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Boat Chartering


Owning a boat – Sort of….

Fractional Boat Ownership

One of the fractional share yachts from Pinnacle in Stamford

Owning a boat these days is not at all as far fetched as it may seem. There you are, you have a couple of kids, there is soccer, softball, junior sailing, you name it – a totally comprehensive schedule filling up every available free hour, every evening and almost every weekend. But still you want to go sailing, spend a relaxing day out on the water, perhaps spend a night at anchor or even go cruising for a week once or twice a year. Or perhaps you are simply in a situation where you love sailing and cannot step up to the price tag of owning and maintaining a yacht – be it power or sail. Maybe on the other hand you grew up sailing dinghies but never had experience on a larger vessel and would like to give it a try before comitting to a purchase.

Believe it or not, this dream to accommodate your kids, satisfy your sailing urge, and/or fit your budget is actually quite realistic. You can go one of three routes.

You can team up with a bunch of buddies and spread the cost, which many people do. This has the upside that you have a bunch of buddies you can do things with, but it has the downside that it is a loose arrangement and can easily derail and cause a problem among friends – it is not always a simple business deal. If you are new to an area or from outside the coastal vicinity, then the ‘group of buddies’ simply will not exist.

The second option is chartering a yacht in a destination vacation area. This is usually an enjoyable experience, however, it can be expensive and you are only on the water for the duration of your vacation.

The third route is to sign up with an outfit that offers ‘fractional sailing’. This is in essence a fancy name for a ‘time share’, just like the model with the condo on the beach or the ski chalet. You buy in and get a certain number of days on a specific, usually new, boat or options to use other boats. And this really works.

The fractional sailing companies usually operate out of specific base stations where they keep and maintain their fleets. There may well be one in your local area. The bigger outfits often use proprietary scheduling technology, usually accessed via the internet, to allow members to book time on their boat. To help keep member costs down they may even employ some type of electronic check-in and check-out system at the boat that removes the need for a staff member on the dock. Members incur no maintenance, bank payments, slip fees, or insurance costs; they simply pay one low annual or monthly fee to the management company.

The management companies also go to great lengths preparing their clients for their boating pleasure. We were recently invited to speak about local destinations at the Pinnacle Yachts orientation seminar. This was one of a series of day long courses for new Captains and covered such topics as Colregs, coastal navigation, GPS, etc. Often, these companies also have experienced licensed captains for hire who can run the boat for you until you feel comfortable doing so yourself.

Pinnacle Yachts orientation for new skippers

Some Fractional Boating Management companies:

  • Several of the larger production boat manufacturers
  • www.

The Pros and Cons

As with all things in life, there are pros and cons to Time Share or Fractional Boat ownership. You'll have to decide if this is right for you.


  • Low cost of ‘owning’ or having access to a yacht
  • Someone else has the responsibility of maintaining ‘your’ yacht
  • Set number of days you can use ‘your’ yacht
  • Help in learning the ropes
  • Test piloting a vessel before buying
  • No need to sell if you find out you made a mistake


  • Set number of days you can use ‘your’ yacht
  • Lack of freedom to go and do as you please whenever you please
  • Cost of employing the management company beyond the purchase price
  • You can't just bring your stuff aboard and leave it there
  • Commiting to a schedule in advance - may not coincide with the best weather

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