More people using boat clubs, rentals to get out on the water

Published online: Oct 18, 2010 News Jennifer Schroeder -
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If you've dreamed of owning a boat, but are afraid of the expense, boat clubs and daily rentals can offer the best of both worlds, taking care of everything but the fuel.

Daily rentals like those at Florida Boat Rentals in Vero Beach require the least amount of financial commitment, and owner Sheila Hart said more locals and previous boat owners are coming in to rent boats.

"People just can't afford the maintenance and other fees that go with owning a boat anymore," Hart said. "With a rental you show up, have a good time and then go home. You know what you're going to get."

Boat clubs are a step above daily rentals and can be a good value for boaters looking to be on the water more than twice a year.

"Club members get all of the fun, while I take care of all the hard stuff," said Joe Klostermann, manager of Jensen Beach Boat Rental. "Our most appreciative customers are the ones who have owned boats."

Members pay a set fee for access to a boat. Just how often you get on the water depends on your membership plan.

"The best thing is, they can budget exactly what they are going to spend on boating this year. There are no surprises," Klostermann said.

Eighty percent of Stuart's Premier Boat Club members are previous boat owners, said club owner Ed Westervelt.

"Members will get on-the-water instruction with a licensed captain until they are comfortable handling the boats, plus our fleet gives them options," Westervelt said of first-timers. "They're not stuck with the same boat all the time."

That flexibility is the best thing about the boat club for members like David Horn, a three-year Premier member.

"I use it a lot in the summer, probably twice a week, and I use everything from the 18-foot flats boat to the big 28 Proline," said Horn, who joined the club instead of buying his first boat. "I have an unlimited membership, so the overall numbers vs. owning a boat were probably a wash, but I honestly think I'm on the water more because I don't have to clean it, or work on it. I just call and go."


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