We’re in the February 2021 issue of All at Sea!
There’s a commonly held perception that to go boating you need to own a boat, and that it’s expensive. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. With organisations like Boat Club Trafalgar springing up, it’s increasingly possible to experience the joys of being on the water, for a fraction of the cost of owning a boat.
The Boat Club concept is simple. The Club owns and provides a fleet of boats for its members to use. Similar to belonging to a health spa and gym full of equipment, members can expect a fleet of pristine, fully maintained and well-equipped boats, fuelled and ready on the dock when they arrive.
Members book boats via an App, arrive and set off. On return, simply hand the keys back and walk away. The club team handles cleaning, storing and preparing the boat for the next member.
Modern society sees people wanting to ‘live the dream’ and enjoy multiple activities, yet their time is often constrained by careers, children or older relatives. Economically, young adults are struggling to get on the property ladder, let alone own a boat. There’s a shift in values and attitudes, with more people across generations investing in experiences, rather than physically buying assets, for ethical as well as financial reasons.
Underpinning Boat Club Trafalgar’s ethos is the desire to make boating completely ‘hassle free’. Instead of spending time on launching, trailer maintenance or engine servicing, you get to focus on just the fun part – being out on the boat with family and friends.
It has appeal for boating newcomers and people at the end of their boat owning journey. The option to no longer be responsible for boat maintenance, insurance, berthing or the overall costs of ownership is highly attractive. Especially when membership comes at a highly realistic monthly fee.
Boat share clubs offer an easy way to start powerboating, whether you’ve been a sailor all your life and want to switch or are just starting boating. It’s a low-risk decision and at Boat Club Trafalgar we also offer a 30 day risk-free guarantee, in case you feel it’s not for you.
Most clubs include induction training within their fees and attaining your RYA Powerboat Level 2 ‘driving test’ is a normal requirement, if you do not already have it. Some organisations may facilitate your initial learning with a local powerboat school, although it may be an added extra.
Key to the Boat Club is that you never feel on your own. The team are always on hand to give advice. Similar to passing the driving test, the next best thing is building your experience. To support new members and help with local navigation, the Club offers regular Guided Trips to the Solent’s best destinations and some of its best kept secrets too. As your experience grows you can extend the range of your trips and additional training is provided.
A big benefit between owning a boat and the club fleet is the choices of boat. Owning means you can’t change the size, performance, people capacity or number of berths of your boat.
With a choice of different boats for each outing you have complete flexibility. Our fleet includes Ballistic RIBs between 6m to 7.8m, various Finnmaster sports boats and a Merry Fisher 795 Marlin. You are spoilt for choice. The RIBs are perfect for beach trips with the family or watersports. Other boats have cabins for overnight stays, heating for year-round boating, and the Merry Fisher is perfect for fishing trips.
Driving a variety boats has the added advantage of building your boat handling skills and can be useful to establish your preferences, should you go on to buy a boat.
We maintain a high ratio of boats to members, to ensure there are always boats available even at peak times. Our members can book a boat as many times as they wish using the App. There’s no restrictions or complicated points or credits systems.
The booking system is designed for complete fairness using a rolling booking cycle, to avoid the scenario where one individual block books their favourite boat. Members can book up to four sessions in advance and on completing their first session they simply book again.
Boating is often perceived as being very expensive. The Boat Club model changes this completely, making your boating experience much more realistic.
The monthly membership plans are more akin to belonging to a superior health spa or private club, with different packages available for varying requirements. You can get started for around £10 a day and use the boats daily, throughout the year.
Members find a monthly fee makes their boating spend easier to manage. The club pays for all the insurance, maintenance and boat storage, and there’s no unexpected extras such as new engine parts. You just pay for the fuel you use, just as you do when using a car.
It is perfectly feasible to share boat ownership with friends. For some this works well, although in our experience, we’ve seen relationships go sour over managing boat maintenance, cleanliness, purchases or just agreeing between the partners who gets the best dates. It can get stressful and there are still all the responsibilities of ownership, made more time-consuming through managing the relationship.
The beauty of the Club is that you can go boating at the same time as your friends. There’s no alternating who has use of the boat or any risk of damaging a friendship.
Boat share clubs are unlike conventional yacht clubs. Our fleet is kept inside and launched from the vast Drystack at Trafalgar Wharf, where there’s an excellent café offering picnics and takeaways. Everything is organised digitally, and members are not constrained by conventional ‘yacht club’ protocols and there’s no committees or voluntary duties required either. However, we do organise skills evenings and socials which are popular for members to meet each other.
We so look forward to when these events can be in person with our members again!