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13 Ways to Make Money With Your Boat

I meet with business owners both locally and internationally and share what I learn to help readers generate more income.

Figure out how you can make money with your boat.

Figure out how you can make money with your boat.

How to Make Money With a Boat

Is your boat burning a hole in your pocket with the general upkeep, mooring fees and very little time to enjoy it?

Maybe you thought you'd use it more than you do. If this is the case, perhaps it's time to look at other options which will allow you to keep the boat but earn from it as well.

Whether you're a liveaboard or a weekly/monthly/yearly user of your boat, you'll find ideas here you may not have thought of before. Some of these will be better suited to some types and sizes of boats than others. Browse through and see which could turn your boat from a pain in your wallet into a pleasure craft again.

It may be necessary to check with your boat insurance company if you wish to take paying passengers or implement some of these ideas. Your policy may need to be changed in order to run your boat as a business. It also goes without saying that it is necessary to have up-to-date and tested safety equipment on board sufficient for the number of people on board.

Beyond ensuring your insurance and boat are up to muster, it's likely you will need local permits and licenses if you plan to stay and work in a certain area. Some areas and countries will be more flexible than others. Using due diligence before proceeding could save you a lot of headaches down the road.

1. Offer Personalized Cruises

Many people would love to go cruising but don't want to go with the cattle brigade who go on the large cruise ships. There are free spirits who are looking for something different but worry about chartering one themselves. The trip could be for a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on what your client wants to see and where they want to go. Some people may be thinking about buying a boat and want to get a feel for how life onboard would be. For these guests, tell them your honest opinion, not a sugar-coated version of life on a boat. They will appreciate it and can make their own decision to proceed or not.

You can tailor the cruise around them. Many owners charge their customers additionally for food, drinks, fuel, and mooring charges. If the cruise is a set agenda, as some of them are, then all these costs can be factored in beforehand.

The number of guests you take will be determined by the number of cabins you have if this is to be an overnight cruise.

Although some guests may just want to relax, be waited on and be pampered, many will want to join in on activities on the boat. Let them steer (under guidance), hoist the sails and even scrub the deck if they are so inclined.

Diving holidays

Diving holidays

2. Lead Diving Vacations

There are various diving sites around the world where divers flock every year. Position yourself in various ports and follow the seasons to make yourself a tidy sum. These can be as before, via your own website, advertising in the area, or through a company that organizes trips for divers. They, of course, would want a hefty cut as they have found the client for you.

There are restrictions with PADI unless you have your own compressor. If not, you will need a PADI card to fill your bottles.

3. Lead Fishing Cruises

Does your boat have the capability to be used as a fishing boat? This could be for larger groups or simply a couple. You have the option to make these trips as specialized as you want. It could be for a day, half day, or longer if there is ample accommodation on board.

Whether you do this as a catch, tag and release or you keep your prize fish, the market has always remained strong as fishing of any sort is the world's favorite pastime.

4. Take People Dolphin and Whale Watching

These are popular cruises for people on vacation. These will generally be just a few hours. In some places and at certain times of the year, you are almost guaranteed to see them. Do your research to determine if there is a demand where the market isn't saturated. There are two ways of getting customers for this. First is a website highlighting your business, where you go, and what your guests could expect to see. The second way is to tout for customers near the marina. Some areas will frown on this, so make inquiries and tread lightly. If a company is already doing this in a particular area, ask if they need extra boats. Although this would mean a smaller share, they already have advertising in place.

A simple advertising display on the sidewalk or someone handing out leaflets to tourists is also an excellent way to get passing traffic interested in what you are offering. Check your area for restrictions regarding the distance required for viewing dolphins or whales. Some areas are strict, which in my opinion is a good thing.

Offering photographic tours is an easy way to earn from your boat.

Offering photographic tours is an easy way to earn from your boat.

5. Offer Photographic Tours by Boat

Many people only think of photographic vacations on land. Open up this option from another angle. Views in and on a boat, views of cliffs from the sea, everything from scenic fjords of Norway to harbors at night. All of these provide a different aspect than most photographers would normally see. Advertise this type of tour on photographic forums. If you are a skilled photographer, consider running courses on board.

6. Earn From Other Cruisers

Boating is considered a rich man's sport, but cruisers are a tight-fisted bunch. You might think that you can't make money from them, but you'd be wrong. If you have skills such as:

  • Mechanical
  • Sewing
  • Electrical
  • Computer/technology

These are all marketable, and you can charge for your time. Your pricing would have to be determined by the area you are in and the availability of parts and access to other people with the same skill set.

Besides the above skills, there are other entrepreneurial ways of earning from your fellow cruisers.

  • Cleaning the bottom of the hull
  • Water delivery
  • Pizza delivery

People want a comfortable life and are willing to pay people to do jobs for them.

If you have a watermaker, you can make and charge others for water. It will save them having to go ashore for it.

7. Rent Your Boat to Yacht Charter Companies

Allow charter companies to hire your boat out; this can be a bareboat charter or one with a crew. They will pay you a percentage of the rental. This will, however, affect the resale value of your boat. Although charter boats generally have more accommodation, buyers worry about the level of maintenance done on them.

8. Offer Sailing Lessons

Can you teach someone to sail? The personal hands-on approach will help them feel more confident when they come to take their exam. If you are not capable of teaching, your boat could be used, and an instructor hired. Some of those wanting to learn will know the basics but may want a refresher course. Still, others may be complete beginners.

Video these lessons to compile either an online course or video teaching sailing.

9. Offer Wedding Cruises

Couples are looking for different ways to tie the knot. Decide whether your boat could cater to this need. They might want the wedding, the reception or both to take place aboard. How many people can you have onboard? Could you cater the event?
You would have to insist that the entire wedding party adheres to a strict dress code regarding acceptable footwear on your boat and encourage them to put this requirement on their invitations.
Besides weddings, consider advertising as an alternative meeting place for companies or team building activities. Many younger companies are looking for something unique to offer their employees as perks without the additional expense of owning a yacht. Design a simple website targeting companies and email this to them. It is always a good idea to follow up with a brochure and phone call as well. Then, when the time comes, they will remember your offer.

Monaco Marina is a beautiful place.

Monaco Marina is a beautiful place.

10. Make Sailing Time Pay

If you need to sail to another area to earn from that season's trade, turn your journey into a paid crossing with a crew who will pay you. Some will pay to crew, gaining the experience, and some will pay a portion of the bill for fuel and food. This way, what could have been downtime and an expense for you can be turned into a money maker or at least offset some of the costs whilst underway to your next destination.

11. Rent Your Boat to Film Crews

Contact advertising/media companies to allow your boat to be used as a prop. This could be for photographs or films and commercials. Even if you can only negotiate some professional photographs to be used on your website promoting your new business, this is still worth doing.

If you are easy to work with, adaptable, and your yacht is in an area where a lot of filming goes on, don't be shy about getting the word out. Make it known that your boat is available for use.

If your boat is a classic style yacht, the chances are good that it will get used, and you can set a good price for the rental of it.

12. Deliver Cargo

Although not as glamorous as some of the other suggestions, there are still several places around the world where cargo needs to be shipped. This could be anything from fishing hooks to boxes of Cheetos. Find a market and become a supplier. Be aware of any regulations concerning imports and taxes if you are moving things from one country to another. There may also be restrictions on certain islands concerning plants and animals, which will need to be taken into account.

Do your research first to avoid a situation that could leave you in jail in a far-off country.

13. Start a Blog or Film Your Boating Adventures

Many people are writing blogs or videoing their adventures about their boating experiences. Making money from boating doesn't have to be only about hiring out your yacht. You can write about your adventures and earn money from them. This is how many people are funding their cruising, whether it is around the world or just around the bay. These blogs are not only targeted at those who own boats but also at people who want to share in your adventure. You can earn by putting ads on your pages.

Making a video, though, in my opinion, is even better. If you think you can't make anything from that, think again. Have you heard of la Vagabonde? This is a series of YouTube videos following an Australian couple, Riley and Elayna, who have graciously taken us along for a ride on their yacht. It hasn't always been smooth sailing for them, yet they documented it.

Their easy-going personalities and fun-loving spirit have captured the hearts of many viewers, including some influential people at Outremer. This couple, who were trying to dry the condensation from autopilot using a blow dryer, have been given a good deal on a new Outremer catamaran worth a cool million. They also have a crowdfunding campaign going to fund their trips. So, the next time someone says you can't earn from a boat, just laugh at them. Update: They are now upgrading to a trimaran.

How to Save Money on Your Boat

Although this article is about how to make money from your boat, don't forget that saving money on expenditures is equally as important.

Consider the following:

  • Boat insurance: How much are you paying for your insurance? When was the last time you checked the competitor's rates? Has anything changed on your boat which could lower your premium?
  • Cost of Mooring: If you are only using your boat in the summer, consider pulling it out onto the hard, which is much cheaper. Or alternatively, consider a less expensive marina.
  • Upgrades: Consider buying good used equipment instead of new. Any product you purchase new is going to depreciate as soon as it is sold. Let someone else lose this initial amount. Check boating and sailing forums, as there is usually a classified section with items for sale. eBay is also a great place for boating parts and accessories.

As the old adage goes, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” I hope this has given you some ideas that will help you to enjoy your investment once again.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Mary Wickison


klastow on April 13, 2020:

yep everithhing sounds cool untill all those boring long days start pailing up and you miss the garden , park or just been in a solid ground , them is when the fantastic dream crash rapidly ..

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 06, 2017:

Hi Peg,

That sounds exciting, I don't know if your book has a nautical theme but I do think there is a gap in the market for those.

I sure it will be an exciting read.

Thanks for your visit.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on April 06, 2017:

I like these innovative ways to keep the cost of boat ownership down. Thanks also, for the great ideas on chartering private parties for profit and other uses of personal watercraft. This gives me some ideas for a story I'm writing as a sequel to my first book.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 24, 2016:

That is a good question. Some friends of ours have a beach house which they rent out often and yet with their overheads, they can't seem to clear a profit on it.

With a boat, the upkeep is high but if you are living on it, some of that cost is absorbed in lieu of the cost of a home. That said, if you are taking passengers out, a change in the insurance would be needed.

I think both options should be considered before jumping in.

catalina on March 19, 2016:

I lived in Brazil in a gorgeous beach town. I question is its best to own a beach home and rent it during high season or own a boat and live in it while you use it for tourism.

Dianna Mendez on May 12, 2014:

I would love this as a living. Being near the ocean, I can see this as profitable. I only need a boat.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 01, 2014:

Hi Randomcreative,

My husband also is a photographer and is always open to new ideas. Most of the images we see, are looking from land towards water, rarely the other way.

I am pleased you enjoyed reading this.


Vivian Sudhir from Madurai, India on April 30, 2014:

Great article, get me dreaming about water and sailing and all that. Guess that is what article writing is all about.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 30, 2014:

Hi Bill,

Yes, we are doing fine down here in beautiful Brazil. Lovely to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by

Judy Specht from California on April 30, 2014:

Voted up useful and interesting. My husband grew up on the great lakes and always says boats are a hole in the water that you through money into.

Your article could buy some leverage for the kids and I.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 30, 2014:

Wow, I wasn't expecting such a comprehensive list of suggestions. As an avid hobbyist photographer, I would love the opportunity to go out on a private boat with someone who is experienced at boating and knows the area well.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 29, 2014:

Wonderful ideas unless you are like me....boatless. Maybe some day, yes?

I hope you are well my friend.