Are Boating Clubs Worth It? (Explained!)
If you are new to the boating scene, you may be wondering if joining a boating club is worth it for you. Boating clubs are monthly memberships. Members can use any boat from the boating club’s fleet, and the boating club takes care of insurance and maintenance of the boat.
This sounds like a dream, right? Well, if you are an inexperienced boater or someone who does not spend a lot of time on the water, it might be. If you like to take trips on the water for extended periods, boating clubs may not be your best option financially and logistically.
All perks associated with being in the boating club vary depending on the location and size of the boating club. Some boat clubs are locally run and only serve one local lake or waterfront. Others are nationally run and operated. Keep reading on more specifics about different boating clubs to decide which is right for you.
Freedom Boat Club – Serves USA, Canada, and France
One national boat club is the Freedom Boat Club. Established in Sarasota, Florida in 1989, the boating club has over 20,000 members. It is the oldest and largest boating club in the nation, so if you are looking for a boating club that has a nice resume to trust, this may be the one for you.
Freedom Boat Club has boating clubs in the USA, Canada, and France. Members can use any of the boats in the fleets owned by Freedom Boat Club around the world. All members have unlimited access to their home fleet, which is designated at sign-up. The only extra cost you will incur is the fuel cost based on what you use.
This boat club also gives on-the-water training to new boaters to create a safe space for you to learn the ins and outs of the water. Reservations are necessary, even in your home fleet. Their easy-to-access online system makes it seamless.
You can become a member as long as you are 21 years old. Boating skills are not necessary since there are plenty of instructors to help get you on the water. Boating clubs also come with insurance for the boats in their fleet. You not only save money on the boat itself, but you also save on the insurance premiums you would need to pay. Many boats have high insurance rates.
If you are a member of Freedom Boat Club, you are prepared, you’ve gotten a reservation, and you are ready to set sail, you can do so with all of your friends and family! To rent, one person has to be a member of the boating club. Beyond that, anyone is welcome on your adventure!
Best Boat Club – Serves South Florida
Not into a big business? There are plenty of smaller boating clubs with similar amenities and benefits around the country. Most popularly, they are located in Florida.
Check out the Best Boat Club located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, also known as the Venice of America. This club serves south Florida only. The ports are located in Ft. Lauderdale and Pompano Beach.
Best Boat Club has four levels of membership available: platinum, gold, and silver. Price varies from $349 per month to $219 per month. Each package has an initiation payment and a tow package. The initiation packages range from $4,000 to $2,000. The tow package is $180.
These packages come with unlimited use of the fleet and all the amenities like educational lessons. However, depending on which package you choose, blackout dates and specific stipulations on which days you can rent apply.
If you aren’t into a package, there is an option for a standard membership which is $49 per month, and you pay a $990 down payment. This option is much more flexible and is perfect for someone who does not spend all of their time in Florida. It is a pay-as-you-go membership.
Their fleet includes pontoon boats, sundeck boats, console boats, hurricane deck boats, and a special boat called the Impetus that must be reserved with a captain to man it.
It offers a wide array of boats that are available for rent by anyone with three years of experience with single engines and five years of experience operating twin engines. If you were born after 1998, you must have a boating license per Florida law.
Freedom Boat Club states on their website that they have a variety of boats from flatboats, to pontoons, to bowriders. You can also expect your rental from this club to come with a full tank of gas.
Waves Boat and Social Club – Bradenton, Florida
Another small boat club in Florida is the Waves Boat and Social Club. Unlike the national and internationally known brands, this club is focused on a sense of community and fun.
There are five locations across Florida in Bradenton, Stickney Point, Englewood, Phillippi Harbor Club, and Fisherman’s Wharf in Venice.
Pricing ranges from $229 per month to $329 per month in addition to a one-time joining fee that depends on your boating requirements. Memberships also include training on how to navigate the intercoastal waterways of Florida.
Waves Boat and Social Club is a perfect option for adults who like to entertain guests with a boating excursion. It is also a good choice for people who have friends also looking to join a boating club due to the ample social events offered to members like fishing charters, beach parties, sunset cruises, and more.
Like other boating clubs, membership with this boat club comes with insurance and concierge services for boat rentals. This is worth it for someone who isn’t going to be able to use their boat that much over a year.
As a boat club member with Waves Boat and Social Club, you can reserve boats online. There are also many social events offered by this boating club with your monthly membership. They have plenty of boats in their fleet perfect for an evening cruise or day trip.
Their fleet includes center console boats, dual console bowrider boats, deck boats, flats boats, pontoon boats, and more. The specific boats in these fleets vary by location, but the options are the same.
It’s Time to Decide
We have gone through the basics of a boating club and what it can give you. We have also gone through boating clubs at three different levels of prominence. It is up to you to decide if the price point is worth it for you. Overall, there are plenty of perks to being a member of a boating club.
If you are someone who needs more practice and education before buying a boat of your own, joining a boating club is a smart move. If you have moved from a waterfront area and won’t be able to keep your boat, joining a club may also be for you. However, if you enjoy using and caring for your boat daily, you may not enjoy the things a boating club has to offer.
As long as you calculate the costs of joining the club against the cost of what you would pay for your boat, you can rest assured you are making a good decision no matter which option you choose.