As with sailing schools, small-scale charter company operations could source clients through Onboard Space, an online crew/skipper platform seeking to get people sailing. If your vessel is certified in your home country for charter operations, Onboard Space could be a means of generating the income you need, and potentially allow you to run your boat for free all year.
Could your boat pay for itself?
Throughout this series of blogs we often say that boats are expensive to run. Typically you’ll need €10,000 annually to keep it. That’s why a lot of yacht owners consider setting up a small-scale yacht company to make the boat pay for itself.
The idea behind such an operation is that you get to use the boat for however many weeks/weekends a year you want and then charter it out for the rest of the season. Unless you are on a round the world trip you’ll hardly ever use the boat for more than six weeks a year – effectively costing more than €1000 per week of use! That’s why it makes sense to set up a small-scale yacht charter company.
Small-scale charter company regulations
If you own a yacht and would like to reduce the costs involved in running it by making the vessel earn its keep it isn’t just a simple case of signing up with Onboard Space and running your business.
A charter yacht is always considered a ‘commercial vessel’, everywhere in Europe. This means that it is subject to tight regulations and must be registered and certified in your home country. The yacht must have certain equipment aboard that includes fire extinguishers, a VHF, EPIRB and life raft (amongst other things) that must be kept in good condition. It must be seaworthy and will be subject to periodic inspection by authorities. It must be insured too.
A potential UK small-scale charter company should look at the Royal Yachting Association website here to see what exactly this involves. Other countries have their own regulations and certification system – we know for example that in Spain if you wish to charter your vessel out you can’t use it for leisure yourself.
Recruiting – added costs
Recruiting customers can be a bit of a pain in the arse, and can add costs to the operation that are a bit hit and miss. A small-scale charter company couldn’t hope to compete with the big guys online who hire people like me to ensure they do well on social media and Google!
An ad in a local sailing magazine/newsletter can help, as can posts on club/marina noticeboards but these can be ignored.
That’s the advantage of Onboard Space! Not all crew on the site are inexperienced – many will have high level sailing qualifications and experience but just don’t own their own boat. You can recruit people directly on the platform with connections costing as little as €4 a time. It costs nothing to put your company on our database and people can find you while browsing to see who’s what and where. Could that make your small-scale yacht charter company a profitable venture? It’s certainly worth a punt as it could just cost you your time!