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If you go
Exclusive Boat Club
Where: 5124 Bonita Beach Road S.W.,
Open: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through
Info: (239) 495-0455 or www.bwboatclub.com
BONITA SPRINGS — Owning a boat can cause major headaches: A place to store it, a trailer to move it, insurance, cleaning, maintenance and upkeep costs, major repairs, and so on.
But the reward of enjoying a boater’s lifestyle, especially in Southwest Florida, can make tons of people pull out their wallets and go for it.
An exclusive few, less than 100, have found another option with Bay Water Exclusive Boat Club in Bonita Springs.
To gear up for summer the family-owned and operated business is offering a special for new members. Instead of the regular $10,000 initial membership fee, the cost to sign up has been reduced. For $7,000 new members could cruise the waters there after paying $200 a month in dues.
A boat club takes away storage, insurance, cleanup, maintenance and all those other extra tasks that come with owning a boat. You even avoid making the toughest decision of them all: which boat to buy.
With 14 boats in its fleet right now, owners, Omar and Sherry Botana, and their son Adam Botana, provide a variety of boats for members to choose from.
For members Joseph and Marcella Jones their boating needs change on a daily basis.
Sometimes they want a pontoon boat when they have lots of friends and family to entertain, and sometimes they want a smaller boat to cruise the backwaters, and other times they want a big seaworthy boat to cruise out to the Gulf.
The couple, who recently went from seasonal to full-time Florida residents, always just rented a boat for a day.
“It you own a boat it’s a black hole,” Joseph Jones said.
His wife agreed
“I started looking for a boat club where you didn’t have the responsibility of being a boat owner,” Marcella Jones said.
When the couple came across Bay Water, they first got drawn in by the fact the family owns the land and dockage where the business is located, so they didn’t worry about investing in a boat club that wouldn’t be around long.
“I had an instant good feeling about them,” she explained.
The Jones have been members for four years and couldn’t be happier.
“It’s just a unique experience,” Marcella said. “You have different advantages with all the different boats. It’s very special.”
Member Don Hohensee who joined about three years ago, spends almost every other week in Southwest Florida from his home in south Louisiana.
He owns a couple boats that are docked at his home on the Gulf of Mexico, but he said having boats in Louisiana was stressful enough, especially with the thought of hurricane season each year. He still wanted to enjoy the water when he was in Florida so he was glad to come across Bay Water.
“I’ve got enough things to worry about,” Hohensee said. “There’s no way that you can own one and maintain it for that price. It’s a great deal. Once you’re done, you pull it up to the dock master and its theirs.”
Right now, the boat club has 126 members, up from 96 members back in November. That’s about a 10:1 member to boat ratio.
Members just call ahead to reserve the boat of their choice such as: a 19-foot Hydra-Sport, a 25-foot Hydra-Sport Cuddy Cabin, a 21-foot Hydra-Sport Dual Console, a 21-foot Hydra-Sport Center Console, three different sized pontoon boats and three deck-style boats. One of the newest boats to the fleet is a 31-foot Boundary Waters Double-decker pontoon with a water slide.
All the boats have Sirius Satellite Radio, and the offshore boats have GPS and Sea Tow.
“We’re trying to be the No. 1 boat club in Southwest Florida,” said Adam Botana.
Adam and his parents opened the boat club four years ago, spinning off a boat rental company they opened two years prior. The fleet from the boat club now cycles out their old boats by passing them down to the rental business.
The family has owned the property on Bonita Beach Road where the business is located since 1978 and the family has been in the area since the late 50s.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Adam said.
His father agreed.
“We love the boating business and we love the area. We also love the camaraderie of our club members. We think of them as friends,” Omar said.
In addition to not having to deal with maintenance and cleaning, members get free ice, on-site parking, dock carts, a free coast guard safety course.
Members just pay for gas, which is available for purchase on-site.
For members Mike and Linda Lyding, joining a boat club provided them the opportunity to get back to the boating lifestyle they enjoyed back in Rochester, New York.
Since they had been freshwater boaters most of their lives, they were wary of buying a boat in saltwater, not sure how to maintain it properly.
They chose Bay Water though, because it was family owned.
“We didn’t feel like we were dealing with a huge corporation or a franchise boat club. They bend over backwards to help and they do it with professionalism and grace,” Linda Lyding said. “Plus, we never have to go to Orlando to see Sea World, it’s right in our backyard.”