I’ve owned a fair number of boats, but when people ask me what kind of boat I have, my answer is, “I currently sail on other people’s boats.” That usually gets me a knowing wink or nod. Sailing on other people’s boats (OPB) has great advantages for both me and the other people. These other people get an experienced crewmember who has an owner’s appreciation for what it takes, financially and management-wise, to own and operate a boat. I invest my time, but generally get a free ride financially and logistically by not having my own boat. I worry less about crew, weather, and maintenance.
That said, there’s nothing like owning your own boat. You get to do things your way, right down to coiling a line. You can operate your boat whichever way suits your personality, manage your own schedule, and yes, choose your own crew and guests. So the other day when some of my buddies were discussing a collective fishing trip for this weekend, I was a little shocked to hear the owner assign financial responsibilities to the crew. “I’ll pay for gas, crew 1 will buy the bait, and crew 2, you bring the beer,” said the skipper. Given the price of gas these days, it sounded equitable and I suppose if they all agreed beforehand it was none of my business, so I kept my mouth shut.
In practice, I would hope my crew/guests would offer to bring something, like beer, of their own accord, but I would never expect them to chip in financially and I certainly wouldn’t assign them such responsibility. To me, this crossed over the invisible line and etiquette of sailing on other people’s boats. These weren’t boat partners, just fishing buddies. Once your crew has a financial stake in the operation, do they get a say in how you operate the boat, too? Me, I’d prefer to keep the lines clearly defined when sailing other people’s boats and suck it up when it’s my own boat.