CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Memorial Day is just about here. It's also National Safe Boating Week. The two together make for a jam-packed weekend on the water.
Even if you aren't a boat owner, there's a way you can get on the water any week of the year. That's through Freedom Boat Club.
"We make boating simple," Steve Gordon, CEO of the Freedom Boat Club in Corpus Christi and Rockport said.
Freedom Boat Club allows people access to a fleet of boats without the trouble of upkeep. The Corpus Christi location is at Marker 37 Marina.
Members pay a sign up fee, which is $2,900 in Corpus Christi. Then they pay a monthly fee that ranges up from $299. Memberships vary by how often you want to get on the water.
Club member and club employee Tim Robinson said it’s a way to take a boat out without much of the worries.
“The freedom of just being able to walk out and get on a boat. If you’ve ever had a boat, it’s so much upkeep. You’re flushing in the salt water, you need a place to store it. So, it just made sense,” he said.
“Depending on where you are in your life, do you have time to clean a boat? Do you have time to take it to get service? Do you have that kind of time in your life? We find that we’re much busier today,” Gordon said.
The club handles the storage, the maintenance and cleaning, though boaters do pay however much gas they use per trip. Fees cover extensive training to be ready to handle and take care of the variety of boats. Fees also cover your insurance.
“My wife and I just went out and we just went sight seeing," Robinson said. "But I mean fishing, you name it. That’s the nice part about Freedom Boat Club is there’s so many different types of boats, so you can do whatever you’d like.”
"You can go from one day being on a wake boat going and skiing, you go the next day on a small center console and go fishing. And then, the next day you could be on a pontoon with your family," Gordon said.
Boaters must be at least 21 years or older to be a member and have a boater certificate.
All members are given the knowledge to handle each boat and the safety practices. Gordon said all boats have life jackets, a tackle box of emergency equipment and kill switch in case the driver falls over board.
“Another thing that we talk about is understanding how boats operate in the water and the safe way," Gordon said. "Where to go and the depths of the water out here, we teach that. And then, generally how to cross wakes. We talk about how not to swamp your boat or how to loose a passenger on the boat."
Gordon has had the franchise here for three years. He said 40% of members have lived in Corpus Christi for one year or less. So, the club has also become a social gathering place.
"There's social events that they do, as well. But, a bad day on the water beats any day in the office," Robinson said.
Some membership plans also allow boaters to take a boat out at any of the 380 locations worldwide. The locations are either on a coastline, lake or larger river. In Texas you can find locations in Houston, Galveston and Austin.
The Corpus Christi location allows boats to be taken out on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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