Those in the New Jersey area have several boat club options to get out on the water.
With a variety of choices, you should know the differences in the different clubs before you decide on which one to join.
Let’s dive into the options you have!
New Jersey Boating Made Simple
New Jersey is a place of adventure when it comes to boating. There are 127 miles of coastline and hundreds of miles of bay-shore. Beyond that, there are inland lakes and tributaries. Most of the state’s counties, 17 out of 21, border saltwater.
The state makes it pretty easy to get boater safety education, certifications and meet other requirements.
You can obtain a boating license through an online course and there is a wealth of educational courses available online that meet New Jersey state requirements. The states boating laws are also online, as well as applications to waive certain boating restrictions and to hold a marine event.
If you become a boating club member, the club will have all this information for you as well. Most, if not all, hold safety courses and assist in getting a boating license. They host boating events and do all the applications for those events, so you have little to do in preparation other than show up and register.
Boat clubs are a great way to enjoy the sport without all the responsibility of owning a boat. It saves people money and time because everything is there.
There are at least six in New Jersey to look at when considering possible boat clubs.
Freedom Boat Club
Freedom Boat Club was established in 1989 in South Jersey, making it one of the nation’s oldest and largest boat club. This club has 175 locations in 31 states, Canada and Europe. It has 2000 boats in its national fleet and has more than 20,000 members.
The first advantage of going with this boat club members have access to all locations in the United States and Canada. Its fleet includes a large selection of clean and new boats.
- Deck Boats
- Pontoon boats
- Both inshore and offshore center console fishing boats
There is a simple online reservations system and this club offers free unlimited training and unlimited access to the entire fleet. There are no extra charges for using different types of boats.
In South Jersey, the club is located at Harbour Cove Marina in Somers Park. Water access is to the Great Egg Inlet and the mid-Atlanta. There is a restaurant and a state-of-the-art waterfront complex.
Members must be at least 21-years-old, but the club will provide you with boater education and safety courses for free if you do not have a boating license or boating experience.
The South River Boat Club
The South River Boat Club, established in 1958, is a smaller club in South River, NJ., with around 68 members. Some of the members have been with the club for more than 45 years. This is a working club, so members participate with boat maintenance and property upkeep.
The distinguishing fact of this club is the number of coordinated events it has for its members. There are special dining nights, like Italian night, parties, picnics, dances and tournaments. These activities go on throughout the year, even outside the boating season.
This is the right club for those seeking to make new connections and friends.
The club is proud to be a family-friendly club. It has a waterfront clubhouse with a full-service bar and a boat launch ramp. It also offers a low membership free since it is a working club.
Carefree Boat Club
In Avalon, NJ, the Carefree Boat Club has a couple of features over other clubs.
This new club has plenty of valet dock staff so you aren’t spending time looking for assistance. This club will have your boat ready when you arrive at the marina. Staff helps with gear, loads it on the boat and helps with cast-off. They also help you unload when you return and clean the boat.
At this club, members can use the boats as much as they want without paying additional feeds. There is an online reservation system and the member-to-boat rations are low, so you can make a spur-of-the-moment reservation or even make a walk-on reservation.
Boat varieties include:
- Ski boats
This club has 75 locations across America and the British Virgin Isles and access are included in the membership. Members get free, unlimited training from full-time staff.
The club is new to social events, but are planning a calendar of events.
Monmouth Boat Club
Monmouth Boat Club is a historic club based on the Navesink River in downtown Red Bank. Founded in 1879, it is a well-known club that offers boats and amenities for both large and small boaters including rowers, kayakers, and paddleboarders.
This is a working club, where members maintain boats and property, and that makes membership and boat space more affordable than most clubs.
It focuses on sailing, so if you like to sail, this is the club to join.
This club has an extensive sailing education available for both adults and youth. Non-members are allowed to participate in the junior sailor program. There are also many competitive racing programs for member participation.
This club has monthly social events throughout the year including parties, wine tastings, and regattas.
National Park Boat Club
The National Park Boat Club is located in National Park, NJ. It is a nonprofit club with the mission to promote social activities, friendships, and opportunities for boating and other outdoor recreation activities.
If you are looking to contribute to the community as well as enjoy boating, this is the club for you.
This club is involved in local charities such as sponsoring local needy families at Christmas through the National Park school system. It also donated money to local groups such as the fire department, the police department, local ACA teams, graduation bonds for local schools and the American Cancer Society.
However, it is tougher to become a member of the National Park Boat Club.
There are 115 members, plus its life members. All applicants must be sponsored by another member. Other requirements include they must be at least 21 years old, of good character and have an interest in safe boating as well as other types of outdoor recreation and club functions.
Additionally, applicants serve 12-month probation before they are elected to full membership.
New Jersey Dragon Boat Club
The New Jersey Dragon Boat Club, located in Parsippany, NJ, is the state’s first dragon boat club. It was founded in 1999 and promotes boating with events, clinics, consulting and volunteering.
Unlike other clubs, this is a paddle club with teams and races. Anyone, even those without experience can join, but you must complete a paddler agreement, sign an individual waiver and pay the fee. Fees are $125 for adults and $25 for youth and college students.
The unique aspect of this club is that you can pay $10 each practice as a non-member until you decide whether you want to join. Also, non-members can join in on team activities with fees ranging from $5 to $20 a day.
There are four teams in this club. Two are for women and two are co-ed crews One is specifically for those new to the club.
What to Ask Before Joining a Boat Club
There are some things you need to know before you decide which club to join.
Some questions to ask include:
- What all does my fee include?
- Do I need additional insurance or boating insurance?
- Will I need to get a boating license?
- What is involved in your training and safety programs?
- Will I be expected to volunteer at the club?
- Do you have family activities for children?
- What are the regulations on gas refills for the boats?
- What are the rules for turning in the boats at the end of the day?
Getting all the answers upfront will make a big difference in where you decide to drop anchor.
One key factor is finding out if you can bring guests or children out on the boat. You also need to find out what insurance is required to bring others on a boat.
Be sure to read membership agreements carefully, especially when it comes to additional fees or liability.
You will also want to ask about their maintenance policies on their boats. Most clubs are great at maintaining their fleet, but you should know how often routine maintenance is done and what type of performance to expect. Also, ask about procedures if the boat has mechanical issues on the water.
It is important to know who to call for a tow back to shore.
One of the most important factors is whether you like those in the club. It is a good idea, if possible, to attend a couple of social functions to see if you enjoy being around other members before you decide to join the club.
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.