Do you wish that you could spend more time on the water but don’t own a boat?
Boat clubs can help!
A boat club allows individuals to borrow their boats for a set membership fee, giving you the freedom to sail without the hassle of owning and maintaining a boat.
Baltimore has a few major boat clubs that you should be aware of if you think you want to give this a spin.
Here are four of the top boat clubs in Baltimore that you should look into:
Baltimore Dragon Boat Club
While many people picture a fleet of boats available for rent, some people are searching for something more from their time on the water.
They long for camaraderie, friendship, and connection to those around them. If this describes you, then the Baltimore Dragon Boat Club is the right fit for you.
Their mission is to promote and develop the sport of dragon boating in Baltimore communities.
They want to focus on team building programs and cross-cultural understanding with dragon boating as the common feature that all people share.
For more than twelve years, they have been successfully promoting their mission in the Baltimore area.
In addition to spending time on the water with your teammates, you can also participate in their off-season land training programs. They meet on Tuesdays and Saturdays at a local fitness facility to work on strength building and endurance.
Baltimore Dragon Boat Club Membership & Fees
One of the many reasons why people choose to participate in the programs at Baltimore Dragon Boat Club is because of their community outreach.
They have a program dedicated to raising community awareness about dragon boating as a sport for breast cancer survivors. Team building programs are available, as well as youth programs.
Membership into the Dragon Boat Club is relatively affordable at just $125 per member.
If you wait until the season’s midpoint, it usually drops to around $75 per person. Participants who are on the fence about joining can participate in the fun for $5 per practice session.
Keep in mind that entrance fees for races will be separate and will cost roughly $65 each. Also, you will need to cover your transportation, lodging, and food when necessary.
Freedom Boat Club
If you want the security of signing up with a major chain, then Freedom Boat Club might be the perfect option for you.
They have two locations in the Baltimore area, and members can frequent both establishments. Additionally, you have reciprocal privileges at any of their locations around the world. This is great for boaters who believe that they will be doing a bit of traveling but don’t want to sacrifice their time on the water.
Membership options can vary at Freedom. You have a lot of flexibility to find a plan that works best for you and your family.
If you only want to sail during the spring and summer seasons, a seasonal pass would be the best option for you. Consider a weekday pass for less crowded sailing times or a special friends and family option if you want to keep the whole gang together.
Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, but your use of the boats is completely unlimited. As long as there are boats available, you are free to spend an afternoon soaking up the sun on the Baltimore waters.
Freedom Boat Club Membership & Fleet
One of the reasons people like reserving their boats from Freedom is because they never rent or charter their boats out to non-members.
Even during slow seasons, when few people are making reservations, the entire fleet remains available to members. You always have a wide selection to choose from.
Each location will have a different selection of boats to choose from.
For example, the Harbor East will have an assortment of the following:
- Lexington 521 Pontoon
- Wellcraft 180 Fisherman Center Console
- 2018 Wellcraft 202 Scarab Fisherman Center Console
- Glastron GTD200
If you choose to spend a weekend at the other Baltimore location in Middle River, you can choose from boats like:
- 2017 Glastron GTS200 Bowrider
- 2017 Welcraft 222 Fisherman
- Campion Allante 635
Freedom Boat Club is ideal for those who are just starting to earn their sea legs. They feature a lot of on-the-water training to help you feel confident about your boating abilities, even if you are a complete beginner.
Carefree Boat Club
Are you interested in a luxury experience from your boat club?
Carefree Boat Club has the Baltimore Marine Center at Lighthouse Point located directly in front of Canton and Inner Harbor near Fells Point. It makes for quick and easy access to everything you can do in and around the Chesapeake Bay.
Carefree Boat Club is another option that allows you reciprocal benefits all across the United States and Canada.
Whether you plan to stay in Baltimore or do a bit of traveling, you will have access to a boat no matter where you go. Furthermore, you even have excellent selection because they keep the member to boat ratio as low as possible.
It is mostly recommended that you use the online portal to make reservations in advance if you know that you want to spend a day on the water with a specific boat. You can make up to four reservations at a time.
However, they often have available boats that you can take out on the spur of the moment. It just depends on how busy they are on that particular day as boats can be used on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Carefree Boat Club Fleet & Membership
Much like Freedom Boat Club, Carefree Boat Club boasts a wide variety of boats. They include lengths from 18 feet to 27 feet with styles such as cruisers, deck boats, bowriders, pontoons, fishing, ski boats, sailboats, and more.
While they do not release their specific membership rates, they claim that signing up for their boat club costs less than one-third of the cost of owning a boat.
Plus, you can avoid extra fees like slip fees, insurance, maintenance, repairs, taxes, towing, and winterization. Fees consist of a one-time initiation fee and an annual membership. Contracts are available for as short a period as one year.
All members will receive the same type of training, regardless of your level of experience. You will be given a training manual, and you must attend one classroom session.
This will be followed by on-the-water training with the local dockmaster to cover topics like CBC processes, general navigation, docking, and boating safety. New members can typically get onto the water in as little as five to fourteen days.
As a bonus, insurance is included. The only time that members may be asked to pay is to cover the deductible that applies if they damage the boat.
The Baltimore facility itself boasts amenities like:
- Fuel dock and pump-out station
- Concrete floating piers
- Pool, hot tub, and wading pool
- Bath facilities with lockers
- Laundry facilities
Baltimore Yacht Club
Located on a small grassy hill atop Sue Island and at the very mouth of Middle River, the Baltimore Yacht Club is a prestigious group to join.
It has a rich history that dates back to the 1800s when a team of yachtsmen met to discuss their equal love of being on the water.
Several others quickly joined their ranks, and together they purchased their first tract of land. The location has changed over the years, but the love of boating most certainly has not.
If you want friendship along with a love of sailing, then this high-class establishment is most certainly going to be a great fit for you.
They have regular cruises scheduled, festivals, dances, and even parades. Parties are a regular thing for the members of this club. Each month, there are several events that you can attend to spend time with your new friends.
Membership & Amenities
In addition to attending the events and spending time on the water, you can relax around some of their amenities.
They have a beautiful pool area that overlooks the water, complete with a children’s playground and a snack bar. Unfortunately, outside food and beverages are not permitted, forcing you to purchase from their supply.
Spend your afternoon or evening at their fine dining establishment with entrees that range from fresh seafood to braised lamb. There is no shortage of options when it comes to their extensive menus. Even the pickiest eater will be able to find something to satisfy.
They also have a fuel dock station. They offer ten cents off per gallon with a current Boat US membership.
Whether you want to participate in a new sport or make new friends, there is a boat club for you somewhere in Baltimore.
These top four options give you a lot of variety and can help you to spend more time on the water.
No matter what you choose, you are bound to find yourself unwinding and relaxing on the sparkling blue waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.