Boating is a lifestyle, but you don’t need to own a boat to be an active boater. At the crossroads of boat ownership and boat renting, comes another option called boat membership that for some, combines the best of both worlds. While daily rentals are available through Your Boat Club based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the club has created a membership-based program as well, and members can pay a fixed fee to have unlimited access to every kind of boat in their fleet.
What is a boat club membership?
Boat clubs have been around in different forms for many years and provide a great way to get fully involved in boating if you're getting started or don't want to make the commitment to ownership financially or otherwise. For boaters who venture out on the water less than 10 times a year, or for boaters who don’t want to hassle with the towing, storage and other maintenance issues that goes hand-in-hand with boat ownership, renting is an easy way to experience the boating lifestyle. But what about those boaters who want more time on the water, more boats to use, and more flexibility?
A boat club membership is similar to boat renting but typically provides unlimited rentals for a fixed price, giving boaters many of the perks associated with boat ownership. Members are given the same variety of choices related to boat renting, but they’re also given the flexibility and access connected with boat ownership. For example, members of Minnesota’s Your Boat Club, which claims to be the world’s largest privately owned boat club, have access to the company’s entire fleet of boats, including pontoon boats, deck boats, runabouts, and fishing boats—and they have the ability to go boating whenever they chose. Your Boat Club also offers different levels of membership that can adapt to an array of members’ schedules and their preference for boat size and style. Whether boaters choose the Club’s Explorer, Executive or Early Bird membership options, they are always provided with two ways to schedule their boat including advance reservations and spontaneous same day use.
"We want boating to be easy,” says Luke Kujawa, co-founder of the club. "We are basically a boat valet service. When you show up, we greet you, grab your cooler, walk you down to the dock to get you set up in the boat, and set you free on the lake. When you arrive back, we help you unload and carry everything back to your car. Then, we worry about the cleaning, filling the gas tank, or anything else a boat owner would normally take care of."
Easy access to boats is not just reserved for members. Your Boat Club also offers daily rentals of pontoon boats, wave runners and paddleboards. And for current boat owners, the club manages boat slips at many of their locations, providing a hassle-free option for owners who don’t want to deal with trailering, launching, loading and towing their boats.
What kind of boats can you expect?
With a boat club membership can come a lot of boat variety. At Your Boat Club, the fleet is stocked with Bennington, Sea Ray, Bryant, Glastron, Lund, and Monterey Boats, organized into three main groups called Piers. Pier 1 includes the smallest boats, which are limited to certain locations, while Pier 2 are mid-size boats can be run at any of the lakes associated with the club. And finally, Pier 3 includes the largest boats in the fleet that tend to run only in larger bodies of water.
Upon getting a membership with Your Boat Club, members choose a primary lake where they plan to do most of their boating. While members are allowed to go boating in any of the lakes connected with Your Boat Club, a member’s primary lake determines their Pier level, which in turn determines the size of their boats.
For boaters of every experience level, a boat membership allows for an array of opportunities to use a wide range of boats. If one weekend you’re looking to take out a large group for a family day, simply choose a pontoon. Or maybe you’re after a calm and quiet afternoon while the fish nibble on your line and should take out a fishing boat. And if you’re ready for some action and to catch some waves, choose one of the runabouts. The options are endless—and you don’t have to worry about any of the boat preparation, towing or maintenance.
Where can you get a boat club membership?
The world of boat rentals is broad in most boating destinations, but the boat membership community still has plenty of room to grow. For boaters in Minnesota and nearby, Your Boat Club is an easy choice if you’re looking to head out on the water at any of their eight marinas and over 34 lakes including the Cross Lake-Whitefish Chain, Forest Lake, Lake Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, Lake Waconia, St. Croix River, Prior Lake and the Gull Lake Chain. For boaters outside of Minnesota, there are similar boat clubs such as Freedom Boat Club and Carefree Boat Club, which both service many different locations within the US and Canada. You may also find smaller, single-location clubs and community boating programs in most areas with water access.
As the popularity of the boating lifestyle continues to grow, so do the opportunities for helping new boaters get out on the water. Whether you’re just renting for a day through a destination rental company, finding a rental through a peer-to-peer (P2P) network such as Boatbound or Boatsetter (learn more in our Renting Boats is Getting Easier with Boat Sharing article), or signing up for a boat club membership, the important thing is to find the best option for your boating needs. Of course, just like boat ownership, a boat club membership isn’t for everyone—but it’s definitely a viable option. With a lot of choices and little hassle, a boat club membership might provide you with your happy medium between boat ownership and boat renting.
For more information, visit Your Boat Club.
Editor's Note: Promotional consideration for this article was paid by Your Boat Club.