If you have any familiarity with boat clubs, chances are that you have already encountered the two most-popular boat clubs.
In this article, we compare the Freedom boat club and the Carefree boat club to see how they stack up!
Here are some numbers and facts to consider:
|Carefree Boat Club||Freedom Boat Club|
(Members Per Boat)
|One-time fee||$2,750 – $5,000||$4,000 – $6,000|
|Monthly fee||$250 – $300||$149 – $299|
|Minimum commitment||1 year||1-3 months|
Here’s what you need to know!
Before you decide which boat club is the right fit for you, make sure you understand what each one has to offer.
You might just find that one is a far better fit for your individual needs and desires.
These two companies feature locations at marinas across the United States and Canada. They each boast a unique set of attributes that sets them apart from one another, but they also share some important similarities.
Which Club Has More Locations?
One of the major differences between the Freedom and Carefree Boat Clubs is their variety of locations. When you sign up for a membership with either of these boat clubs, you gain access to the fleets at every location.
This can be an excellent way to spend a vacation out on the water in a different locale.
Choosing the boat club with the most locations gives you the ultimate flexibility regarding where you can travel with access to the water.
Freedom Boat Club has been well established for many years and boasts more than 190 different locations. They cover more than thirty states and Canada.
More than 20,000 members have already signed up for their extensive offering.
However, they still manage to boast impressive success rates for the reservation of their ships.
Carefree Boat Club definitely comes in second when it comes to locations. Throughout the United States and Canada, they have just 77 unique locations.
Here are a few more statistics that you might want to consider before deciding to sign up with Carefree:
- 39,000 boat trips
- 3,300 members
- 530 boats
While they may not have the same breadth as Freedom Boat Club, they still have many members across the country who are successfully sailing on their fleet.
Because of their low numbers, they can offer more personalized services, as you can see in the section below.
How Many Boat per Member?
One of the many things that members want to look for in their boating club is exclusive usage. Some clubs do rent out their ships to non-members during slow seasons.
However, this can significantly impact how much boating you are able to do.
This is one area where you want to make sure you are getting what you pay for.
Fortunately, there aren’t too many differences between the two boat clubs in this regard. Neither of these companies rents their boats out to non-members. This allows you to rest easy knowing that the boat is more than likely available for you to use when you desire.
While both companies do maintain a private fleet, you should also know what the ratio is of members to boats. A higher ratio means that you may have to make reservations further in advance instead of making last-minute plans with friends and family.
Carefree Boat Club commits to limit its membership to ten members per boat in its fleet. While they do have fewer members and fewer boats, their boats are more accessible to members than those offered by Freedom Boat Club.
Freedom Boat Club has around 1,500 boats spread out across all of their locations. With more than 20,000 members, this makes the ratio of members per boat significantly higher.
It may require more advance planning to be able to use a boat through their service when compared to the ratios found at Carefree Boat Club.
You will have to look closely at the number of ships in the fleet at your home location, as well as how many members are signed up in that area. A higher ratio of individuals to boats may not bode well for your successful sailing experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the staff at your local Freedom Boat Club location!
What is the Difference in Pricing?
Both Carefree and Freedom Boat Clubs will have pricing that varies based on location.
They can agree that larger metropolitan areas will have more expensive one-time initial fees and monthly membership fees. This is because dock slips are at a premium in these busy marinas, and companies can command top dollar for this precious space.
Many cities are not forthcoming with the rates you can expect for membership.
This is in part due to the fact that both companies offer multiple types of membership.
For example, Freedom Boat Club offers five different membership levels:
- Three-month seasonal membership
- Six-month seasonal membership
- Weekday-only membership
- Weekend-only membership
- Friends and family programs
At Freedom Boat Club’s West Palm Beach location in Florida, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,750 to $5,500 for a one-time fee. Their monthly rates are a little more affordable with prices ranging from $149 to $299.
Carefree Boat Club also has an initial fee that can vary.
However, they do offer an affordable solution for members who want to enjoy boating without the commitment of owning their own ship. You can join for as low as $300 per month at their Clinton, Connecticut location.
One of the benefits of the Carefree Boat Club is that you aren’t locked into lengthy contracts.
You can sign up for as little as a single year instead of being stuck long-term contracts.
The same policy applies to the Freedom Boat Club.
Most of their locations offer an annual contract that does renew at the end of the first year. However, you can cancel with sixty to ninety days of written notice if you remember that the renewal date is approaching.
Do I Need to Carry Insurance?
Do you have to pay additional fees for insurance with a membership through Carefree Boat Club or Freedom Boat Club? You may be worried about the potential cost of adding insurance to an already pricey membership fee.
Fortunately, you do not have to worry about adding this security policy to your monthly fee.
Carefree Boat Club maintains insurance that will cover all of the boats in their fleet, as well as third-party liability. However, you will be responsible for covering the deductible on this insurance policy if you cause damage to the boat.
Freedom Boat Club also boasts an impressive insurance policy that would be equal to the coverage you would have if you had purchased a boat.
You are listed as a permissive operator under the physical damage policy and protected by a $1,000,000 watercraft liability policy.
This additional protection offers you some security from third-party claims made while you are operating one of the boats from the fleet. Participating in watersports like tubing or wakeboarding may increase your chances of third-party claims, so this can help to put your mind at ease.
You can rest easy knowing that you have some protection from major damages and accidents when you sign up under either of these major boat clubs.
What If I Need Some Education?
New boaters may be a little hesitant to sign up for a membership, even if they feel like the water is calling to them.
It can be extremely nerve-wracking to try to learn everything necessary to sail successfully and safely.
While some of the smaller clubs offer little more than a short video, both Carefree Boat Club and Freedom Boat Club offer more extensive education.
Freedom Boat Club is proud to offer unlimited one-on-one training with the United States Coast Guard licensed captains. You will learn everything in a classroom setting before transferring to an actual boat on the water.
Class topics include:
- Docking maneuvers
- Close-quarter navigation
- Open-water navigation
- Advanced courses
If you need a refresher, you are free to sign up for an additional session.
It may take you more than one or two brief lessons to feel completely competent and confident in the open water, so be patient with yourself.
Similarly, Carefree Boat Club also offers training. You will receive a training manual, one classroom session, and a hands-on class with the dockmaster.
Members learn Carefree Boat Club processes, general navigation, docking, and safety protocols.
Most of the topics covered in these classes will be equivalent to those taught at Freedom Boat Club.
See the Differences for Yourself
Many people still find themselves torn between the two boat clubs. Each has its own advantages that might appeal to some people more than others.
If you find that you are still conflicted about which boat club is right for you, it might help you to see the differences for yourself.
Look up the location that is closest to your home and take a trip to see the fleet itself and talk with employees. This can also help you to get the most accurate pricing on a membership that suits your schedule and sailing needs.
Both companies have been well-established for quite some time.
While you can hardly go wrong with either one, this comparison might help you to make a better decision for your vacation, summer sailing plans, and even your wallet.
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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.