as a group, thankfully did no serious damage at any time, and for the most part all maintenance/repairs/upgrades were DIY.
Other important factors in our success were, I believe:
- each partner group has an equal ability to pay - if one party is "richer" than the other it can lead to disagreements and resentments over what to buy and when.
- set up a joint account into which a monthly stipend is deposited. This sets up a contingency fund so a sudden need can be accomodated. The monthly input should be set to account for annual fixed costs (moorage, insurance), enough to cover the agreed-upon annual refit/maintenance budget plus a little extra.
- each party MUST contribute equally to the dirty work.. washing, cleaning, scraping, painting, engine chores, etc. (unless you've agreed to pay for that type of work)
- we were friends and had sailed together for several years before getting into this.. we knew we got along and that we had similar priorities from the outset. Our children were friends and had the same friends. The concept of setting up a partnership on something as personal as "your boat" via the personal or classified ads is a bit frightening to me. Almost along the lines of answering an internet ad to sail across the ocean with someone you don't know.
All the bills get cut in half... and in the end we enjoyed a much larger boat than we would have on our own - in fact we ran 2 boats together - a 40' "cruiser" and a 24' dayracer so we had the best of both worlds. Our sons raced with us throughout their preteen and teenage years (priceless!!). It was a great deal, but as it turned out, I decided on a career change and relocation that in the end meant that the partnership was dissolved.
The boat sold in a few months, and we have each moved on to smaller boats (and I think I've been forgiven) and continue to meet up each summer to cruise together, as we've done now for over 25 years.
So I recommend the idea wholeheartedly but really make sure that compatibility is ensured, or have iron-clad agreements in advance... can you say "pre-nup"?