Lake Life Gets a Lot Easier on Old Hickory

A dream of helping people get out on the local waters turns into reality for many

Article by Scott Bell

Photography by Payton Wright Photography

Originally published in Gallatin Lifestyle

Imagine waking up on a Saturday morning, rounding up the family and heading to the local marina to hop on a boat for a full day of fun and sun on the water. You arrive to find your reserved pontoon, tritoon, deck boat, or wakeboard boat in the water, uncovered, gassed up, and ready to go as soon as you step on. Once you board, you stow your belongings and begin to distribute the snacks and drinks you’ve preordered for your friends and family. You untie the ropes off the boats’ cleats, and you head to open waters seeking fun and memories to last a lifetime. Your hardest decisions are who’s up first on the tube and which cove are we dropping anchor for that first afternoon dip. As if that’s not enticing enough, you know when your day of family fun is over and you return to the marina, you’ll simply pull in, walk off and head home. Cleaning, wiping down, securing, trailering, dry storage headaches, long ramp lines, maintenance issues and upkeep are no longer your responsibility.

As the old saying goes, the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy a boat and they day they sell it! The time in between is peppered with headaches, financial stresses, transportation and maintenance, and a litany of other hassles that take so much joy out of the intended boating experience that people buy a boat for in the first place. Chad Matthews, owner of Cherokee Boat Club, knew there had to be a better way for a family or individual to enjoy time on the lake without all of the hoops and hindrances associated with boat ownership. While attending Auburn University, Chad entered his idea and concept into The Tiger Cage--Auburn’s version of Shark Tank. After finishing fourth in the competition, it became apparent to Chad that the idea of a boat club was a viable plan, had value and was determined to make it a reality.

“Unfortunately, the lakes of Alabama are roughly an hour and a half to two hours away from major cities. My search transitioned north to Nashville and I began going to every marina on Percy Priest and Old Hickory,” recalls Chad as he searched for the most suitable location. He was in luck.

Perfectly centered between two of Tennessee’s fastest-growing counties (Sumner and Wilson), Chad found the perfect spot on Old Hickory Lake at Cherokee Marina. But, it wasn’t smooth sailing just yet. Chad moved to Nashville three days after the March 2020 tornado only to arrive with no power. With an opening date of March 15, 2020, he had to use a generator to power his computer and start the business. Opening weekend was cold with much interest from individuals and families but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. A national quarantine was set in place the very next day.

“We held strong knowing that families would seek out ways to get out of the house and continue to enjoy their lives,” Chad expressed. Today, Cherokee Boat Club provides a unique experience to boating and as people continue to find ways to be outdoors and around family and friends, the boat club has seen unprecedented growth.

Unlike others boat clubs in the Nashville area, Cherokee Boat Club is the only independent club and provides more flexibility, options, and the most enjoyable boating experience. With the ease and convenience of being a boat club member, it is by far the most economical way of getting into boating and onto the lake. Offering many different levels of affordability, members are ensured to get exactly what they are looking for in their boating experience. All membership levels include fun perks like water sports equipment and the ability to make boat reservations 24/7 via Cherokee Boat Club’s smartphone app. When you arrive to your fully-cleaned, fueled-up boat, it is stocked with drinks, snacks and any rental equipment you’ve selected from the convenience of the smartphone app. All members will need to do is grab the keys and hit the water!

“I do my best to tailor the member experience based on their individual boating needs and wants,” says Chad. One of Chad’s missions in providing a best-in-class boating experience is to take the time to get to know each one of his members ensuring they feel confident and comfortable with navigating around Old Hickory Lake and making himself available for any questions, tips, pointers, navigation ideas and where to find that perfect party cove or wake boarding area!

Having the ability to provide a platform for everyone to get out on the water and have an enjoyable experience on Old Hickory Lake is always top of mind for Chad. His mission has and always will be to allow members to experience different styles of boats for less than the price of owning one. With five boats currently in the fleet, there’s a boat for whatever you’re in the mood for - fishing, skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, cruising or anything you desire. Cherokee Boat Club makes it easy to try new things without committing to one type of boat, as well. The club currently has five boats with plans to add more:

● Hurricane Deck Boat, up to 12 passengers, multipurpose/cruising/fishing, fitted with rod storage, trolling motor, GPS/sonar, livewell and fishing pedestals

● Veranda Pontoon, up to 10 passengers, perfect for couples or smaller groups to enjoy a relaxing cruise or afternoon of exploring

● Landau Tritoon, up to 12 passengers, dual rear recliners, large plush couches, plenty of space and stability

● Supreme ZS212 Wakeboard Boat, up to 12 passengers, fully rigged with the best surf and wake package in the industry

● Landau Tritoon (NEW ADDITION, June 2022!), up to 12 passengers, dual full couches, and a large rear sun deck/lounge

Turning a dream that started at Auburn into a reality, Chad and Cherokee Boat Club are committed to constantly evolving and looking at ways to make the boat club the very best it can be. “Cherokee Boat Club is my love and passion and allows everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy all the things I did growing up on the water,” says Chad. Boating can be complicated, stressful, time-consuming and financially burdensome, but the services and conveniences of a boat club allows people to jump into the fun and enjoy boating.

What’s next for Cherokee Boat Club? Chad’s main focus is providing members with the newest equipment, features and accessories to ensure their boating experience is top-notch and unrivaled!

Cherokee Boat Club is located on Old Hickory Lake at the Cherokee Marina,, 615-285-8423

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