What future a wooden boat?
I write this seeking ideas, advice and feedback from you all regarding the future of wooden broads cruisers in general. As most of you know, I am quite heavily involved in the wooden boat scene and I am painfully aware of the amount of old cruisers sat out there rotting away unwanted and unloved yet, on here there is such enthusiasm for these graceful old ladies. What has also become apparent is that, whilst everybody rather likes the idea of having a wooden boat, the horror stories that come along with wooden boat ownership are enough to turn even the most hardened enthusiast into a nervous wreck. In the meantime yet another phone-call comes my way with an offer of an abandoned project (I get a couple a month these days) which, “if you cant rescue it this week, is heading for a meeting with a chainsaw”. Of course we could never save them all but maybe saving one or two wouldn't go amiss? But how do we do it?
Works superbly well for the huge range of syndicate boats out there. There are many different syndicate formats, some run by their own management committee's and some through commercial companies. Would syndicate ownership be the way to go?
Buying into a syndicate normally means that your capital investment is safe because you can sell your share again and recoup that investment, give or take a bit. However, as we have already said, people are scared of wooden boats because of the unexpected bills. Selling a wooden broads cruiser is pretty hard and owners can, and sometimes do, wait years for a buyer. Yes, of course there is a certain amount of over valuing to take into account which doesn't help but how easy would it be to sell part of a wooden boat?
Another possible issue with syndicate ownership is that you would still be liable for the ongoing costs until you do find a buyer and that could include winter maintenance programmes
Syndicates tend to have management committee's who vote for upgrades, maintenance etc as part of their day to day running. That may be a perfect scenario for a wooden boat or may be counter productive if maintenance was compromised in favour of upgrades etc.
I think syndicate ownership is possible for a wooden boat once its finished but would value your thoughts...
Not that dis similar to syndicate but on a smaller scale run and managed by the owners rather than company and management committees. A very good idea and works really well for Broad Ambition (eg.) though her running, maintenance and upgrade costs are a bit eye watering! An equal share of a boat with everything split evenly. Shared ownership needs a group of very like minded friends who are in it for the long term rather than syndicate which can potentially be dipped into and out of more easily. I know of a shared ownership wooden boat that had two owners pull out when a restoration was needed. Fortunately the remainers were able to keep going and the end result was a success. I also know of a shared ownership boat that looked for and found someone to come on board part way through the restoration when money was running out which also ended in success though these examples are rare yet relevant. There have been many many more wooden boats broken up and destroyed in the last couple of years than restored and that is a fact!
A Boat Buddy Scheme?
I had never heard of the boat buddy scheme until Chameleon (Mike) told me about one he was involved in some years ago. His scheme didn't quite work out for him but he was able to just walk away and do something else which is a point mentioned above.
Now here is where it (possibly) gets interesting. A boat has a set of costs for a season, tax, insurance, moorings, servicing, maintenance etc. These costs are divided between the boats owner and boat buddys – friends of the boat. The owner retains ownership throughout and the buddies pay whatever proportion is agreed in exchange for use of the boat. Its not hire, there are no damage waivers and you would be responsible just as if its your own boat whilst it is in your care. Absolutely no profit is made from boat buddy schemes and the spending is transparent for all to see.
The advantages of this sort of thing with wooden boats is that you get to walk away, no millstone round your neck so to speak. End of the year, season or whatever period is decided you can just move on. Maybe such a scheme is just what the wooden boat scene needs to encourage new blood aboard?
In the meantime, while all this was being talked about Water Rail came on the market and was offered on this forum amongst other outlets. Of course WR attracted lots of interest, not all of it favourable, but ultimately there were no genuine buyers... until we had a chat! Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I have bought Water Rail with the proviso that Liz has first opportunity to buy her back in the future should circumstances dictate. WR will continue her guardship duties with Liz should she be required as well.
With this in mind I took things a stage further and did some pricing, took advice from the Broads Authority regarding appropriate tolls, Navigators about the insurance requirements, got a quote for gas bottles, breakdown cover, prop cover, section 10 bss (that includes all the safety requirements that hire craft comply to) gas safety check, a couple of oil changes and a lift out for end of season inspection and antifoul etc, oh yes, and an accessible mooring with parking!
Water Rail works out at £4539 for the season give or take a bit (one or two prices were estimates and obviously next years toll will be a bit more). With a season from Easter to October thats a what... £250 a week roughly? All restoration costs are mine alone as her owner by the way. Whatever Boat Buddy type of scheme we put together, if any, is purely based on the years running costs.
I would love Water Rail to be enjoyed by people who are as enthusiastic about her as I am and who are interested in our historic fleet. Water Rail is a little darling, almost 90 years old and offers a true boating experience from the past.
So I am throwing it out there to see what you all think, and whether there is any genuine interest in being involved in Water Rail for the 2020 season? And yes, I am mad!!