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beau55sail
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OK, so I'm interested in being part of a sailboat partnership. Before you say, "that's a bad idea, they never work out." or "There are always insurmountable problems that arise from a partnership", please hear me out. I have been involved in partnerships in both power boats and aircraft and while I know that there are challenges that must be overcome I also know that with the correct management of the resource, sailboat in this case, partnerships can work. I propose that the partnership must be viewed in the same way that one would view a business, with agreement of the participants regarding costs, monthly and long term maintenance, how the resource is used, scheduled and returned, and the responsibilities of the participants with regard to maintenance and condition.

OK, why am I so interested in a partnership vs outright ownership and why do I believe that one would be a good idea. Even though I'm retired I have a number of interests other than sailing that take up a good deal of my time. I know how much time anything that floats or flies can demand. I feel that there may be others that feel as I do that they would like to have access to a sailboat to be used occasionally to day or weekend sail without dedicating one's life to the boat.

What am I missing? Please let me know why this seems to be so difficult and where my thinking is off base.

Thanks,
Beau
 

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I agree with the OP... any relationship or partnership will work only when the partners hold up their end of the deal. You need to define the terms of course and then respect the other partner.

Less of everything... work, cost, time on the boat

More time for other things, more money for them
 

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A friend has always owned his boats in partnerships and it has worked very well for him - from college to retirement.

A written partnership agreement is essential as is a written schedule of use.

The usage calendar can be online which makes changes very easy.

I think doing it with friends or acquaintances gives the best odds for success. Probably the most critical indicator of success is that all parties be of similar social situations - all married, all single, all professionals or all tradespeople - like that. It also seems to work out best if the main maintenance is contracted out - squabbles over work parties seem to be the biggest snag. Repairs and/or replacements due to errors - winch handles over the side, ripped spinnakers etc. need to be specified as to who pays for what.

A group can get you into a much bigger boat for less cost than any other way but you need to be cautious, prudent and methodical about it.
 
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I know several folks who partner in aircraft, which is essentially the same. It works when both realize that neither owns the plane, the partnership does. They simply have rights and responsibilities.

The big thing missing from the OP's list is the escape clause. Exactly how does a partner exit. Forced sale, buyout, at what price, etc.
 

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I'm in a very successful partnership.

* Inexpensive boat. Each of us could easily afford it, so there is no stress over bills.
* I do most of the maintenance. Heck, if it was just me it would be 100%, and at least I can split the cost of materials and hauling. Partners by definition feel less committed, since failures do not fall on them alone. Expect to do most of the maintenance, or don't bother.
* Retired or semi-retired, or year-round, all-weather sailor. There aren't that many prime summer weakends with perfect weather. If the partners don't have a set work schedule and you like all weather, that really, really helps. In our case, one partner works, so if he wants a weekend, we always defer. Easy. We'd rather sail on week days.

If you all work, dislike maintenance (or don't have the time), and the expense is a stretch... expect trouble.
 

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.....If you all work, dislike maintenance (or don't have the time), and the expense is a stretch... expect trouble.
Excellent advice.

A partnership will not proportionately reduce your effort, nor expense, but will reduce your access. IOW, a 50/50 partnership will not reduce your cost or effort fully by 50%. For example, the partner's wear and tear could actually increase maintenance costs, above those you'd have alone.

I'm not saying they are a bad idea, but one needs to be realistic.
 

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* I do most of the maintenance. Heck, if it was just me it would be 100%, and at least I can split the cost of materials and hauling. Partners by definition feel less committed, since failures do not fall on them alone. Expect to do most of the maintenance, or don't bother.
Very good point - a friend of my fathers was in a partnership years ago - Alberg 30 - and the other 3 partners never did any work on it.

Instead of just accepting that and doing it himself, George just complained about them and the boat deteriorated.

One possible cover for that is to have it documented that any solo time & expense could be applied to ownership share size - you would slowly acquire a bigger piece of the pie.

A lawyer could advise you on that - depending on the cost of the boat and if it's enough to make a lawyer worthwhile - an old, run down, gas powered 30' not so much but a brand new Hunter 38 - definitely.
 

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I have 2 partners. We're all good friends. all off our wives, significant others, kids, pets etc...get along and are friends as well.
then again our pets are chickens and they probably won't get along with my partners dogs and cats. We mostly day sail together though I'll take the boat for 2 weeks vacation. When I'm off cruising I of course pay for moorings and slips and fuel. We share the day to day expenses equally. When there's maintenence to be done we all show up. Three people holding sanders is better than one.
A $1000 bill becomes $333 ea.
Sooooo unless you really get along with and trust the Partners under all circumstances and have always done so. Keep looking. Or get a smaller boat.
Side note. With 3 partners I feel the boat is still under used.
 

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beau55sail
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all for taking the time to respond, all interesting points, especially the consistent theme of understanding each partner's objective, commitment, and outlook on sharing a common space. It seems to be to be a little like finding a compatible roommate. I now definitely have been reminded of the need for clear and precise communications to the point of a shared activity drawing up documents of expectations regarding finances, usage and condition of the resource.
 

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We’ve had our boat in partnership for more than 20 years now. We split bills, work on the boat together, divvy up time with the boat, and sail together as well. Having partners who share the same ideas about goals and needs for the boat has been key. It also helps to have a great boat that you all like. A partnership enabled us to get a bigger, better boat than any of us could have afforded individually. This has allowed us to cruise further, more comfortably, and to handle weather that would have been a problem in a smaller one. Having to share the boat with others has not really impacted how much we’ve been able to use it, either. Soccer games & other non-sailing events mean you can’t go out all the time anyway. Partnerships can be real win-win situations, but they have to be the right partners.
 

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I was just thinking about the few partnerships I mentioned above. In all cases, I believe either partner could afford to buy the other out, if needed. They are partnering to be more efficient, not out of necessity. That has to help reduce stress and keep a level playing field.
 

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There are so many examples of collaborations and partnerships out there - personal relationships, business, artistic, clubs and so on. Not all work out. Many who say " till death due is part" get divorced. Stuff happens and many partnerships will end. Society itself is a massive collaboration where people work together and share the burden and the rewards.

The solo approach is not without issues.

Owning a boat is not like owning a suit... and not like owning a car... though there now are "part time use " sharing models out there.

The partnership is completely workable for boats, marriages, businesses, artistic projects and so forth. It will proper or die based on the commitment to the partnership rules or not. Partnership in a boat is not for anyone. And for sure finding the right partner(s) is as important as setting up the rules. Boat partnerships work for people who don't want the 24/7/365 commitment and expenses. Aside from live aboards almost all recreational boats are actually use "part time". And this conceptually means that the asset can be shared. Why not? Time share was developed to solve the "problem" for people who didn't want the full commitment of a vacation property. It doesn't work for everyone... it does from some.

Most people accept part time use and ownership etc. for tennis, golf, swimming (pools), gyms and so forth. YES very wealthy have their own pools and tennis courts and gyms. Not many own golf course ;-)

A boat can be made very personal... not what one finds in a charter fleet. Personalizing a boat can be done by partners.... the "fitting out"... But a partnership for an already tricked out boat is more complex for sure. Going forward everything would be a joint decision.

People who are interested in a partnership need to be very mindful about what the commitment is. And this means you have to thing forward about a lot of things that you wouldn't have to in a sole ownership. Contracts will face the issues of the future... or how to.
 

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Tartan 34C
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Is something like Sailtime not a good option for you? I was former member and it worked out quite well, but it really depends on the base owner, and the quality of the members they engage. I found last minute booking were usually available, but my case may have been an anomaly.
 

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Is something like Sailtime not a good option for you? I was former member and it worked out quite well, but it really depends on the base owner, and the quality of the members they engage. I found last minute booking were usually available, but my case may have been an anomaly.
Sailtime is about going out and sailing... with professional management where others use your boat. Sounds like a version of term charter.

This would not work for me/us... for a number of reasons but it could for others with different needs.

Our boat is more like a weekend home... and I could conceive of having friends stay at the boat when we are not using it. Of course they would like have to have similar boating taste and use preferences. However the boat would be somewhat de personalized and become more like a time share or an AirBNB and less like a private home. You can't really have it both ways.
 

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Tartan 34C
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Sailtime is about going out and sailing... with professional management where others use your boat. Sounds like a version of term charter.

True. I was thinking more of the OP becoming a member not owner. It doesn't work very well from an owners standpoint in terms of the financials because the management takes a huge chunk. Although I will say that the upkeep and maintenance on the boat I was on was fantastic. They did not allow any personal belongings to be left aboard, and for overnights, members were to bring their own bedding. It was very much like stepping onto a new yacht every time.
 

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[ They did not allow any personal belongings to be left aboard, and for overnights, members were to bring their own bedding. It was very much like stepping onto a new yacht every time.
Precisely and why it wouldn't work for most owners who like to make their boats a bit like a personalized home away from home.

The thing about bigger sailboats is that sailing per se is not the only part of the deal for most owners. If it were the SailTime approach would be more commonly seen.
 

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To me the best boat partnerships I have seen are the ones which each partner has equal ownership therefore The decision making is done by all parties with a more Of a common purpose

This includes cleaning an maintainence.

I seen a lot work well. I have seen one which just recently dissolved because of “ cleanliness” issues. Both partners contributed the same monetary amounts, but one didn’t leave the boat for the other within the partners wife’s expectations.

It was like watching the roommates get along, but not their wives. Personalities can get involved in partnerships.the more people involved the more potential for friction. Along with the obvious financial protections a legal agreement can address, there will be other issues which cannot be addressed with a written agreement.
 
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Dave... house keeping would be a touchy issue understandbly.. and made more complicated with more partners. Some find cleaning and "shining" a waste of time. Others find messy annoying and intolerable.
 

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Precisely and why it wouldn't work for most owners who like to make their boats a bit like a personalized home away from home.

The thing about bigger sailboats is that sailing per se is not the only part of the deal for most owners. If it were the SailTime approach would be more commonly seen.
It's not more commonly seen because it makes little financial sense for owners. Most bases are running at capacity for members, but don't have the boats, (owners) to fill that capacity. Anyhow, not distract form the OP's original thoughts - a Sailtime membership may be easier for him if he just wants to get out on the water from time to time. That's what Sailtime does best.
 
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