Boat ownership can be the greatest thing in the world or a complete nightmare. For many, it is a purchase that feels like it has gone to waste. You invest in a boat and promise that you’ll use it ever so much, only to use it a few weekends a year. For others, you could share a boat. EFTM recently spent the day with Boating Syndication Australia (BSA) to learn about boat shares and how this model works.

Essentially, BSA acquire a range of different sized boats, from a 14m Riviera M430 worth $290,000 all the way up to the 26m Long Reef worth $2.6 million dollars. Since not many people can A) Afford a boat such as this alone and B) Not make enough use out of it to justify the costs, BSA put the vessels into a syndicate for ownership.

A syndicate is generally in a 10 – 25% share, so in the Riviera M430 example you would own 10% of the boat for $29,000, suddenly sounds affordable, and you have equal parts share for weekends, public holidays through a nomination process. In all situations BSA provides free driver training so that you can actually pilot your $290,000 boat across Sydney Harbour without anyone else and enjoy it to your hearts content. What’s more is that all of the boats we’ve looked at in the fleet have at least one bedroom and bathroom so you could easily spend the night mored in the harbour or somewhere isolated for total relaxation.

You’ve always wanted to be the Captain… right?

For those who just want to enjoy the boating lifestyle and not think about driving, catering etc, BSA can provide a driver, food and drinks and anything else you might need to get going. All of the fleet is maintained by BSA to enable owners to simply arrive and sail away without thinking about servicing or fuel etc, just go.

Skipper, because you don’t want to actually drive a $2.9 million boat!

Interestingly, at the end of the syndication (normally 3 years) you are guaranteed 60% return of your investment as a minimum once the boat is sold, this is a nice feeling if you’re worried about all your money just sinking as the years go on.

On our day with BSA we experienced life on a $2.9 million yacht. This Long Reef was a thing of beauty and is completely aspirational. To give you some idea of what this sort of money can buy you we’ll try and explain. This thing is huge. As you step onto the boat you’re in an outdoor dining area at the rear, you could proceed inside to the kitchen and dining area which flows to the lounge room which flows into a drivers cabin. From the drivers cabin are some stairs to take you below deck where you will find a parents double bedroom with ensuite, two twin share rooms with seperate bathroom and a 9 seat home theatre with surround sound.

This is the parents quarters, easily able to stand up too

If you proceed back up to the main deck there is another set of stairs however that goes to the commercial kitchen and staff sleeping quarters, no need to go down there though. Proceeding forward on the boat is a large front providing another outdoor dining area and a large mattress for laying out collecting a tan. If you head to the top level of the Long Reef 88ft vessel you find a lovely open deck with a small bar, another dining area and some more mattress space.

This was the view from the bathroom, what’s your view like from the toilet?

There is also some controls for the boat should you want to drive where the party is at. A large 6 burner BBQ also features on the top deck if you’d like to cook a snag for your guests. On this occasion the vessel accommodated 20 people and it felt empty, a party of 50 would be no problem on this boat or keep the numbers low and just relax in the peace and quiet.

Naturally the question in any syndicate comes up… What about New Years Eve? Everyone wants to be on their boat in the harbour for the fireworks right? Not entirely so. BSA were quick to inform us that the reality is that most of their owners are either travelling overseas at the time of NYE, or they’re spending NYE in their larger than normal house or they simply don’t want to risk their expensive vessel among the intoxicated boat owners that may be on the harbour that evening. We didn’t think of those scenarios, especially while we were sipping Champagne and looking at the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

While we certainly experienced the largest vessel in their fleet which is well outside of our financial means, the syndication idea did make more and more sense as we thought about it more. In reality most of us only have four weeks annual leave per year, plus weekends and it suddenly doesn’t leave you with all the time in the world to go boating. So why own a boat for it to sit in a marina for most of the year? If you only owned 10% of the boat and you managed to use it 30 days in the year then you’re actually doing really well, that is a long weekend or even some cheeky days off work to simply find a good spot to sit, relax and truly unwind.