If you’ve been looking into boat club memberships, you’ve likely come across the two most famous ones: freedom boat club and carefree boat club.
Both are good options and offer similar amenities. If you’re having trouble deciding which club to go for, reading about both and seeing the differences for yourself may help you decide.
What are Boat Clubs?
Boat clubs are exactly what they sound like; a club where you can go boating. These clubs have their fleet at your disposal at multiple locations so you can go on your adventure anytime.
This may sound similar to renting a boat, but there is a big difference between boating clubs and rentals.
Rental companies don’t offer as many services as clubs do. In addition, you’ll have a limited number of boats to choose from, which may not always be in the best condition.
Boat Club Memberships over Boats?
Owning your boat may be great, but it has a few cons. If you’re wondering which one is better, here are a few benefits of a boat club membership.
Boats are Expensive
You may already know how expensive buying a boat is. Their low production volume and higher labor costs contribute to their high price.
Unfortunately, your spending does not end with the purchase, as owning a boat also demands a lot of money.
For starters, your boat requires insurance. Homeowner’s insurance may cover canoes, kayaks, and other small boats, but you’ll need to pay monthly insurance premiums for big vessels.
These premiums apply to sailboats, yachts, or any other boat that goes more than 25 miles per hour.
In addition to insurance costs, you also have to consider maintenance costs if you’re thinking of purchasing a boat. Like any other vehicle, you’ll have to ensure your boat gets a regular oil change and engine checkup.
Furthermore, you’ll have to consider the costly repairs if your vessel breaks down.
Conversely, boat clubs require a one-time initiation fee plus monthly charges.
Of course, both methods will mean spending money, but a boat club membership is significantly cheaper than buying a boat alone. In addition, you don’t have to worry about insurance or maintenance since the club will take care of that for you.
Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride
If you have your boat, you’ll likely have to drive it around yourself. And like every vehicle, steering a ship is, after all, a responsibility. Unfortunately, this means you won’t be able to concentrate as much on having fun.
You’ll have to worry about the weather, the anchor, and of course, you’ll have to hold back on the drink.
On the other hand, boat clubs can provide you with licensed captains to take care of everything to have as much fun as you want.
Don’t want a captain? No problem! You can take the vessel on your own as long as you have the relevant boating experience. Your club may even teach you how to operate the boat if you’re new to the adventure.
Access to Many Boats and Locations
If you decide to buy a boat, chances are, you’ll only buy one kind of vessel which won’t meet all your boating needs. That’s another area boating clubs can help you with. They can provide you with all types of boats to suit whatever trip you are planning.
In addition, your boat may restrict you to one location. However, boat clubs have multiple sites so that you can have adventures all over the country.
Cons of a Boat Club Membership
It’s only fair to look at the pros and cons when planning to go for something, and a boat club membership has a few disadvantages.
A boat club membership may provide you with the complete boating experience except for ownership. Having your vessel means you can customize it however you like making your ship feel as homey as possible. Unfortunately, since the boats are club-owned, you can’t make any changes to them.
Furthermore, having your boat means no restrictions. In most cases, clubs don’t allow their boats for overnight trips for safety reasons.
In addition, you may not get the boat you want especially if you make a last-minute booking which may put a damper on your trip.
Carefree Boat Club VS Freedom Boat Club
Before diving into the differences, let’s first look at the similarities between the two clubs.
Carefree and freedom boat club are present in various locations, which means you can get access to their fleet wherever you choose to visit. In addition, both clubs offer unlimited boat usage, so you can go boating as often as you like.
Furthermore, both clubs charge an initial one-time fee followed by a monthly fee.
In terms of location, the freedom boat club takes the lead with 190 clubs in over thirty states and Canada. On the other hand, the carefree boat club has 77 locations in the United States and Canada.
The greater the number of locations, the more places you can travel to and have your boat trips.
The boat-member ratio refers to the number of boats per member. The higher the percentage, the earlier you’ll have to make reservations to secure a ship of your choosing.
This is perhaps the most important thing to consider when selecting a boat club. After all, what are you paying for if you don’t have access to the fleet?
Although the freedom boat club has more locations, this is not necessarily good since it means they’ll have more members. Currently, the club has around 15,000 boats and 20,000 members, making their boat-member ratio 13.
The carefree boat club is better in this regard. Fewer locations mean fewer members making their boat-member ratio 6. A lower ratio means you have a better chance of securing the vessel of your choice, even in the last-minute plan.
A high number of locations and boats are no good if the members don’t have access to them. Therefore, spend most of your time researching this ratio. We recommend calling and asking the staff of each boat club to get as much information as possible.
Both clubs require an initial fee and a monthly fee. However, this fee is not fixed and depends on the location of the boat club.
The larger metropolitan cities demand a higher rate than the less busy, smaller areas.
At the freedom boat club, you can expect the initial fee to vary from $4000 to $6000. Their monthly payment may be anywhere from $149 to $299.
On the other hand, carefree boat clubs’ fees range from $2750 to $5000, whereas their monthly fee may be around $250 to $300.
Another difference between the two types of clubs is the minimum amount of time you’ll stay with the club.
Carefree boat club expects you to remain their member for at least a year, whereas freedom boat club expects a much shorter commitment of one to three months.
Which Boat Club is the One for Me?
Whether you want to go to the carefree boat club, the freedom boat club or you want to buy a boat, it all comes down to the choice you’re most comfortable with.
Remember to do enough research, weigh the pros and cons, and then decide. Go for the option that suits you best both long and short term.