We had planned to sell our home in 2020. We cleaned it up, put it on the market, and were under contract… twice. The first deal fell through due to job loss and the second because we couldn’t come to terms, and having the benefit of hindsight now, I’m so grateful. It was a God thing, protecting us. I have no doubt.
However, we were serious about it at the time and as soon as we went under contract we listed and sold our boat, an old pontoon we lovingly called Bessie. Old Bessie had treated us well for nearly a decade, serving as a floating playpen for us to enjoy cruising the lake while our babies were babies (and toddlers).
When we thought we’d be moving off the lake, we decided we’d still like to enjoy lake life so we started looking into boat clubs. My friend, Molly, always had good things to say about Lake Effects. Since I trust word of mouth more than anything, we started (and ended) our boat club search with them.
What is a boat club? How does it work?
A boat club is a membership club where you pay to have access to a fleet of different boats. To join, you pay an initiation fee, then a monthly payment. There are different tiers of membership that determine how many reservations you can make at a given time. what boats you have access to, and sometimes which days of the week you can rent on. More details for Lake Effects membership levels here.
Once you are a member you can log in through their website to make boat reservations. Time frames open up 45 days in advance, so it’s best to plan ahead if you want to snag a particular boat on a popular weekend. For example, it’s last July and I already have Labor Day boat reservations. Each boat has a time frame you reserve for a given day. As an example, a tritoon on a Friday might have two available time frame options: either 9:00AM-2:00PM or 3:00PM-9:00PM.
Boat Club Pros & Cons
The boat club has been more fun than I originally anticipated, mostly because I feel like the girls are at great ages to get the most out of the offerings. Old Bessie was good for floating around or an evening cruise, but now we get access to powerful tritoons, ski boats, surf boats, jet skis, and all the equipment needed to enjoy it (boards, skis, ropes, etc). The club takes excellent care of their boats, and all of them are less than 2 years old. I feel spoiled rotten every time we show up, get to enjoy a really clean and new boat, know it is filled with gas, and get to choose whatever boat we want based on the day (tritoon with a table for evening snacks and cruising with friends, a wake surf boat for teaching the girls how to surf, etc).
There are a few cons though. First, the cost. It’s a premium experience and at this stage of our life we are fine with paying for it, but it is not cheap. Second, if you don’t book ahead of time, like friends visiting last minute, it can be challenging to get a boat. Third, you only have the boat for the allotted time period, so if your reservation ends at 2:00, there is no deciding you want to stay out longer because you’re having so much fun.
Overall though, I have LOVED our experience. The people are friendly, the amenities at the marina are top-notch, the boat is always ready and clean, we’ve gotten to try so many water sports we wouldn’t have had easy access to otherwise, and it’s gotten us out on the water more than when we owned a boat. Sounds odd because we used to have a boat in our backyard, but for a last minute cruise, we often wouldn’t want to deal with taking off the cover, wiping down all the spider webs, and hoping the muskrats hadn’t chewed through the wires again.
Hope this was helpful! Any questions I missed?
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