Should you own or charter a boat?

I could give you many reasons why not to buy a boat, but they would be the same reasons not to have a child.

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Buying or renting a boat, what is best?

Most boats are only at sea around 14 days a year, and owning a boat costs a lot of money. Renting a boat seams super expensive, but what is the most affordable, and what makes sense to you?

In this article, I will go through positive and negative considerations that help you make a carefully planned decision about your futures as an owner or charter guest on boats.

Let me start by saying that if only the financial part of the question is an issue to you, then no doubt renting will be the most frugal. Insurance, port fee, and boat maintenance alone, will give you at least two weeks’ rent on a similar boat. Then there is the loss of value, repairs, equipment, and service fees on top of that, making charter the optimal financial solution for most sailors.

Chartered Boat Dubai
Chartered boat in Dubai

Negatives about renting boats

  • Moving stuff
  • Get to know a new ship every time
  • Being a guest
  • No impulsive boat trips
  • Losing out on social life
  • Weather is not an option

Moving stuff

You will need to bring a lot more stuff every time you want to sail, so be prepared to transport a lot of luggage to a rented boat. Using other people’s lifevests may not be safe, and clothes for sailing take up a lot of space.

Get to know a new ship every time

You need to learn about the vessel and remember new things, possible every time you want to go sailing if you change boat or long time pass between charter.

Being a guest

Some people adapt very well to new places and quickly feel at home in someone else’s boat, but most sailors will probably not feel like it’s your home on the water. A ship often becomes a second “lover” and leaving a rented boat, can be very hard after a week of summer romance.

No impulsive boat trips

It can be hard to rent a boat in the near future, so you will have to plan your trip early, making it impossible to take an impulsive day at sea.

Losing out on social life

Most sailors are friendly people who like to hang out and talk about boat stuff and sailing. But you will not be part of the social life and fun in a yacht club or with your naibours in the harbor, because you will only be in there shortly.

Weather is not an option

As you know sailing is all about the weather, no matter if you sail a sailing vessel or a motor yacht, you are always dependent on the weather conditions. Having only a week with a boat can make it hard to even get out at sea (safely).

Negatives about owning a boat

  • Worrying about your boat
  • Keeping things in ship shapes
  • It is complicated to sail
  • Boats are known to break up relationships
  • Guilt
  • Storage is necessary
  • Loss of value

Worrying about your boat

Owning a vessel occupies your mind, not always in a good way. Worries about storms and heavy weather, and if the boat is safely docked or take in water, even when you don’t use it, it is a big thing in most boat owners’ lives.

Keeping things in ship shapes

You have to love spending time (and money) on maintenance if you want to be a boat owner. If you do not find it fulfilling to see the fruit of hard labor, then find another hobby or rent a boat instead. There will be lots of work all the time. Just keeping the vessel in a safe condition and making it ready for the season, will cost you hours of your time. You will have to polish, varnish, wash, and grease as a bare minimum, but surely things will brake – often at sea, where nobody is around to help you.

It is complicated to sail

It can be hard to handle a boat, especially if you are not experienced. There is a lot to learn about sailing: weather, navigation, rules at sea, and safety, etc. It is not al about “how to drive the boat” which in itself can be a handful if you a new to sailing. In that case, maybe you are better off learning how to sail first.

Boats are known to break up relationships

You and your family need commitments, training, courses, money, learning mechanics, etc. You also need strong relationships on a ship. You are assigned in a small space, with no exit, and boats are known to break marriages.

Guilt

With owning a boat comes guilt, at least for most people. Guilt for not taking proper care for it, or not using it enough to justify the amount of money you spend on it.

Storage is necessary

You will have a lot of things that needs storage if the boat is on the hard in the cold- or hurricane season. During the sailing season you need storage of tools and stuff that takes up room.

Loss of value

Is it hard to sell a boat?
It can be tough to sell a boat, and you no doubt will lose money. It is worst if you bought a new ship, but also used vessels are to lose a lot of value. About 20% is the average value loss in the first two years of the boats life. A broker costs up to 30%, and buyers will ask for discounts, probably in the 10-30% range. Consider selling the boat yourself online.

Positives about renting a boat

  • Convenience
  • Flexibility
  • Price
  • Maintenance-free

Convenience

You can rent a boat all over the world, so it is easy to change your location.
The ship has to be in good shape and is professionally kept, so you are more sure of the condition of a charter boat.

Flexibility

You have access to yachts of all sizes and types, and can, therefore, plan your vacation with family and friends flexible.

Price

Even thou it seems expensive to rent it is always cheaper if you only want to sail a couple of weeks a year (like most boat owners do).

Maintenance-free

You can call someone if the boat has issues and needs repair, or you will get another boat to continue your vacation in. In fact, you don´t have to know much about anything but sailing if you rent a boat. The charter company will give you all the instructions you need if it is a professionally run business.

into the mystic ...
Blissfulll sea

Good things about owning a boat

  • An active, healthy lifestyle lavish in nature
  • Freedom and Soul therapy
  • Quality time with friends and family
  • Enjoying manual work
  • Your own home on the water

An active healthy lifestyle rich in nature

Owning a boat means lots of fresh air, beautiful nature, getting in touch with the seasons and the weather. It also means a lot of exercises, that you probably don’t even realize getting. You will find yourself jumping, climbing, swimming and pulling a lot of lines, while having fun at sea.

The satisfaction of handling a boat is a good feeling you should give yourself.

Freedom and Soul therapy

Being on the water is often described as meditation or soul therapy, and after a lovely trip in a boat, you can find yourself in a state of happiness that is beyond explaining. Many people experience a calming of the nerves by just being in the boat – also when doing hard manual labor.

The feeling of freedom by owning a boat is also worth more then the money spend. You can go anywhere you want, almost when you want, and you are the master of the world on your ship.

Quality time with friends and family

Having a boat should mean spending quality time with family and friends, if not reconsider finding a hobby you all like. If your family likes sailing too, then it is the perfect possibility to get to know each other deeper and to explore the world together.

You probably have friends who would love to join you on a boat trip, and if they are good friends, you should be able to ask them for help with the maintenance. Having something committed to do with your friends, is good for most relationships.

Enjoying manual work

Maybe this doesn’t count for all, but the satisfaction of doing good manual labor is priceless. Knowing your vessel is in ship shape and that you did it, is also a big confidence booster.

Your own home on the water

By owning a boat, you will have your own home on the water and can bring it around the world as you like. It can feel like having your kingdom when you are out at sea, and nobody is around.

Sail Boat
A boat is a home on the water

Alternatives to renting or chartering boats

Alternatively, you could also get a boat-club membership or become a co-owner of one or more ships. This will give you more flexibility, fewer expenses and may provide you with access to use different kinds of boats.

Videos about owning or renting a boat

The ease of renting a boat
The hard labor of owning a boat

So when it comes to the question, should you buy or rent a boat, there is no clear answer. Do time and money mean more to you, then the love for a boat and the joy of keeping it, then charter most definitely is your solution. But if you have the time, the money, and know what size boat you want, then owning a boat can be the most wonderful thing in life.

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Author profile

Ane Boa was born in 1971 and has been sailing ever since. She got her license in 1984 and her first boat in 1989. Today she owns a Contessa 28 from 1980
Ane is a creative soal who also likes to play music and holds two degrees as an architect and a nurse.