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Amelia Islander

Fun on the Water

Oct 02, 2019 01:28PM
By Teri Sopp • Photo by Christy Le Lait
After having owned both a powerboat and a large sailboat, I now know that the best kind of boat to have is one that belongs to a friend. For those who don’t have friends with boats, I have discovered the next best thing: the Amelia Boat Club. Witt Storm, who recently purchased and re-configured the former Amelia Island Yacht Basin, has re-opened the boat club at the marina. The club, based in one of the Bahamian cottages on the marina property, gives members a choice of watercraft and also offers daily boat, Wave Runner, and water ski rentals.

Boat Club Manager Captain Alee Henderson says about 95 percent of club members are former boat owners who appreciate the convenience of club membership. “We have an app where a member can reserve a boat for up to 45 days in advance,” Alee explains. “All the member has to do is show up at the dock, untie the lines and head out.”

On a recent Saturday, Captain Alee took me and a friend out for a spin in a 20-foot center console Pioneer. We left the marina and headed south on the Intracoastal, where Alee teaches new club members basic navigation and boat handling skills. “We go to the south,” says Alee, “because it’s important to see where the shoals and oyster bars are and how the markers are not in a straight line.”

We then cruised north to downtown Fernandina Beach, past the port and Egan’s Creek, to the St. Mary’s Inlet. The breezy afternoon had stirred up a little chop on the sound, but nothing the comfortable Pioneer couldn’t handle. We motored along the south end of Cumberland Island to take a look at the wild horses, checked out a submarine guard vessel headed toward Kings Bay, and watched dolphins playing in our wake before heading over to Sea Camp dock on Cumberland.

We went ashore to enjoy the gourmet lunches packed by Chef Michael McCarroll of Restaurant 251, the marina’s newly remodeled waterfront restaurant. Lobster salad sandwiches were the perfect culinary touch for the fall-like afternoon.

An initiation fee and a choice of monthly membership plans entitle a member to the use of three Pioneer center console boats, two flats fishing boats (both set up with live wells and coolers), and four “Tritoons” (pontoon boats with three hulls). There are also four Wave Runners available for discount rentals by club members. Water skis, tow-behind tubes, and knee boards are also included in club membership.
Chef McCarroll at Restaurant 251 can have picnic lunches ready to go for a day’s outing and can also cater group events on the pontoon boats. “Club members can order ahead, and we will have the lunches loaded into the on-board coolers,” says McCarroll.

Amelia Island Boat Club is member driven, with monthly social gatherings, sunset cruises, and movies on the lawn for the kids. Amelia Island Marina COO Witt Storm says that because the Amelia Boat Club is locally owned and operated, it will be responsive to members’ needs.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Amelia Island community,” Witt says. “We’re going to be here a long time.” Amelia Island Boat Club is located at the Amelia Island Marina, 251 Creekside Drive. For more information, call (904) 277-4615 or visit