Boating Florida Style (Many Boats, No Notes)

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Contributed by: Martin J Allred       http://www.Floridaography.com

We moved to Florida from Colorado in the summer of 2014 with every intention of purchasing a boat for recreational use and fishing. I shopped around and the vessels I liked were pricing out about 50-75K. I wanted something with a center console mostly for fishing. I also looked into boat storage and dock space so we could keep the boat in or near the water. The average cost was about $10 LF of boat length per month.20141130_125604.jpg

J Henry and Nicole visiting from Chicago

I knew with boat ownership I needed to consider other related expenses; insurance, estimated yearly maintenance, additional equipment needed, electronics, fish finder, life jackets, and all the other misc things. While my attention was slightly diverted to boat shopping, we also needed to purchase a home at the same time. So, we really wanted a place with a boat dock for our new potential boat purchase. However, we found out that affordable homes with their own private boat docks are rare to find and very expensive.  Adding to that dilemma was annual insurance premiums for a home on the water. The waterfront homes are considered higher risks for rising water and storms, so the insurance premiums were almost double.

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Cousins Darrell and Kelly visting from Memphis  and looking for sand dollars

Thankfully, during our search for both a home and boat we met Eric. Eric  was our real estate agent, a retired state trooper from New York that had just moved down to Florida a year prior. Eric was a previous boat owner and knew a few things about boat ownership too. When he heard I wanted to buy a boat he took me straight to the Freedom Boat Club in Bradenton, FL  where I met Vince (Vinny, as I call him now). After brief conversation with Vince we were convinced it was an absolute no-brainer to join the club. We would save thousands of dollars and get a huge selection of boats at our disposal. If I had purchased the boat I wanted, we would’ve been limited to just that boat alone. The Boat Club gave us access to a many types of boats. We now have access to inshore center console vessels perfect for fishing the shadow waters, or offshore boats for going into the deeper water. But, we have access to other boats too; sailboats, pontoons, bowriders and deck boats for cruising the bay while enjoying the sun and beautiful Sarasota water and beaches. We actually use the deck boats more now since our move to Florida friends and relatives like to go to the beaches. It’s nice to enjoy the less crowded beach areas and sandbars with a deck boat. We no longer need to arrive early stake out a spot on the crowded beach, drag and setup tent and beach chairs. I refer to our boat as our floating ice chest which makes going to the beach more relaxing since we can pack an assortment of mixed cocktails or other beverages. BTY, alcohol is prohibited on most Florida beaches, having access to your own boat makes going to the beach fun again.

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Judi relaxing and enjoying the sites with a cocktail

If having access to many different boats wasn’t enough, we actually saved thousands of dollars by joining the club. We no longer needed to put down a huge sum of cash and have any boat notes to pay on the remaining balance for the boat we wanted.  Eric found a house for us with a swimming pool located nearby in a no flood zone which had much lower annual insurance premiums too. If you don’t buy a home with a dock just plan on adding about $250+ per month to store your boat in the water at one of the local marinas.

Now, for the real savings. We all buy new things and know how things depreciate. I found out that if I’d made the mistake of buying a new boat, I could have loss over 10-15K just in the title transfer.  That’s sounds crazy and kind of ridiculous but that’s how it works. Even if the boat never touched the water. Just go and look at new boats and slightly used boats for sale. You basically throw over 10K away on a purchase right off the bat. That’s just for a boat around 20-25 feet too,  I don’t even want to imagine how much loss on a larger boat purchase.

Last and best part of the club. No maintenance and almost everything you need in equipment is already included in the membership. That’s right ! No Maintenance. That means no oil, no need to purchase life jackets, fish finder, anchors, ect. It’s like having a valet boat service on the dock. Most of the boats are fairly new and all are less than three years old. Your boat is waiting at the dock when you arrive and when you return in after a day of fun just park the boat back in the slip and pay for only the gas used. Simply a No-Brainer.. Another perk is a few other members have helped me locate a couple of fishing holes for grouper….Boating and fishing solved..

We didn’t even realize anything like a Boat Club existed. We love the club. We actually joined prior to purchasing our home. Man’s got to have his priorities in order.

Martin Allred, FBC Member since 7/2014

Freedom Club: Vince Lionetti 941-228-5983

http://freedomboatclub.com/how-the-club-works/

 

Martin & Jacqueline ready for a day on the bay.

Disclaimer: We did not receive any form of payments or endorsements from the boat club for this article.

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About chowjudge

Martin Allred is a professional photographer and frequent traveler. His assignments cover most of the U.S. and Canada. Martin is a native of New Orleans and currently resides in the Sarasota/Tampa Bay area of Florida.
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