Contributor: Carefree of Southern CT
Already tiring of this cold(ish) weather? Let’s look forward to what we have planned for the 2021 boating season!
The Club learned a lot this past season! There were a record breaking 34 boats in the fleet, over 5,000 member usages an increase of 60% over 2019. Four out of the five clubs sold out at the start of the season, and the boats logged approximately 450 hours of engine use versus an average of 350 hours in 2019.
The Club experienced a significant level of boat damage throughout the season, resulting in boats being taken out of service. To make matters worse, this past season the entire marine industry was behind the curve. Parts were next to impossible to obtain and delivery times were long. We are still waiting on two Yamaha lower units that were ordered in July!
We are planning for a very active 2021 season, similar to what we experienced this past season in terms of demand for boating. We are making a number of changes so our members and Staff will experience the best boating experience possible!
2021 On The Water Training is planned for early Spring. We are hoping to get training
boats in the water early April and as soon as boats are ready new Members will be
contacted to set up their training. Training will be scheduled Monday through Friday at your home Club.
We are buying ten 2021 boats bringing the total Fleet up to 44. Keep in mind this number can change as older models are sold throughout the off season.
(2) Cobia Dual Consoles
(4) Cobia center consoles
(2) Brig Eagle 8
(2) Manitou 27 ft deck boats or (2) more Cobia Dual consoles
We are relocating the 3 Milford boats to Bridgeport. Milford was the only Club that did not experience the membership growth needed to support 5 or more boats. With just 3 boats at that club, when a boat goes down, 1/3 of the Milford fleet, it has a severe impact on the Milford members. Bridgeport, a new and well built marina with plenty of parking, right off I-95 with quick access to the LI Sound, will open the season with 7 boats and the ability to grow to 8.
We will be opening a new location in New Rochelle, NY, at Castaways Yacht Club, with 4 boats.
In order to keep as many of the 44 boats in service, we will have two back up boats in our warehouse. Two of our 2019 Rinkers will be on trailers waiting to replace any boat should one become inoperable and can not be quickly repaired at the dock. The damaged boat will be hauled to the warehouse where we will have a much larger inventory of lower units, props, and other parts, enabling us to quickly repair the boat and get it back in service.
In 2021 we will have a team of three certified marine mechanics on call who will give the Club priority over all other work.
We will also have a second operations team assigned to perform onsite boat maintenance and minor repairs. We just could not keep up with these minor repairs in 2020. This maintenance will also keep the boats in service and make them more appealing to our members.
Our 2021 focus will continue to be on mitigation of boat damage. To a large extent, it’s the member who can fix this problem by being aware of where they are boating, understanding how to use the GPS systems and staying out of shallow water . We have been creating and launching training videos on our YouTube channel, and will continue to do so throughout the off-season. We will announce when they are live, Please take a look at these videos. Our Senior Dock staff is on call for members to set up onsite GPS training and chart reading sessions, I encourage every member to take advantage of this so that we can work together to minimize boat damage.
We will be adding electronic fencing of hazardous areas such as Cockenoe island, Penfield Reef and Scotch Caps, with the goal of keeping the captain of each boat aware of their position in the water.
We have tested, with some success, adding an extension to the lower unit called a Hydro-Shield which, should the boat be operated in shallow water, will take the initial hit and, if the boat is not going too fast, save the prop and lower unit.
We try very hard to not impose restrictions/rules, but when a boat is damaged and taken out of service, members for the ensuing two weeks may lose their ability to boat . The stress to move members to different times/days/boats is very high for everyone, and at the end of the day no one likes their plans to be changed, interrupted or cancelled.
Those are just some of the improvements we have planned for 2021. All of us at Carefree are dedicated to improving – bringing member satisfaction back to pre-COVID levels and beyond!