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Old 06-30-2006
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How to start a sailing club - Suggestions?

Several work buddies and I are considering creating a sailing club in Puerto Rico. We need some advice and suggestions from knowledgeable people.

Here is the situation: We are currently working in Puerto Rico. Due to our employment, we transfer around the country every 3-5 years on average. We are looking for a way to pool our resources to purchase a sailboat here in PR, so that we and others after us can enjoy the sailing opportunities here in PR even though it is not reasonable for most of us to purchase a boat.

We are considering incorporating, either as a non-profit or Limited Liability Corp, or something along those lines. Membership would consist of ownership of shares in the corporation in order to limit liability of each individual. The initial membership fees (say, $1,000-1,500) would purchase shares in the corp and provide financing to purchase a sailboat. Monthly dues would provide for slip fees, insurance, and maintenance. Membership would be limited, so as not to create a scheduling problem for use of the boat and to provide for members transferring out to be able to sell their membership shares to a new member from a waiting list.

While the intent is not for profit, but solely for the benefit of ourselves and other employees, we can see that if this works here, other employees in other coastal cities on the mainland may want to come and play. It would seem to be a simple thing to bring them in under the same umbrella and simply expand the club to other areas. Might even save costs by insuring all the boats under the same policy. So, there might be an opportunity to turn this into a profit making enterprise in the future.

I am hoping for advice and suggestions in light of the above. Is a non-profit corp the best way to go? Could it be easily converted to a for-profit corp later if we wanted? What about a Limited Liability Partnership or corp? Aviation people have been using "Fractional Ownership" for years, but I'm not sure what benefit that has over incorporating. Also, houseboat owners in Arizona often sell shares in their boats, allotting specific weeks per year to share owners, and pricing the shares accordingly (ie, summer weeks = expensive, winter weeks = less expensive). How does all this relate to sailboats and what experience do any of you have along these lines? Any help would be appreciated.
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