By Barbara Hay ~
When driving on Route 9 in Freehold a few weeks back, I saw billboards for something called the Freedom Boat Club. A boat club in Freehold? That caught my interest.
A few days later, I notice an online ad for free tickets to the grand opening of the Freedom Boat Club. Well, I had to check it out and got my ticket. After all, who could turn down Free boat rides, Ice cream, and refreshments on a beautiful sunny Saturday?
It turns out that the Freedom Boat Club, launched in 1989, is the world’s largest members-only recreational boating club organization in North America. The Freedom Boat Club’s philosophy is, why own one boat when you can have access to thousands? There are currently 20,000-plus members worldwide and over 185 locations in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Whether the location is a seashore like it is here or a lakeshore, members have access to more than 2000 late-model boats.
The boats range from 18-24 feet and the fleet is comprised of well-respected national brands and feature inshore and offshore center consoles, deck boats, pontoons, and bowriders. All of the boats are well-maintained and are three years old or newer. I was informed that all of the boats are fully equipped and outfitted with highly efficient quiet engines and United States Coast Guard (U.S C.G.) required safety equipment in addition to depth finders, fish finders, VHF marine radios, compass, ladder, anchor, and bimini top.
All members receive free unlimited training by United States Coast Guard licensed captains to ensure that members feel comfortable and confident at the helm. Training includes classroom sessions, hands-on sessions and advanced offshore training with local area orientations.
With a membership, all of this and access to the best boats come hassle-free.
The newest location isn’t in Freehold, it’s in Point Pleasant and located at the Crystal Point Marina. So how do you get to take advantage of this hassle-free boating experience?
You become a member and it starts with selecting your membership plan. I was shown three basic plans: The Weekday Boating Plan; the Freedom Plan and the Buddy Plan.
All plans have a basic one-time member entry fee and a monthly membership fee ranging from a low of $275 for The Weekday Boating Plan to a high of $550 for the Buddy Plan, and all offer a set number of advanced reservations and unlimited “spur of the moment” boat access sunrise to sunset seven days a week. Members simply call the dockmaster on the day they want to boat and if a boat is available, they may have it for the entire day. Boats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. One of the most popular membership benefits is the free reciprocal boat access at all reciprocal club locations.
As our guide, Matthew Paolo, told us, the hassle-free boating experience begins the moment you arrive at the dock. The dockmaster helps get your belongings loaded onto the boat. You and your crew head out on the water for a day of boating. When you return, you simply turn in the keys and pay for the fuel used that day. The dockmaster helps unload your gear, the Freedom Boat Club’s team handles all of the cleaning and maintenance of the boat and engine, allowing you to leave for home without any of the work.
Freedom Boat Club is located in Crystal Point Marina, Safe Harbor Crystal Point, 4000 River Road, Point Pleasant, NJ 08742. You can also contact Matthew Paolo at (732) 475-3426 for more information.