Whether you just purchased your first boat or have five already, choosing the right marina can make a huge impact on your overall boating experience. Typically when people are choosing a marina, they immediately focus on its location. While this certainly is a big factor, many others have to be weighed into the decision as well. A few things to also consider are the marina's security, costs, amenities, conditions, and parking. Trust us, you don't want to be out on the water worrying all day about having to maneuver your boat back into its port simply because you picked a poor marina. You want to feel confident, relaxed, and at ease with where your boat will be spending its time when it's not with you.
With a little bit of research and help from our trusty guide, you can find the marina that's perfect for your needs.
Location is Key
Regardless of how often you use your boat, having it close enough to home for an easy commute will make your life so much easier. You don't want to dread the drive or avoid going simply because it's too far away or in the middle of nowhere. Check to see if there are any restaurants, bars, picnic areas, parks, and grocery stores nearby. You also want to make sure it's in a nice neighborhood where you feel comfortable visiting solo as well as when you bring your family and friends along.
Unloading and Parking Ease
Unfortunately, marinas are known for their parking challenges. After all, being on the waterfront, any land is at a premium! Parking is typically limited or expensive. Look for marinas with convenient, free, and easy parking. No one wants to be excited about getting on their boat yet stuck in the car driving in circles trying to find a parking spot. The best marinas have secure parking, dedicated loading/unloading bays, and high-quality marina trolleys. For even easier parking, look for marinas with valet and leave it to them. You'll thank yourself later.
No matter if the water is calm or rocking with waves, you should feel comfortable with the size of the port you will be parking your boat in. There should be enough room to maneuver around, and there should be a minimum of one meter between vessels to allow for movement.
We get it, your boat is your baby, which is why you shouldn't skimp on the security in the marina of your choosing. Some things to look for include an electronic control system, security gates, flood lighting, overnight security, and CCTV surveillance recordings. Ask the manager if there's a history of any break-ins and if they have a specific procedure for signing keys in and out. Maintaining the security of your boat at all times is crucial, so don't skimp on this aspect.
Ensure that the marina is staffed with professional boat mechanics, helpful dock hands, cleaning crews, and a friendly reception staff. You'll be communicating with the staff regularly, therefore, it's important you receive professional and positive vibes from them. It's known that many former captains manage well-ran marinas. Talk to the staff to get a feel about their passion and history of boating, as that will say a lot about the marina's overall character.
A great marina will have a clean, well-maintained docking area with plenty of trash receptacles around. Also look for adequate electricity/water, mobile pump-out service, showers/toilets, pet areas, refueling stations, WiFi, and cable. Having services included like these open up possibilities to use your boat as a part-time office, overnight stays, or to even rent out your boat for visitors looking for a fun overnight getaway.
Will your marina staff be there for you when you need them most? The best marinas are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and have overnight arrangements for emergencies. Make sure they have a reachable phone and radio and ask exactly what will happen if you need help due to wind or any technical issues.
The four most common marina emergencies include medical, fire, fuel spill, and storms. Marinas staff should be up-to-date on emergency first aid and CPR. They should also have a first aid kit and fire extinguishers on hand.
You want to get the best bang for your buck, but it's difficult to put a price on a great marina. Everyone has different budgets and needs which is why this aspect will vary quite a bit for everyone. A great tip: most marinas will give you a discount for paying 12 months in advance, as well as a discount on fuel and other services in the marina. Lifting the boat out of the water, cleaning maintenance, and electricity typically cost extra but are essential to the longevity of your boat. Like most other things in life, the cost is certainly worth the convenience and quality!
Choosing a marina is a big investment of both time and money, however, it's also the number one place to store your boat all year round. Not only are they very safe, but you will also be surrounded by other boaters which create a wonderful sense of community. Do your research and choose wisely to ensure you pick a marina that ticks off all of your boxes.