Are boat clubs worth the cost

The 5 Secrets Boat Clubs Don’t Want You to Know About

Written by Boatsetter Team
June 18, 2021

On the surface, boat clubs seem like a great idea. Instead of buying a boat, you pay a monthly fee and have access to a range of different vessels. The problem is that, in reality, things don’t work out quite that smoothly.

Here are the top five secrets that boat clubs don’t want you to know about signing up for a boat club membership.

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What are the Drawbacks of a Boat Club Membership?

1) Limited Selection of Boats

When we join a boat club, there is this idea that one weekend we can take out a family-sized pontoon and the next, a luxury catamaran. The problem is that most clubs really only offer a pretty narrow selection of boats. Not only that, with most people having the same free time as in being off on the weekends, holidays, and certain summer months, then you may find yourself standing empty-handed.

2) Too Much Pressure

The problem is that once you join a club, you feel pressure to get the most out of it. The average annual boat club is $275 per month. If you don’t boat that often or have a hectic month, it feels like money just is thrown down the drain and just another wasted expense.

3) Limited Locations and Blackout Days for Boating

While some clubs have locations worldwide, you’re still limited to whatever places they’re in. For the most part, this basically keeps you stuck around the most touristy places. And those are only the biggest clubs with typically the highest prices. Freedom Boat Club, for example, is one of the largest boat clubs in the world, but most of their locations are in the US. On the other hand, smaller, more affordable local-based boat clubs may only have one or two locations that make getting the most out of the boat club quite difficult all together.

Likewise, many boat clubs also offer different tiers of membership based on where and when you plan to go boating. One option might be a week-day only membership, while another may be limited to just your city-specific club—instead of allowing for total access to any of their boat clubs around the world.

4) The Clubs Might Be Full

That’s what they really don’t want to tell you. Instead, they will put you on a waiting list, have you probably pay an upfront fee, and then you wait. Even if you do get it, getting on the water might be really difficult because there are too many other people trying to do the same thing as you.

5) Cost

It all comes back to cost. At the end of the day, the price of joining and maintaining a boat club membership is simply unreasonable. Typically you pay several thousand dollar initiation fees and several hundred dollar monthly fees, so often it’s cheaper to own your boat or just rent one!

Be sure to read about the real costs of boat ownership in Boat Ownership Costs: How Much Does it Cost to Buy & Own a Boat?

boat club memberships

Comparing Boatsetter vs. Boat Clubs

Instead of dealing with all this, you may start asking yourself, why would I not just rent a boat through Boatsetter instead? You have a huge range of unique boat brands and models to choose from, and you can opt to be your own captain or hire one of our professional captains—learn more about why you might want to hire a captain for your next rental.

In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the differences between a peer-to-peer boat sharing community like Boatsetter, compared to a few popular boat clubs in the US:

Boatsetter vs. Carefree Boat Club

Like most boat clubs, Carefree Boat Club has an initial membership fee and an annual fee. These fees vary depending on the location and may even be monthly. According to, the initial membership cost ranges from $4,000 to $6,000, and a monthly cost ranging from $140 to $300.

As you can see, the price of renting a boat can add up quickly. If you have the time to use a boat every month, you might get the full value out of Carefree Boat Club, but it won’t be easy. By renting a boat with Boatsetter, you can avoid all initiation and monthly/annual fees! Just pay each time you would like to take out a boat, and you are all set for a fun day out on the water. With over 4500 active boats on our platform across the country, you can find the perfect boat for your needs.

Boatsetter vs. Nautical Boat Club

Like many other boat clubs on this list, Nautical Boat Club has an initial one-time membership cost and an ongoing monthly cost. The monthly membership cost may vary depending on the boat and the location. The total for your first year with Nautical Boat Club can range from $4535 to $14,355.

Our goal at Boatsetter is to make boating accessible to everyone by not tying our customers to recurring fees. All of our boats across the country are available for rent, no catches.

Boatsetter vs. 321 Boat Club

321 Boat Club is a Florida-based boat club with initiation costs ranging from $975 to $3,450 and monthly costs ranging from $149 to $249. 321 Boat Club membership levels largely depend on what day and time you would like to take out a boat. With 321 Boat Club’s fleet being limited to specific parts of Florida, this may not be the best option for everyone. With Boatsetter, you can rent boats across the country on any day of the week!

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Editor’s Note: Prices and information are accurate as of last date of publish.

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