Key points to consider when thinking about joining a boat share club

boat share club

Everything you need to know before joining a boat share club

There’s a variety of different types of club for boaters, from the traditional private yacht clubs to the local boating/fishing club, where you pay to join and keep your boat on a mooring or in the compound.

Now there’s also a new concept, the boat share club which has evolved so that you don’t need to have your own boat. Sometimes described as ‘membership boating’ you simply subscribe monthly to the boat share club and choose from a fleet of boats each time you want to go boating.

Think of it like your own private fleet of luxury limousines with a friendly team on hand to help you. When you arrive, your boat is launched, ready to go. Return to the dock, hand the keys back and head off home. It’s like ‘valet boating’ – the club takes care of all the detail for you!

How do I choose the right Boat Club?

Before joining a boat share club, there’s some key considerations to help select the club best suited to you and how you prefer to go boating.

What sort of boating can I do?

Different people want different things out of their boating. If you enjoy doing boat preparation, maintenance and tweaking engines, as well as spending time on the water, then owning a boat is probably for you.

If you would prefer to maximise the time you can spend on the water in a boat, without all the background work, then either hiring a boat or joining a boat share club is a smart alternative.

Will I meet other members like me?

One advantage of joining a club are the social aspects – meeting other like-minded people and making new friends. If boating with others appeals, check that the club offers opportunities such as socials and on water events to meet and mix with other members.

At Boat Club Trafalgar we offer shore side socials where our members can bring guests, plus regular on-water Guided Trips to show you the best destinations to visit and get all the local knowledge. 

In summer months you will regularly find yourself greeted off the pontoons with a cold beer and ice creams for the kids. Relax outside the Beach-Hut Cafe and wind down the day with other members as the sun sets across the water. 

Our members include a broad mix of people who have already been boating yet never had their own boat, people who are complete novices to boating, and some who previously owned a boat but have decided it’s far more convenient to join the club and use our boats.

boat share club

Do I need experience to join a boat club?

Most boat share clubs do not require you to have previous powerboat experience before you join. However, do check as some may expect evidence of experience.

We positively welcome new boaters. In fact, over 20% of our members are completely new to boating when they join. No previous boating experience is needed as we give you all essential powerboat training and include the Guided Tours around the Solent within the membership package.

Some clubs will have in-house or on-site training facilities available. Other clubs may not include the training element, although they will often be happy to recommend a local provider for this.

In contrast, if you want to simply hire a powerboat, you’ll almost certainly need to show that you have experience and hold either an RYA Powerboat Handling Level 2 certificate or an ICC (International Certificate of Competence).

How do the costs compare with joining a traditional club?

Typically, it is far more cost effective to belong to a boat share club, than to and join a yacht or boating club and own your own boat.

Membership of a traditional yachting or boating club can range between a few hundred to around £400 to £600 a year for a single adult member of an established yacht club. Family memberships can be more and frequently there is an entrance fee or joining fee as well.

Whilst at first glance, these annual figures can appear similar to a boat share club’s monthly fee, when you do the math it rapidly becomes clear it’s a cost effective way to get on the water.

A boat share club membership means you do incur the normal costs of boat ownership. These include the cost of capital and depreciation, plus all the running costs, berthing, insurance, maintenance and replacing equipment. See this cost comparison guide.

Monthly membership of Boat Club Trafalgar currently starts at £320 pcm, similar to a luxury health spa or private social club, and there is no joining fee.

boat share club

How easy is it to book a boat?

This can vary from club to club. Some offer a set number of bookings per month or year, whilst others have an annual points system where your points are deducted each time you book a boat. Peak periods usually require more points than quiet times.

Boat Club Trafalgar runs a rolling booking system for our members, which ensures everyone has fair, equal and unlimited access to a boat. Each member can choose a boat and book up to 4 sessions at any one time via a mobile app. Once the first session is completed you can book your next session. The system is designed to so that it’s possible to go boating every day of the year, if you want to.

What type of boats can I use?

If you want a boat for a mix of activities, such as day trips to the beach, occasional fishing or overnight stops you will want to choose a club with a range of suitable boats for different purposes.

Having a choice of boats is a great advantage compared to owning just one boat, as you can choose the right type and size of boat to fit the occasion. Small and cosy for a romantic weekend or large and fast to take family and friends somewhere special for the day.

RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) are excellent for trips to the beach and speeding across to different harbours. However, if you want to stay onboard, a club that only offers RIBs will not be suitable. Look for a boat share club with a fleet that includes boats with a cabin and sleeping facilities.

Can I stay overnight?

If stayovers appeal to you, make sure the club you select offers this option and has suitable boats.

We have a range of cabin cruisers that are extremely comfortable to sleep on board and have an onboard toilet, sink, kettle etc. We simply ask that you berth in a marina overnight for insurance purposes.

boat share club
boat share club

What about the winter months?

One of the key differences with a boat share club is that the fleet of boats is available all year round. Private boat owners are sometimes required to get their boats out of the water for winter by their insurance, or do so for maintenance purposes.

Our members however can still book a boat and get afloat all year round. Boating in mid-winter can be glorious, especially on calm, bright, sparkling day – giving you a blast of clean, fresh air and a break from the indoors. Quite a few of our boats also have cabin heaters as well as a kettle.

With the high quality of marine and thermal clothing available you can keep warm and be dressed for the occasion. Get out and enjoy the most wonderful boating, explore a near empty Solent and see it in a totally different light!

What safety equipment will I need?

Check what the Club you are considering provides. All the Boat Club Trafalgar fleet are fully equipped with all the required safety equipment for the area. Life jackets are also provided free of charge, or you can bring your own.


Why not come down and find out for yourself more about our Boat Club? We hold regular Boat Club Taster Days that include a trip out on one of our boats for a spin around Portsmouth Harbour. It’s a great way to get a feel for our boats and learn all about how the Boat Club works. 

Taster days are free to attend. Get in touch today to book yours.

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