Fractional Deals: Own Less and Sail More

"Chartering" from our March 2007 issue

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Fractional ownership programs companies such as The Cruising Club and ETAPCharterLease divide costs between as many as 14 shareholders.Etapcharterlease

If the expense of full-blown boat ownership keeps you off the water, perhaps these different programs will help you get back on board.

First is The Cruising Club, a fractional-ownership company started in Australia in 1998 that offers a program similar to the traditional bareboat and crewed-charter sailboat vacation. The company's boats are available in Australia, Texas and California in the United States, New Zealand, Fiji, Hong Kong, Thailand, and, soon, the Caribbean. Sailing days and locations can be exchanged among shareholders so members can broaden their vacation repertoire.

Participants in the program purchase an equity percentage that entitles them to proportional use of the boat. Each boat may be owned by between five and 14 members. Membership equity lasts for a predetermined number of years; at the end, the boat is sold, and a percentage of the net resale value is repaid to each member pro rata according to the equity share.

Each boat is fully maintained year-round. A vessel-management company handles regular mechanical upkeep, antifouling, insurance, and marina rental. Maintenance and management costs are divided among the shareholders and paid

annually. Members must also pay for their own fuel, oil, and provisions. For more detail about the program, contact the company (888-505-2628, www.TheCruisingClub.com).

Synergy Yachting, which specializes in fractional crewed-catamaran ownership, offers shares that give owners 30 days of sailing anywhere between the Caribbean and New England. The company also offers yacht-management and consulting services. Contact Synergy (www.synergyyachting.com) for details.

If longer passages have greater appeal for you, set sail on the "unsinkable" double-hulled Etap 37s, named Best Production Cruising Boat by the CW Boat of the Year judges in 2004. Besides offering day and overnight time slots from bases in Stamford, Connecticut, and Chicago, ETAPCharterLease offers an offshore-passage program. "Our boats enable us to target more serious sailors, people who are ready to get out there and experience ocean sailing on a safe, ocean-proven yacht," says Robert Etter, co-founder of ETAPCharterLease.

The new program will take up to three crewmembers on a two-stage passage; in May 2007, boats set out from Punta Gorda, Florida, for Bermuda, then sail back to Stamford. The program continues in the fall of 2007, with boats sailing from Stamford to Punta Gorda. Berths are $1,800 per leg, including all onboard expenses. For details, contact the company (908-918-1886, www.etapcharterlease.com).

If high-end power yachts are more your style, consider the fractional-ownership program offered by First Choice Yachting, a brand of First Choice Holidays, whose other offerings include the Moorings and NauticBlue. The arrangement gives owners four weeks aboard a crewed Fairline Squadron 74 in the British Virgin Islands. First Choice Holidays PLC is an international leisure travel company that operates more than 80 brands across 17 countries. For details about this and other boats planned for the new program, contact Josephine Williams (800-521-1126, www.firstchoicefractional.com).

Elaine Lembo