Many people mistakenly confuse a boat club with other recreational boating enterprises and don’t really understand the difference between a club, rental operator, a new or used boat dealership, fractional ownership or even the newer peer-to-peer organizations.
Each offers a great service to boaters, but has its own unique focus and distinctions, along with advantages and benefits.
Here is a brief primer and overview to explain what a club is, as well as a summary of other boating programs.
Boat Clubs are designed for folks who want to access a versatile fleet of boats on a regular basis, at an affordable cost of entry.
While clubs in general may differ in their membership structure, Freedom Boat Clubs all operate with a 1x entry fee and monthly dues. FBC members have unlimited access to the club fleet, but do not own them and never incur any service or storage fees. Reservations are made through a proprietary online system.
A boat club makes its fleet available to its membership and its management handles all aspects of service and maintenance. Freedom Boat Club employs a proven member-to-boat ratio formula to ensure there are always plenty of boats in the fleet to service the demand of members. And unlike other club organizations, Freedom Boat Club rotates new boats into the system regularly, while moving them out of inventory after three years of usage.
While most boat clubs are either regionally-based or smaller ‘mom and pop’ locations, Freedom Boat Club has 2,000+ late model boats from coast to coast, with 200+ franchise and corporate club locations throughout the United States and Canada. Members who join Freedom Boat Club on a year round basis enjoy reciprocal access and can boat anywhere Freedom Boat Clubs are located. This is one of the most valued features of membership in Freedom Boat Club.
In addition, Freedom Boat Club provides free a mix of both on-water and classroom boat training for every new member, taught on a 1:1 basis by Coast Guard licensed instructors. The instructors know the local waterways and are well trained to assist newcomers to boating as well as seasoned skippers alike.
One of the best aspects of private boat club membership in Freedom Boat Club are the fun membership socials! This can include everything from dock parties to dinners, party boat cruises aboard local charters, local parades, and more! One of the Freedom Boat Club franchise operators is even hosting a boating excursion to the Bahamas! Some of our clubs also host fishing seminars in partnership with West Marine or other local fishing experts. Through these regularly scheduled activities, lifelong friendships are forged among boaters who share the same passion and waterborne DNA!
A Boat Rental Operator does just that … rents boats. You’ll find many rental operations in busy tourist destinations and their focus is to make a boat available for one time or occasional usage.
If the type and condition of the boat and engine hours don’t matter, and you only want to go boating on occasion, then the rental option may best suit your purposes.
Boat Dealers generally sell new or used boats. If you want your own boat, plan to boat frequently and desire to outfit it for yourself in a particular manner, traditional boat ownership will likely make the most sense.
Be sure to analyze the amount of time you plan to boat and the associated costs of ownership including storage, maintenance and service to help guide your decision.
Freedom Boat Club enjoys positive relationships with retail dealerships in the markets in which both operate, particularly those dealerships who sell and service the boat brands in the Freedom Boat Club fleet. In many instances, Freedom Boat Club has established formal relationships with local retailers and will provide referrals to club members who eventually opt for traditional boat ownership.
Fractional Ownership is a program where boaters purchase and pay for a fraction of the cost of a vessel and traditionally contribute to the ongoing cost of service and maintenance, while sharing time.
Peer-to-Peer Boating is a new development in certain markets throughout the United States. This concept involves private boat owners renting their boats out to private parties in an effort to help reduce their ownership costs.