Jerome Abernathy has sailed from Charleston, South Carolina, to Bermuda. He day-sails monthly from his homeport in New York to Rhode Island and Connecticut. Despite an active travel itinerary, Abernathy, who once owned a 36-foot Beneteau, didn’t hesitate to enter a co-ownership arrangement for his second boat. “It can be less expensive to own a larger boat in a partnership than to own a smaller one by yourself,” says Abernathy, who says his first boat, Noe, swallowed $9,000 a year in maintenance, insurance, and dockage fees.
At the 2001 Annapolis Boat Show, Abernathy, a hedge fund manager with Stonebrook Structured Products, partnered with his friend and colleague Arnold Mintz to invest in a $300,000 new Beneteau 473. Abernathy’s share of maintenance costs for Victory averages $6,000 every six months.
Camaraderie and spending less time on upkeep are benefits of co-ownership to Abernathy, who says having “compatible uses for the boat” were important in his decision. He says it’s important to have a written agreement that clearly articulates the terms of the partnership. “A new boat will depreciate, but not as fast as cars,” says Abernathy. In fact, after initial depreciation–depending on how well the vessel is maintained–a boat actually increases in value. “If your boat has a galley [kitchen] and head [bathroom], your boat loan can qualify for second-home tax treatment,” explains Abernathy, “which considerably lowers the cost of ownership.” For further savings, tethering your boat to an offshore anchor–called mooring–costs roughly $100 per month, compared with paying up to nearly $700 to dock it.
Know your boat. Although Abernathy and Mintz are seasoned sailors, Abernathy says, “Our dealer spent many hours teaching us the boat’s systems.” The type of water and distance you intend to sail will determine the type of boat you buy. “Sailboats are the original hybrid vehicles,” says Abernathy. “Sailboats are very stable. It is not unusual for a 25-foot sailboat to cross the ocean.”
Power boats, he says, rely solely on an engine for propulsion and usually are not stable enough for sailing open seas. They are also much more expensive to operate. “To go cruising or to sea, you should consider a boat greater than 30 feet with a proper galley and head.”
Know the sport. Abernathy highly recommends taking the American Sailing Association Basic Keelboat course (www.asa.com), as well as other courses that follow the ASA’s curriculum, which teaches basic sailing, navigation, weather forecasting, and emergency rescue procedures.
Gain Experience. Abernathy recommends joining a local sailing club (www.sailing.org) to gain experience on smaller boats and volunteering to crew on a race boat. He also advocates attending boat shows (www.nmma.org/calendar); chartering a yacht for a group vacation such as the Black Boaters Summit (www.honeyletstravel.com); and subscribing to Sail, Cruising World, and Practical Sailor magazines. As you explore upgrading your boat, Abernathy suggests keeping current on sailing techniques, technology changes, and new equipment.