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Purchase versus charter: Advantages and disadvantages when purchasing yachts

If you want to go boating more often, at some point you will be faced with the question: buy or charter? Or are there perhaps other models for reducing costs and realising the purchase at a reasonable price – without compromising the fun of water sports? Thoughts on an expensive hobby.

Anyone who has caught the boating bug will be familiar with this: at some point, you will be faced with the question of whether to buy a boat. The boat owner-to-be will then have to ask himself the following questions: does it have to be a purchase – or is it perhaps enough to charter from time to time?

How much money is available or should be spent on this project? Where (and possibly with how many people) will the boat be used? And finally: does it have to be a new boat, or will a good second-hand one do?

Of course, there are the “yachties” for whom a boat is above all a status symbol and for whom it is primarily important to present their floating piece of jewellery. Ownership is the only option here, because after all, you can’t boast about a rented boat or a fractionally owned yacht – even if, as you can often observe, this type of boat owner doesn’t often untie the lines to go out.

But this clientele should be disregarded here. Sailors or motorboat drivers who are interested in boating in the literal sense of the word (sometimes combined with the comforts of a larger yacht to relax on, of course) will want to set sail or start the engines as often as possible in order to set off on a longer trip or even just a weekend trip with friends or family.


Enjoying a yacht holiday: Which is better? Charter or purchase?
© nitka_zaplatana (Adobe Stock)


Important questions are how much money – and how much time – is available for the boat

“As often as possible” is one of the key words here. If you actually have the majority of your time at your disposal (and also have sufficient financial resources available), then buying a new yacht is indeed an option. If money is limited, you can opt for a “good second-hand” yacht of your own. Second-hand boats and yachts often have the advantage that they are already fully equipped, and with a bit of luck and professional advice, you can get good bargains.

When buying a new boat, you should bear in mind that boats are exposed to the elements and require constant maintenance, care and overhaul. The inexorable ageing process begins on the day of delivery. Some cars become collector’s items over the years, but only very rarely are potential buyers prepared to pay a lot of money for a used boat.

According to market observations, the loss in value in the first year can easily amount to 20 per cent, in the following years the loss in value is between five and ten per cent – assuming constant care. This point clearly speaks against a new purchase.

The other costs that arise in connection with the purchase of a yacht must also be included in the cost calculations from the outset: in addition to the loss in value of a new yacht, the purchase also immediately incurs costs for mooring, insurance, maintenance and spare parts.


Dry berth for yacht and boat
© Sergei Silin | Sin Dinero / Adobe Stock


Where should the boat’s future cruising area be?

This question also needs to be considered in advance.

Regardless of whether you want to become the owner of a new or used yacht, many potential boat owners consider keeping costs low by forming an owners’ association. Generally a good idea – if the friends who join forces are really friends – and remain so over the years. Disputes can be pre-programmed here and should be avoided from the outset.

Another point that could stand in the way of buying a yacht is the question of where you want to sail. For example, if you want to base your piece of jewellery permanently in a marina in Croatia and limit your cruising area to Croatian waters, that’s fine.

However, for those who don’t want to limit themselves to a specific area and want to go boating in the Caribbean, the Pacific or other places from time to time, there may be other, more sensible alternatives than buying their own (larger) boat, which should be checked out first.

A charter has many advantages

It is much cheaper than buying, you usually get a boat in mint condition, and after the trip you simply return the boat.

For these boaters, the charter: the bottom line is that it is much cheaper than buying, you can choose your cruising area from time to time, you usually get a new (or newer) boat model, the charter company takes all the worries associated with the boat off your hands, you simply return the boat after the trip and have your head free for other things.

If you charter as a group, you save even more – in this case, a berth on board a charter boat is often even cheaper than a hotel room in the cities or towns visited on the trip.

Finally, you can also save money here – at least if you are travelling to several towns or islands: if you wanted to visit these places as a “landlubber”, you would usually have to spend more on flights, ferries, etc. When chartering (as with your own boat), on the other hand, you always have your “floating home” with you.

The bigger the boat or yacht, the more you can save. Many experienced pleasure boaters maintain a small boat of their own for their home territory with manageable or negligible costs. If they want a larger boat or a more distant area (usually both), they charter one. The following applies: boating doesn’t have to be expensive and should be fun.

In addition to buying a new or used boat and chartering, there are other models of boat ownership

But buying or chartering are not the only options a yacht owner has. Some of the larger yacht charter companies also offer so-called yacht owner programmes. The Moorings, for example, has been following this path consistently for many years: the charter boats there are called Leopard (now the 40 Powercat, for example), but the same type of boat can also be chartered (under the name Moorings 403PC) – and rented out via the charter company.

The advantage: on the one hand, there is a guaranteed monthly income, or you can opt for a purchase option. The owner can use the boat themselves for up to 12 weeks a year, but you can also allocate booking points to family and friends.

At The Moorings, the charter company also covers all operating costs, including maintenance and insurance. An upgrade to a larger boat is also possible at a fair price. The yacht is personally looked after by a dedicated team on site.



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With guaranteed income, the buyer acquires his dream yacht and receives eight per cent per year for five to six years – depending on the destination. The risk of charter utilisation is assumed in full by the charter company. In addition, the charter company bears all costs relating to the maintenance of the yacht for the entire term. Financing is also possible with this model (from a down payment of 30 per cent).

Yacht charter companies offer various so-called yacht owner models

With the purchase option programme, the buyer invests 45 percent of the yacht’s purchase price. The owner does not receive a guaranteed income here, but benefits from all the owner advantages as in the first option. At the end of the programme, the owner can take over the yacht by paying a further 20 percent of the purchase price or receive 20 percent of the purchase price back.

Another plus point for the yacht owner programme, which is offered by The Moorings and several other charter companies: in addition to the Mediterranean, there are many other attractive yachting destinations worldwide; for example, there are charter stations in the South Seas, several in the Caribbean, Argentina, Phuket, the Seychelles and Australia.

Superyachts, i.e. yachts from 24 to 60 metres in length, have also been available in various models for some time in order to save costs. If you want to experience the superyacht feeling for yourself without wanting to buy the whole yacht, simply purchase a share – sharing is cheaper, has many advantages – and is in vogue.

For large yachts, there is the option of fractional ownership or “sharing”

Sharing models have been around for many years in the property sector, for expensive cars and even in the aviation sector: several shareholders share a private jet, for example. This is practical and saves a lot of money. At some point, this concept was also applied to luxury yachts: SeaNet is one of the pioneers here; for the first time, this company headed by Matty Zadnikar made it possible to own a Benetti superyacht as a share owner – the legal term for this is fractional ownership.
Sunseeker superyachts have also been available for sharing since 2023. Meros Yachtcharter makes it possible. Meros is an internationally active company based in Malta and Spain; there will soon be another office in the UK. With this type of sharing, several co-owners share a yacht both in terms of time and money; two models are available.

With flex-share, interested parties have the opportunity to participate in the financing of the yacht – according to the desired number of weeks of use per year. The buyers are then not owners, but there are no cost risks such as loss of value, repair costs or accident damage. Only a guaranteed lump sum is payable.

With the so-called quarter share, interested parties can acquire pro rata ownership of the yacht. Specifically, buyers receive (indirectly) a quarter share in the Sunseeker yacht via a partnership company and can use it for 12 weeks per year – there is often not enough time to use the superyacht properly anyway.

Whoever has the choice is often spoilt for choice

Good, professional advice can save a lot of trouble and money here.

Whoever has the choice is often spoilt for choice: boat or yacht purchases often have financial as well as tax aspects that should be taken into account. With a little skill, the advice of a yacht law specialist (obtained in advance) can potentially save a lot of money – and taxes.

However, nobody can make the decision for you: Purchase? Charter? Yacht owner model? Fractional ownership? Sharing? The ideas listed in this article are intended to help you avoid mistakes and take the “right” path when boating. However, this can be completely different for each individual. What may suit one person may turn out to be unreasonable for another – and vice versa.

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