Add Boats to the Record of What’s Onerous to Discover (and Extra Costly)


“It’s the first time I’ve owned a boat because I’ve been told you don’t own these things, you’re chartering them,” said Mr. Pierce. “I had several problems with the charter. There was a general lack of availability, but also a lack of choice. “

Mr Pierce, who splits his time between Puerto Rico and Florida, said he justified the purchase because he lives on the waterfront. But in his first few months as the owner, he paid, as he put it, “an endless stream of expenses you didn’t expect”.

“That costs a lot of capital,” he says. “I got a woodwork bill yesterday and it was $ 150,000.”

An alternative between pure ownership and charter is the country club model. Barton & Gray and Freedom Boat Club are two of the big clubs. Your members have access to a wide variety of boats, but must reserve them and may not always be able to use the boat they want when they want – for example on Father’s Day or July 4th when many members wish to be out on the water.

The goal of the Freedom Boat Club, owned by the big boat manufacturer Brunswick, is to get people out in smaller boats that they can surrender themselves. The club charges an admission fee of $ 5,000 to $ 7,000, and then monthly fees of $ 350 to $ 450, depending on the market. Its 40,000 members have access to approximately 3,200 boats, all of which are less than 7 meters long.

The Freedom Boat Club has gained almost 10,000 members since the pandemic began, said Brenna Preisser, President of the Business Acceleration Division in Braunschweig. “Boating is one of those great social distancing activities,” she said, adding that the club has a boat for eight to ten members at a time.

Barton & Gray operates more like a full-service country club, with an entry fee of $ 20,000 and an annual subscription. These fees vary from $ 39,000 for the smallest 36-foot boat to $ 114,500 for any boat in the fleet and reserving a season in advance. (In the summer the boats are north, but in the winter they go to Florida and the Carolinas.) Most members pay $ 54,000, which gives them access to all boats but limits them to booking four charters at a time.