Yes, we´ve seen our waters inside out, and wouldn´t we love to discover new horizons? But sailing long distance is not for everyone. Renting a boat at another location is one option. But it is expensive and the rental boats are often a dime a dozen. Boatswap is another option and it’s becoming more and more popular for good reasons!
The idea of a boatswap is in line with social developments like airbnb and other kinds of sharing initiatives; we gladly share our house and car with often complete strangers. Sharing a boat is not as common yet even though it opens up a world of destinations. Canadians Russ Alfreds and Chris Campbell swapped their boats with respectively Alain Roy from France and a boat owner in New Zealand. They happily share their boatswap experience.
Best way to travel
Last October Russ Alfreds swapped his Bavaria 42 with Alain Roy’s Barbican 33 in the Algarve, Portugal. “In my mind a boat swap is the best way to travel as there are no long passages, it is inexpensive and you get to do your favorite sport while visiting new places. The great thing is that you step onto a boat that is ready to go and you don’t have to power your boat to get somewhere. We could do airbnb but it would not be the same. I wouldn’t get dolphins escorting me into the marina. We met many locals and other boaters from all over the world.”
Alain Roy: “It was a great pleasure to welcome Russ and his wife on my sailing ground: the Algarve. All along their stay aboard, we stayed in touch so I could give suggestions as they went. Actually, the part of welcoming someone else and being welcomed by them is what I find great about swapping. There’s no money involved; you get friendship instead!
The advantages of a boatswap are clear. Besides having every destination within an arms’ length, one of the great advantages is that it is low budget; a swap happens with closed wallet. Another true benefit is you get to sail privately owned boats of all types instead of the regular boats that you find at your boat-rental. The biggest gain may be that you connect to locals that introduce you to the sailing area and give you many tips on where to go.
Chris Campbell adds: “We are currently on a Bavaria 44 on Great Barrier Island in New Zealand. On this trip we pinch ourselves every few hours because we would likely never have done it without our network for boatswaps. A simple message is that swaps make sense, but they have to be based on a level of common understanding and comfort. They are not necessarily based on transaction value, in fact our swap has no reciprocation plans yet.”
Just go for it!
These boat swappers are clear in their message.
“I have done two swaps now and both were successful for all parties. They have actually been the highlights of my life. If your boat is available and you can let a stranger take it out, then consider swapping. Our expenses were less than 3.000 euros for a three week holiday including airfare from Canada”, Alfreds concludes.
Campbell confirms: “Go for it, make new friends, share your favorite spots and explore new grounds.”