Being a part of a boat club can have its perks for those who want to experience being on the water without the headache of owning a boat. Boston is an ideal area for sailing and rowing on those clear New England waters.
The question comes down to which club is going to be the right fit for you.
If you have been considering joining a boat club in Boston, here are the top choices that you should know about before making a final decision.
Freedom Boat Club
Freedom Boat Club has bragging rights as one of the oldest and largest boat clubs in the nation. They maintain more than 2,000 locations and 20,000 members across the United States and Canada.
If you do any traveling, membership with Freedom Boat Club has a major perk. You can also rent boats from other reciprocal locations around the country. This means that you can spend a sunny afternoon on the water in the Florida Keys just as easily as you can right at home in Boston.
Wherever you go, you are likely to find a Freedom Boat Club location nearby.
In the Boston area alone, several different locations grant you convenient access to the New England waters.
Making reservations is simple with their online portal. You can make reservations up to six months in advance. You can sail as often as you would like, provided that the boats are available for your continued use. You will just need to pay for the fuel used in the boat during your excursion.
One of the benefits of joining a larger boat club is the variety of boats that they can offer. Freedom Boat Club provides a selection of flatboats, deck boats, fishing boats, pontoons, sailboats, bowriders, and sometimes even cruisers. These boats are never rented out to ensure that they are always available to members when they need them most.
Another main benefit of this major sailing club is the education that they offer. While many of the boat clubs in Boston do not offer training, Freedom Boat Club offers free hands-on training to ensure that you can safely operate each one of their boats.
All members must complete the training course before their first rental.
Boston Harbor Sailing Club
Founded in 1974, the Boston Harbor Sailing Club is committed to excellence when it comes to their sailing lessons. They focus on offering high-quality instruction as well as membership to the local community. Their goal is to make it easier than ever for their members to get out onto the waters of Boston, Marblehead, Buzzards Bay, and the rest of the New England waters nearby.
As of this writing, the club owns 67 different yachts ranging in size from 23 to 39 feet that are available for members to reserve.
The only downside is that the boats are also offered to the general public when not currently reserved by members. However, those who wish to charter a boat for the day are required to prove their sailing credentials.
Rates will vary based on the ship for non-members, but the charges are included for members.
Unlike some other boating companies that offer insurance as the standard, you must sign up for an optional damage waiver. This releases you of financial responsibility for the insurance deductible if something happens to the boat.
Memberships & Levels
Nine different annual membership opportunities exist, ranging from a Sonar Membership to a Platinum Membership.
Each level offers different perks, rates, and more – here are three we’ve listed:
- Sonar Membership: Cheapest membership rate at $599 – unlimited daily and weekend use of Sonar Boat 23″ with other Sonar members.
- Silver Membership: A middle-rate membership will cost about $3,099 – unlimited daily and weekend use of 12 different types of boats.
- Platinum membership: their most expensive offering, will set you back approximately $5,899 – access to eight fast, powerful boats that offer big boat ocean sailing with luxury amenities.
Community Boating, Inc.
Community Boating Inc. claims to be one of the nation’s oldest continuously running public sailing centers with an official incorporation date in 1946. Their motto “Sailing for All” speaks to the heart of their mission as they offer various programs and water sports to everyone throughout the Boston area.
One of the unique things about Community Boating Inc. is its junior program available for kids ages ten to seventeen.
They can spend a summer on the water with sailing, paddling, and windsurfing lessons, STEM programs, games, and more. All of this is priced on a sliding scale that caps out at just $375 for the all-inclusive summer.
Of course, they also offer beginner sailing courses for adults of all ages as well.
If you aren’t sure what type of boat you like to sail, you might feel right at home at Community Boating Inc. They offer more than 170 different options so that you can try out a lot of different things to figure out your likes and dislikes.
- Centerboard Mercuries
- Keel Mercuries
- RS Venture Connects
- Rhodes 19s
- Ideal 18s
- Sit-on-Top Single or Double Kayaks
- Stand-up paddleboards
A full year membership is extremely affordable at this club, coming in at just $359 annually. This grants you access to all boat usage, classes, and instruction that might be necessary. However, you do have to purchase add-ons for things like guest privileges, advanced classes, and even a damage waiver.
Non-members may also rent keelboats and Rhodes 19 boats during program hours for an additional fee.
SailTime Boston is located conveniently in the Boston Harbor so you can sail the beautiful New England waters in a way that is convenient for you. Members have access to flexible scheduling, new model yachts, and more with their unconventional approach to memberships.
SailTime uses a unique approach to membership known as fractional boating membership.
Instead of offering an array of boats that you can select each time, you choose one specific boat that you operate every time based on your preferences, size, price, and availability. In other words, you are choosing your “own boat.”
Each boat in the marina can have up to eight classic memberships assigned to it, ensuring fair water time to all users. You choose the dates and times that you want to use the boat based on the online portal, and the boat will be ready for you when you arrive. Reservations can be made up to one year in advance.
Available Ships in Their Fleet
- Hunter 33 ($7,400 annual membership fee)
- Beneteau Oceanis 35.1 ($8,200 annual membership fee)
- Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 ($9,600 annual membership fee)
- Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 389 ($9,600 annual membership fee)
- Beneteau Oceanis 41.1 ($10,900 annual membership fee)
A Classic membership allows you to sail at least seven times per month with free sail times when reservations are made within 36 hours of the start time. Lite memberships get three sails per month, and Premium members get fourteen sails per month.
If you plan to do a little traveling, you may want to sign up for SailTime Plus, where you can charter boats at other locations for a reduced rate.
Riverside Boat Club
Is rowing a passion for you? Whether you are an amateur looking to take it to the next level or an athlete fit for international competition, Riverside Boat Club could be the right place for you. They focus on helping their members attain success with their rowing goals, whatever those may be.
Join more than 300 other members who row and compete with Riverside.
Unlike many of the other boat clubs in the Boston area, Riverside Boat Club does not cater to those who are just learning the ropes. Their rentals are reserved for those who already have a competent grasp on how to row safely in any type of weather. To determine if you are fit for rental, you must take the Captain’s Test.
They also do not offer anything to do with sailing.
All of their efforts are focused on rowing, so this may not be the best fit if you just wanted a leisurely weekend on the water.
Volunteer Hours & Membership
If you are looking for camaraderie, you might just find it at Riverside Boat Club. The entire organization is completely run by members. Everyone must volunteer a minimum of ten hours per year to club service to keep things running smoothly.
Provisional membership costs $835 per year with a $150 initiation fee. If you are only a provisional member for part of the year, you will pay just $445.
Keep in mind that this boat club is technically not located in Boston. It is situated just outside the city in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in Magazine Beach. This may help you to decide whether this club is the right fit for you or not.
As you can see, there is a wide range of membership options (and prices) for you to choose from when it comes to boat club membership in Boston.
You can choose the glitz and glamour of a big club like Freedom Boat Club or settle for the small-town feel associated with the Riverside Boat Club.
No matter which one you choose, you will be living out your dream of spending more time on the water.
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Shelby Sullivan is our specialist when it comes to pontoon boats and recreational watercraft. She is often found sailing the freshwater lakes of Michigan. She is also a light-traveler who enjoys camping and traveling the world. Read more about Shelby here.