Is It Worth Joining A Yacht Club? (Answered!)

Yacht clubs can be enticing to boat owners, but there is a lot of unknown involved in joining one. People new to yacht clubs often have questions about the joining process and what is included. But really, what everyone wants to know is: is it worth joining a yacht club?

To understand if a yacht club is a good fit for you, we’ll break down the pros and cons of joining one and the cost that usually comes with it. 

After reading, you should have a solid idea of what a yacht club is and what happens when you join one. 

What is a Yacht Club?

The first step is to understand what these clubs are. A yacht club is a social club full of boaters who either rent, lease, or own boats they store at the club. The clubs are usually on lakes or harbors for quick access to water. 

Yacht clubs charge for their memberships on a yearly or monthly basis. Yacht clubs range in prices as well as atmospheres. 

Types of Boat Clubs

Not all boat clubs are the same. Some are very formal, while others have a casual, laid-back vibe. You should know what kinds of clubs are out there so you can choose the one you will be most comfortable at. 

Owned Boats

Some yacht clubs only allow members that own boats. This will mean all members of the club own a boat that is docked at the club. 

Clubs, where the members own the boats, tend to be more formal, but this is quickly shifting as people seek a more relaxed boating lifestyle. 

Shared Boats

Some clubs have a collection of boats in varying sizes that members can rent. This opens up a new world of boating. You may want to try different kinds of boats before committing. Or maybe you never want to commit to just one!

Their fleet can go well beyond motorboats and offer kayaks, sailing boats, and more to keep your experience on the water fresh and exciting. These clubs offer the fun of boating while saving you a lot of the headaches that come with owning a boat. 

The Benefits

  • Social

Not everyone will understand your nautical lingo as a boater, but a yacht club is a great place to bond with fellow boaters and feel like a part of the community. Yacht clubs offer a wonderful place to relax and chat with fellow members on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. 

  • Amenities

Boat clubs can offer a range of amenities from free use of outdoor grills, to social events, to games like pool tables or darts. 

Boat clubs are, by definition, social clubs, so they like to provide fun activities to entice their members to stop by. Games like Bocci or horseshoes are also a common pastime for captains taking a break from the open water. 

Other amenities can be full kitchens on the docks, showers, and other comforts people seek after a long day on a boat. These amenities foster a sense of community in the club, leading many members to form friendships. 

Some boat clubs even offer classes for beginners to become more informed about the club, their boat, and the laws of the ocean in general. 

  • Maintenance

An upside to joining a yacht club is the access to boaters with years of experience on the water. If you are new to boating or owning a boat, the fellow boaters at your club can be a valuable resource for you.

In addition to other boaters, yacht clubs often have knowledgeable deckhands and staff that can help solve common problems. They help you dock the boat upon your returns, and some clubs offer cleaning services.

  • Club Network 

If you tend to roam around on the ocean, a large network of clubs can be super convenient. You can dock your boat at their other locations, or simply spend an afternoon at the dock for a change of scenery. 

The Downsides

  • Dress Code

Most yacht clubs have done away with this, but some formal clubs still require a dress code. Dress code usually means a polo or buttoned shirt with khakis or business casual pants. Some clubs took this to extremes requiring members to wear boat club swag at all times.

For those looking for an upscale experience, a dress code may seem nice, but most boaters today prefer a casual environment they can enjoy themselves in. 

  • Slip Availability

Some boat clubs have long waitlists because there aren’t enough slips or spots for boats to dock. This can be frustrating if you feel you’ve found the best boat club for you. 

Many people are also disappointed if they get a ‘bad’ slip that is in a weird spot to dock or a long walk from the entrance to the yacht club. Some won’t mind a longer walk or challenging dock, but it’s a deal-breaker for others.

Is It Worth Joining A Yacht Club?
  • Other Rules and Restrictions

Yacht clubs can have a lot of rules about when you can take boats out for overnight trips and for how long. It can be frustrating if you want to be one with the ocean and feel the sea breeze in your hair. 

For some people, the rules involved with joining a club are too constrictive to their enjoyment. 

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of joining a yacht club depends on many factors, like location and amenities. However, there is a general trend of pricing, so you have an idea of what you might have to pay. 

Initial Costs

Most boat clubs have an initial fee for new members, almost like a down payment. This first-time payment can range from $900 to $6,000, depending on the club. Most initial payments fall in the middle of this range, around $3,000. 

Monthly or Annual Cost

The monthly or yearly cost is the real price of your membership. This is what you will pay to remain a part of the boat club. This cost should go into maintaining the club, paying employees, and other things that contribute to the overall success of the boat club. 

These fees can range widely depending on the club you choose. The average is about $350 but can fall anywhere between $150 and $600 a month. 

Hidden Fees

Two of the most dreaded words in the English language, but hidden fees can be an issue when joining a yacht club. The hidden fees surprise many new members, from electricity fees to barbecue upkeep. 

Hidden fees can include transfer fees if you move the boat to another one of their clubs or a temporary docking fee if you stay the night at another club. Some charge extra for the fuel available on the club docks or if you have a dinghy attached to your boat.

These hidden fees are more common in shared boat clubs, where they will charge extra money for you to take boats out on high-demand days like holidays. They can also upcharge you if you choose a popular boat to take out. 

Final Thoughts

So, is joining a yacht club worth it? If you are looking for a community of boaters, a boat club is a wonderful idea. You can learn a lot by joining a yacht club and may be surprised at the camaraderie you feel for your fellow members. 

The hardest pill to swallow is the general costs and hidden fees that pop up. But joining the best boat club for your needs can make your boating experience significantly more enjoyable.