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How Do Boat Clubs Work?

Getting out into the open water with your friends and family is a dream for many people in America. Wouldn't it be great to be able to reserve a boat whenever you want and take it out fishing? Doesn't it sound good to pack a cooler of drinks, some sunscreen, and a few snacks before hitting the open water multiple times a year?

Owning your own boat comes with maintenance, insurance, and other fees that you have to pay out of your own pocket. If boat ownership does not sound ideal to you, but you still want the luxury of boating, joining a boat club may be your next best option.

If you want to learn more about boat clubs and how to join one, then you came to the right place. This brief boat club guide will go over what a boat club is and who you can reach out to for more information!

What Is a Boat Club?

Boat clubs have been around for a while, but recently, they have grown in popularity. These clubs are great for those who want to use a boat without actually owning a boat.

A boat club is a place where members have the opportunity to use different ships at different locations nationwide. These boats are available throughout the boating season, and the boats are usually at a marina.

Most boat clubs partner with marinas located near big water and larger metropolitan areas. Boat clubs are consistently growing in popularity, so you can expect to see them in many places near you!

Boaters who want to own a boat but don't have the time it takes to own and maintain a boat should invest in joining a boat club. The boat club experience differs from boat rental because, as a member, you have the opportunity to come and go as you wish throughout the season.

Most people who rent boats only do so for a specific occasion, such as a birthday or fourth of July. These rentals only last a day or two. As a boat club member, you don't have to worry about only renting a boat for a specific time.

As long as you are an active member, you have access to the vessel whenever you want without going through the hassle of renting.
A boat club is perfect for you if you want to be out on the water more often but don't want to deal with what comes with owning your own boat.

How to Join a Boat Club

If you have a boat club near you and you want to become a member, there are a few steps you need to take. Make sure that you check out a couple of different clubs before you make your decision.

Apply to Become a Member

Once you find your boat club, you will need to reach out to them to learn more about their different levels of memberships. Membership plans vary based on usage, pricing, and types of boat you plan to use. No matter which membership plan you choose, you can always expect to use newer boat models.

Membership Pricing

The price of your membership depends based on your location and the club's pricing. On average, most members pay a one-time membership fee between $3,000 to $10,000.

Again, the price of your membership depends on the boat club, club location, usage, and types of boats you wish to use. Depending on your club, there may be monthly fees ranging between $300 to $1,000.

Most plans are suitable for a year, and the membership price is subject to local taxes. Once you sign up and pay your dues, the boat club will teach you everything you need to know about boating.

Become Comfortable Driving a Boat

If you are someone who loves being out on the water, but you don't have the proper boating experience, your club will teach you how to operate the vessel. Most clubs require their members to go through an orientation meeting before training on the water with a staff member.

These staff members want to make sure that you are comfortable driving a boat before taking off on your own. The training will teach you how to operate each style of boat you wish to take out.

Make Your Reservation

Once you complete your in-water training and feel confident operating and driving a boat, you can start making reservations. It is best to make your reservation at least 14 days in advance. Planning well ahead of time ensures that you will have the boat you want.

Get On the Water

When your reservation day arrives, it's time to get out on the water and have a good time. The only thing you need to bring is your friends, family, towels, sunscreen, and a cooler.

The club provides you with safety gear such as ropes and life jackets. If you would like, you have the opportunity to reserve water sports equipment in advance.

Once you are done for the day, you need to replenish the gas tank before docking the vessel. Once the gas is all filled up, you can bring the boat back in and go on your way.

Certain clubs require you to fill up the gas tank before bringing back the ship, whereas other locations handle replenishing the gas for you. Make sure that you review your club's rules before you make your final selection. Most boat clubs handle the maintenance and cleaning.

Boat Club Tips and Benefits

A great benefit of having a boat club membership is you don't have to worry about paying for boat insurance out of your pocket. Boat insurance premiums can be costly and can dip into your monthly budget.

With a boat membership, you don't have to worry about remembering the rules of a boat insurance policy or paying a premium. The boat you access already has boat insurance coverage, which you pay a small amount of through your membership.

Free From Maintenance

Just like your car, a boat needs regular maintenance to keep it working correctly. When you own your own boat, you have to deal with engine work, repairs, oil changes, and maintaining the electronics onboard.

While owning a boat may sound like a great idea, it may not be ideal for those who don't know how to maintain their boat. Even more so, many people don't want to spend that money to maintain a boat.

A significant benefit of being a boat club member is that you don't have to pay for any maintenance or upgrades. The cost of maintaining the vessels is already included in your membership fees.

Every boat you wish to reserve and use is always already well maintained, water-ready, and clean. As mentioned earlier, when you finish using the ship, you dock it and go about your day. The crew will take care of that on your behalf.

Flexible Fleet Options

With a boat club, the boat options available to you are endless. Keep in mind that your boat selection depends on the location of the boat club.

For example, a small boat club serving a lakeside community will have a different set of boats than a boat club by the oceanside. Clubs near a popular tourist destination are sure to have more options because they serve a larger community.

As mentioned above, you must reserve your boat ahead of time, especially during peak times such as the weekend or holidays. Most boat clubs do not limit you on how often you can rent a boat; it is just best to reserve your day and time beforehand to have the boat you want at the time you need.

Boat Club Pros and Cons

As you now know, a significant pro of joining a boat club is the opportunity to use their wide selection of vessels at your leisure. Boat club prices are also less expensive than buying a new boat.

Depending on the type of boat club you join, they may have a network of locations. So if you start your membership in Florida, but you want to vacation on a boat in California for your birthday, you can do that! A lot of significant boat clubs have locations throughout the United States to use whenever you want.

Boat Club Socials

Being part of a boat club is more than just renting a boat for the day and then heading home; it is a community. Some great boat club companies have membership socials.

These events include party boat cruises aboard local charters, dinners, dock parties, parades, and more. There are even clubs that hose boating excursions to locations like the Bahamas.

Boat clubs want their members to enjoy being a part of the boating community by having fun and meeting new people. You have the opportunity to meet a lot of like-minded people with boating experiences they can share.

Cons of Boat Clubs

Although having a boat club membership comes with many significant advantages, there are a few disadvantages you should be aware of. As you know, you don't own any of the boats at the boat club. Some people may see this as a disadvantage because this means that they cannot customize the ship.

Another disadvantage is that if a specific boat you want to take out in the spur of the moment is not available, you won't be able to use it on that day. It is always best to try to reserve ahead of time to avoid this situation.

If you plan on taking a boat out overnight, you may not be able to due to safety reasons. Most boat clubs do not allow their members to take boats overnight for safety reasons. Unless you have special training to take a boat out overnight and you have a club that provides that, you most likely won't be able to rent a boat overnight at all.

Join a Boat Club Today

Boat clubs are more than just a group of random people who rent boats all day; they are a whole community. These clubs offer fun events and gatherings for you to get to know other boaters and to have a good time.

Whenever you have a party or just want to get out into the water to relax, you can reserve the boat of your choice at your boat club. The best part is if you travel and your boat club has a location at your vacation spot, you can reserve a boat out there too!

If you are ready to learn more about joining a boat club, contact us now. Here at Freedom Boat Club, we have several different locations across the United States! Find a club local to you!

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