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Boat club is "just after our niche'

Is the VIP Boat Club a good deal?

One of the 11 boats at the Dunedin club is a 22-foot Offshore center console with a 150-horsepower Mariner outboard motor. Such a boat would cost $18,000 with sales tax, said Bob Peruche, owner of Clearwater Outboard, which sells such craft.

Someone who put 20 percent down and financed the rest at 10 percent during seven years would have payments of $240 a month, he said.

Peruche estimated insurance at $33 a month and maintenance at $13 a month. A slip at Marker I like the ones the VIP Boat Club uses costs $210 a month.

Added up, that's $496 a month.

A one-year membership at VIP is $169 a month and a two-year membership is $149 a month. Comparing $496 with $169 or $149 isn't comparing apples and apples.

Peruche said the biggest advantages to boat ownership over club membership are having exactly the boat you want, equipped the way you want, and having it whenever and wherever you want.

Club owners have said new boaters can join a club to learn how to drive a boat and to figure out what type of boat they want before they buy. Peruche said good boat dealers will make sure novice boaters get the correct type of craft for their needs and will teach them how to use their new boats.

Peruche also said owners know how their boats have been maintained.

"For the avid boater," he said, club membership "is not a good thing."

He said lots of boat owners keep their boats on trailers and save the cost of the wet slip fee, or put boats in dry dock for less money than a slip.

Helen Reinke, one of the owners of the VIP Boat Club, noted that people who keep boats on trailers have to buy and maintain the trailer and buy and keep up a vehicle with enough power to pull a boat.

"If you want to go boating from Friday night to Sunday night and you have time to maintain and clean your boat, you should buy your own boat," she said. "If you don't have time for that, join the club. We're not after everybody, we're just after our niche."

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