There’s Airbnb — home sharing — and then there’s Uber and Lyft — ride sharing.
There is SailTime — sailboat sharing, a concept that works in the Boston area for Doug Giuliana, who, 15 years ago, decided to use the knowledge he gained when obtaining an MBA from Babson College and start a sail sharing business.
He typed “sailboat sharing” into Google, and an ad for SailTime popped up. He clicked through the buttons in the ad, and discovered SailTime, a “fractional ownership” concept that does not follow the Airbnb or Uber models but rather, follows a model used by owners of private jets. A SailTime member can purchase a boat outright; other members sign up as members to “own a piece of the boat,” that is, to use the boat on days when the purchaser or other members are not using the boat. Typically, you may be sharing the boat with seven other people. SailTime Boston, according to Giuliana.
“It’s not similar to Airbnb since members use the same boat all season,” Giuliana said. There are three boats in the SailTime Boston fleet that operates out of the Fan Pier Marina in Boston’s Seaport district. All three are sold out for the summer.
SailTime offers two ways to be part of their program: Be a boat owner or a member who joins to use a specific boat. SailTime has a partnership with Beneteau Yachts, although they have had a Hunter sailboat in their fleet in the past. Sail Time offers options for prospective owners to purchase a sail or power boater a membership on a boat to share with at least seven other members for a season.
“We’re looking to add new boats to grow the fleet,” said Giuliana.
There is no SailTime franchise in the SouthCoast area, although there is a small fleet in Barrington, R.I. The SailTime option is not a club, but a way for a boat buyer to purchase a boat and get some income from it. SailTime assumes all maintenance and repair costs, as well as berthing, marketing and advertising and managing the fleet.
What we do after each use, said Giuliana, is “disinfect the head, wax the boat and change the oil … gas up..”
SailTime manages an online calendar where members sign up for days they want to cruise on “their” boat. Giuliana emphasizes that SailTime is for pleasure boaters and not racers, although some SailTime boat owners participate in organized cruises or regattas. The Boston “base” — which is the Fan Pier franchise owned and operated by Giuliana — draws members from the South Shore to New Hampshire. Paid captain-instructors orient new members and owners to “their” boat, train new members and run them through basic sailing instruction, such as tacking and gybing, then qualify the members to take out the boat on their own.
The Boston base is the sixth SailTime base opened in the U.S. SailTime exists Giuliana said “to help people like me find a boat to share.” If a member taking a group out for a sail runs into trouble, BOST/U.S. will offer a tow back to Boston or help in an emergency. If you become a member of SailTime and pass the orientation, you can reserve a period of time to “bring whoever you want and go wherever you want,” said Giuliana. Members who opt to purchase a boat through SailTime begin to see a return on their investment from membership fees. Eric Teale signed up for a membership for five years, loved the boat he was sailing, kept paying on it until he owned it, traded it in, and applied the trade-in value to a new boat, which he sails in New Hampshire.
SailTime offered free sails to members of the media during Safe Boating Week, June 5-9, but, because of health concerns, your Sea Notes correspondent was unable to participate.
About SailTime boat owners, “it’s their boat as soon as the balance is paid off. They own it,” said Giuliana. SailTime wants its members to stay active in the fleet for five years.
“Typically,” he said, “we have cruising people who go out for a day or for a few days.”
Giuliana’s wife, Michelle, who grew up sailing in southern California, got him involved in the sport. The Giuliana’s have a 13-year-old daughter who took up sailing Optimist dinghies at Pleon Yacht Club in Marblehead and now, “she likes to drive the boat,” said her father. “She sees sailing as a leisure activity,” he said, and, as a runner of cross country and track, she is not interested in racing sailboats. He said her experience with the Opti fleet gave her the skills she needs to participate in cruises from Boston to P’town or to Marblehead. To find out more about the fractional ownership plan at SailTime go online to: https://sailtime.com/boston/ or Call 1 (855) 855-SAIL (7245) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or What Else?
There are other options for people who want to sail OPB (Other People’s Boats), join a yacht club and sign up to crew with another member who owns a boat, volunteer, or something like the Landfall Sailing Club (landfallsailingclub.org/), that consists of like-minded sailors who want to sail and members who offer their boats for other Landfall members to crew on cruises, locally, off Cape or from South Shore harbors.
Barbara Veneri writes about boating and sailing for the Standard Times. Contact her at email@example.com.