You don’t need to buy a boat to start boating. There are plenty of ways to experience boating without committing to ownership straight away.
Booking a training course with an RYA-accredited school is probably the easiest and most useful way to start boating and get a feel for what it’s like to handle a boat.
You can find a list of courses and schools on the official RYA website. The Powerboat Level 2 course provides a great introduction to motor boating as well as a handy qualification for chartering or buying your own boat.
Chartering a skippered boat is another good way to start boating. There are charter companies all over the world, so whether it’s a long weekend in the Solent or a couple of weeks in Greece, you can get a feel for cruising with a skipper on hand to show you the ropes.
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Once you have built up sufficient experience and qualifications, you can also charter without a skipper to see if you enjoy running your own boat. Some boat dealers even have their own charter boats so potential customers can try before they buy.
Another alternative to ownership is boat clubs, where you pay an annual membership fee to have access to a small fleet of boats that you book in advance.
This is a great way to experience a range of different sizes and style of boat without the capital expense and commitment of buying one.
Boat sharing is an option, too, where you split the cost of buying and running a boat with other people. This usually involves buying a share of a boat (typically between 1/10th and 1/2) and paying an annual contribution towards the running costs.
An online booking system is used to allocate time onboard fairly between the shareholders. When the time comes to sell, either the whole syndicate agrees to sell the boat or you can sell your share to a new fractional owner.
This is a popular solution for people who want a bigger boat in an overseas location but may not have the time or resources to buy and run it on their own. The Yacht Share Network is a good source of shares in boats for sale.