July 7th 2010. By Louisa Beckett.

The Moorings Boat Ownership Program: Own a Boat without Pain

Want a way to own a cruising powercat without losing your shirt? This lease-to-own program might just be for you.

The Moorings Boat Ownership Progam has just two boat models, the Moorings 372 PC and 474 PC.

Psst – want to feel like you’re getting away with grand larceny? The Moorings Boat Ownership Program lets you purchase a new power cruiser and skip out of paying for its dockage, maintenance, service, parts and labor, and insurance through the first five high seasons you own the boat – and gives you a guaranteed monthly revenue check to help offset your boat loan.
“When you compare it to private ownership – that’s when people say this is too good to be true,” said Franck Bauguil , vice president, yacht ownership & sales, of TUI Marine, The Moorings’ parent company. “This is a unique program, and we are the only company that guarantees to cover all operating expenses and guarantees revenues as well.”

The trade-off is that participating owners can only use their boats for a maximum of 12 weeks a year; the rest of the time, it is offered for charter as part of The Moorings Powerboat Vacations’ professionally maintained and operated fleet. So, this program is not for those who want to keep their boat in their backyards or are phobic about having a stranger sleeping in their berth. But, in these overworked and over-committed times, 12 weeks of cruising is about all the time that many boat owners can possibly manage.

And the program offers a unique degree of flexibility – participants can trade time aboard their own boat for a charter on an identical model in another destination where The Moorings Powerboat Vacations operates a base, including The Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Baja Mexico, the Seychelles, Thailand and Australia. Owners can upgrade to a larger boat and only pay the difference in the charter fee. In fact, they can even swap for a week or two aboard one of the company’s hundreds of sailing charter yachts located in exotic destinations around the world.

“No other company offers such a flexible usage system, and such a large choice of destinations,” Bauguil said.

Bookings are made utilizing a points system that encourages boat usage during off-peak weeks as well as high-demand times like holidays. Owners are awarded 42 privilege points that they can redeem for advance bookings in high season (two points per day) and low season (1 point per day), as well as an additional 42 points for short-notice bookings.

Power cats have more interior volume than monohulls the same length.

The Moorings Boat Ownership Progam has just two boat models, the Moorings 372 PC and 474 PC. Both are fiberglass power catamarans built by Robertson and Caine, South Africa’s largest boat manufacturer, which produces all The Moorings’ private label boats as well as Leopard brand sailing and power cats.

“Initially, we thought we would be able to utilize mainstream powerboat products,” Bauguil said. But after trying out a number of different models in a charter environment, he said, “We have abandoned the idea of monohulls. We need an easy-to-maintain boat. We need a catamaran.”

In the end, The Moorings went back to Robertson and Caine, longtime builder of its sailing fleet, to commission custom power versions of their popular sailing cats. “We control the product, the design, the price and the delivery,” Bauguil said.

The advantages of two hulls over one are myriad, he reported. Power cats provide a more stable platform both under way and at anchor, making a charter vacation more comfortable for those unused to the water.  They have a shallower draft than monohulls, allowing them to get closer to shore; their design also allows easy access to the water itself. These boats are highly maneuverable, thanks to the separation between the engines. “The boat can rotate 360 [degrees] in its own length with no need for a bow thruster, since the engines are 20-plus feet apart,” he said.

Power cats also are more efficient. “The fuel consumption compared to monohulls is not even close. We are looking at huge savings on fuel – and therefore, also emissions,” Bauguil said. This gives the Moorings Power Cats a longer range. In fact, they are delivered transatlantic from South Africa to the BVI on their own bottoms – a real testament to their seaworthiness. “They have professional skippers who run one engine at a time. It’s a great shakedown,” he said. “And when they arrive, they are checked all over again.”

Finally, a power cat has more interior volume than a monohull with a comparable LOA, due to its wide beam and twin hulls. The Moorings 372 PC, for example, has two staterooms (one in either hull), each with ensuite head and shower. The main deck encompasses a large salon with full galley and roomy dinette. Entertaining space is also maximized in the cockpit and on the flybridge, both of which are shaded against the midday sun. The Moorings 372 PC, equipped with twin 110-hp Yanmar diesels, is competitively priced at $348,000, which includes upgrades and delivery to the charter fleet base.

The 474 is a very comfortable boat for eight people.

The larger Moorings 474 PC is an even more successful model. “This is a true four-cabin boat, with ensuite baths and showers,” Bauguil said. “It has the flybridge of a much bigger boat.”

The 474 is loaded with standard equipment, including a stainless steel davit system that makes launching and retrieving the dinghy a breeze. There’s a fold-out swim platform in addition to boarding steps on the twin hull transoms. This is a very comfortable boat for eight people –the entire group can be seated together in the cockpit, at the dining table in the wide salon/galley, and also on the flybridge. Four equivalent staterooms, located in the hulls, ensure that no one will feel slighted. “You can be eight people on this boat and never see each other,” Bauguil said.

The 474 PC features a highly efficient hull design by racing catamaran gurus Morelli & Melvin. The price of The Moorings 474 PC is $537,000, which includes upgrades and delivery to the base. “For that, they are getting a lot of space, and they are getting a lot of value,” Bauguil  said, adding. “The resale is good as well.”

Despite all these advantages, Bauguil admits that power cats are still a tough sell for many traditional powerboaters. “That is the same problem we had when we introduced the sailing catamarans to the U.S. in 1990s,” he said. Today, the docks at sailboat shows are lined with cats. “When people see the product, they think it’s incredible.”

The Moorings Boat Ownership Program covers a boat for its first five or six high seasons, depending on its location—a policy that ensures that The Moorings charter fleets are renewed at a rate of about 20 percent a year. The program is designed to provide participants with services that cover the entire lifecycle of the vessel, including third-party financing from approved lenders. At the end of the contract, about 20 percent of owners keep their boat, he reported, and 25 percent trade it in for a new boat.  For the rest, The Moorings offers brokerage services in key regions around the world.

“Throughout the process, there is an owner relations concierge service. They have one person they talk to in order to book their holidays, etc.,” Bauguil said. “It’s very seamless, and it’s handled from A to Z.”

Owners can rest assured that The Moorings Boat Ownership Program will still be around when their boat “graduates” from its charter duties. TUI Marine is a division of TUI Travel PLC, one of the largest leisure travel groups in the world. Listed on the London Stock Exchange, it services over 30 million customers annually. For its part, TUI Marine, which is headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., owns not only The Moorings but also Sunsail and Footloose Sailing Charters, with a total of more than 1,450 yachts in 40 locations around the world.

For more information, visit the Moorings website.

Editor’s Note: Louisa Beckett has been involved with boating ever since her father, Kenneth Rudeen, sailing editor for Sports Illustrated, took her to her first America’s Cup at age eleven. As former editor of Motor Boating and ShowBoats International magazines, she has covered the marine industry from PWCs to superyachts.

Louisa Beckett