The Port of Camas-Washougal is partnering with the world’s largest membership-only boat club to make Parker’s Landing Marina accessible to people who don’t own a vessel of their own.
On May 16, port commissioners approved a docking agreement with the Florida-based Freedom Boat Club to bring its services to east Clark County.
“When I was in that demographic, I was involved with the (Portland-area) Hayden Island Yacht Club, which has the same principles as Freedom Boats,” said commissioner Larry Keister, a former recreational boater. “It was very popular. (This agreement will) bring people to our marina, which in turn brings people to our communities. It’s a great program.”
In exchange for a monthly fee, Freedom Boat Club members gain reciprocal access to a variety of vessels, including bowriders, pontoons, offshore/inshore fishing boats, deck boats and wake boats, from the club’s 370-plus locations in the United States, Canada and Europe.
The club takes care of maintenance, cleaning, repair, insurance and storage.
“(When the club was founded in 1989), the concept was considered revolutionary and breakthrough,” the club’s website states. “Boaters were either traditional boat owners or friends of boat owners. There were no boat clubs, fractional boating, boating timeshare, or even many boat rental facilities. The exclusive fraternity of boat owners stored their vessels at marinas, home docks or at the yacht club. When Freedom Boat Club launched, this new offering presented an exciting new alternative that opened the waterways to newcomers as well as lapsed boaters.”
Members must complete a safety training course at their “home location” before they can reserve boats, according to the club’s website.
“They do offer a really good training program for safety,” Jaeger said. “Safety is really important for them. Their users are trained by United States Coast Guard certified instructors, and not just in the classroom — they also take (members) out on the water and show them how to use the boat.”
Jaeger said 60 percent of the club’s members are younger families, 65 percent have never owned a boat, and 95 percent have never had any intention of buying a boat.
“I think (the agreement will lead to) a different kind of tenant in the marina,” Jaeger added. “It does diversify the use of the marina — it breaks down the barrier to entry for additional boaters to come in and utilize the beautiful location that we have here. It makes boating affordable and opens up the lifestyle for those who do not wish to buy a boat or can’t buy a boat.”
The docking agreement will make six marina slips available to the club from May 22 through Oct. 31, 2023, and May 1 to Oct. 31, 2024, and includes an additional two one-year options.
“They will be charged slightly higher than the typical marina rate — $150 per slip,” Jaeger said. “We’ll see some increased fuel sales as well — (members) typically turn the boat over at least a couple of times a day per use, then bring it back. It’s different than having a marina tenant who may take it out once a weekend or three or four times a week.”
On the web
For membership information, visit freedomboatclub.com.