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Boat Club Announced 

Club Offers Alternative To Purchasing, Maintaining Boats

POSTED: 6:31 pm EDT August 5, 2009

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine -- An alternative to ownership is making dreams come true for people who cannot afford to buy and maintain their own boat, which can run several thousand dollars a year.

Port Harbor Marine in South Portland is testing a boat-club idea by offering boats to use on Casco Bay and on Sebago Lake. The premise is pretty simple, allowing club members to pay a membership fee that entitles them to reserve the use of a boat. The upfront cost is around $3,000.

John Woods said he hopes to buy his own boat someday, but with four small boys, he still has several concerns before taking on such a significant investment.

"No. 1, are we boat people? No. 2, are we ocean or lake? And, if we are those things, let's go take a look at the different kinds of boats and find one that fits our needs," Woods said.
Squeezed by the soft economy, the marina's owners formed a club to help answer those kinds of concerns while offering boaters a convenient alternative to ownership.

"We had to look at other ways to, obviously, generate income and revenue," said Rob Soucy, owner of Port Harbor Marine. "We have the infrastructure, we have the boats, we have the facility, we have the people here to maintain it. So, we thought it was a simple decision."
Club members have their choice of eight boats to reserve at any time. Already prepped, the members simply show up, use the boat and turn it back in.

"When you have four little kids and you come in and meet the staff here at the boat, walk away, it's an attractive piece of the boat club membership," Woods said.

The $3,000 yearly fee includes everything but gas. Adding up the yearly cost of outright ownership of a 25-foot boat -- including the boat slip, registration, insurance, maintenance and winter storage -- can easily run $5,300, which can save club members as much as $2,300 -- before factoring in any loan payment.

"It allows you to get into boating at a fraction of the cost (and) have all the luxuries of keeping the boat at a marina," Soucy said.

Joining the boat club has allowed Woods to confirm his enthusiasm for the water. For Port Harbor Marine, it has meant revenue, and perhaps, eventually, a boat sale.

"The ultimate hope is that they really enjoy it and want one for their own," Soucy said.
Boat clubs are extremely popular, particularly, in southern states. For Port Harbor Marine, the plan is to continue adding boats to its fleet as more members join.


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