If you own a boat, one challenge of using it is that all the effort involved – getting it ready, taking it to the lake, launching it, and getting the kids safely on board – is tough to do with one person.
This is especially true if you have to do it while wrangling three small children under the age of 8.
No matter how much you love the water – and how much you want to share that passion with your kids – putting in that kind of effort for a couple of hours on the lake is a daunting proposition.
That’s one of the reasons why Christine Zajonc, a homeschool mom of 3, and her husband, Tim, a surgeon who often works long hours, decided to join a boat club.
That way, not only can they maximize their time together as a family when Tim gets off work in the evening, but Christine can take the kids out on the lake during the week when he’s not there to help with the boat.
“My husband grew up going to the lake with this family – his family had a lake house – and they just found it to be a great time to spend together as a family,” Christine says. “But my husband did not want to have to take care of the boat because his family grew up with a boat, and he knows what goes into it.”
During the seven years they’ve been members of the boat club, she says, their three kids have grown from just riding on the boat to tubing to waterskiing and, this year, wakesurfing. They enjoy all three lakes; she says each one has a unique feel that her family loves.
They also enjoy the opportunity to use different kinds of boats. When visiting with elderly relatives, for example, they can choose less intense activities like cruising on a pontoon boat – whether to enjoy a balmy summer day or for a tour of the fall leaves while wearing coats and sipping hot chocolate.
On vacation, they’ve taken out boats in Charleston, S.C.,; Washington, D.C.; Chattanooga; and even Montreal, Canada – all places where it wouldn’t be practical to trailer a boat from home.
“We love the boat club because we don’t have to clean it, we don’t have to store it, we don’t have to dry it off – it’s really maintenance-free boating,” she says, “and because of our very limited time to do fun things, it’s just perfect for us.”
Now their kids are older – Emma is 14, Ella is 13, and James is 12 – but Christine says she still loves the freedom of being able to take them boating without having to worry about whether there’s gas in the boat, whether the battery is dead, and whether It will start. They can just hit the lake and have fun.
For her family, she says, the convenience has been huge from the time they joined.
“All I had to do with my three little kids – the oldest one was 7 at the time – was put their vests on and put their bathing suits on,” she says.
“That was huge for me: just to feel like if I ran into trouble, I knew that I could call – just knowing that someone was going to be there at the marina to help me, but also knowing that the boat was ready to go.”