Jan 11, 2022

New Optionsmany new options are available


With boat show season upon us some will walk the show looking to be inspired, others will be looking for a great deal. Either way, I’m sure you’ll find it. One the great niche markets is the creative ways that the marine industry is supporting getting new boaters on the water. 

In 2020, we found that boating was one of the first recreational activities that became an option as pandemic restrictions eased. Dollars that may have been spent on trips, travel and other activities were allocated to boat purchase, maintenance and support (insurance, surveys, repairs, etc). New boats sold quickly, used boats were listed, and older boats were dusted off and made ‘good enough’ for sale. Demand exceeded supply, and prices rose. Supply chain issues created hiccups and backlogs. Anything that was salvageable, floating, and saleable changed hands.

Even before the pandemic, the boating industry got creative with ways to get people on the water but the pandemic highlighted some of the issues associated with boat ownership:

• Availability of boats (and the long wait times associated)
• Availability of slips
• Availability of slips in desired locations
• The sheer cost of a boat (new or used)
• Availability of qualified technicians to take on repair and service

To mitigate some of these real issues, and with the increased numbers of people looking to get out on the water, alternative programs took off. Three options really stand out:

1) Peer-to-peer programs

A few different models exist, but the most common model is similar to Airbnb: A boat owner will work with a yacht management firm to ‘rent out’ their boat during periods when the vessel would otherwise be sitting at dock. A yacht management firm takes care of maintenance and repairs, the boat owner receives a percentage of revenue from the rental, and the renter can have use of a boat without the commitment, cost and hassle of ownership. It’s a win-win-win. 

2) Fractional ownership

Larger Vesselsa share of larger vessels become possible on a smart budget

 

In this case, multiple people share in ownership of a boat. The relationship can be friendly or purely business, and can be self-managed, or brokered through a third party. The result is the same: each party received equal use of the boat (based on their fractional shares), and proportionately share in maintenance and associated costs. A great win to allow multiple partners to use a single vessel. Especially attractive for larger, more expensive vessels – this option can allow all owners to purchase a boat that might otherwise be out of their price range.

3) Boat sharing programs.

Boating Without Ownershipboating without the costs of ownership

By far my favourite is the program that compares to car and bike sharing in major metropolitan areas across the country. In this case, individuals purchase a membership and are allowed to reserve and use boats as often as they’d like to, pending availability. Some services offer a white-glove style service (where boats are cleaned and fueled between reservations), others are more of a Nordic style of sharing program where the onus is on the member to fuel and clean the boat and leave it in a state ready for the next user. Membership is for use of the boat: No maintenance, slip fees, storage, service or repairs – Just sign up, show up, turn the key, and Go.

Boat sharing programs are available on many major lakes across the country withmany slight differences that should be considered, ranging from initiation fees, monthly fees and member responsibilities. As you can imagine, price is commensurate with service. Most options involve some type of practical on-board training, and some level of responsibility with respect of maintaining the boat in good order.

Ideal for those looking for smaller vessels for day-use, and geared towards two demographics:

a) the new boater hoping to get out on the water without the upfront fees and hassle. Perhaps they’re looking to make sure that boating is a sustainable hobby, or they’re hoping for practical skills development to help them through the learning curve in gaining comfort at the helm

b) the experienced boater hoping to get out of boat ownership, but with the option to still spend time aboard having adventures.

Great for both groups (and everyone in between), have fun contrasting and comparing the options and choosing the best fit. Keep an eye on these (and more) at the boat show. There are unlimited ways to get into boating – find the program that works best for you. 

Andrew McDonaldAndrew McDonald is the owner of Lakeside Marine Services – a boat repair/maintenance firm based in Toronto. Andrew has worked in the marine industry for 12 years and is a graduate of the Georgian College ‘Mechanical Techniques - Marine Engine Mechanic’ program.
 
Questions or comments for Andrew? Email him directly via: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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