While having a conversation with a newly ASA-certified sailor, the discussion turned to boat clubs; as a boat owner who utilizes his sailboat like a front porch, commuter vehicle, and the lobby of a hotel, I wanted to understand the allure of joining a boat club. American Sailing has over 20 sailing schools that are part of the SailTime network of boat clubs, so I went right to the source to get a better idea about the advantages of joining a boat club like SailTime. SailTime’s CEO Todd Hess helped me better understand the nuances of boat clubs.
What I found out was eye-opening and intriguing. If you want access to the sailing community but want to avoid the full responsibility of owning and maintaining a boat, a boat club might be for you. In essence, you get to become a boat owner and have access to the sailing lifestyle with far less commitment than a typical boat owner.
Joining a boat club can offer numerous benefits, making it an attractive option for individuals who enjoy boating and water-related activities. Here are some of the key advantages of joining a boat club:
Access to a Fleet of Boats
SailTime Affiliates typically have a variety of sailboats to choose from. At many boat clubs, members can access large fleets without the need to own or maintain their own boat, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Owning a boat involves significant expenses, including the initial purchase price, insurance, maintenance, storage, and fuel costs. Joining a boat club allows you to enjoy boating without the financial burden of boat ownership.
No Hassle Maintenance
Boat clubs take care of boat maintenance, cleaning, and repairs. Members don’t have to worry about the upkeep of the vessels, as this responsibility falls on the club.
Variety and Flexibility
Boat clubs offer a range of boat types and sizes, allowing members to choose the most suitable vessel for their needs. This variety ensures you can have different boating experiences without being locked into a single boat type.
Many boat clubs offer boating courses and training to help members improve their skills or obtain necessary certifications, making boating safer and more enjoyable. SailTime affiliates are all American Sailing schools offering ASA certifications to their members.
Community and Social Opportunities
Boat clubs often foster a sense of community among members who share a passion for boating. This can lead to social gatherings, events, and the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, such as the Lenny Shabes Sailing Festival or one of our affiliates’ many flotilla opportunities.
Members of boat clubs typically get priority access to boats, especially during peak seasons, ensuring that you can reserve a boat when you want to go out on the water. Depending on your membership plan your dates can be set well in advance or spontaneous.
No Long-Term Commitment
Unlike owning a boat, joining a boat club often comes with flexible membership options. You can choose short-term or long-term memberships, which can be ideal if your boating needs vary throughout the year. This is different than a fractional ownership deal.
Sharing boats with other club members can be considered more environmentally friendly, as it reduces the overall number of boats on the water, potentially minimizing the ecological impact.
Try Before You Buy
If you’re considering purchasing a sailboat, joining a boat club can be an excellent way to try out different types of boats and discover what suits your needs and preferences before making a significant investment.
Boat club memberships may include insurance coverage for accidents or damage that occurs while using club boats, providing added peace of mind.
Research and compare boat clubs in your area to find one that aligns with your specific needs and preferences, as the benefits can vary from club to club. Additionally, consider the membership fees and any additional costs associated with joining a boat club to determine whether it makes financial sense for you.
Interested in Joining a Boat Club?
Take a look at Membership options at SailTime Affiliates, or check out American Sailing’s Alternative Boat Ownership Class.