A Different Way To Cruise. Carolina Boat Club on Lake Wylie

After a brutal and costly divorce, my father looked at me and said, “There’s a lesson here. Next time, rent.”


It might also be good advice when it comes to boats.


Boats are great. I’ve owned a grand total of one in my life. A sailboat, and I loved it. (The original renewable energy water machine.) But face it, boats are an expensive proposition. They cost a lot to buy, to maintain, and to store. And a tank of gas costs enough to feed a third world family of four for a year.


So, for those of us who consider a car payment enough of a challenge, one alternative to owning a boat is renting.


If you’re on Lake Wylie, you might want to look into the Carolina Boat Club. As a member, you’re not renting, per se. You pay a one-time initiation fee and monthly dues from $275 to $375 a month.


What do you get for this? Unlimited use of any of their fleet of sixteen boats and four jet skis. Pontoon boats, deck boats, fishing boats, jet skis, and really fast boats. The boat is yours for the day, even overnight. And your only expense is the gas.


And since you’re free to use any of the Carolina Boat Club’s fleet, you’re not stuck with one boat. You can enjoy all kinds of boats. A different one every time you go out on the lake. Think of it as boat dating, but not boat marrying.


The Carolina Boat Club is owned by Tony and Lou Quinn. When I learned about it, I decided to give them a call to learn more.


I got Tony on the phone and we had a great marathon conversation. He’s friendly, outgoing, and quite a conversationalist. We talked about everything from life in Alaska, to the demise of Detroit and why Canadians are better behaved than Americans. But, mostly, we talked about boats and boating on Lake Wylie.


From Tony, I was able to learn more about his Carolina Boat Club.


One of the things I was curious about was the ratio of members to boats. In other words, what would your chances be to use a particular boat when you want it. Turns out the ratio is impressive. They purposely keep the membership low, so the ratio is better than five to one. In other words, there are only four or five members for each boat in the fleet. So, with a little notice you’ll probably get to use any boat you want, any time you want it.


So what kind of person might benefit from joining the Carolina Boat Club?


First of all, someone who wants to spend some time on the lake without the high cost of boat ownership. As Tony joked, “BOAT stands for ‘Break Out Another Thousand’” There are plenty of people who enjoy being on the water but just can’t afford to, or don’t want to, shell out the money to buy one.


Other candidates for membership are people new to boating or new to the area. They might want to spend a year or two, basically trying before they buy.


The third category, says Tony, includes former boat owners who still like to spend time on the lake but, for whatever reason (like simplifying their life), no longer want to own one.


Another benefit is something I wouldn’t have thought of. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who rent boats and not treat them very well. What the hell, it’s not their boat. But because the boat club’s members have a vested interest in the boats, they take much better care of them. Tony said if a member is on the lake and sees another member breaking one of the rules or operating in shallow or dangerous water, he’ll call and rat the person out.

Like school children do. But that’s good. It helps keep the fleet nice.


The Quinns also own the Pier 49 Marina on Lake Wylie. At Pier 49 Marina they provide a wide array of services if you own a boat. They have technicians who specialize in fiberglass, gelcoat, detailing and restoration, electronics, engine repair, canvas, and upholstery. They also offer boat and jet ski service, transportation services, boat storage and boat maintenance. And let’s not forget boat slips and docks with access to fuel, ice, and supplies That’s pretty much everything.


So, between the Carolina Boat Club and Pier 49 Marina, whether you own a boat or want to join the club, they have you covered on Lake Wylie. And they’re easy to get to, near the Buster Boyd Bridge on Highway 49 on the Charlotte side of the lake.



Pilot Media publishes boating guides providing comprehensive information on boating and waterfront living. Each edition includes an index of boat related businesses, reference maps, marina & boatyard guides, a directory of waterfront & water-access restaurants - The Pilot's Galley - and a Fishing Guide that includes a directory to area fishing service providers.  Read more >

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