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Boat Sharing

I am an experienced boater (in hire boats) and am now very keen to buy a share of a narrow boat. Do you think managed boat shares are worth the extra annual costs compared to private boat shares? It seems that a boat share can be bought very cheaply but the annual costs can be quite high. I would value any suggestions or comments.

Asked by: Tim Heaps  | 5.29pm, Sunday 3 June

WW says:

Shared ownership boats are a good way of getting afloat without a large capital outlay. The boats do however get a lot of wear and tear, which directly relates to high annual maintenance charges; especially if the owners do not expect to do any cleaning or laundry of bedding.
Paying a manager to look after the boat possibly gives peace of mind, but does come at a cost. There are lots of privately run boat shares that rely on the owners to manage the boat. By getting jobs done when required and making sure that the vacating crew leaves the boat in a clean and tidy condition for the next people will save considerably in costs; but does rely on cooperation and communication between the individual owners.

Rupert Smedley  | 6.14PM, Tuesday 5 June

Readers say:

after years of hiring, we took a shared ownership option for three years before finally taking the plunge and buying our own boat. We are just about to upgrade to a new Dutch Barge!
Our experience with shared ownership was a mixed one. We had a share in an older boat, which resulted in a fairly low buying-in price, but she did require more repair and maintenance due to her age. When added to the management fee and turnaround costs, I suspect we were paying £1600 a year in fees and charges and contributions to the sinking fund. For this we had 1 x 1 week and 1 x 2 week use plus the option for another week out of season if we wanted it. Technically there was a ballot for the additional weeks, but so few wanted them they were freely available).
£1,800 for three weeks is reasonable when compared with hire companies, although at the time it was possible to hire at £850 pw out of season, so the saving was not as great as it might seem.
What put us off, however, were the other owners. Nine of the twelve in the syndicate were the original owners who had been together from the launch. Although they were very friendly, there was an "us and them" atmosphere, with the newcomers feeling like the country cousins. This manifested itself at the annual owners meeting when it had been suggested to move the boat from it's mooring near Stratford to a new marina near Stoke on Trent. Suddenly all nine hands went up in favour, with the three "newcomers" outvoted. It was clear that the decision had been made beforehand. This was made worse by the fact the three new owners all lived on the south coat and the moved resulted in another two or three hours drive each time the boat was to be used.
I accept these circumstances were particular to our boat, but it did taint our view. Perhaps we were unlucky.
Best of luck.

Andrew Kennedy  | 7.21PM, Thursday 7 June

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