Fractional Ownership

A self help guide to the yacht of your dreams.

December 7th 2005
Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Ever thought “how on earth can the normal looking guy with the Perrini Navi afford the custom built sloop he’s enjoying?” It leaves you with a tepid taste and turbid thoughts – “They made it all selling dashboard mounted hula girls on e-bay you know!”
Well the truth is he probably does live next to you, can’t really afford all it for 365 days a year, but still enjoys the full pride of ownership whenever he steps aboard. Fractional ownership is the new route to yachts, bigger yachts and really big yachts, all with a lot less hassle and a lot less cash.

If you look in the personals, you may see Professional Couple looking for others to share?. Carry on reading if you dare and you are more likely to discover a whole new world of cheaper yachting, not just a cheap weekend. This is the starter group of Fractional owners. Those who own a yacht and only find themselves using it for a fraction of the time they expected. A group of friends is either formed or coerced into buying into Jerry’s Catalina and presto, access to a yacht is granted. Bahamas bound or Florida found, an owners’ group can provide the sanctuary needed by the first time buyer. Many owners have found this to be a great way of reducing the annual costs, without having to sell the yacht. The downside can be found through the inevitable pressure this puts on friendships but most groupies tell a tale of happy, cheap sailing with friends.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

For those wishing for a more formal arrangement, there are now a wide range of options being offered under the guise of ‘Fractional’ or ‘Shared’ yacht ownership. The majority of offerings originate from the United States of Affluence. Here fractional ownership is a tried and trusted concept. America has been skimming the skies in shared planes since the seventies. Although the usage is different with aircraft only being needed for short bursts of time, the principle of intelligent ownership spread to encompass second homes and now yachts. Most owners of fractional assets do actually have enough funds available to buy the ranch, yacht, or ski lodge. However, the joint appeal of keeping the capital in the bank, and not paying for all the time the place/thing stands empty is simply too appealing.

If you decide to take the professional route, there are a tremendous range of options immediately available. A brief ride on the waves of the web using ‘fractional yacht’ brings over 158000 responses to choose from. We have chosen two companies to investigate, each of which offers a different take on the fractional concept: Synergy Yachting are luxury performance catamaran specialists, while Eusamarine offers mega power yachts of multi-million dollar proportions.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Aiming firmly at the Chelsea set, owner Keith Smith has furnished a growing group of owners with shares in power yachts from Azimut and Benetti. Ranging in size from 50 ft to 50 meters, these yachts represent the power and luxury side of the fractional industry. With yachts available in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, they seem to have covered most of the needs of your average rock star. Of course with share options ranging from 1 to 12 weeks on all yachts, you don’t need a five record deal to secure dock space for Monaco next year. Joining Eusamarine would offer you access to a fleet of mega yachts as the weeks are transferable between yachts and locations. On the downside, you would not be able to disappear off into the sunset with dreams of open oceans and solitude as all yachts are run by professional captains. However, this can be offset against the relaxing feeling that only a gourmet multi course dinner prepared by your private chef can provide.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Synergy Yachting Partnerships deals solely with large cruising catamarans. Catamarans have rapidly established themselves as the boat of choice for family cruising with popular charter fleets such as Sunsail and The Moorings who have more than trebled the size of their Cat fleets during the last five years. Synergy has noted this increase in the popularity of mulitihulls and are offering shares in some serious sailing kit. With yachts of between 60 and 88 feet, these are luxury performance yachts capable of cruising at 12 to 20 knots without spilling a drop! These boats are equipped with all the toys required for warm water cruising including powerful tenders, dive gear, plus air conditioned king size beds. A select group of owners are invited to join each yacht, with options such as winters in the Caribbean and summers in New England. Synergy offers a compromise for the more adventurous owner with the option, if qualified, to take the yacht without the full time crew aboard. Or invite a group of friends to indulge in the pampered environment offered by a captain and private chef akin to the levels of service normally associated with high end charters.

Fractional Ownership is becoming popular due to two simple facts: One; you only need a fraction of the capital to own the yacht and two; the running costs are shared between the group. The costs associated with each different arrangement outlined above will vary according to the number of weeks on board, size of boat, type and style of boat, maintenance program and whether it is crewed or ‘bare’. To see how this works, we can take a closer look at the example of the Privilege 585 offered by Synergy. Each share is on offer for $275,000. Now, take a moment to browse through the yachts for sale of Boats.com for that amount. Now, you will need to pay into a care fund which in this case is roughly $35,000 each year. This pays for the crew, the maintenance and the management. Everything is done for you including from sourcing insurance quotes and finding crew, to implementing a proactive program of maintenance.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

Aboard one of Synergy Yachting's catamarans. Photos by Tom Ashwell.

If you really do use a boat a lot, or wish to have the thrill of control and don’t mind the costs then it’s not for you. Alternatively if you only want to use a boat for a couple of weeks a year and don’t mind the unknown, then chartering could well be the hassle free bag of goodies you need. However it seems that a professionally run shared yacht is now a real third option for those wishing to dip their toes into the uncharted waters of boat ownership. Or for the individual who likes to feel they are making an intelligent use of funds available. Of course this will not appeal to the skinny dippers who will dive headfirst into ownership. For them, the call of your own boat is simply too great.
Choosing a well run program will help limit the dreaded depreciation and as with any luxury purchase, a thorough investigation into the used values of your acquisition can pay large dividends. This is certainly an area of yacht ownership which is worth a closer look.

For more information see:
www.synergyyachting.com and
www.eusamarine.com