Picture this: it is a gorgeous summer’s day. The lake beckons and the family is clamoring to get out on the lake. You simply pick up your phone and make a reservation, knowing you can stop by The American Boat Club and simply step aboard your reserved, new boat.
This unique and new manner of boating has become popular in other locations and is now being offered in the Lakes Region by The American Boat Club. Located at Akwa Marina at 95 Centenary Avenue, Laconia, (Weirs Beach), the club offers a fleet of well maintained, beautiful boats that members can reserve.
The thing that makes this type of boating so enjoyable and easy is club members pay a membership fee and do not have to worry about maintaining a boat and dealing with storage, dock spaces and registration fees. In other words, they can participate in boating – a pastime many love – and not worry about maintaining a boat.
Here’s how the club works: using a web-based reservation system, members simply reserve the boat and the time slots they would like. Members can have four pre-reserved slots at any one time; as soon as they use one, another becomes available. They may also call, or walk in if there is a cancellation. When a member/boater arrives, the boat will be fully fueled, cleaned and ready to go, with no hassle. At the end of reserved time slot, members simply fuel the boat up, cruise back to Akwa Marina and the boat staff will take it from there.
Says Kurt Mailloux of The American Boat Club, “It’s a cost effective, hassle free way to boat. We have a variety of boats available to members. Whether a member wants to go wake boarding with the entire family or simply take a boat across the lake for dinner or ice cream, they can call ahead or go online to reserve the right boat without any hassle.”
It should be stressed that this is not a boat rental but rather a membership. “Our members take pride in the boats and they range in age from people in their late 20s to members in their 50s and 60s. Some members are locals, some are from southern NH and out of state, and they all have different reasons for becoming members. But they all love boating!” says Kurt.
Last year was the first year for the boat club and it was quite popular. There were four boats available to members last year and this year the fleet has been increased to five boats. “We offer a 240 Sea Ray Sundancer, a fully loaded 210 SLX with wakeboard arch and 210 Select (both Sea Rays), a 240SL Berkshire Pontoon Boat and a 20L Berkshire Pontoon Boat,” Kurt adds.
The boats are high quality and kept in top-notch condition and are docked at the Akwa Marina with plenty of parking for boaters.
“We are open to the public, which means anyone can join,” Kurt continues. “The season runs from May 15 to October 15. Members sign up with a user name and password after paying their membership fee. We use a web based system and members can access it from their computer or cell phone.”
By walking in or calling, members can reserve a boat for the time they desire; a current boating license is required. Kurt stresses, “Availability is the main concern people have, and we are happy to say there is good availability of boats for our members to enjoy.”
Clearly, the American Boat Club staff work very hard to ensure that boats are available and are the most modern on the lake; it’s a system that is working well. “We wanted to offer something different and to fill a need,” Kurt says. “The idea of a boat club membership has been around since the 1960s. We refined the idea and are making it work for today’s boaters.”
Next to the boat docking area, an old water department pumping station has been preserved and is now used by the Akwa Marina as a charming store, well stocked with boating supplies, ice cream, snacks and another feature that is very helpful for boat club members, a large flat screen television that shows the day’s boat reservations on the computer system.
“Our goal this year is to have 25 members,” Kurt explains. “We have a 5/1 ratio which means we have five members for every boat. That allows members great opportunity to enjoy the boats without the hassle of a long waiting time when reserving.”
Kurt adds that he wants boaters who are members to be happy, because that is what boating is all about.
To learn more about the Great American Boat Club, call 231-6002 or visit www.americanboatclubnh.com.