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Boat sharing growing in popularity in WNY

Carefree Boat Club currently has 19 members. It's based out of North Tonawanda and has four boats with a fifth on the way.

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. — For boaters, gas prices are making it much more expensive than usual to hit the water this summer. So, some people are turning to Western New York's boat-sharing clubs.

"The market is terrible for buying a boat right now. There's almost no availability, manufacturers are years behind, so we really are one of the only options if you want to get on the water immediately in a new boat," says Jennifer Flore.

Jennifer and Ryan Flore own Carefree Boat Club of Buffalo, and so far they have 19 members who pay an initiation fee and monthly dues and get to take boats out on the water without the hefty price tag of buying a boat.

And with fuel prices so high right now, they don't have to worry about that either.

"You might buy a $15,000 or $20,000 boat that seems like an economical choice, but then you don't think about the extra thousand or more to buy a slip fee. You don't think about the extra six to maybe $1,200 for insurance, and then when the engine does go in that boat whether it's one year from now or six or seven years from now, that could be anywhere from four to $20,000 to replace," says Ryan Flore.

After making a reservation online, all you have to do is get the keys.

"We have members that will show up with their two, three, four kids and they love it. We hand them the key, they start the boat, they pull away from the dock, they get back, and they hand us the key. They're worried about the kids, they shouldn't have to worry about the boat and cleaning it and everything else that comes along with it," says Ryan Flore.

"When we opened this club, I had never driven a boat. We now do all of the training from Ryan teaching the course in-person to get your license, to on the water physically handling the boats, so safety is a very, very high priority for our club," says Jennifer Flore.

All of the boats are less than three years old. Right now, they have four boats available to members with another one on the way next month.

Another boat share in WNY is Buffalo Boat Share. One of its founding members tells 2 On Your Side, "We built our program to make the most of the short season in Buffalo. Members just show up and enjoy the day on the water. We take care of everything else."


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