Boat Club 101: Understanding Boat Club Membership

If you’ve ever found yourself daydreaming about captaining a boat, cruising the open waters without a care in the world, a boat club might be the perfect fit for you. For many, owning a boat may seem like the obvious choice. However, in addition to paying a hefty price for the vessel, there are several factors that can dampen the excitement of ownership. The responsibility of boat maintenance, service, insurance, cleaning, and storage fall on the owner which can result in frustration and mounting costs.


Enter boat club membership—an alternative that offers all the benefits of boating without the bothers of ownership. Many people mistakenly confuse a boat club with other recreational boating enterprises and don’t fully understand the difference between a club, rental operator, or boat dealership.



What Is a Boat Club?

Boat clubs, while not a new concept, have surged in popularity in recent years. These clubs offer the chance to enjoy boating without the responsibilities of ownership. A boat club membership is designed to provide access to a diverse fleet of boats at an affordable cost of entry. In most cases, members pay a one-time initiation fee and recurring monthly dues in exchange for convenient, hassle-free usage of boats within the club's fleet. These clubs typically offer a variety of vessels, from pontoons and bow riders to center consoles and deck boats – catering to the different preferences and needs of members.


Why Choose Membership?



As discussed, buying a boat entails significant upfront and recurring costs. Boat club memberships, on the other hand, often require a fraction of the initial investment, making them a more affordable option for those who want to enjoy boating without breaking the bank.


For example, Freedom Boat Club charges a one-time entry fee and monthly payments that vary depending on your location. A significant benefit is access to newer boat models. Premium boat clubs like Freedom regularly update their fleet with new models. Whether you’re a 1-year or 10-year Freedom Boat Club member, you’re captaining the latest and greatest boat models every trip.


Variety and Flexibility

Boat club members have access to a diverse fleet of boats, allowing them to choose the vessel best suited for each outing. Whether it’s a leisurely cruise, fishing expedition, or water sports – there’s a boat for that. Plus, members can typically reserve boats on short notice, providing a comparable level of flexibility and spontaneity when compared to boat ownership.


At Freedom Boat Club, there are over 5,000 boats between 400+ global locations. This allows members to select a preferred boat in their local area, as well as at club locations across North America, Europe and Australia through membership reciprocity benefits. Why own just one boat, when you can access an entire fleet?


Zero Maintenance

Owning a boat comes with a laundry list of inevitable tasks, from occasional engine repairs to regular cleanings. Boat club members are spared the headache of maintenance, as the club takes care of it all. This means more time spent on the water and less time spent waiting on repairs and performing routine upkeep. The boats are waiting at the docks, fueled up and ready to go!


Professional Training and Support

While support and training offerings vary greatly between boat clubs. Premium boat club brands typically provide dockside service and include comprehensive training programs for members, ensuring that even new boaters can navigate with confidence. From basic rules of the waterways to advanced navigation, these courses equip members with the skillset needed to safely operate a vessel.


For example, Freedom Boat Club has an award-winning training program led by qualified captains through on-water and classroom instruction. All locations also provide concierge-level dockside support. Members have peace of mind with a caring team and community standing by to lend a helping hand whenever needed.


Member Community

Joining a boat club opens the door to a vibrant community of fellow boating enthusiasts. Whether you're swapping stories, participating in group outings, or attending social events, boat club memberships provide ample opportunities to connect with individuals who share your passion for boating.


Freedom Boat Club is dedicated to cultivating the world’s largest boating community. We provide members an opportunity to connect, learn and grow. We want our members to be empowered through training, social gatherings, and opportunities to preserve our local waterways. By fostering these values, we've grown to become the largest boat club in the world with 90,000+ active members and counting.


Boat Club Considerations

Although a boat club membership comes with many significant advantages, there are a few considerations to take into account. First, members don't own the boats, so some may view this as a limiting factor, since members are not able to customize the boats. However, members can provide input on what vessels they would like to see in the fleet.


Another consideration is the ability to reserve a specific boat with limited notice. If a specific boat you want to take out is already reserved, you won't be able to use it that day. However, if you plan ahead you can often times avoid situations like this.


Lastly, 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 keep a boat overnight unless you have special training and the club has specified that they will allow overnight usage.


How to Join a Boat Club

If you have a boat club near you and want to become a member, there are a few steps you need to take. Make sure you’ve done your due diligence researching clubs before making your decision.


Inquire About Membership

Once you find your ideal boat club, you will need to reach out to learn more about available memberships tiers and packages. Membership plans primarily vary based on usage and location. No matter which membership plan you choose, you can always expect newer boat models.


Become Confident Behind the Helm

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 use.


In the case of Freedom Boat Club, an optional 3-hour on-water training course is available through BoatClass in addition to the required member orientation and free training given to all members. 


Make a Reservation

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


Getting Started

In a world where time and money are precious commodities, boat club membership is a compelling alternative to boat ownership. With cost-effective access to a diverse fleet, hassle-free maintenance, professional training, and a community of fellow boaters, joining a boat club can instantly unlock a new world of water.


Interested to know more about how boat club pricing works? Click here to check out our recent blog outlining factors that influence the cost of a Freedom Boat Club membership. Or, if you're ready to get started now, contact us today to join the world's first and largest boat club!

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