BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — It’s an emerging trend in Buffalo, where you get all the benefits of owning a boat, but without some of the added stress that comes along with it. The concept started in states like Florida decades ago, but with the developing waterfronts here, boat club owners said it made sense to bring the hassle-free membership to Buffalo.
“Our members show up, take the keys, go boating for the day like it’s their own boat,” Ryan Flore said. “Then come back, hand us the keys and we take care of the rest.”
If you want to buy a boat but do not want to deal with the maintenance and storage, this is for you.
Co-owners of Carefree Boat Club, Ryan and Jennifer Flore, said no matter how you look at it, being a member at one of these clubs will save you money.
“You can find a $10,000 or $20,000 boat that will last you a while,” Ryan said. “But the things that are going to come up with that boat its he unknown maintenance.”
So how does it work?
- You join a club like Carefree or Freedom Boat Club by paying a one-time initiation fee, that will be a couple thousand dollars
- You have monthly dues, based on your level of membership, it will vary from $250 to $500
- You pay for the fuel you use each time you go out rather than filling an entire tank
- Once the season begins, you can reserve the boat you want on any day
Carefree Boat Club currently has less than twenty members and four boats, with a fifth on the way.
“Its first come first serve,” Jennifer said. “On busy weekends it will fill up faster, but we have a low ratio, so our members have a lot of availability to get out on the water.”
Franchise owner of Freedom Boat Club in Buffalo, Paul Cannon, said the demand for these clubs increased during the pandemic.
“Just like the last two or three years, I think we’re going to see a lot of people who are anxious to get on the water and they’re not going to get stuck at home over fuel prices or inflation,” Cannon said. “So, we’re still seeing a strong demand for the boat club.”
Plus, Flore said finding a boat to buy now is difficult and more expensive.
“Boats that would cost us $80,000 last year or the year before are now $100,000 to $110,000.”
Freedom Boat Club estimates that for a $100,000 boat, you’d save more than $15,000 in one year by being part of the club.
Cannon said Freedom Boat Club has just over 100 members in Buffalo, with 16 boats to choose from.
“I think we’re just going to continue to see that grow,” Cannon said.
The boat clubs said driving and safety lessons are included in memberships.
Flore even said they will teach you how to be fuel efficient, so you do not run up that gas bill.