The PierShare Story: How One Startup Founder Wants To Help More People Live Aboard Their Boats - Tiny House Blog

The PierShare Story: How One Startup Founder Wants To Help More People Live Aboard Their Boats

If you asked most people what they would do if they could drop everything and leave the pains of daily life behind, I venture a good majority would want to grab a sailboat or catamaran and sail the world. I certainly would want to do that myself. 

While I’m still a few years off from doing so, I’ve learned through starting PierShare that living aboard a boat presents a unique challenge space-wise. However, there is also another problem that I’m sure that many liveaboard boaters right now face on a nearly constant basis; where do you dock a boat where you are allowed to actually live on the vessel? Liveaboard marinas are becoming increasingly rare, especially in the state of Florida where most liveaboard boaters reside. And you would think that most people who live on the water wouldn’t want someone living behind their house on either a part-time or full-time basis.

This 70 Foot Azimut Motor Yacht sparked my idea for PierShare! Staying aboard your yacht docked behind someone’s private home sounds crazy, but if this didn’t happen PierShare would never have gotten started!

However, as I’ve been growing PierShare I’ve actually learned that the number of people who live on the water who are ok with renting their spaces to stay aboard or liveaboard boaters is higher than one would think at first glance. In fact, how I know this because it stretches back to the origins of the company. PierShare started when my family rented out our empty dock space to a family friend who needed to relocate from his marina for a month. I saw it happen and have built our company around it. But the most important thing I recognized from the docking is that my family (who is not exactly jumping at the opportunity for a boater to stay aboard in our backyard) permitted this boater to stay aboard for a few nights as he prepared to move the boat to a new dock space. While we probably would not have been ok with a boater living aboard on a full-time basis, our openness to allowing a few nights of stay aboard activity has created an amazing opportunity to build a company around offering this same type of service to others on a larger scale.

PierShare aims to open up stay aboard and liveaboard dock spaces in the same way that Airbnb opened up tons of short-term vacation rentals across the globe. In fact, we are similar to AirBnB in that that any homeowner who lives on the water and has an empty dock can list their space on our platform so that boaters can request them through our secure system. In the course of growing our company, we’ve learned certain things about stay aboard and liveaboard activity that we feel is important for boaters to know.

The Challenges of Finding Liveaboard Space – The Cost and Availability

PierShare’s launch market is South Florida, and in that particular market, there are fewer liveaboard spaces available year over year. This is due to the fact that the purchase and sale of new boats far exceed the number of available marina spaces, pushing prices up to the point where living aboard in a marina becomes almost cost-prohibitive compared to docking the boat for storage and renting a residence on the land. In fact, some boaters with 40-50 sailboats can expect to pay between $1600 and $2000 per month, which equates to $40-50 per foot per month. In addition, even for marinas that do allow liveaboard activity, they are usually reserved only for transient boaters who are sailing from port to port and want to stay at a dock for a few nights during their voyage. This presents a unique challenge for boaters who are keeping their boats at a dock on a long term basis and prefer to stay aboard the vessel for a weekend sojourn or liveaboard on a more permanent basis.

Some marinas allow liveaboards, but they are usually just for transients, expensive, and usually always full.

In fact, I’ve noticed that many boaters actually live in states different from the ones where they keep their boats, like an oil company executive who may live in Houston but keep his boat in Florida to get away a few times a year. He’ll want to keep his boat docked all year round in Florida and then have the ability to stay on the boat for a few nights here and there when he takes a trip to Florida to use his boat. Offering these types of docks to boaters in as many places as possible is one of the main reasons I started PierShare!

Docking Behind a House or on a Mooring Is Much Less Expensive, If You Don’t Need Outside Facilities

PierShare offers great low-cost liveaboard dockage solutions that otherwise would be very difficult to find, like this one near the Hillsboro Inlet. While there is a full-time liveaboard surcharge of $200 per month for this particular listing, even with that additional cost, the by the foot dockage rate is significantly below what a marina would charge for a similar setup. And that’s a trend that I’ve seen across a number of listings that have come across our platform; if your boat has all of the necessary facilities such as a washer/dryer and a proper restroom with a stand up shower so that you can properly liveaboard, docking behind someone’s residence is usually more cost advantageous than signing a marina contract at a high price.

And even if you’re not going to be living aboard full time, just having the option to stay aboard part-time on your vessel can allow you to ditch your apartment lease. This condo dock in Naples allows storyboard up to 10 days per month, which may not sound like a lot. But, if you are a ship’s captain or crew member and are already traveling for 10-15 days out of the month on trips, to begin with, you can live the remaining 10 days on your boat so that you can truly experience a fully adventurous lifestyle.

 

This condo resident in Naples, FL doesn’t have a boat, but the condo comes with dock space that she rents out to boaters who want to stay aboard their boats part-time.

While these liveaboard and stay aboard options offer amazing flexibility, one thing to keep in mind is that if you need separate restroom and laundry facilities while living aboard, docking behind someone’s home or on a mooring ball, through PierShare or otherwise, would probably not be a good fit for you since the facilities of the residence you are docked at will almost never be available for your use. 

Our Big Vision

I created PierShare so that dock owners and boaters can enjoy amazing docking experiences.  As I continue growing PierShare, I am looking forward to helping more boaters find great stay aboard and liveaboard spots that they otherwise would not be able to find. With each additional docking, we get closer to our mission of putting the fun and relaxation back into boating. 

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