The boat share

Ever thought about shar­ing a boat with friends? Paul de­scribes the ex­pe­ri­ence of three cou­ples and their joint ven­ture with a Sea Ot­ter 26

Canal Boat - - Me & My Boats - WORDS & PIC­TURES BY PAUL GATESHILL

It was a plot cooked up by the men: Dave, Louis and Paul. On var­i­ous walks we be­gan to mull over the idea of buy­ing a boat to­gether. We were all en­thu­si­as­tic. The only prob­lem was how to con­vince our wives that this was an ex­cel­lent idea.

When I had sur­rep­ti­tiously in­tro­duced the idea into a con­ver­sa­tion with my wife Mary, the re­sponse was not ex­actly en­cour­ag­ing: “Boats are damp. They smell damp. I don’t do damp.” More thought was re­quired.

How­ever, after a few months, Janet, Julie and Mary be­gan to re­alise that this was be­com­ing a real prospect and not just men dream­ing. We had a meal to­gether with a cou­ple of ‘se­ri­ous boaters’ to seek their ad­vice. At the end of the evening, we had de­cided to go for a 26ft river cruiser such as a Free­man.

We were fo­cused and not go­ing to spend more than £16,000. How­ever, on one of our sor­ties to Wal­ton Ma­rina, we spot­ted a cute lit­tle green Sea Ot­ter 26. We all fell in love with it, even though it was nearer to £30,000 and a nar­row­boat rather than a river cruiser. But it didn’t smell damp and that was the clincher.

We formed the ‘Boat Club’ which in­volved all three fam­i­lies meet­ing to­gether over a meal and plenty of wine. We drafted a con­sti­tu­tion and di­vided roles. In March 2008, we be­came the proud own­ers of Cam­val, which had been com­mis­sioned and owned by one fam­ily since 1997. We were all set and made our moor­ing for the first year at Pen­ton Hook Ma­rina, near Staines.

The great thing about a pri­vate boat share is that all fi­nances are di­vided by three. It also meant that the boat would be used much more from March to November. With three part­ners, our ini­tial costs to pur­chase Cam­val were £10,000 for each fam­ily, and then a monthly con­tri­bu­tion of £90 from each fam­ily for all on­go­ing ex­penses: moor­ing, in­sur­ance, Thames li­cence, diesel, gas, con­tin­gen­cies etc.

The boat share also meant that we could plan for longer trips which in­volved a carousel. One fam­ily would set off leav­ing their car in the ma­rina. The next fam­ily would pick up the boat in ten days’ time and their car would be

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