1-17-22 Update: Still love this club. Winter boating on the sound can be challenging. You have to brave the weather or get lucky and find a nice day. We just took a boat out yesterday from the newish FBC location in Everett. It was super foggy in Edmonds so we headed North and found some blue skies mixed with clouds. Only 20 minutes or so from Edmonds, the Everett Marina is another wonderful location from which to take a boat. We took Bosun which is a beautiful Defiance Admiral with a 200 hp Mercury outboard.
Boating made simple
Edmonds hosts one of the Seattle area Freedom Boat Club locations at the Edmonds Marina in the same building as the Edmonds Yacht Club. We've been members for a little over 1 year and we are thrilled with the service. Whatever you do, do NOT buy a boat.
What is Freedom Boat Club?
This is the largest boat club in the world and for good reason. Using this approach you don't ever have to deal with any of the hard parts about boat ownership (maintenance, getting the boat in and out of the water, cleaning, gas etc.) and it's way cheaper than actually buying a nice boat.
There are dozens of boats to choose from at different locations around the sound. We simply reserve the boat we want and show up at the dock where an FBC dockmaster is ready for us. They show us to the boat and help us cast off. We enjoy the day on the boat and when we return, they help us land safely at the dock. Then, and this is the best part, we get off the boat and walk away. Done until our next adventure.
Adventuress is one of many boats you can take out on Puget sound. Here we are docked at Poulsbo for the night.
How much does freedom boat club cost?
This is a nationwide club with thousands of locations. They even have some international locations which is cool because they offer reciprocity between locations. We haven't gone anywhere outside the Puget Sound yet but when we do, we will update this post.
The Seattle FBC has locations at Port of Edmonds, Elliot Bay Marina, Yarrow Bay Marina (Lake Washington) and Lake Union (both the AGC and the Nautical Landing). There are locations popping up all over the sound with one in Tacoma, Poulsbo and Bremerton.
The club has an entry fee, which varies by location and season, but expect the initial fee in Seattle area to be a few thousand bucks to join with a monthly usage fee of just under $400. Note that FBC pricing is subject to change so contact them for the latest prices.
Compare that cost to the cost of one of the popular boats in the club, the Jeanneau NC 695. I found a used one for sale for $70,000.
Do you need insurance?
You get some minimal insurance included or you can buy special insurance that covers everything for $700 per year. We took that option because we sometimes take out the cruiser vessels which are very expensive to repair.
What about gas?
You have to pay for your own gas which can get expensive especially out on the sound. We have found that if you putt around slow for several hours, which is super relaxing, the gas bill will be ~$20 but if you crank it up and go fast you can burn $100 easy.
What training or licenses are required?
We joined in January 2020 and needed training because we had very little boating experience. The first thing we did was to take the FREE Boating Safety Course offered by BoatUS. Boating on Lake Washington is one thing but going out on the Puget Sound requires a lot more training and experience. That's where the big boats are like the WA State Ferries and huge container ships from all over the world.
After passing the test, we met up with a real ship captain, in our case, Captain Herb Hunt, for some training. We learned the fundamentals, and it was just enough to feel comfortable taking a boat out on our own.
We only took a trip or two and then Covid-19 hit Washington and we shut down. Thankfully, as we all wrestled with safety concerns surrounding the pandemic, it became clear that boating can be done relatively safely - especially if you are taking only people who live in the same house as you. FBC was able to open up again because it is truly a covid safe activity and it became our primary outlet for surviving the pandemic.
We've been loving the club ever since. Sincerely, the best thing we have done in terms of local entertainment.
Tons of Wildlife
On Puget Sound we have seen a wealth of wildlife including Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, Blue Heron, Eagles, Seagulls, Porpoise, Grey Whale, and an Orca Pod! Keep scrolling to see our photo gallery of creatures.
We always see Eagles, especially in the spring and early summer. Cruising on lake Washington in a pontoon boat we often see the adults teaching their babies how to hunt.
Orca eating Porpoise
Check out this crazy video of a killer whale swatting a porpoise into the air...
Cool Boating Apps
We learned about some killer apps for boating that might be worth checking out:
Navionics - This is a must have and it costs ~$20 to subscribe and get maps in a certain area. You can try it for free here: Navionics free trial
Vessel Finder - this one is really cool as it shows you the ships that are in the sound along with their names and where they are coming from. You can see tugs and the container ships they escort into the harbor for loading and unloading. www.vesselfinder.com
If you or someone you know loves being out on the water, whether it's boating or fishing or kayaking, we've got some great designs in our on the water collection.
Hope you enjoy our gallery of photos from Puget Sound and Lake Washington boating trips...