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View From The Marina: Charter Economics 101 (BLOG)

There are many advantages to placing your yacht into charter service, including the ever popular "Charter Retirement Plan." Here is why you should enroll today!
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Recently, I read an article about Florida’s economy and how it has outpaced national statistics. That was good news, but for me it was old news since I have seen the signs on an improving economy for many months. No, it wasn’t housing starts, new jobs or the typical signs that economic times are improving.

It was yacht owners reaching out to us by phone, email or personal visits, asking about getting their yachts into our charter program. Some of these people are new to yacht ownership and they are being a bit cautious and that’s smart. Let’s face it, buying a yacht is a substantial commitment and deciding to participate in a yacht charter programs is a consideration we encourage for yacht owners new and old.

Here are some of the advantages of having your boat in charter service:

1. Your yacht will be well maintained and “cruise-ready” at all times.

2. You will not have to spend your vacation scrubbing off rust and mildew or changing the moil on your engine. You can take your boat out and enjoy your time on the water.

3. Charter revenue helps to offset the cost of ownership. The charter income will not cover all of your expenses; however, it may allow you to keep the boat up to a higher standard than if it were just sitting at the dock.

4. Everyone thinks they will use their boat “all the time” when they buy it. However, the reality is that with our busy lives, we don’t always have the time to take the boat out, much less spend time cleaning, varnishing and polishing. When your vessel is in charter, you can use it when you have the time. When you are not using your boat, it is being chartered and cared for and not just sitting at the dock deteriorating.

5. Many yacht owners use the charter option as a "floating retirement plan." That is, they buy the boat while they are working and use the charter revenue to upgrade and equip it the way they want. At retirement time, they take the boat out of charter. Then they have a well-maintained, well-equipped vessel that meets their cruising needs.

Chicagoans Dave and Jan highlight my last point. They had a Grand Banks 42 in our fleet for five years. They were on the “floating retirement plan.” When Dave retired last year, they decided to take the boat out of charter and go cruising. They spent last summer aboard taking the boat from Fort Myers to Michigan, not far from their home in Chicago. The charter program worked perfectly for them. They were able to use the charter revenue to help maintain and upgrade their boat so that when they finally were able to take off, they had a beautiful yacht on which to cruise.

If you are thinking about placing your yacht into a charter program, watch for my column in the Charter Edition of the CHANNELS newsletter due out September 18, 2014. (Click here to subscribe for FREE!) I will be offering advice on the steps you ought to take when “shopping” for such a program. Like many of you, we started out in boating for pleasure. We are sailors, cruisers, Captains, charterers and boat owners ourselves. We understand the business from all sides, not just the side of the charter company. We know what charterers appreciate in a yacht; we know what an owners needs to protect his or her investment; and my advice is based on those perspectives.

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at, or at (239) 257-2788.