Monday, April 20, 2015

Boat sharing

Share, share, share a boat...

Visit a marina, or a yacht club on a sunny summer weekend and what do you see?
Lot’s of boats.

The odd thing is you’re likely not to see many skippers and crew, whose craft sit idly tied up in their slips or on their moorings. It’s not that we don’t want to be out boating, just that other things come first—weddings, family gatherings, the kid’s Little League games.

It makes you think about the money you spend to keep your boat, and the actual time aboard—it often doesn’t compute.

What if you could just hop aboard and sail away for a half-day, maybe a day, and when you’re done dock the boat and go home? Of course you will pay your fair share of the cost, but that will be much less than paying the cost of a boat that you hardly use.

There are a number of such sharing opportunities, largely in the sailing world but some for power boaters too.  Here are some that I know of:

The Raritan Yacht Club in Perth Amboy, a venerable institution marking 150 years, has been trying something new—a “time share” program offering part-time use of a Colgate 26. The program is going into its third year with a second boat and some 12 families participating, said Commodore Bob Wardlow.

It’s a way to test the waters “and see if you actually like boating,” Wardlow said.  Participants must join the club, and there is an initiation fee plus dues, but it adds up to a bargain considereing the cost of owning a boat and paying dockage, insurance, and maintenance, Wardlow said.

Sailing is on Raritan Bay.  Check

The Friends of Belmar Harbor, a community sailing group on the Shark River in Belmar, offers programs for youngsters and adults. A variety of small boats and day sailors, also kayaks and paddleboards, are available for use by members of the program. A family membership costs $225 for the season. Check

The Colgate Offshore Sailing School, with locations at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, offers a club arrangement where members go sailing and racing in New York/New Jersey Harbor. Boats used are Colgate 26s, designed specifically for the Colgate program. Check

To sail as crew, you must complete a two-course at the school. To sail as skipper completion of the school’s three-day course, or equivalent experience, subject to a checkout ride, is required, said Beth Oliver, director of marketing. Basic dues for the sailing club are$14,95, and for skipper $1995. Season is April to October.

The Manhattan Yacht Club, formerly at North Cove in lower Manhattan, will be operating out of the Liberty Harbor Marina in Jersey City, on the north side of the Morris Canal. Members sail J-24s in New York Harbor. Club membership is for sailors who have completed a sailing course or have experience. Check
Season is May through October. Members take part in racing as well as daysailing.

The Harlem Yacht Club, on nearby Long Island Sound at City Island, N.Y., offers programs to use club-owned J-24s and smaller boats. Check for details.

Also on City Island, the City Island Yacht Club offers a boat sharing membership where participants divide up the maintenance chores and get to sail on club owned boats—two Catalina 25s and a J/24. Check

SEAS, a sail training group with chapters in Bergen, Morris, Monmouth and Westchester counties, offers programs to sail on boats owned by the organization. Details vary by chapter. See SEAS stands for Society for the Education of American Sailors.

Keep in mind that sailing typically requires a crew and skippers, especially racers, are often looking for able-bodied reliable help. Experience helps, but often a skipper is willing to train. Ask around at a sailing club and you’re likely to hear “Welcome aboard.”

In the powerboat world, “The club concept has gained a lot of ground,” said Ray Fernandez of Bridge Marina on Lake Hopatcong, who has been running a club program for nearly a decade. After joining and taking a training session, club members make a reservation, then “just show up” and go. When done, they dock the boat and are done.

Eight boats are currently used in the program, Fernandez said, from 20 to 25 feet and 150 to 320 horsepower. Members typically will use a boat for four or five hours.

For powerboaters, Freedom Boat Club, a nationwide organization just opening a facility in Brick Twp., offers members use of a selection of powerboats in the 23-25 foot range.

After registering online to take out a vessel, boaters are greeted by a dockmaster who helps them and their guests to the boat, goes through a checklist, and wishes the party Bon Voyage. Returning to the dock, boaters are again greeted by the dockmaster who helps them off the boat and to their car, and they’re on their way.

Members typically take out a boat for a five-hour slot, said Theresa Najjar, of the Brick club.

For information on the club and other locations, see

The Brick club is located at Forge Landing Marina on the Metedeconk River.

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