Updated: Mar 9
Why is it important to choose the best marina for your boat?
It may not come as a surprise, but there are many boats that sit idle in marinas. Go to any marina on the weekend and you will see a large number of boats at their slips with their owners lounging around. The truth is that many owners do not spend that majority of their time out on the water. This is why it's extremely important to consider the below factors, excluding cost, when choosing where to dock and enjoy your boat.
This may sound like an odd one to start with, but this can really decide whether or not your marina experience is a good one. There are some absolutely horrible stories out there on how marinas have been ruined by a terrible dockmaster. They are in charge of the operations of the marina as well as who passes their standards to get into the marina and stay there. Some dockmasters keep strict and biased selection criteria that sometimes border on absurd. If your boat isn't to their liking, you won't even get to the application stage. If you don't make a good first impression forget even trying to get onto the docks to look at slips. On the off chance you do you get past a picky dockmaster and into their marina stay in their good graces or expect to be fined for any minor violation and your repair requests to go unanswered.
On the flip side, there are many dockmaster that are great at keeping the peace among members and their marinas in as best of shape as possible. Do your homework before selecting a marina, talk with members, do a Yelp search, and visit the marina to meet with the dockmaster.
Upkeep and Maintenance
Leaky water lines, cracking docks, and broken cleats are just a few of the common items a marina is constantly keeping up to standard or neglecting to fix. A quick tour will give you a good sense of the age and quality of the marina's facilities, utilities, and docks. Many marinas have various docks so be sure to visit the actual docks that have available slips. When marinas update and make repairs, they remove all boats from the dock and update one dock at a time. If you're looking at a newly renovated dock when you visit, odds are there are others next in line for repairs but that may be years away. When new docks are repaired, current members oftentimes are fist in line to swap slips and take up all the available spaces at the refreshed dock, leaving the only vacancies on the older docks.
This can be a good or bad thing depending on your use of the marina. Obviously if you want to liveaboard you need to be sure the marina allows for the number of nights per month or year you want to be there. On the flip side, if you enjoy a marina that does not have the majority of owners living there then do your research. Some items that may be impacted one way or another are the availability of restrooms, showers, frequency of trash collection, noise levels, cleanliness of slips and storage lockers. There tends to be more activity with an increased number of liveaboards as there are frequent vendors performing repairs and even owners who flip their liveaboards.
Utilities and Hookups
Most marinas have standard electrical hookups that increase in amps the larger the slip, to accommodate the demand of larger boats. But check for your specific slip before moving forward to be sure it can supply your boat with the right amount of power. If you plan on using the head on your boat, check to see if the slip has a sewer hookup or if there is a pump out statin within the marina. If not, you can look locally for a mobile pump out service. Some marinas offer cable TV hookups which may be included in your slip fee or at an additional cost. Internet and Wi-Fi has historically been hit or miss at marinas for a variety of reasons. If you plan on using the internet or streaming to your TV, it's highly recommended that you do a test and ask around for members' experience as it may vary by slip and dock. One more thing to check for is slip specific, the location of the electrical junction boxes. They may be noisy and could limit your access to the slip.
Each slip may be different so think about what orientation you want to have your boat situated in the slip and where you need to go for electrical, water, cable, and sewer connections. Will the connections allow for easy access to getting on and off the boat? Another thing to look at is where the lines will be running from your boat to the cleats they may interfere with the most logical and easiest access to things.
Since most marinas are used by people driving there, parking can sometimes be a an issue. If the marina is located in or near a city then expect to pay for parking passes each month and they may be limited. If parking is included in your monthly fee, then it can come with it's own challenges. Members sometimes use their passes to store vehicles there for extended periods of time. This makes it difficult to find parking during weekends or holidays. If you have friends and family visiting you at the marina check for visitor policies or alternative solutions for parking. Depending on how far parking is from your slip, you may spend more time than you thought carting supplies to and from your boat.
Stay tuned for part two of this blog. If you have any comments or thoughts on the below items send us an email or send us a comment below!