Summer in the US is usually synonymous with boating, but this summer, boat sales are off the charts and availability is scarce. According to Brunswick Corporation, the company that owns Mercury, Boston Whaler, Lund, Bayliner, Sea Ray, Lowe Boats, among other well-known brands, you can credit the pandemic for having led more people to sailing in the last 18 months.
“Last summer, when COVID hit, the demand for boats went through the roof,” said Lee Gordon, a vice president at Brunswick, noting that sailing was growing in popularity because it was an activity where people could safely socialize with their families. and recreate at the same time. “Buying a boat is hard right now, as demand far outweighs what is on the market. We are currently selling boats in 2023. ”
If you can not buy a boat, the next best thing is to rent one. If you can not do that, then consider joining a club. Carefree Boat Club, Nautical Boat Club, 321 Boat Club and Suntex are among the players in this field, but the biggest one happens to be Freedom Boat Club, which Brunswick bought in 2019.
The club has sponged from 170 placements in 2019 to 312 today with clubs in 33 states, Canada, France, UK and Spain with the recent acquisition of Fanautic Club and its 23 placements across the country. Freedom now has more than 40,000 memberships, and by 2020 the company reported a record of more than 400,000 trips in a year.
There are some compelling reasons why avid sailors and even beginners should join a boat club. The club model allows you to enjoy all the benefits of sailing while the club takes care of purchasing, maintenance and insurance. Forget a big down payment, service, slip fee and trailering.
Once you are a member, you just reserve the boat, get the keys and go out on the water. At the end of the day, enter the keys. That is it. Use of sailing is unlimited in your home club.
Each club has a fleet of boats to choose from. The majority of Freedom’s fleet consists of motorboats in the range 20 ‘to 25’. There are a number of brands and models, including freshwater and saltwater fishing boats, including both coastal and offshore models. Depending on the location, the club offers archers, pontoon boats, deck boats, runabouts, skiffs and sailboats.
The fleet is a key component of the club. Members can go out on a fishing boat one day and a pontoon boat the following day. An advantage of offering boats in the range of 20 ‘to 25’ is that many beginners can, after some training, easily handle this size of craft without hiring a captain. That said, security is a big part of the club model and training is given to all club members when they join the club.
There is a mandatory four-hour class for new members that includes orientation training with instruction in both a classroom and on the water. The training covers a range of conditions, from navigating the boat to safety procedures, docking and other standard operating measures. Freedom also offers intermediate training and offshore training to ensure that club members can be prepared beyond the basics.
Then there are the costs. Each placement sets their prices based on their market and offers several types of membership, from just everyday memberships to full memberships, for example. Generally, the one-time fee starts at $ 5,000, and the monthly fee starts at $ 300. You pay for the fuel you use, but there are no other consumption fees.
In a summer where buying a boat has become monumentally challenging, a boat club may be the way to go.