Photo Credit: Freedom Boat ClubMatt Carrick knows owning a boat is an enjoyable luxury, but dealing with the maintenance associated with it can be a real hassle. He also knows how much Bostonians love being on the water as soon as the first beautiful sunny day arrives here in New England so there was a demand for a members-only boating club that takes the stress out of boat ownership. Meet Freedom Boat Club.
Photo Credit: Freedom Boat Club
There are about 650 members here in Massachusetts and nearly 10,000 nationwide. We recently caught up with Carrick, who owns nine of the 11 Massachusetts locations to discuss who has signed up for the membership, some of the boats you can take out and one of the hidden features of membership.
“Freedom Boat Club is an alternative to boat ownership,” Carrick said. “It’s like a Zip Car for boat owners. We take care of all the maintenance and cleaning so when someone wants to take a boat out for three hours, it’s not a half an hour spent messing with the engine or cleaning it up after you get back.”
The cost for membership is a one-time joining fee of $5,000 and a monthly fee of $349. “The membership is 60 to 70 percent cheaper than owning a boat because you don’t have to deal with shrink wrapping the boat, storing it or even towing it to the location,” he said. “Most of our members can certainly afford to buy their own boat, but they simply choose not to, to avoid the maintenance that comes with boat ownership. The average member is typically 40 to 55 years of age and we also have many who have never boated before.”
What exactly does the membership entail? “You get unlimited use of all of our boats and just have to pay for gas,” Carrick said. “So, you can see first if you like boating. People join because of the cost savings, the variety of boats we offer and the training we provide, which is one of the real hidden features of our membership. It is available at no extra cost. You can learn to dock and anchor the boat as well as find out where to go in Boston and where not to go.”
As for the boats, Carrick has 90 in nine locations. “Freedom Boat Club has 85 locations nationwide with 900 boats,” he said. “They range from 20 to 26 feet with all styles and brands. In 2014, we bought 25 new boats and in 2015, we bought 25 more. What makes it fun is that you could be in a fishing boat for an overnight trip and then the following weekend you could be on an overnight trip to the Vineyard. With the membership comes reciprocity so you can use the membership at any location in the country for no additional fee and we can set it up.”