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Boat Ownership vs. Boat Membership

Reposted 01/14/2021

At Your Boat Club, everybody from our founders to our newest employees are here because we are passionate about seeing our clients spending quality time on the water with family and friends. Depending on the circumstances you find yourself in, there are a few options to maximize your time on the water while reducing the hassle associated regular outings. In the following article we will take a look at boat ownership versus membership and what is right for you!

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Boat Ownership

Boat ownership is commonly what most people consider first. This has been the only option for many boat enthusiasts for years because boat clubs are a relatively new concept. Sometimes purchasing a boat makes all the sense in the world, especially if you live on a lake and have easy access to water.  Even if you don’t live on the water you can still look into leasing a boat slip or choose to trailer your boat. Some of the most obvious perks about owning a boat vs joining a boat club are: 

  • If you buy a boat you will be able to rig and outfit your boat exactly the way you want to.  So you can optimize your equipment for all the water activities you will probably want to enjoy. 
  • If you own your own boat you will be able to go boating whenever you want to as long as your schedule allows.  You won’t have to plan around a boat club’s schedule or hours of operation.  If you are the type of person who almost always likes to do things on a whim this could be a big perk. 
  • Many boat clubs have additional rules above and beyond state and federal laws that restrict what you can and can’t do on their boats.  If you own your own boat you will still have to obey the law, but you will not be subject to any of these additional restrictions. 
  • True, even brand new boats often break down or need unexpected repairs.  But if you own your own boat you will have control over getting these repairs fixed as you can do them yourself or are willing to pay a mechanic.  If you join a boat club, you will have to count on the club to make these repairs.  Not all boat clubs are the same, so make sure you ask how they maintain their fleet. 
  • Most boat clubs require a contract, and if your circumstances change and you no longer have the time or the money to enjoy boating you may still be locked into that contract.  If you own your own boat you can always sell it or leave it in storage until you can use it again. 

If all of these sound like you, boat ownership may well be the best option for you.  Make sure you take your time to shop around and find the right boat rather than letting yourself get pressured into making a quick decision.  If you are planning to slip your boat, make sure you call around and secure a boat slip BEFORE you buy your boat.  Slips are not always available and can be very expensive.  There are often long lines at public boat launches with limited parking that can make trailering a boat a very big hassle. First time boat owners should also make sure they understand all of the costs that are usually associated with owning a boat.  The table below should help illustrate these 1st year costs and then the ongoing annual costs that most boat owners should expect assume for as long as they own their boat. 

 

Costs of Boat Ownership

1st Year Costs (assumes $50,000 boat purchase, 10 year loan at 6% interest)

Down Payment (20% down)  
 
$10,000
Tax, Title, License  
 
$3,750
Outfitting (life jackets, ropes, bumpers, accessories) 
 
$1,000
12 Monthly Loan Payments (ongoing)

$4,000
Insurance (ongoing)

$1,200
Winterization, Storage, Routine Maintenance (ongoing)

$2,400
Slip Fees (ongoing)

$4,000

TOTAL (assumes no unexpected repairs)

$26,350

Ongoing Annual Costs

12 Monthly Loan Payments (ongoing)

$4,000
Insurance (ongoing)

$1,200
Winterization, Storage, Routine Maintenance (ongoing)

$2,400
Slip Fees (ongoing)

$4,000

TOTAL (assumes no unexpected repairs)



$11,600

BOAT CLUB MEMBERSHIP 

If buying a boat feels like a big commitment and you’re not sure if your family is ready, then joining a boat club may be a good option for you if there is one available in your area. With a boat club membership, instead of buying a boat you usually just pay a fixed fee to gain access to a fleet of boats that the club already owns. You will then share that fleet of boats with other people, which means you will probably have to plan ahead.  The club will have some type of reservation system and rules put in place that are designed to ensure that all of its members get equal access to the fleet.  Most boat clubs also have fixed hours of operation or time slots when you can use their boats, so make sure you understand how all of this works.  You will also want to make sure the club has some sort of system for limiting how many memberships it sells or you may risk paying your money and then not being able to get a boat when you want one. The club’s boats may also not have all the bells and whistles that you would want on your boat, so make sure you understand how its fleet is rigged and how old the boats are.  But if you can live with all of that, boat memberships can be great because they usually eliminate hassles, save time and cost a lot less than boat ownership while still offering most of the perks.  Some additional benefits to consider are: 

  • Boat clubs offer access to a variety of boats and styles to suit your needs so you aren’t stuck with one kind of boat.  They can be a great way for your family to mix and match depending upon what you want to do that day on the water.  They can also be a great way to experiment and determine what type of boat you may want to buy in the future. 
  • If the club has multiple locations, you will be able to enjoy multiple bodies of water without having to go through the hassle of towing your boat anytime you want to enjoy more variety. 
  • Most boat clubs take care of all the work that is usually associated with owning a boat, so you won’t have to spend your time prepping, cleaning, and maintaining a boat every time you want to go boating.  You will simply reserve your boat, show up, go boating and when you are done just hand them the keys and go home. 
  • You won’t have to worry about any of the unexpected breakdowns and repairs that usually come along with owning a boat.  Since the club’s membership fees are usually fixed, you will know all of your costs up front and won’t have to worry about anything unexpected. 
  • You do not have to live on a lake, pay for a boat slip, or have a reliable towing vehicle to be able to go boating. 
  • You will not have to give up space in your garage or pay storage fees every year. 

We hope this article has been helpful for you in identifying whether boat ownership or boat membership is right for you! Reposted 01/14/2021.

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