A powerboat enthusiast, who asked to remain anonymous, tried two syndication providers. The first company went out of business after five months, leaving many owners out of pocket.

With the second syndication provider, there were repeated issues with other members damaging the boat, taking it out of service while it was being repaired, poor maintenance and general maintenance and fuel overload. When he decided to leave the system, he was forced to sell his stake at a discount because the syndication operator retained the exclusive right to sell the stock.

Boat sharing can be a profitable option, but it comes with a risk. Credit: Steven siewert

“It breaks my heart in a way because it’s a brilliant concept and if done right it would be a win-win for everyone,” he said.

In another case, a man was forced to pay $ 20,000 for damage to the gearbox, although he believed he was not responsible and despite the fact that the deductible on the insurance was not was that $ 5,000.

There have been similar issues in the timeshare industry, with Choice recently filing a “super-complaint” with the corporate regulator alleging at least eight industry-wide financial services law violations.

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An alternative to boat unions is membership in a club where ordinary members do not have equity in the boat, such as with SailTime for sailboats and Boatlife Society for small motor boats. The cost here is much lower – for example, membership fees for SailTime start at $ 1,300 and monthly fees start at $ 850, while Boatlife Society memberships are as low as $ 350 per month.

Brendan Hunt, founder and managing director of boat broker VicSail in Rushcutters Bay, is not directly involved in boat syndications but is well connected to what is happening on the waterfront.

Mr Hunt said shared boating is the perfect solution for people who are short on time and don’t want to spend time maintaining a boat, while still being much more cost effective than owning.

However, he said not all companies are equally good at handling the high maintenance requirements of the boats and the varying levels of expertise and expectations of members.

“When you have a good, reputable company that handles all of this and manages the expectations of the members, you get a really good result,” Hunt said. “If you have a company that maybe isn’t maintaining the boat properly, or a model that doesn’t provide proper owner education, then that’s a broken model and waiting to fall.”

SailTime, based in Rushcutters Bay, offers a sailing school and onboarding program to ensure potential members are knowledgeable and is generally known as a good operator.

For Uwe and Christine Roehm, boating shared through SailTime has been a great experience. They bought Currawong, a Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 yacht, in October and say the shared model makes the cost manageable and adds a social dimension, while SailTime takes care of the mooring and maintenance.

“It was the best option to make a dream come true, to have a new boat that we can actually afford because of the overall sharing arrangement,” said Mr Roehm.

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