We catch up With Phil Pitt, Managing Director of Pacific Boating to find out more about the boat membership club which offers members hassle-free access to luxury sports cruisers across two Sydney locations.
How would you describe the Pacific Boating business?
Pacific Boating is like a gym or a Golf Club where people take out an annual membership and get access to the services on offer. An annual Pacific Boating membership gives them access to our fleet of luxury sports cruisers on Sydney Harbour and Pittwater and gives them the opportunity to enjoy a boating life without the costs and hassles associated with boat ownership. Members enjoy a ‘walk on, walk-off’ service and don’t have to worry about the upkeep, cleaning, maintenance, servicing and repairs that are associated with boat ownership. Operating on two of the best waterways in Australia, Sydney Harbour and Pittwater, members have unlimited access to the fleet of cruisers to explore our coastline and secluded bays with family and friends.
Can you share some company history and background?
I started Pacific Boating in 2006 with five boats in our fleet and two classes of vessels. Now, in 2023 we have 14 boats in the fleet (soon to be 18) across three classes. Pacific Boating operates out of two locations, Sydney Boathouse in Rozelle Bay and The Quays Marina in Church Point, allowing members access to Sydney Harbour and Pittwater. I am proud to say that Pacific Boating is now the largest and fastest growing boating club in Australia and I have a great team around me to ensure we give you the ultimate boating experience. Mike Hammond our General Manager oversees the daily operations. Mike has a team of over 30 people who clean, maintain and prepare our fleet for our members on a daily basis.
Talk to us about the three model types soon to be in your fleet.
We will soon have three model types in our fleet: Sea Ray 44 Sundancer Sports Cruiser, Sea Ray 52 Sundancer Sports Cruiser and a new boat, the Sea Ray 320 OB Sundancer.
What different levels of memberships are on offer?
We currently have two classes of membership and two options within each class of membership. The class of membership is determined by the size of the boat: either 44’ Class or 52’ Class. Within these classes of membership, you can take up a seven-day membership that gives you the opportunity to make advance bookings on weekdays and weekends or a midweek membership that allows you to make advance bookings on weekdays. As a member of Pacific Boating you are not tied to one vessel or one waterway and you can use the vessels on an unlimited basis. We currently have members who have been with us since 2006. However, there are no longterm contracts and you can join for a minimum term of only 12 months. Memberships are available individually or as a joint membership, where you share the cost of the membership fee with a friend, family member or colleague.
What are the top 5 benefits of membership?
- Walk-on walk-off service.
- Choice of waterway.
- Unlimited access.
- No long-term contracts.
- No hidden costs. The only ongoing cost is for the fuel you use during the cruise.
You founded Pacific Boating in 2006. How have you seen the boat club, hire and syndication market evolve over that time?
This is the fastest growing sector of the boating industry with an increased awareness of the concept and the benefits of being a club member or owning a share in a vessel. Over recent years we have seen more businesses setting up in this space to cater for both sailing and power boat enthusiasts, which only increases awareness by the boating public. More long-term boat owners are also seeing the benefits of selling their boat that they are not getting enough use out of to justify the expense and worry, and converting to club membership.
THow would someone totally new to boating get involved?
It is an extremely simple process to become a member. You decide on the class of vessel that best suits your needs, whether that be to spend time on the water with family and friends or whether it is to entertain your staff or clients. You then consider if you will do most of your boating on weekdays or weekends to decide whether you need a weekday or full week membership. Once your membership is in place, you will spend a minimum of 16 hours at the helm of the vessel being trained by our team of highly skilled trainers in every area of boat handling and safety. The training programme isn’t limited to 16 hours; we will devote as much time as the member requires to become confident and competent at the helm. Once signed off as a competent skipper you will have access to our online booking and membership management system, where you will be able to manage every aspect of your membership experience.
You have some luxury vessels in your fleet, which may be beyond the budget of many boaties. Do you find this is a great option for customers who own a smaller vessel but like the experience of having access to a luxury moored craft as well?
Yes, over the years of operation we have had a number of members who own a smaller boat but love the idea of being able to have access to a luxury sports cruiser through a membership with us. They use their smaller boat for fishing or towing and the Pacific Boating cruiser for entertaining family, friends, clients and staff. It gives them the best of both worlds.
Is there such a thing as a typical Pacific Boating customer? Talk us through the types of customers you usually see and their motivations for membership?
Our membership model has been designed with flexibility in mind, so there are options to suit most people who wish to be cruising Sydney’s waterways. The larger boats appeal to corporate clients as they use the membership to entertain clients and staff. They say that the creative juices flow better when they are on the boat and the meetings take less time which means there is more time to enjoy the environment on board. Retirees enjoy midweek memberships as they are in control of their diaries and it is less busy on the water during the week. For mums and dads, there is nothing better than being able to spend quality time with their family and friends relaxing in a bay. We also have many younger clients and groups of mates that have joined together on a membership which allows then to share the cost and access to the fleet.
Talk us through the booking process and how the logistics of taking a vessel out?
When you become a member you gain access to the Member’s Portal that allows the members to manage all aspects of their membership including their bookings. Our members can make a spontaneous booking for the next day or book as far into the future as they wish. This ensures that they can reserve a boat for those special days such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or when they have visitors from interstate or overseas. The day before the booking the operational team will contact the member to confirm a pickup time. This ensures the boat is clean and ready for departure at the time the member is expected to arrive at the marina. When members arrive at the marina on the day of the booking they are greeted by the operational staff. They are assisted onto the boat with their guests and gear, go through a safety briefing and pre-cruise check. It’s a quick process and members should be ready to leave just 10 minutes after they arrive at the marina. Our operational staff are available to take calls from members if they require any assistance throughout the day during their cruise. On the member’s return to the marina, our operational team are on hand to greet them. They’ll tie off the boat in the berth and assist the member and their guests to get off the boat. Just like when they arrived, members should be in their car around 10 minutes after returning to the marina. Our operational team will handle everything including cleaning and preparing the boat ready for the next member, ensuring 100 per cent enjoyment and no hassles. What could be better?
What makes these vessels so well suited to our local climate and waters?
The hull design makes them perfect for the semi-smooth waters of Sydney Harbour, Pittwater and the Hawkesbury. They have a large, covered cockpit which protects you from the environment and UV plus a generous cabin for overnight extended stays or if you just wish to relax out of the sun during the day. Our members love the versatility of the design, the ease of handling, the spacious cockpit and cabin.
Lastly, we heard Pacific Boating is planning an impressive on-water display at the Sydney International Boat Show in August.
What can you tell us about that? Yes, we will have all three models at our marina display at the Sydney International Boat Show. Those being the Sea Ray 44 Sundancer, Sea Ray 52 Sundancer and the official launch of the Sea Ray 320 Outboard Coupe to our fleet. Our display will be on the Marina in Cockle Bay.
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