Friday Rant: On Sharing the Cost of Summer Boating Through Partnerships

If you have a passion for boating as I have, "these are the days" in the upper hemisphere. There is simply nothing better than floating on green/blue waters with gorgeous sunsets while the wind blows most of your cares away. And while boating is a perpetual cost/benefit analysis, it's also a grand day when the weather cooperates and everything and everyone performs properly. Perhaps the one big element of attraction is the inescapable metaphor it offers for daily life and business: preparation, planning, affordability, joy, disappointment and risk.

Everything about boating is expensive in both time and money. The expense can, however, be mitigated by good planning, proper maintenance, and sharing the costs with a partner -- though maybe not two, three or four. I entered into such an arrangement three years ago and a recent article in Chicago Business, titled Boat co-ownership: sharing the costs, but waves over money, cleaning and guests, has reminded me of just how fortunate my experience has been.

Make no mistake about it; partnerships are a variation on marriage. As with marriage -- if you're contemplating a "leisure time" boating partnership -- stick with one person. Do not be seduced into a Vegas style marriage just because you both share "the passion." My boating partner and I worked and socialized together for years before we made the plunge. We knew each others' idiosyncrasies, strengths and weaknesses both on and off the water as well as our respective financial ability to support the venture. As a lifelong boater, I was able to list, ad nauseum, all of the possible pitfalls and projected spend. Our mutual experience, while not without incident, has surpassed our expectations.

According to the Chicago Business piece, most partners are not as lucky. Examples of conflict include unshared labor, late payments, disparate cleaning standards and unwelcome guests. Since these are all issues that can be discussed and agreed upon in advance, if you are diligent, flexible and tolerant, a boating partnership could be right for you. Just be certain that you know and like your mate prior to engagement -- barnacles and all.

I'm off to the dock, but if anyone out there is contemplating a boat share, feel free to call me at 215-508-7414 if it you'd like to come about and wave it around.

William Busch

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