We moved from Colorado last year with every intention of purchasing a boat for recreational use and fishing. I shopped around and the vessels that I liked were pricing out about 50-75K. I wanted something with center console for fishing. I also looked into boat storage and dock space so we could keep the boat in or near the water. The average cost was about $8-10 LF of boat length.
I also calculated the insurance and estimated yearly maintenance and added for equipment needed, electronics, fish finder, life jackets, and other misc things. While my attention was diverted to boat shopping we also needed to purchase a home at the same time. So I really wanted a house with a boat dock for my potential new boat purchase. However, boat dock homes are very expensive and rare to find. I also got a jolt or wake up call from the insurance company on rates since living right on the water would be considered a high risk for rising water and storms.
Thankfully during our search for both a home and boat we met Eric, he was our real estate agent, a retired state policeman that had just moved down to Florida a year prior from New York. Eric was a previous boat owner and knew a few things about boat ownership. When he heard I wanted to buy a boat he took me straight to the Freedom Boat Club in Bradenton where I met Vince. After about a ten minute conversation with Vince we were convinced it was an absolute no-brainer to join the club..We would save thousands of dollars and get a huge selection of boats at our disposal. If we had purchased the boat I wanted we would have been limited to just that boat alone. The Freedom Club gives us access to a many types of boats. We can enjoy an inshore center console vessel perfect for fishing the shadow waters, or offshore boat for going into the deeper water. But, we have access to other boats too; deck boats for cruising the bay while enjoying the sun and beautiful Sarasota water and beaches. We actually use the deck boats more now because since our move to Florida our visiting friends and family like to go to the beaches. It’s nice to enjoy the less crowded beach areas and sandbars with a deck boat. We no longer stake out a spot on the crowded beach, drag and setup tent, beach chairs, ect..
If having access to many different boats wasn’t enough, we actually saved thousands of dollars by joining the club. We no longer needed to put down 25K in cash and finance about 40K for the new boat we wanted. We also didn’t need a home with boat dock. We were able to find a home with a swimming pool located nearby in a no flood zone which saves us a ton of money on annual insurance premiums. If you don’t buy a home with a dock just plan on adding about $200-250 per month to store your boat in the water at one of the local marinas.
Now, for the real savings..We all buy new things and know how things depreciate. I found out that if I would have made the mistake of buying a new boat I could have loss over 10-15K just in the title transfer. Even if the boat never touched the water. That’s kind of ridiculous but that’s how it works. Just go and look at new boats and slightly used new boats for sale. You basically throw over 10K away on a purchase. That’s just for a boat around 20-25 feet. I don’t even want to imagine a larger boat purchase.
Last and best part of the club. No maintenance and almost everything you need in equipment is already included in the membership…That’s right ! No maintenance. That means no oil, no need to purchase life jackets, fish finder, anchors, NO CLEANING, ect. It’s like having a valet boat service on the dock. Your boat is waiting at the dock when you arrive and when you return in after a day of fun just park the boat back in the slip and pay for only the gas used. Simply a no-brainer.. Another perk is a few other members have helped me locate a couple fishing holes for grouper….Boating and fishing solved..
We didn’t even realize anything like Freedom Boat Club existed. We love the club. We actually joined prior to purchasing our home. Man’s got to have his priorities in order.
~ Martin Allred, FBC Member since 7/2014