5 Questions To Ask About Sailing Charter Yacht Ownership

5 Questions To Accelerate Your Sailing Education

So, you’ve been bitten by the sailing bug and think that someday, you may even slip the dock lines and go cruising. Okay, but there’s much to learn. From sail trim to onboard self-sufficiency, you can learn the basics and accelerate your education by purchasing a boat—in charter that is.

Charter yacht ownership is easier than you think. To learn whether this is your ticket to a sailing future, ask these five questions.

1. What are the benefits of charter yacht ownership?

Charter companies provide opportunities for you to sail extensively and get paid while you do it. These organizations can guide you through the entire purchase process and hold your hand through the owner experience so that it’s like having a friend in the business. You receive guidance from experts on the purchase and maintenance of the boat, the details of the charter contract, and the process of selling the yacht if that’s what you choose to do. Most companies offer onsite or offsite financing and insurance, have advice on boat selection, and provide lessons on managing the yacht as a business.

On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned sailor contemplating setting off into the sunset in five years, why not work now toward a boat that’s paid for then? You can sail extensively, get credentialed, or generate income in the process.

2. Am I the right fit for charter yacht ownership?

Be honest in your assessment of your own profile. Do you have the time to take full advantage of two to three months of “free” sailing per year? Can you travel frequently and on short notice? Would you like more sailing instruction or credentialing? Would you like tax-advantaged income while you sail? Are you thinking of cruising in retirement?

3. How do I select a charter organization to work with?

When choosing a charter partner, the key is to do your due diligence. Find a charter company that is large enough to have staying power but small enough to personalize your program. Is the company financially sound? Does it have a long history suggesting future longevity? Does it offer the flexibility to sail at multiple locations so that you get different experiences? Can you pick up the phone and speak to a person to understand how your asset is managed?

Look for a charter outfit that has advanced technology such as an online portal for owners, but still offers continuity in a single point of human contact. Is the program transparent and the communication streamlined? Do they have a good reputation for maintaining boats so that at the end of your contract, your boat is released to you not only with a maintenance logbook, but also with good residual/resale value?

Find a charter company that goes above and beyond. If the organization offers premium brand, fully loaded boats for charter, they’ll be used more frequently and therefore generate more income. Does the outfit offer something extra such as partnerships with companies for land holidays so that you can trade a week of sailing for a week of skiing?

4. How do I pick a boat and/or a location for my charter yacht experience?

Selecting a boat depends on your goal. If you want to work down the cost of a boat you expect to eventually take cruising, choose that kind and size of boat. If you want to generate the most income, consider a large multihull that will be chartered frequently and for higher weekly rates.

Selecting a location follows the same thought process above. If you want to retire onto your boat and sail the Med, consider putting a boat in Greece or Croatia. If you want a boat that works hard for you, pick a location where the charter traffic is heavy and the season is long, such as the British Virgin Islands.

5. What’s my exit strategy?

The proposition of charter yacht ownership begins at the end. The better you can define what you want out of the program, the more you can structure what goes into one. Do you want to sail more and have exciting vacations? Do you want to hone your skills or teach your kids to sail? Do you want to retire and take the boat cruising? At the end of your contract, will you roll over to another boat for extended ownership? Will you sell the charter boat and buy your own cruiser? The answers to these questions will guide you in what kind of boat to buy, which location to select, and which company to work with.

Owning a yacht in charter gives you flexibility but also the impetus to get out there and enjoy life. Some owners like these programs so much, they’re on their third or fourth boats in charter. If you’re thinking of retiring and cruising in five years, why not start on that plan now? If all this sounds like heaven to you, maybe it’s time to tend to that bug bite.

~By Zuzana Prochazka

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