Buying a charterboat – tips from an owner

Charterboat owners Rick and Tarnia Conti talk candidly about the putting their new Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 into charter.

By Caroline Strainig

For South Australian couple Rick and Tarnia Conti, buying a multihull and putting it into charter was a decision that they made with their heads – and their hearts.

The couple both held senior management positions in privately owned companies and have two young boys in primary school, so extended sailing was not on the near horizon for them and they didn’t want a luxury multihull sitting unused most of the time.

But both have salt water in their veins. Rick had been into boating and around the water for 20 years, including a stint as a scuba-diving instructor in FNQ and crewing on racing yachts and doing blue-water deliveries. Tarnia had also grown up on the ocean and been around boats ever since she could remember. They wanted to share their love of the water and boating with their two young boys, Sebastian, nine, and Marcus, six, preferably in one of Australia’s top boating destinations.

Tossing up boat-owning options in 2015, they remembered a charterboat holiday with another couple way back in 2002.

“We chartered a multihull out of a marina in Cardwell in Queensland, which was a first for both of us,” Tarnia recalled.

“In fact, the boat was perfect, the sailing was fun and the whole holiday was just perfect.”

With those happy memories still lingering in their minds, they decided to start researching buying a catamaran and putting it into charter.

They chose a Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 because it ticked all their boxes.

“The Lucia has the perfect layout because you can accommodate two families on the boat easily,” Tarnia said

“It is basically one family per hull because each hull has two bedrooms and one bathroom.

“Upstairs is effectively open-plan living, with plenty of space for everyone, and the layout ensures no one is walking on top of one another.”

They also liked the fact you could see all aspects of the boat from the helm because of their young children.  Other pluses were a well thought out sail plan which made it easy to hoist and drop or furl sails and a very high standard of finish and workmanship throughout.

Rick and Tarnia opted to put the catamaran, which they called Mandala, with the Charter Yachts Australia a bareboat fleet in the Whitsundays because there were beautiful sailing locations and islands to explore and better sailing than off the South Australian coast.

In the long term, they plan to do some extended cruising.

“Where exactly will depend on the sailing experience, seamanship and confidence of us and the boys,” Tarnia said. “Time will tell.”

Profit-wise, Mandala has only just started working, but forward bookings are extremely encouraging.

They suggest choosing a fleet operator that will “love your boat as much as you do”.

“Don’t just look at the promises of high returns because potentially, charter companies promising large returns on investment may not be as choosy who they charter to,” Rick said.

“We would rather not discount and would prefer to leave the boat there on a mooring than hire it out at a discounted price to make some dollars.”

And, of course, Rick and Tarnia say you should go into the process with the right attitude.

“Investing in a charterboat is not just about making money,” Tarnia said. “It’s about making memories and exploring.

“If you love the ocean, adventure, sunshine, fishing, family and friends and creating truly memorable experiences, then owning a charterboat is for you.”


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