Are Boat Club Memberships Worth It? (Explained)


Are Boat Club Memberships Worth It?

If you do not have a boat, yet you want to enjoy the fun that comes with sailing, you can either rent a boat or join a boat club. When you rent a boat, the cost will depend on the hours you are out with the boat. When you join a boat club, you pay a month fee and then pick a boat whenever you are available.

If you do not want to rent or join a boat club, you can buy a boat – which comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Is a boat club membership worth it?

Are Boat Club Memberships Worth It?

Boat club memberships are worth it for beginning boaters and boaters who do not have the money to buy a new boat. If you go out often, say every weekend, and you do not have a boat, a boat club will be an inexpensive way of boating.

However, if you love sailing for weeks on end, and you love spending night outs on a boat, you are better off buying your own boat. Having your own boat gives you peace of mind when you are sailing, but it comes with a host of costs that you have to meet.

Every boat club operates differently, but they all have the same benefits; you have access to a boat when you need one, and you never have to clean a boat.

How Do Boat Clubs Work?

Boat clubs allow members to access a boat from their fleet after paying a monthly fee. A member can reserve a boat for a specific day and time and the club will ensure they have that boat for their boating needs. The club takes care of boat’s maintenance and insurance, and they also teach members how to boat.

If you do not have the money to buy and maintain a boat, boat club memberships allow you inexpensive access to a boat. This comes in handy for new boaters who are not sure whether boating is the right hobby for them. Before you buy a boat that you may only use a few times every year, try joining a boat club.

If you are new to boating, the boat club offers training to start you off with boating. There are several other perks that may come with a boat club membership, including slides and skis among other water toys.

You do not have to boat alone when you can join other boaters at the club and make new friends. The gatherings can be a great place to learn more about boating and make a few new friends.

How many boats do you have access to? If you join a small boat club serving a community by the lake, you will have access to only a few boats. However, if you join an Oceanside club serving tourists and larger communities, you will have access to several boats.

However, note that you have to reserve a boat, especially when you need to boat on a weekend or during peak seasons. For instance, more people love boating in summer and during holidays such as the Fourth of July. In such seasons, you need to reserve a boat weeks before the day you need it.

It is up to you to research on a boat club and establish their fleet size, how to reserve, and the availability of different boats on their fleet. You also need to establish how often you can reserve a specific boat and what other restrictions they have. Again, check the monthly fee for joining the club and compare that with their fleet.

The Freedom Boat Club is one of the oldest boat clubs, and they have a variety of boats, including cruisers, bow riders, deck boats, and fishing boats. Such a club doesn’t restrict the boat you take out each time.

Is Freedom Boat Club A Good Deal vs. Buying A Boat?

A boat club is always a good deal when you need to enjoy boating without the hassle of paying for insurance and maintaining your boat. It is estimated that up to 142 million Americans went boating in 2016, and you may have been one of them.

While boating is a great hobby, buying a boat and taking care of it doesn’t come cheap. When you join a club membership, you enjoy the following benefits:

No Insurance Premiums

Your boat requires insurance. If you have a small boat such as a canoe or a small engine boat, your homeowner’s insurance might cover it. If you have a larger boat, you have to pay monthly insurance premiums.

These premiums can be costly, especially for a yacht, a sailboat, or a boat that travels at more than 25 miles per hour. Before you buy a boat, you need to consider the cost of these premiums vis a vis the monthly cost of joining a boat club. With a boat club membership, you get a boat that is already covered and all you have to do is boat around.

No Maintenance

Your boat is like any other vehicle; it needs routine maintenance. Simple maintenance such as oil changes and engine checkups are necessary to keep the boat operating optimally. The boat also requires repairs when it breaks down, fuel system cleaning, and much more.

Owning a boat gives you the freedom to boat as much as you need, but if you have a tight schedule, you may not have the time to clean your boat. You may also not have the skills to maintain your boat and you end up hiring a mechanic. This means more boat ownership costs.

Access Licensed Captains

If you want to concentrate on fishing or relaxing in the boat while someone steers you, you can do so. Most boat clubs today allow you access to licensed captains to steer you through unfamiliar waters. With a licensed captain, you will have more time to concentrate on your adventure and spend more time with your adventure buddies.

The captain worries about the weather, anchors, and everything else while you have fun. If you plan on getting intoxicated during the trip, you should definitely get a boat with a captain.

Learn More About Boating and Socialize

Even if you want to buy your own boat in the near future, you still need to learn how to operate one. All boat clubs today offer boating lessons. You will learn the rules of boating, how to steer, and everything you need to know about boat stewardship.

After learning how to boat, you can go ahead and rent or buy your boat and steer it. There is so much you need to learn and a boat club can teach you that and allow you to start boating without the high initial investment.

Get Access to Several Boats

Buying a boat is a good idea, but the problem is, one boat cannot meet all your needs. There are days you need a fishing boat for two people and others you need a family boat. On other days, you need to hold a nautical party.

With a boat club membership, you have access to several boats to meet different needs. All you have to do is reserve the boat you need and the club will ensure you have it when you need it.

There are many more benefits to joining a boat club. Some clubs have social gatherings and parties where all members can socialize and enjoy a good time.

How Do I Join Freedom Boat Club?

Joining a boat club is as simple as providing your details and then paying for the one-time fee and the monthly membership fee. If you travel a lot, you need a boat club with boats in different places around the country so that you can use your membership to the fullest.

Freedom Boat Club requires you to choose your location, give your name, and then continue to pay a one-time payment and a monthly membership fee. The one-time payment varies based on several factors and so does the monthly payment.

How much is Freedom Boat Club a month? The Freedom Boat Club one-time payment is about $5,000 (but this changes every time, so check with Freedom Boat Club). From there, you will pay a monthly fee of between $300 and $700.

It may sound like you are paying a lot to be a member, but this is more than 60% cheaper than owning your boat. Once you pay that amount, you never have to deal with boat storage, wrapping, maintenance, and towing.

The entry fee varies based on the market situation. The entry fee is also different in different locations as the market varies from one market to the next. If the boats are in a popular boating destination, you may have to pay a higher entry fee.

The boat club pays higher marina charges, including slip fees and office space than they would in other locations. If you live in a large metropolitan market, be ready to pay a higher fee.

The monthly membership fee also varies from one location to the next. If the boat club offers year-round unlimited boating, it means they will be forced to operate every day of the year and their fleet will wear out fast. Maintenance for year-round fleet operations is also costly, and this is why boaters in such areas will pay a higher fee.

You have the chance to choose a membership plan that fits your needs. Some boat clubs offer weekend-only and weekday-only special plans, depending on when you need to enjoy boating. Others offer special memberships for veterans, first responders, and for families and friends.

For Freedom Boat Clubs, you can choose from several plans. There are more than 250 boat clubs all over North America with more than 20,000 members. Each of these clubs offers special membership plans, and you have to choose the one that meets your needs.

Once you pay the needed fees, you will have unlimited access to a boat. You can book as many times as you need. However, you have to reserve a boat in time.

Can You Share A Freedom Boat Club Membership?

There is one challenge that comes with a boat club membership; you may not have the time to maximize the usage of your membership. If you do not have the time to go boating for months on end, you better cancel your membership as Freedom Boat Club does not allow sharing.

You can split your membership fifty-fifty with another member if you join Carefree Boat Club. Here, you will pay the entry fee in half, the monthly fee, and the reservation plan. Once you are a member of a shared plan, you will have equal access to boat reservations as the other member.

Any of the members of shared membership can manage reservations, and they need to be in communication to make reservations easy. You should request whether the Freedom Boat Club in your area allows you to split your membership as some may allow splitting to some extent.

Once you are a member, you are allowed to bring family and friends as you see fit. If you no longer need your membership, some boat clubs allow you to sell the membership while others only accept cancellation.

For Freedom Boat Club memberships, you cannot sell the membership to any other person. You can transfer it to a new town anywhere in the U.S., Canada, or France, but you cannot sell. To cancel the membership, you need to give Freedom Boat Club a sixty-day written notice.

Does Freedom Boat Club Have Sailboats and How Much Can You Use the Boats?

Freedom Boat Club started in 1989, making it one of the oldest operating boat clubs in the U.S. It started in Sarasota, Florida, and then grew all over the U.S. and later in Canada and France. Today, you can access FBC in more than 210 locations.

The club has at least 2,400 boats and more than 20,000 members. Although they do not have sailboats, they offer bow riders, cruisers, fishing boats, and deck boats. Most boats are between 12 and 25 feet. You do not have to limit yourself to the same boat as you can pick any boat you like as long as you are a member.

Does Freedom Boat Club Have Sailboats and How Much Can You Use the Boats?

The boat fuel is not part of the fee you pay. Before you reserve a boat, you need to consider how much fuel it will consume in the duration you will have it out in the waters.

Some clubs offers special plans that may limit when you access the boats. Some of these plans include:

• Weekday-only plan

• Weekends-only plan

• Unlimited usage

• Friends and family usage plan

You will have unlimited access to the boats during the time that the boats are accessible to you. For instance, if you pick a weekend-only plan, the boat will be available to you on weekends for unlimited usage.

Closing Thoughts

A boat club is a good idea when you need to sail and you do not have a boat and when you need to learn more about boating. If you are ready to join a boat club, check out the list of Freedom Boat club locations, create an account, and make the necessary payment.

Once you join club, you need to be sure of seasons and boat availability. You also need to understand the terms of the membership so that you can have a boat whenever you need it. For instance, during peak summer seasons and holidays, you may not have the boat you need unless you book early in advance.

During the off-season, it is possible to call and reserve a boat on the same day you need to make the trip. Luckily for you, you can reserve a boat through an app up to six months in advance at Freedom Boat Club. I prefer a boat club membership to buying a boat and the hassle that comes with towing and storage.

Kern Campbell

Kern is a life long boater who finds great happiness sitting at the helm of a boat running on the open water. When he's not running the boat, he's likely anchored up along the beach with his wife, kids and good friends enjoying a great day at the coast.

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