Rent the Yacht or Buy the Yacht?

Our author's friend dabbles with the idea of joining a boat club.

tell tales
It’s OK for millennials to play the field, but a boat rental on the side is like cheating on your wife.Steve Haefele

My pal mark called last week, wondering if we might get together when his float plan brings him to my area. I suggested he take advantage of my dock.

“Coyle, that won’t be necessary,” he said. “I’ve joined a club.”

Mark is one of the most passionate boaters I know, but he’s not the yacht-club type. His comment made no sense.

“So you’ll be swinging on the hook in a blazer sipping sundowners and blathering on about your adventures in seamanship?” I asked. “Are you serious? It will never last.”

“Not a yacht club, Coyle,” he said. “I’ve joined a boat rental club.”

While I was sure Mark had lost his mind, I listened to his pitch: “Imagine waking up and thinking you’d like to go boating. You choose where and make a phone call. That’s it. No foreplay with float plans and no time wasted tidying up afterward. Think about it, Coyle: When I arrive in town, my boat will be waiting dockside, spot-free with a full tank of fuel and ice in the fridge. After a day on the water, I’ll return to the dock and my crew will unload, refuel and wash the boat. That’s what yachting should be!”

I was deeply disturbed by what he described.

Mark is a respected peer and an old-school veteran of the marine industry. He’d worn out a number of hats and run out of titles by the time he retired. He’d served as a captain, broker, designer and builder. Like so many of us, he was addicted to the pastime and had always owned a boat. Mark’s boats were always kept in Bristol condition, and he proudly crowed of the wisdom of his investments. He was the poster child for pride of ownership.

What he was telling me now made it clear that it was time for an intervention.

I’d seen his condition before. I suspected Mark was suffering from excess and inadequacy. Not only did he have a boat, but he also owned two homes and an airplane.

“That’s it,” I said. “It’s time you refocus on what’s important in life. Sell that damn plane.”

Mark admitted that the checks he’d stroked for maintaining his plane would make a boatyard accountant blush.

“So it’s the yard bills that have you down,” I said. “If you’re cheap, you can’t be lazy. Do it yourself.”

Mark seemed confused, as if I wanted him to sell his boat. Then he elaborated.

“You see, Coyle, I’m a free spirit,” he said. “I don’t wanna be tied down. It’s about the experience.”

I told him that he sounded like our children. “You’re too old for this sort of thing,” I counseled. “It’s OK for millennials to sow a few wild oats and play the field, but we’re the big bathtub and little blue pill generation. A rental on the side is like cheating on your wife.”

Since my intervention, Mark’s fling with rentals has waned, and he’s been re-evaluating his relationship with his airplane. He’s even planning a romantic cruise to the boatyard to renew his vows. Nothing says “I love you” like paying a yard bill.