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Promising part-time privilege without full-time pitfalls, boat syndication and boat sharing seem like an obvious choice for many would-be boaties — but is it as simple as it seems?



Is Boat Sharing or Syndcation the answer to costly boating? It could be finds James Jackson 


Getting on the water is the primary objective, how you use your money depends on what you know as much as what you want to do.

Any boat owner will tell you that a boat is a big investment, and most will do so with eyes transfixed on the bigger and more luxurious vessel that’s moored alongside theirs. For the masses nodding in agreement, there’s a middle-ground: syndication and sharing.

In short, syndication means you share time and financial responsibility of a boat (usually for a set term before reselling) with a group of part-owners, while boat sharing forgets about ownership — meaning you are essentially paying for time on deck (and for others to worry about maintenance and storage). Either way, the prospect of (relatively) low costs to access high-class motor yachts is a mouth-watering thought. 


The most tired (and true) aphorism in boating says that the two best days in the life of a boat-owner are the day you buy and the day you sell.

So, if you take those two days away but keep the boating in between, does that mean — and stay with me here — that a non-boat-owner’s best days of not owning a boat are the many days they spend out on the water on a boat they don’t own?

According to Phil Pitt from Pacific Boating, if you are a member of a boat-sharing service, all that is potentially true (but still confusing).


"Owning a boat is great, but most people actually just want flexibility — they don’t want

to be tied down," says Pitt, the company’s managing director.

For Pacific Boating, that means a fleet of 19 Sea Ray vessels across three locations around Sydney, as well as no major upfront investments, memberships that use a simple credit point system and walk-on, walk-off service.

"We now live in a share economy that’s growing fast, whether it’s equity or club-based. Cars, boats, planes, houses, absolutely everything is being shared, and it’s a good thing.

"Our members aren’t tied to one vessel, in fact they have access to the whole fleet. You don’t always have the same number of people with you, and it’s just a reality that any vessel can’t be guaranteed to be operational 365 days a year."

With membership doubling over the last four years to over 700 boaties, it appears that the company’s system is striking the right balance of simplicity, choice and service in a market

that’s learning to trust within a brave new world of sharing.

Pacific Boating, to play their part, offers 20 days on the water per year at the bare minimum, which can be scaled up according to how many credits you buy. How many credits you spend depends on which vessel you take, for how long, and whether you take it on a weekday or weekend. It’s a fluid system, and one that’s inherently predicated on experience over ownership. 


Syndication is like having your slice of the pie: you probably didn’t want to eat more than that anyway, and you don’t need to pay for everyone else’s slice.

Even better, you don’t eat boats — which means you and other pie-eaters can even recoup costs after you’ve had your time on the water. We could go into more confusing dessert analogies about having cake and eating it too, but we don’t have the time to waste (and it’s making me too hungry).

It’s no surprise, then, that syndication and management company Luxury Boat Syndicates believes that syndication is not all that different to outright ownership, and they aim to treat their syndicates as such.

"We like our owners to feel like movie stars each time they step onto their boat," says Luxury Boat Syndicate’s Managing Director, Ian Rose.

"We try to customise how each owner would like the boat set up — tender on or off, Bimini up or down. It gives them a true sense of ownership."

Speaking of ownership, Luxury Boat Syndicates works on a consistent model of eight owners for each syndicate, which equates to 43 boating days a year. The company’s service flows from hand-picking boats for their owners — shares that have so far ranged from $45,000 to $325,000 — through to a stress-free, walk-on walk-off system, with after-sales support and concierge service that’s part of the company’s package.

Princess V58 SaltwaterImages-8341.jpg 

Another interesting case is Boating Partnerships. Unlike most offerings, it’s officially endorsed and supported by the builder of the boats they’re syndicating: Riviera. This connection benefits owners in unique ways, from Riviera-specific educational workshops and training to the support of Riviera’s strong R Marine Network of Riv and Belize dealers — not to mention vessel relocation using the company’s team of professional skippers.

"Riviera Australia have endorsed us and only us due to our ownership structure and business model," says Tom van Vliet, Boating Partnership’s managing director.

Part of that business model is limiting syndicates to six shares —most have an upper-limit of eight to ten — which is an interesting choice that van Vlient says is a conscious one.

"By limiting the number of owners to a maximum of six, and educating owners not to just book random days in the future, which happens in larger syndicates due to a fear of missing out, we are finding that the boats’ calendars have a greater amount of freedom, allowing for spur-of-the-moment bookings."

Aside from the cost of the boat, syndicate owners will typically split maintenance and berthing costs equally, and will pay for their own fuel on each trip. van Vliet believes transparency is key in these running costs, and makes it a focus in the company’s operations.

"We charge the retail price for the new boats and run separate bank accounts for each vessel’s running costs, allowing owners to see exactly where their money is going. There are absolutely no hidden costs with Boating Partnerships."

With that information in mind, sharing and syndication are enticing propositions indeed. For new boaties, you can get a managed introduction to the lifestyle; for experienced hands, it creates an opportunity to pursue your dream yacht or scale your spend on a passion that, realistically, takes up less of our time than we ideally wish it would. In that sense, sharing vessels is the perfect solution for a common problem, and one that can make your time on the water more relaxing than ever.



Luxury Boat Syndicates 


Luxury Boat Syndicates hand-picks its boats to suit each syndicate of eight owners. Shares have so far ranged from $45,000 – $325,000.



Boating Partnerships


Boating Partnerships operates exclusively with Riviera and syndicates of six owners or less. Shares start at $139,000 for a sixth-share of a 3600 Sport Yacht; a quarter-share in a 64-foot Riviera 6000 Sports Yacht is $550,000.



Pacific Boating


Pacific Boating has an initial club entry cost of $1500, and monthly costs that are as little as $995. Members can access the entire fleet, which ranges from 28 feet to the 52 Sea Ray Sundancer Sports Cruiser.




Check out the full feature in issue #507 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration


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