I said I would do a post about owning a boat in charter service, so here it is.
I’m going to preface this by saying that we were with a charter fleet in the Pacific Northwest which from what I am told is an entirely different game than that in the Caribbean.
When we bought the boat in 2009, it was already with Cooper Boating and they owned 50% with another individual so our purchase was for Cooper’s 50% and we became partners with the existing individual owner.
The charter deal was a 60 / 40 revenue split, after credit card fees, with Cooper taking 40%. For this they provided advertising for, and screening of clients, linens, provisioning services for the clients, dove the boat after each charter and admin and accounting services. Repair services were offered and coordinated through their office but the owners were billed for the work. I was fortunate that we lived close by and I enjoyed working on the boat so I tended to do much of the maintenance work myself. I can see where absentee owners would have increased costs.
The charter season in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) is only about 4-5 months long so if you were planning on 200 days of charter revenue you can forget it up here. We averaged 50 to 60 days annually. We tried to get 30 to 40 days of use ourselves so even in the short season, our boat was out on average 100 days.
You will not become a millionaire owning a charter boat. In fact depending loan payments, depreciation and other tax strategies you are more likely to lose money. Which is essentially how we ended up. At the end of each year the charter revenue covered the basic maintenance, (not the upgrades) moorage and insurance.
Was there accelerated wear and tear on the boat? Yes. Engines averaged 250 plus hours a year. Clutch handles were broken, step surfaces and cushions show more wear, lost tools and the like. Again I’ll qualify that by saying if an individual used their own boat for 100 days a year in the PNW I would expect to see the same sort of wear and tear.
Did we have any major damages? Yes, while not catastrophic, we had one instance when a client made contact between a bridge and the mast. Fortunately they realized at the last moment and just nicked the bridge. The mast stayed up but the masthead and wind instruments were damaged. The mast had to come off for repairs. We had another instance when a client some how managed to get a 30 amp 11o volt shore power cord plugged into a 50 amp 220 volt shoreside outlet. That took out the battery charger and all the gfi plugs. Both of these were covered by either the damage deposit or the charter company insurance.
That sounds bad but in the 8 years we’ve been in charter I also know of owners that have hit bridges, put the boat on the rocks and experienced other mishaps.
Would I do it again … yes. Would I recommend it to others .. yes
A boat is an expensive asset to have tied to a dock. I look at charter boat ownership as a way of making that asset earn its keep when I can not use it. To this point and time Barb and I have been working for a living and getting more than 2 weeks off at any one time was difficult. Chartering the boat made it possible for us to have a larger boat than what we could have afforded otherwise.