With the current cost-of-living crisis, the prospect of sharing the costs of running a boat may become increasingly attractive as a way to continue boating. Shared ownership of a boat, in a partnership, or in a syndicate can offer a great cost and time-effective solution to owning a boat.
Joint ownership offers all the benefits of single boat ownership, without the major impact on time and finances that the latter can sometimes entail. Given that many vessels can spend significant periods of time on their mooring, boat sharing is a good way for recreational boaters to enjoy getting on the water, without bearing the full brunt of costs.
To avoid problems later, a written agreement is crucial, even for boats shared within families. It will help to ensure that all parties consider the various aspects of how the boat will be operated and maintained. As well as setting out each owner's legal interest, the contract should clearly define the responsibilities towards the vessel and the share of expenses. It should also cover each partner's rights to usage.
A good starting point is to establish exactly what each prospective partner wants from the boat-sharing arrangement. For some, sharing a boat is an easy way to ensure there's always crew available, while others want sole use of the vessel on a time-share basis. It's also important to consider the group's attitude to maintenance and their preferences to carry out work themselves or pay for the work to be carried out professionally. The handling of unexpected bills and the decision as to where the boat is to be kept are also important factors to consider when coming to an agreement.
RYA members can benefit from our template agreement for Syndicate Ownership of a Boat. It can be used as a platform that the prospective boat ownership members can build on to suit their particular circumstances.
While there are undoubtedly syndicates that go wrong, by following our guidance most are successful, with well-maintained boats whose owners get more time afloat than many who own their boats outright.