With the rise in popularity of boating over the past decade, many people are considering their options for having access to the waterways. Not everyone has a friend with a boat; boat ownership is expensive and can be full of costly headaches, from maintenance to hauling to storage during the off-season, and finding available rentals at a local marina can be difficult, especially during the high season. One option to combat this is signing up for a boat club membership.
What is a boat club?
A boat club is an organization on the water (typically with its own marina and docks) with a fleet of boats available to rent out for daily use to members. Members often pay an annual fee to access the club and then additional rental fees and fuel surcharges per rental. The boats are only available to members, so you can't do single rentals when looking for a boat. Often a membership might come with a certain number of rentals per season, so you may pay (as an example) a $5,000 fee annually for access to the club and ten rentals for the year.
While this can seem like the ideal solution for boating enthusiasts, as it's much cheaper than owning your own boat, several drawbacks to the club model should be considered before one invests in a boat club membership.
Here are some top secrets that boat clubs don’t want you to know — and possible reasons why you should consider one-time rentals instead for your boating needs!
The initial membership costs can be high.
While the rental rate you can secure on individual rentals is usually quite affordable, the fee to get started at a boat club is pricy. While it varies depending on the individual business, on average, they charge between $2,000 and $4,000 as an initial sign-up, while others charge (on average) between $200-300/month for the membership.
These expenses can be a cost that is prohibitive to casual boaters who only have time to cruise a few times per season; who may not have time to “make the most” of the fees and costs.
With GetMyBoat, you can rent what you want when you want it, with no starter fees or annual membership. It’s completely free to be on the platform; the only fee taken is the booking fee once a boat rental reservation is booked and confirmed.
You'll often have only a limited selection of boat styles.
If you enjoy boating a lot and trying out different types of watercraft, you might run into availability issues at a boat club. Often, the two most popular styles of boats, pontoons and small-to-medium size powerboats, will be the only options available at the club. You may not have the freedom to choose a catamaran, a sailboat, a jet ski, or a yacht to get on the water, which is not ideal if you want to have a variety of boating experiences during the summer.
GetMyBoat offers dozens of different styles of boats and types of water experiences that you can rent on an as-desired basis. You can try:
Don’t limit yourself to one style of boat to enjoy the water on. The sky is the limit with every watercraft imaginable available on GetMyBoat.
Before you push off from the dock, ensure you've reviewed your pre-departure checklist.
Availability can be limited, especially on weekends.
At a boat club, you’re competing with all the other members for the best dates for boating, so it can be extremely difficult to secure a vessel for a holiday weekend or Saturday afternoon during the high season. You may have to settle for a weeknight cruise or even take vacation time to maximize your membership and enjoy enough days out on the water.
As boating has increased in popularity, many clubs have steadily increased the number of membership sign-ups without adequately expanding their fleets, making it even harder to secure a boat for members. Members might have to compete with dozens of people for just a few boats, which can be especially frustrating when you want to enjoy a special day on the water. The high demand for weekends and low availability can lead to many booking rentals during weekdays, requiring them to take work off or completely rearrange their schedules just to get on the water.
You're locked into a specific time slot for rentals.
Are you having a great day on the water? Want to stay out longer than you initially planned?
At boat clubs, boats are often booked back-to-back on weekends, making it difficult to extend your time on the water if you don’t want to head back to the docks after a few hours.
While it’s not always a guarantee that you can extend your trip on GetMyBoat, many owners and captains will do their best to accommodate a renter’s desire to stay on the water longer. Often you can agree to pay for the extra fuel on the spot and then enjoy the boat for several more hours if the owner doesn’t have another booking that day.
No captains are available; self-drive only.
No boating experience? Prefer to enjoy beverages while on the water and need a sober driver? With boat clubs that run on a membership model, the standard is to rent "bareboat" to drive the boat yourself, with no captains available to hire for a charter. This is exclusionary to people who do not have boating experience or the means to get their license and who would prefer to have a licensed professional take care of the navigation while out on the water.
Captained charters are the most popular type of booking on GetMyBoat. Connecting people who want to get on the water with licensed captains can help more people enjoy boating safely.
Looking to complete a boating safety course? Check out our resources on boater education.
No spontaneity, and planning ahead is a must.
As previously mentioned, with the membership model, the availability is limited, creating the need to book a rental far in advance, and boat clubs can also have very stringent cancellation policies. This makes it difficult to cancel and reschedule if something comes up that impacts your boat day plans; you might have to pay a fee or have a difficult time rescheduling.
With GetMyBoat, you can view the availability calendar of hundreds of different boats and see what's available last minute. Book and get out on the water the same day — you don’t always need to plan your boat day weeks in advance.
A boat club membership can be a great deal for retirees who plan to be on the water all the time during boating season. The reality is that most people do not have the ability to head to the marina at 10 am on a Tuesday. The demands of work and busy lifestyles in the summer make boat clubs impractical for the average casual boater.
To enjoy your precious summer weekends on the water, rent what you want when you want it. Use GetMyBoat to browse and book one-off rentals.
Download the GetMyBoat app today and browse your options for boating this weekend!