Owning a boat for us is a real privilege. We use the Miracle a lot during the season for long distance cruising as well as days splashing around in the bay. We look at her each time we walk down the dock ramp, pinch ourselves and never take her for granted. Like many, it is a luxury we worked hard for and earned. We also realized it is a resource that can help others.
It was three years ago we decided we can put the Miracle to other uses besides entertaining ourselves and friends. With this in mind, we started to donate our boat to various charities we believed in or were involved. Maureen & I have raised tens of thousands of dollars without breaking out our checkbook by simply donating our time and our boat to some good causes.
Donating to charity auctions is easy, and it makes us feel better knowing we are raising money. We have also found it a nice way to meet new people as well as introduce others to the area bays for their first time. Our charities have included a youth center, synagogue, art museum, and a woman’s health organization.
Every time we donated our boat for a cause, it was at the organization’s annual dinner or gala. The reason for that is annual galas always have silent and sometimes live auctions for various goods. Once we you decide to be generous with your vessel and time we recommend putting down some basic parameters to the organization you choose. This can include where you want to take people and for how long. We have the following tips to share with you if you wish to donate your boat to a cause you support.
Sunset cruises are good for silent auctions where we state minimum bid of $200 is needed. While the bid is low, we have seen the average sunset cruise sell for closer to $500.
Longer cruises to the Statue of Liberty that can burn some serious fuel start at $2,000 and are requested to go through a live auction if the organization has one. Live auctions have more emotion and people like to be seen donating generously. Auctioneers always show a photo of our boat and describe the cruise and what’s included. As a photographer, we include a few photos and pirate grog when underway. Our cruise to the Statue of Liberty recently brought in $5,000 by some very generous donors.
Fuel can be an issue. We are happy to run what we call the Great Gatsby North Shore sunset cruise for a couple of hours. We go slow and don’t burn too much diesel for the two hours out. For the longer cruises, we have charged the exact cost of the fuel to the organization. A cruise to the Statue of Liberty can run us $350 in diesel. If the organization is making thousands of dollars off your donated time and boat, they will be happy to pay the fuel. The fuel and your time was not a tax deduction for you according to my accountant when this was written.
No kids, no red wine, no red sauce if they bring on food. We don’t need to worry about little ones on board and we don’t want to scrub the gel coat at the end of the day.
We allow a maximum of eight guests because that is what the flybridge will hold.
Auction winners must use their cruise weekdays. This has rarely been a problem except when you have four couples that cannot agree on a date. We spell this rule out in in the auction in large type.
No holdover cruises. A cruise won at an auction must be used in the following boating season. Doing this makes a group commit to a date which we have seen take weeks to do.
Helping others is a hallmark of humanity. Giving back to the community helps others, makes us feel better at the same time and gives us just another great excuse to be on the water.
Tab Hauser is a U.S. Coast Guard Certified Captain and has been writing about cruising for over 10 years.You can find some of his cruising stories by web searching “Long Island Boating World Tab Hauser” or going to www.tabhauser.com.