Adjusting the sails in a shifting marketplace
Humans have been travelling and exploring via the high seas, rivers and canals for a very long time and we’re not surprised. Over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. That’s a lot of the world you bypass by not exploring by water. Not only do these routes often make logistical sense – travelling by water is beautiful. And it’s also good for both your physical and mental wellbeing
The first boats were carved out of hollowed tree trunks thousands of years ago. We don’t want to see this long established method of exploration, sport and outdoor hobby disappear. This is why we’re coming up with solutions to make boating accessible to everyone, sailors and non-sailors alike.
How much does a boat cost to own
Owning a boat is perceived – generally speaking – as a luxury for the wealthy and successful. But unless you have at any time owned one yourself or learnt to sail, you probably don’t know exactly what makes it a potentially expensive hobby.
Asides from the initial cost of buying a boat, as with all hobbies, there are ongoing running costs. But – also as with all hobbies – if you love boating enough, you find a way to afford it. If that means sacrificing some non-crucial expenses in its place, then so be it. Dame Ellen MacArthur lived off the cheapest school dinners possible (beans and mashed potatoes) in order to save up enough money in change to buy her first dinghy that she christened Threp’ny Bit. She did this every day until she left school at 17. (Don’t panic, there are less extreme options for making boating more affordable for you, which we go into later!)
The main running costs of owning a boat include:
- Maintenance – any repairs and care needed (sails, paintwork, engines, pumps, cleaning)
- Equipment – sailing gear and other kit needed to get out on the water and keep your boat safe whilst on land (wetsuits, life jackets, trailers, safety equipment, navigation equipment)
- Mooring costs – marina fees and charges to store your boat
- Membership – sailing club
Reduce your outgoings as a boat owner
Shared ownership is a popular option for many boating families. With running costs of around 10% of the original cost of the boat per year and limited time to use your boat, this makes sense even for those with cash to spare. This is seen in the equine world too. Many families share horses and in some cases ‘loan’ their horse. The benefit with the latter option is that the responsibilities of ownership and the costs of enjoying the horse are shared, hopefully meaning that the horse is better cared for and less expensive for all parties involved.
Recently we’ve seen this approach applied to the holiday and property industries with the creation of companies like Airbnb and Onefinestay. Suddenly we’re embracing the sharing economy to reduce waste and make experiences easier and more accessible to the masses. The number of young people travelling to see new places both far away and close by has increased, possibly partly to do with platforms like this. Companies like Airbnb and Onefinestay were both created with the aim of avoiding amazing homes existing empty and unused.
Here’s an idea – what if we applied this approach to boating?
Boat ownership and boat sales are in decline. They peaked in the 1980s with the baby boomer generation buying the most boats but now, fewer people are buying boats on the whole and the average age of boat owners is rising. To fully investigate and analyse the reasons behind this we could be here for a long time. But we don’t think that the reason for this is that people don’t want to go boating.
We think the main barriers are cost and time. Many young people and families simply can’t afford to pay for boating courses, club membership and boats themselves. Enter the new two-sided marketplace of boating…
A two-sided marketplace
We’re seeing a social shift away from owning things, with younger generations caring less and less about ownership. Products are more often becoming services in today’s fast moving digitally-driven world, and trends such as authenticity and activities with fast social-media friendly results are on the rise.
The market is going from an ownership model to a pay and play model and Borrow a Boat are embracing this in order to achieve our mission to keep the boating community afloat. We want to help boat owners get more from their ownership experience, and at the same time get more people out on the water and boating.
We don’t tend to own our mobile phones these days, or our cars and we don’t need to own our boats either. Whether you’re already a sailing addict or are just getting started – getting out on the water is easier than ever when you Borrow a Boat. If you’re a boat owner looking to reduce the costs to keep your boat, a boating first timer keen to see what it’s all about or an avid adventurer looking to experience a new way of travelling – you’ve come to the right place.
Visit our locations page and start planning your sailing adventure.