There’s a cultural move towards sharing that is just beginning to take hold. The idea is that from quite soon, a decade some say, we won’t own a car, but like bike racks in municipal spaces we’ll track one down on our smart phone and unlock it, drive it and pay for it – all with an app. It comes with a greater emphasis on experiences in life being what deliver its riches rather than an accumulation of chattels which, we are told, mainly serve to clutter the mind.
It’s an interesting thought, one which is based on the care to share principle and it’s not surprising that it is being applied to boats. Borrow a Boat is one such company which has just had a hugely successful crowd-funding campaign, finishing last week, 250% oversubscribed and with £1.5m raised.
The company’s energetic young boss Matt Ovenden likens BaB to the Airbnb for boating and says his passion is to widen the market and make boating more accessible for more people. “Affordability, accessibility and maximum choice and flexibility are the core philosophies of Borrow a Boat,” he says. And he seems to be achieving things quite fast, after three years or so the company website lists around 17,000 boats all over the world with a very responsive and modular way of being able to choose the right one for you.
Like Airbnb there’s a huge range to choose from with boats of all sizes with sailing and power catered for separately. In fact expansion means there are categories for kayaks, dinghies and paddle boards (at present you can hire these in Fowey) as well as the normal range of cabin boats. You can hire a boat to sleep on, for bare boat charter or with a professional skipper. Prices range from around £100 a day up to £4k.
So let’s take a great cruising ground in North Germany for instance, Flensburg, say. There are 11 yachts priced from £127 to £246 (per day in March) giving access to some of the finest islands and prettiest waters in Europe. These prices do go up as the season gets going – so £127 rises to £160/170 from May to July, making a week around £1k for a 4 berth ten year old Hanse 320. So you can see it’s not a bank-busting idea at all; about the same as a cottage in the Lake District.
Borrow a Boat has spread out to 50 countries – all accessible from the one app/website. The filtering system allows you to set your budget, choose the type of boat, even the make or marque, choose the
age, choose an area within a country and even add a skipper, making the process incredibly flexible.
As you might expect there’s a chat facility allowing you to get some help navigating the website if you are unfamiliar with such things.
One recent development is that you can hire a boat for just a day, or three, according to Matt. So you might be into the villa holiday already and fancy taking a day out yachting? You can arrange that all online immediately he says.
Borrow a Boat points out that you don’t necessarily need sailing qualifications, and it’s simple to add a skipper for most boats. But for bare boat charter many European waters require an ICC (International Certificate of Competence) which is around Day Skipper level for an RYA ticket. A boat owner might accept a sailing CV BaB adds, but while you may never get asked for a ticket… it would be embarassing if you were.
Doing your sailing this way certainly beats the cost of keeping a boat in an expensive marina where you would need to be racing once a week and cruising for several more to justify the cost. The freedom of being able to charter a boat in a different location each year – seeing some of the great cruising grounds of the Med, Northern Europe, Caribbean and many other places certainly has its appeal. It’s also a good way to get your own boat used, making some money that can go towards her upkeep and perhaps funding a charter of your own to new horizons. The website has a portal where you can register your own boat for hire, as long as she’s commercially coded. See more: HERE
Check them out: borrowaboat.com