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Shared Ownership

A Step By Step Guide To Buying A Boat Through Shared Ownership

A question we are getting asked more and more is, do we offer any shared ownership packages as an option for buying a boat. As many boats spend much of their time unused on their mooring, it is not too much of a surprise that boat sharing has exploded in popularity over the past few years, as boaters turn to joint or co-ownership arrangements to get them on the water.

What is shared boat ownership ?

The definition of shared boat ownership is simply the splitting of the purchase and running costs of a motorboat or yacht, between a number of people.

You may have a few friends who like boating and it makes sense to share the cost of the purchase. One of the major benefits being that as a group you can probably afford a better boat together, than you would otherwise afford on your own.

What are the costs of shared ownership?

  • The biggest benefit of sharing the purchase of a boat is the cost savings. All the following costs can be split amongst the owners:
  • Purchase Of The Boat – The deposit and capital to purchase the boat. Finance options for shared ownership are available.
  • Mooring Fees
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning both exterior and interior.

What are some of the problems of shared ownership when buying a boat?

We have heard a few common myths about boat sharing, usually involving unsuccessful syndicates with poorly maintained boats and friendship or family feuds.

Yes, there are undoubtedly some syndicates that do go wrong, but don’t let the small percentage put you off, as most are highly successful, with well-maintained boats whose owners get more time on the water than many who own their boat outright, but at a fraction of the cost.

How many people do I need for a shared purchase of a boat ?

You can split a boat between 2 people or have a Boat Club where 20 people can own a share in a boat, making the community and lifestyle accessible to anyone from any background.

Why can shared boat ownership be the perfect solution to buying a boat ?

Partnerships and syndicates can offer a great, cost and time-effective solution to owning a boat. Joint ownership offers all the benefits of single boat ownership, without the major impact on time and finances that the latter can sometimes entail.

Shared ownership can also be a fantastic option for the passionate individual who wants to take part in a number of different types of boating such as sailing dinghies at local club level, competitive sportsboat racing, and a more cruising-oriented yacht for family sailing. Joining a number of shared ownership schemes can allow this to be a reality, whereas out-right ownership could well make this financially difficult.

Other benefits can include organised social events and training, so while it is not right for everyone, if social life, time, money or multiple activities fit your boating lifestyle then it is certainly an option worth considering.


What types of shared ownership options are available ?

The growing popularity of joint boat ownership has lead to a myriad of alternatives, when it comes to purchasing your boat


This is probably the most popular type of shared boat ownership. A couple of friends, a group of boat enthusiasts or even family members, all splitting the cost of buying and running a boat. A simple agreement can be put in place and all costs split evenly between the partners.


Syndicate ownership is similar to managed shared ownership. An independent company will set up the syndicate, seek members and source the boat. Then once the syndicate is running for a period of time i.e 5 years, the syndicate members enjoy a fixed cost for enjoying the boat.

Boat Clubs

For motorboats and yachts, a boat club will be set up by a marina and then a number of members can share ownership of a boat. An approach that makes it easier for individuals who don’t know each other to buy a boat together.

Fully Managed Shared Ownership

A management company will purchase the boat and then sell the shares in that boat. These can be anything up to £1m boats and include all costs and in some cases a captain and crew to sail the boat whenever and wherever the owner wishes to go. 

RYA template agreement for shared ownership

Below is a free download of the RYA template agreement for shared ownership.


Do I need a legal agreement for shared ownership ?

The short answer is yes, to protect all parties in the arrangement, it is vital that you have an agreement in place, even if it is a family shared boat. Any reputable syndicate, boat club or managed service will have a comprehensive agreement covering all eventualities such as:

  • Each person’s legal interest in the boat
  • How the boat will be operated
  • Maintenance of the boat
  • Usage & Time management i.e how you book to use the boat evenly amongst the shareholders.
  • Share of other expenses such as mooring, insurance etc.
  • Survivorship – See the difference between Shared and Co-Ownership below.
  • Sale of the boat – What happens with the proceeds from the sale of the boat.

RYA Legal Manager, Mandy Peters states:

“A good starting point is to establish exactly what each prospective partner wants from the boat sharing arrangement. For some, sharing a boat is an easy way to have crew on tap, whilst others want sole use of the vessel on a time-share basis. It’s also important to consider the group’s attitude to maintenance and their preferences to carry out work themselves, or pay for the work to be carried out professionally. The handling of unexpected bills and the decision as to where the boat is to be kept are also important factors to consider.”

What is the difference between Shared Ownership and Co-Ownership of a boat ?

An area which is worth special consideration is the legal rights of survivorship in joint ownership of a boat.

If one of the joint owners dies, their legal title in the boat should automatically pass to the surviving owner(s). This is fine in family or spouse ownership, but it may be more appropriate for a group of friends to have the agreement specify that they are co-owners in the boat. Each then owns a distinct legal share in the boat.

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