RENT TO OWN
Itching to buy? Beware. Boat stands for "Bring on Another Thousand." Purchase programsleasing your boat to a charter companyhelp control the costs. You buy a new boat and let a charter company rent it up to ten months each year. In exchange, the company maintains and moors it, and pays you a fixed income (which can often cover your mortgage). Finally, many contracts give you points to spend on other boats in the company's fleet around the globe. Run the numbers at moorings.com and sunsail.com.
A bareboat should range from $400 to $700 per day, depending on model and season. Stock the galley, step aboard, and sail away. If anything important breaks, your charter company will send someone out from their local base to fix it. Even better: You don't have to worry about cleaning when you're done.
Though your bareboat-cruising certificate lets you charter anywhere, be realisticjust because you've taken driver's ed doesn't mean you're ready for the Autobahn. The following spots are ordered from easy to hard.
British Virgin Islands
The most popular charter hub in the world offers steady winds and easy navigation between islands. The Moorings, moorings.com
Sea of Cortez
Spring off Baja's east coast equals barking seals, flat seas, and crimson sunsets. The Moorings, moorings.com
Newport, Rhode Island
A reliable summer breeze connects the mainland to Block Island and Martha's Vineyard. Bareboat Sailing Charters, bareboatsailing.com
Long open-ocean passages (eight miles and more) between lonely sandboxes are an any-season favorite among ambitious sailors. TMM Yacht Charters, sailtmm.com
Summer is the best time to master the fast currents and choppy seas of the San Juan Islands, at the edge of the Pacific. Anacortes Yacht Charters, ayc.com