Buying into just the best part of boating

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Fractional ownership offers a time- and

money-saving path to the nautical lifestyle

Fractional ownership offers a time- and

money-saving path to the nautical lifestyle

For nearly a decade, Ian Treibick worked as a computer programmer, most recently at a company servicing Fortune 500 companies. Today, the 28-year-old Greenwich, Conn., native has abandoned his career to combine a new business venture with a passion he’s had since he was a boy: sailing.

Last December Trei-bick decided to take advantage of a growing trend in the boating world, founding WindPath Sailing, which offers sailors fractional ownership of new Catalina yachts.

“Millions of people want to start sailing but not everyone has the time or money to own their own boat,” Treibick explains. “My main objective here is to make it financially feasible for them to get out and enjoy the water, and to always leave the dock happy.”

In April Treibick opened WindPath’s first location at Stamford Landing Marina in Stamford, Conn. — (203) 663-1328. The company also has locations on Cape Cod and in Sag Harbor, on Long Island.

Like other fractional ownership programs, WindPath owns the boats and pays slip fees, bank notes, insurance costs, for fuel, conducts bimonthly safety inspections and takes care of pumpout and maintenance. For a yearly fee of less than $5,000 (monthly payments are optional), members are able to sail the boat a guaranteed seven times per month, plus additional time if it’s available.

“It’s very simple and very convenient, for a small price, compared to owning a boat outright,” Treibick says of the program.

Booking times to sail the boat, Treibick says, is easy, too. Members log onto the company Web site, www.windpath.com , and use the WindPath Scheduler, a real-time scheduling system. Time slots are divided into categories and members can sign up for extended trips up to seven days. Up to eight members share time on each boat.

“Scheduling is extremely flexible,” Treibick says. “I want members out on the boats as often as possible. Maximizing usage is one of my core philosophies.”

Up front, members are responsible for a $2,500 security deposit and a $1,000 training and initiation fee for a sailing course through the Offshore Sailing School. For beginners or those who wish to brush up on their skills, the program covers topics that include rigging and sails, finding wind direction and right-of-way rules. The initiation fee is discounted for proven experienced sailors.

Then there are the boats. Treibick’s first boat, New Beginnings, is a 35-foot Catalina 350. The boat has a beam of 13 feet and its wing keel draws 4 feet, 6 inches. With amenities like varnished teak interior bulkheads and cabinetry, stall shower electric head, a fully equipped galley, flat panel TV/DVD and an on-deck gas barbecue, Treibick says his members love the yacht.

“In my opinion Catalina is on top of the game,” Treibick says. “When potential members see this boat, they can’t say ‘No.’ ”

One of those people is Dan McGoey, one of Treibick’s first members.

“It’s a beautiful boat,” McGoey says. “What’s key is that it’s comfortable, and has enough room to entertain and sleep eight people. I really enjoy being out on it.”

“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” McGoey’s wife, Carolina, says of WindPath. “It really suits our needs right now since we’re not yet able to buy our own boat.”

Kevin Norris, another WindPath member, says the sailor-training program, through the Offshore Sailing School, was a big help.

“Being powerboaters all our lives, my wife and I wanted to try something new and learned a lot from the program,” Norris says. “It’s informative and totally prepared us for sailing the Catalina.”

Another option WindPath offers is an owner-member program. The company will guide boaters through the purchase of a Catalina yacht, and will take care of insurance, docking, storage, maintenance and operating expenses for three to five years.

WindPath is just one of a number of companies in recent years to offer fractional ownership of sail- and powerboats. Pinnacle Yachts (www.pinnacle yachts.com) offers a “LeaseShare” program for new Jeanneau yachts, and has a location at Brewer Yacht Haven East in Stamford. There’s also SailTime, Inc. (www.sailtime.com ), offering fractional ownership of Hunter sailboats as well as Mainship Trawlers. SailTime has locations in the United States and abroad, including Boston, Stamford, New York, Miami and San Francisco.

In August Treibick purchased a 41-foot Catalina 400 to add to the program. He also set up WindPath locations on Cape Cod at Kingman Yacht Center in Cataumet — (508) 241-6275 — and on Marine Park Drive in Sag Harbor, N.Y. — (631) 996-4266. Ideally, Treibick says, there will be WindPath locations up and down the East Coast, and eventually all over the country and abroad. “[So] people from all over who want to sail can, and in their local waters.”

Treibick hopes that someday, like his clients, he’ll be able to fulfil his own dream of “sailing off into the sunset.”

“Ever since I was a little kid I really wanted to sail around the world,” Treibick says. “I’d like to own a Catalina of my own and sail from country to country, stopping at WindPath locations at ports along the way. I don’t think there’d be anything better.”