An Idea That Floats: Yachting And The Sharing Economy

We love the idea of renting, not buying. And now yachting and the sharing economy are helping us all live a more luxe life!

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

We’ve long discussed how the sharing economy is the future of sustainable luxury. Whether it’s iconic handbags, haute couture or holiday homes, there’s really no need to buy your own when you can rent someone else’s – it’s better for your bank account, and better for the planet. And now, yachts are the latest indulgence you can purchase; part time, that is.

And frankly, as anyone who has ever owned a nautical commodity knows, it can be incredibly expensive and frustrating: there’s maintenance to pay, crews to staff, and mooring fees to cover, to name but a few hefty expenses. Belgian businessman  Matty Zadnikar and American entrepreneur Mike Costa recognised these difficulties and joined forces to bring the concept of yachting  co-ownership to Europe with SeaNet, a concept that  allows four co-owners to enjoy the benefits of owning a super yacht, splitting the annual fees of year-round mooring, insurance, crew and winter storage.

These are seriously beautiful craft, complete with luxuries like Jacuzzis, cinemas and swimming pools, not to mention top quality bedding, china and furnishings. The average cost of a new yacht if purchased individually is around €9m, with annual maintenance fees of around €500,000. So when you learn that the  smallest share (25%) of a Benetti Delfino 95′, costs €2.4 million with annual maintenance costs of roughly €125,000, it seems like a bargain.

Even in the age of the sharing economy, Zadnikar admits it’s not easy to persuade the wealthy to buy a ‘part’ of a yacht, but the brand’s main selling point is that they ensure superlative crews, who not only provide the logistics of your sailing route, but also check that your favourite foods and drinks are always stocked.

Similarly, TradeWinds, offers shared yacht charter and five-star holidays. Their timeshare-like approach to co-ownership starts  at $10,000 a year, but non-owners can also reserve berths on the boats as you would a room at a small hotel. Of course, once onboard, everything is taken care of, from the well-stocked bar to the sashimi chef who cuts fish you may have caught yourself.

Destination options include exotic locales like Las Perlas in Panama, French Polynesia, Zanzibar, Fiji, Seychelles, Cape Town, Greece, Turkey, Australia, the Maldives, the Balearics, and the Caribbean. Expert crews ensure you’re treated like royalty, with an all inclusive, highly personalised service.

Still find SeaNet and TradeWind’s pricing a bit high? No worries – the Sailing Collective  is a charter company that curates group itineraries. Glamorous getaways are made available to travellers who want to experience shared catamarans that range between 45-60 feet, whilst wandering from one island to the next.

Most of the boats have between four and six cabins, and although most of the guests don’t know the people they’ll be sharing the boat with for a week, apparently quite a few travellers have ended up as friends – and even lovers, by some accounts!  Sure, cabins are a bit minimal, usually comprised of a queen bed and some cupboards, but you’ll be outside swimming, on board dining, socialising and tanning so often, it barely matters.

Coveted destinations such as Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, the Croatian and Dalmatian Coasts, Phuket, St. Martin, St. Bart’s and the Grenadines are made accessible through custom-made itineraries on catamarans that welcome travellers who want to be culturally – and socially – engaged.

It seems fitting to end here with a sailing company that was directly inspired by the King of the Sharing Economy – Airbnb. Sailo is a global boat rental marketplace that connects renters with boat owners and charter companies. You can choose to hire or put up for hire a motorboat, sailboat, catamaran, or luxury yacht – it basically works like Airbnb for boats. If you’re not an expert sailor, don’t worry – most bookings include a captain, so once you’ve made your booking, you just need to show up, hop on board and enjoy your trip.

It’s rather incredible that you can literally drive a rented car to a hired boat, wearing clothes you’ve rented and carrying a luxury handbag you ‘own’ for a few weeks – before giving it all back. Living lightly has never been so easy.

All images: courtesy SeaNet, TradeWinds, Sailing Collective and Salio.

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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