by Paul Standring
So you have found yourself wondering “should I join a boat club?” Perhaps you were told about it by a friend or colleague who belongs to one, or you have seen an advertisement. Either way – you are intrigued and want to know more! What is a boat club? Is it like a time share? How much do they cost? Should I join a boat club? These and many other questions are often the first to come to mind when presented with the concept of the Boat Club. We put this post together to clear up some misconceptions about boat clubs and to make sure you have the facts! The two most popular boat clubs today are Carefree Boat Club and Freedom Boat Club.
You might be interested to know that Carefree Boat Club operates several locations right here in Wisconsin!
WHAT A BOAT CLUB IS NOT
First, we want to make sure you understand what a boat club is not. People understand that basically you buy into a club and in return are given access to boats that belong to the club. One of the most common misconceptions though is that a boat club is like a time share. This is one theory we want to quickly put to rest. A time share, by definition, LIMITS your time in using whatever amenity you bought into. A boat club is just the opposite. There is NO limit on the amount of time you can use the boats.
SO HOW DOES A BOAT CLUB WORK?
Quite simply, boat club members pay monthly or annual membership fees to belong to the boat club. The club maintains a fleet of boats for use by the members. A lot of thought goes into how many boats are in the fleet, and the club maintains a proper ratio of boats to members, to ensure that boats are adequately available when the members want them. As a boat club member, all you have to do is go through your club’s reservation system and select the day you want, and what boat you want. Then when that day comes, you show up to the marina and find the boat waiting on you! The only thing you are responsible for as a club member is the cost of fuel.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?
If you missed it in the paragraph above, the most important advantage of the boat club is that the club maintains the fleet of boats. Yes, you heard that right! As a club member, all you have to do is reserve your boat, show up, and have fun. Members can enjoy the boating life completely worry free. Maintenance, cleaning, storage, insurance, slip fees, etc – these responsibilities and more fall on the club owners. The members don’t have to worry about any of that. How’s that for carefree?
Another huge advantage of the boat club is that insurance and liability are handled by the club. Training is provided by the club, both group training and on-the-water training. For an individual or family that may be new to boating, this is invaluable.
With all the advantages, though, the most important thing about boat club membership is that you can enjoy EVERYTHING that boating has to offer, with NO WORRIES about any of the expensive, boring things that come with owning a boat.
HOW MUCH DOES A BOAT CLUB COST?
The cost of any boat club differs from club to club, and also differs from location to location. In short – a club membership in a marina in L.A. will cost more than a membership in Wisconsin. There are many reasons for this. Saltwater locations have different types of boats they have to maintain and things are just generally more expensive. Here is the really cool part though – if you join a boat club at a local lake – all 50 clubs will have reciprocal membership, allowing you to have access to 350 boats without an additional fee! As far as the actual cost – there are typically one-time buy-in fees, plus membership fees paid on a monthly or annual basis. Those fees vary, but one thing is for sure – it is MUCH cheaper to join a boat club than it is to buy a boat.
HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE?
The best way to find out more is to contact a representative at your local boat club. In Wisconsin, we are currently in Milwaukee, Lake Geneva and Delavan Lake. Go to https://carefreeboats.com/ or call (262) 422-6287. We would be happy to answer your questions and meet with you in person so you can see the fleet, tour the marina, and get a hands-on feel of what the boat club is like.