Jul 5, 2017, 1:10 AM
Post #18 of 19
I have a similar opinion on yacht clubs. I honestly think they are a poor investment in my experience, and here's why.
Re: [The Publisher] WHAT’S REALLY WRONG WITH YACHT CLUBS
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When you drop your initiation fee, there is no guarantee that the Bridge will be the same group of affable people that they were when you thumped out a check for a (non-refundable) considerable portion of money. These people, as the bridge changes, can hold you hostage; knowing they are holding a considerable amount of money in non-refundable fees and that you will bend over backwards to prevent losing it.
The Bridge can also very rapidly change the tenor and social atmosphere of the Club. In my own Club, it went from a blue collar yacht club complete with a beer and ice machine for the use of members, where anyone could use the facility for any purpose they chose to, that made exceptions to the bylaws for members's personal situations, to one with no beer machine, a haughty taughty attitude, the Clubhouse is booked half the summer for "for rent" events, and the Bridge is making executive decisions far from the bylaws on matters ranging from types of payments accepted to blowing a wad of cash on completely redoing the clubhouse, even moving the kitchen from one side to the other, at great expense.
Bear in mind this is a volunteer operated club. We all have to put in 8-20 hours to join and 8 hours a year thereafter.
Selective enforcement of bylaws based on personal relationships is also very frustrating. Watching as there are 8-10 liveaboards when liveaboards are expressly prohibited and then having the letter of the law thrown out at you while the quote the bylaws over something inane is exceedingly frustrating. In my own club there are people who are 180 days late on moorage; I wrote a post-dated check and after they cleared it early and I said I'd have to send another check, they were talking about impounding my boat.
SAILING VS. POWERBOATING
In yacht clubs there is always a ying and yang pendulum as the racing/sailing component of the club blows a bunch of money on pilot boats, racing equipment, sailing schools, which angers the powerboaters who by nature just can't or don't participate in such things. Then the powerboaters take over the bridge and push the pendulum in the other direction, aggravating anyone with a boat that can run a sail. Personally I don't race, I cruise, so I'd see more eye to eye with the powerboaters than the racers, but when on a "cleanout" rampage if you can fly a sail you are part of their problem. I'd rather have a drink on the dock than race around a bunch of markers, but blindness to reality in committee politics is rife.
I mentioned these above, but it's worth mentioning again. Initiation fees, moorage surcharges, minimum spends, none of this is refundable, even should the Bridge decide to push you out of the Club for whatever reason they desire (usually popularity contests and because they have friends that want in). That cheaper moorage might look attractive, but if something goes south and those thousands in non-refundable charges are in the lurch, it doesn't look so cheap anymore.
POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
I know it's a Club; and not supposed to be a business. However many clubs do operate like a marina, and if you need something fixed and you don't know the right people on the Bridge, good luck. You may be spending thousands a year on moorage, putting in all your volunteer hours, be paid up in full, but good luck getting it done.
Further to "The Bridge" commentary above, my Club switched the key locks. Despite being paid in full, having POI and just wanting a key to the docks, when I called the Commodore and complained, I was given the following statement 'Well if you want to rescind your membership just let me know". Ironically someone else at the Club was in the same boat - his boat sunk that day because he couldn't check on it.
OLD RAISINS AND NO-FUN ZONE
This one befuddles me. All these efforts to attract new younger members, but if someone is playing music all the old grouchos come out to complain. I don't have a huge stereo on my boat, just a couple small speakers and in testing you could barely hear it two fingers away - mid week during a slow day - and I heard nothing but gripes. I wasn't playing anything offensive, just the local radio station.
Like, you have a boat - why the hell are you even here if you're (a) not going out on your boat, and (b) can't take a little noise of someone else enjoying a night at the docks? There's a zillion other places to get silence, first and foremost by staying home.
I invited another couple to an event at the Club (tiny club too) so they could meet some local boaters in the area. Was told "members only, no they can't come". They owned the same boat as me and were moored on the government wharf less than 5 minutes walk from the Club. What a way to attract new members.
NOW THE GOOD THINGS
There are some perks to being a Club member. First and foremost, you do have an implied list of people to ask for help about random boating matters. This can come in handy and as long as you give what you get you will reap the rewards... that is if anyone is around because it's dominated by senior citizens who are in bed by 8 o'clock PM most days.
Moorage is also cheaper; but you need to factor in the non-refundable charges to see that you're really getting a deal. Often you aren't.
Cheaper education classes. VHF, marine safety, Clubs often offer discounted courses.
WHY IS A MARINA BETTER?
Simply put, you get what you are paying for. Pay the moorage and get the services of moorage, a slip, electricity, and the facilities they provide. No volunteer hours, no non-refundable charges, marinas compete on the quality of their facilities.
No politics. The marina wants your money, plain and simple. You sign an agreement to get X services for Y dollars. Done. You have legal recourse if they don't fulfill their end of the bargain, and they have legal recourse if you don't cough up the bucks or play by their rules, which are written.
No bridge. Need I say more? The owner is the owner and the management follows the owners' rules.
I will never join a yacht club again. I will only moor at marinas that are professionally managed.
In my own example, my boat partner died, and I was offered the lovely offer of ponying up $3,000 more in non-refundable charges (on top of the $1,500 I had already paid) to move the boat and sit on a wait list while paying someone else for the moorage. That is 2 years worth of moorage, and god knows who will be able to jump the queue and get ahead of me on their wait list.
You'd think there would be some clemency seeing as my partner (the full member) died during heart surgery to just let me top up the initiation fee in chunks and keep the slip. Nope. They filled my slip in minutes with a friend and even tried to sell my boat on me for pennies on the dollar as a "fixer upper", which it's not. When I told them the minimum price I'd let her go for, I never heard back another word.
Honestly, stick with a Marina. It's nice to have the cachet of being a Yacht Club member, but you will probably spend more of your time spinning your wheels fencing with the bridge and the "powers that be" than you enjoy boating.
I'll miss the members of my former yacht club, but I sure as hell won't miss all the BS I had to put up with to stay there.