Does It Make Sense To Join A Boating Club?

Should I own a boat or join a boboating clubating club? This is a big question for people when they want to start boating. While private ownership has a certain allure, a boating club offers a compelling alternative. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice because both offer unique advantages and disadvantages that are based on your budget, time and energy. Let’s explore what makes sense for you when considering usage, financial considerations, and the time needed to manage and maintain a boat.

The first and most obvious difference is that boat ownership takes a lot of time, big upfront costs and unexpected costs depending upon unforeseen repairs and breakdowns. A boating club offers a fixed payment over time no matter what and you boat when you want to. However some people don’t want to share a boat and want to have all their personal belongings on it. They feel that they have enough time to use it to justify the cost in time and money.

Money & Time Value Of A Boating Club Membership

Joining a boating club can make a lot of sense for many enthusiasts. Here are some of the key reasons that many enthusiasts are discovering that joining  providing all the thrills of boating without the headaches.

1. Usage Flexibility:

One of the most significant advantages of joining a boating club is the flexibility it offers in terms of boat usage. Instead of being tied to a single vessel, club members gain access to a fleet of boats tailored to various activities and preferences.  This flexibility allows members to enjoy a range of boating experiences without the commitment and expense of owning multiple boats.

Boats need regular attention and usage to stay in operational condition. If you’re taking extended travels or spending  the winter season to focus on skiing, and want o leave boating to the other seasons, there is no pressure to get to the boat and spend time managing maintenance or inspections.

2. Financial Savings:

Owning a boat comes with a hefty price tag, encompassing the initial purchase cost (downpayment, sales tax, upgrades, customization) and ongoing expenses such as maintenance, insurance, repairs, berthing, and property tax (1.5% of value). These costs usually range from 15-25% of the purchase price a year and can quickly add up, depending upon the type of boat you buy and the age. If you buy power, add the cost of fuel as well. When you finance, there is an initial 20% down payment and ongoing monthly payments for the next 10-20 years, depending upon the loan term. Boats are also a depreciating asset, so all the money you put in is for fun. Average depreciation for boats runs from 10% – 25% per year.

When you want to leave boating, you are saddled with selling the boat and the complexities of this process. You will most likely use a broker, and that comes with a 10% fee to handle the sale. You will be responsible for making sure the boat is in good operational condition to pass a survey, having the maintenance records for the buyer, and preparing the boat so it shows at its best. This will require additional time and money.

In contrast, when you join a boating club, you pay monthly dues, usually a one-time initiation fee that covers access to the club’s fleet, as well as maintenance, insurance, and other boat costs. Costs are shared across all members rather than one individual, absorbing all expenses.

3. Reduced Time Commitment:

Managing and maintaining a boat requires a significant investment of time and effort. From routine maintenance tasks such as cleaning and engine checks to more involved responsibilities like engine services, system inspections, and annual maintenance, boat ownership demands ongoing attention. For busy individuals with limited free time, this can be a hassle.

By joining a boating club, these responsibilities are transferred onto the club’s staff, freeing up time to simply enjoy the water. With the administrative and maintenance tasks taken care of, members can focus on making the most of their boating experiences without the hassle of managing the complexity of a boat and its systems.

4. Access to Services:

Boating clubs often offer services designed to enhance the boating experience for members. The boats may be located in marinas that have restaurants, shopping and other social activities to make your days diverse and full. Additionally, many clubs provide concierge services for any extras you may like and take cared of boat cleaning, and fueling after your use, further simplifying the boating experience for members.

When you join a boating club, you will usually get a comprehensive training on the boats in the fleet and ongoing support to make sure you are a safe and skilled boat handler. You can learn as much as you want about the boats from a mechanical aspect to functional so you are ready someday for ownership if that is your long term desire. Boat club members gain access to a comprehensive suite of resources and support, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable boating experience from start to finish.

5. Emotional and Time Freedom

party on a boatJoining a club gives you absolute freedom over the time that you want to spend boating. There is no need to worry about getting to the boat to ensure no issues with a dead battery, leaks, deterioration, or other ownership concerns. Depending on what’s happening in your life, you can boat as much or as little as you like. If you want to put a membership on hold, you can return when your schedule frees up again. If you decide to quit a boating club, there is no asset to sell, and it takes time, money, and energy to sell the boat.

When boating in a club, you don’t spend any time worrying about the care or upkeep of a boat. You are emotionally unattached to the boat but have all the emotional and health benefits of boating. Your focus is on family, friends, quality time, and feeling good about your choices and ways to spend your time to the greatest benefit of yourself and your family.

The Value Of Private Boat Ownership

1. Unlimited Usage & Spontaneity

One of the biggest advantages of owning your own boat is its freedom of usage and spontaneity. As the owner, you can use the boat whenever you want without making reservations or working around other members’ schedules. This allows for much more flexibility and the ability to just get out on the water at a moment’s notice, provided your boat has gotten regular maintenance and is ready to go. As the owner, you have exclusive access and use of your boat. You don’t have to share it with other club members or wait your turn. This guarantees availability and allows you to securely store personal items on board.

2. Customization and Personalization

When you own the boat yourself, you have full control over how it’s outfitted and can customize it to your exact needs and preferences. This could include specialized equipment and accessories, audio systems, and decorative elements to make it your own. You can keep all your personal belongings on the boat, and if overnights are something you like to do, your beds can be made and ready for your time on board. You can keep your preferences for food and drinks on board as well.

3. Asset Ownership

GT 40 cockpit While boats can depreciate quickly, some owners see value in owning a boat and having the privacy of ownership. A boat will not build equity over time; rather, depreciation declines over time. You will never get back the money you put in, so you have to rationalize this and amortize it as the cost of fun. There are monthly expenses, many fixed but also unpredictable expenses from unexpected maintenance items or repairs. The boat can be resold when you want to leave boating or get a different boat, recovering some of your ownership and usage costs but not anywhere near the overall investment.

4. Possible Long-Term Cost Savings

For those who know they will be avid, frequent boaters for many years, the long-term costs of private ownership may be lower than paying club membership fees over that span, but this depends on the size and type of boat. This is true for boating time frames spanning 5 – 10 years. The cost of boat ownership is expensive, and it is worth calculating the long-term costs compared to club membership costs. However, with clubs, you can take a break when there are years of lower use, which is not the case when you own a boat.

The bottom line is that owning your boat provides maximum freedom, privacy, and control for boaters willing to take on extra responsibilities and costs. Clubs make more sense for those wanting to enjoy boating in a lower-commitment way.

You will have to decide what fits your lifestyle and pocketbook. Joining a boating club offers numerous advantages over private ownership, particularly regarding usage flexibility, financial savings, reduced time commitment, and access to amenities and services.

Check out our Nautical Access Boating Clubs designed for busy lives and for answering the call to get on the water. Our memberships include comprehensive training and full services. You get on board and go.