Rent a boat for some fun on the water in Central Florida
Boat membership clubs give you access to brand new boats whenever you want
CLERMONT, Fla. – The Orlando area is the perfect place to take a boat ride with countless lakes, rivers, and of course, the ocean nearby.
But if boat ownership isn't for you, there's another way you can have a boat at your disposal any time you want.
That's because just off Lake Minnehaha, on the Clermont chain of lakes, sits the Carefree Boat Club.
It's a boat membership club where you pay to join and pay a monthly fee and in return, you get a fully decked out boat of your choice pretty much whenever you want.
"Any day, any boat," said member Ron Shinnebarger. "You can bring a crowd with you and do a picnic lunch and just enjoy being out on the lake."
He said he and his wife take advantage of their membership at least once a week.
"We have our choice of a number of boats, so depending on our mood for the day, what we wanted to do, how many people we had with us, we had a good selection of boats and not just stuck with one," Sherry Shinnebarger said. "The boats are prepped, they have all the equipment we need to be safe, so all we need to do is bring us and our guests."
Owner Tod Howard explained how it works. First, you can either make a reservation up to six months ahead of time to ensure you get the boat you want to use, or if it's more spur of the moment, you can call ahead an hour in advance.
"When they show up, the boats are fueled, they're clean, they're ready to go," Howard said. "Our staff will help them get on the boat, make sure they have all their safety gear, anything they need. We've got a full-service marina, so if they need ice or beverages or snacks, we can get them set up and then we send them out in the lakes."
And we're not just talking your basic pontoon, cruiser, fishing or deck boats.
"We order them fully loaded so you're going to get every bell and whistle to really be able to enjoy it," Howard said.
You don't have to have your boater's license and you don't even need to have ever been in a boat before to join.
"We're going to put them through BoatUS.org to get your boating safety card and as soon as you're done with that, we're going to get you into on the water training," Howard said. "Depending on your experience, it will take anywhere from four to six hours, so you can learn to dock and learn to anchor and learn those essential pieces of boating so you're comfortable with it."
Besides the location in Clermont, they also have a location in Crystal River. And because Carefree Boat Club is a franchise, you're able to use your membership at other locations around the country.
If the boating itself wasn't enough, member Michael Colangelo said the best part is the community and environment.
"You add that country club atmosphere here, everyone is really social and it's fantastic," Colangelo said. "We've only been here a couple months and we're lifelong friends."
Howard said right now, you can join for an initiation fee of $2,900 and then monthly fees start at about $229.
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