On the surface, boat clubs seem like a great idea. Instead of buying a boat, you pay a monthly fee and have access to a range of different vessels. The problem is that, in reality, things don’t work out quite that smoothly. Here are five major drawbacks to joining a boat club that they keep secret from you.
- Limited selection of boats
- Too much pressure
- Limited locations and blackout days for boating
- Overcrowded club and a false-promising waitlist
- Unreasonable costs
Let’s look at these together to save you loads of money and get you the best boating experience possible. Make sure to read all the way through for a special section on weighing the pros and cons between Boatsetter and well-known boat clubs.
What is a Boat Club
A boat club is a membership-based organization that provides individuals with access to a fleet of boats without the burdens of ownership. While boat clubs offer convenience and cost savings, it’s important to consider certain limitations before joining.
Joining a boat club means paying a regular fee and booking boats according to availability, which gives members the chance to enjoy boating experiences. Nevertheless, it’s important to consider some possible disadvantages.
What are the drawbacks of a boat club membership?
1) Limited selection of boats
When we join a boat club, there is this idea that one weekend we can take out a family-sized pontoon and the next, a luxury catamaran. The problem is that most clubs really only offer a pretty narrow selection of boats. Not only that, with most people having the same free time as in being off on the weekends, holidays, and certain summer months, then you may find yourself standing empty-handed.
2) Too much pressure
One big problem with joining a club is you feel pressure to get the most out of it. The average annual boat club is $275 per month. If you don’t boat that often or have a hectic month, it feels like money just is thrown down the drain and just another wasted expense.
3) Limited locations and blackout days for boating
While some clubs have locations worldwide, you’re pretty much chained to one location, typically a touristy spot. Freedom Boat Club, for example, is one of the largest boat clubs in the world, and most of its locations are in the US. On the other hand, smaller, more affordable local-based boat clubs may only have one or two locations that make getting the most out of the boat club, to be blatant, difficult!
While boat clubs may offer you different tiers of membership based on where and when you plan to go boating, keep in mind those plans come with restricted access. One option might be a week day only membership, another may be limited to your city’s club. As life changes and your schedule along with it, you soon come to realize being locked into these plans isn’t the best bang for your buck.
4) Overcrowded club and a false-promising wait list
This is what they really don’t want to tell you: the club is full! Instead, they’ll put you on a waiting list and have you pay an upfront fee without having enjoyed anything yet. If you do get into a club that is overcrowded, getting on the water might be really difficult because there are too many other people trying to do the same thing as you.
5) Unreasonable costs
It all comes back to cost. At the end of the day, the price of joining and maintaining a boat club membership is simply unreasonable. Typically you pay several thousand dollar initiation fees and several hundred dollar monthly fees, so often it’s cheaper to own your boat or just rent one!
The post below is great for those interested in owning a boat (we teach you how to offset the cost of boat ownership).
Ding, ding, ding: Boatsetter V. Boat Clubs
Instead of dealing with all this consider renting a boat through Boatsetter! You have a huge range of unique boat brands and models to choose from, a network of USCG-certified captains, and trip planning tools like Add-ons, Multi-day booking, and more. While you think some more about it, let us show you the differences between our proud peer-to-peer boat-sharing community and a few popular boat clubs in the US:
Boatsetter V. Carefree Boat Club
Like most boat clubs, Carefree Boat Club has an initial membership fee and an annual fee. These fees vary depending on the location and may even be monthly. According to Godownsize.com, the initial membership cost ranges from $4,000 to $6,000, and the monthly cost ranges from $140 to $300.
As you can see, boat clubs get pricy, quickly. You might get the full value out of Carefree Boat Club, but it won’t be easy. By renting a boat with Boatsetter, you can avoid all inflated fees! Just pay each time you would like to take out a boat, and you are all set for a fun day out on the water. With over 4500 active boats on our platform across the country, you can find the perfect boat for your needs.
Boatsetter V. Nautical Boat Club
Like many other boat clubs on this list, Nautical Boat Club has an initial one-time membership cost and an ongoing monthly cost. The monthly membership cost may vary depending on the boat and the location. The total for your first year with Nautical Boat Club can range from $4535 to $14,355.
Our goal at Boatsetter is to make boating accessible to everyone by not tying our customers to recurring fees. All of our boats across the country are available for rent— no catch!
Boatsetter V. 321 Boat Club
321 Boat Club is a Florida-based boat club with initiation costs ranging from $975 to $3,450 and monthly costs ranging from $149 to $249. 321 Boat Club membership levels largely depend on what day and time you would like to take out a boat. With 321 Boat Club’s fleet being limited to specific parts of Florida, this may not be the best option for everyone. With Boatsetter, you can rent boats across the country on any day of the week!
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.
Editor’s Note: Prices and information are accurate as of last date of publish.