Most people who get the boating bug decide to own. That's because their boat can be used anywhere and anytime they wish. There's also pride in ownership and the opportunity to share the getaway benefits of boating with others. Some owners customize their craft to make them especially useful for fishing, water skiing, racing, relaxing or any activity enjoyed underway or at the dock. And, an army of sales and service companies are ready to help in obtaining and maintaining boats, from dealers and brokers to lenders and insurance agents to marina operators, boat yards and owner associations and clubs.
Unlike cars and light trucks, leasing is rare in the boating world, primarily because it's difficult to determine the "end value" of the boat at trade-in time and there are few big "boat auctions" where they can be wholesaled. In some developed boating areas in the U.S., such as Florida, the California Coast, major metro areas of the Great lakes, the Northeast and Northwest, limited boat time-sharing and renting takes place, often associated with marine retailers or boating clubs. Chartering, for fishing, sailing or power cruising, are also options in some of these markets. For people who plan to be on the water only two or three times a year, these may be good choices. Many charter firms can be found in boating magazines, on the Internet, and at the local boat show.
But the freedom to get away anytime with a craft that fits family and friends, is familiar to run and kept in shape by the skipper, are powerful reasons to own. Whether it's a sunset cruise, fishing at dawn, afternoon skiing, extended cruising or a trip to a little island on the horizon, having a boat ready to launch can be as simple as turning a key or raising a sail.