Top: Cruising with the co-owners: Norm and Diane Nelson
with my wife, Jill, and I, relaxing on the serene waters off
San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest. Above: Watermark,
our shared Selene 53, is anchored in Brentwood Bay off
Vancouver Island, B.C. In this quiet, secluded cove, we
enjoyed a wonderful view of Butchart Gardens.
“Two heads are better than one”? You should treat co-ownership as a business so the work portion is divided
and each partner has more time to enjoy cruising.
Having a partner to share new ideas and different
points of view is a great benefit as well. Unless you
want a boat to live on full time or use every weekend,
co-ownership might be of interest to you. In addition to
sharing the workload, if the boat is used more often, the
machinery usually runs better, the bottom stays cleaner,
and the fuel is less likely to become stagnant. And that
pungent, musty smell associated with a closed-up boat
will also be decreased.
There are other issues to consider when thinking
about a co-ownership arrangement. You must first
get over the psychological aspect of sharing a boat—
overcoming this hurdle is a major step to becoming
co-owner material. However, many of us have owned
condos or vacation homes and have rented them out
to others when not in use. Why not bring that attitude
over to your trawler?
If you and your co-ownership partner are still
shopping, there are many factors to consider, such
as make, size, price, features, engine size and number,
and all of the things that attract you to a particular
boat. You will probably never find the boat and exact
features you can both be 100-percent satisfied with, so
you might have to give and take a little. Cooperation in
the co-ownership purchasing decision will only carry
over to other decisions later.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE
You really need to know your co-owner well before
jumping into this relationship. It is a form of marriage
and you don’t want to end up in divorce court! Both
sides must learn to compromise and avoid arguments
over the little things. If you and a potential co-owner
haven’t been friends for years, you need to get to know
each other well and spend time together before moving
forward. You want someone who will treat the boat
with the same level of care as you would.
Find a co-owner who has a similar level of boating
experience. Experience can come in many forms—
sailing, cruising, driving the family ski boat, seminars,
certifications, licenses, Trawler Fest events, etc. You
need to be comfortable with each other’s boating
expertise. You also need to choose someone who
wants to keep the boat in the same location(s) or has
the same dreams of cruising now and in the future.
When two or more parties jointly own a boat, I
strongly recommend creating a written agreement
between the co-owners that is as thorough as possible
and covers just about every aspect of co-ownership,
including the terms listed here. After you have
come to an understanding on each item, bring your
written comments to an attorney to draw up a formal
agreement. If you can’t agree on the terms, it’s much
better to find out now rather than after you purchase
ENJOY THE RIDE
Co-ownership is not for everyone, but it is a great
way to afford a nicer boat, as well the ongoing costs
associated with owning a boat. Once you become
comfortable with the idea of sharing a boat, you are
well on your way to enjoying years of boating pleasure
with less expense and fewer chores. And best of all, the
boat will be happier and work better over the years if it
is exercised often.
The co-ownership agreement will take substantial
effort but could save you hours of grief later and keep
your friendship and co-ownership going for many years
of smooth sailing.