How To Choose The Best Marina For You

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Choosing the best marina is one of the first time yacht owner operators most significant decisions. As with other similarly complex and low-information challenges, a quick decision roadmap might help.

First, one would be forgiven for assuming that keeping the yacht safe and secure is ‘table stakes’ for marinas. That is, offering such protections is the reason for them being in business. This is not necessarily the case, at least from their perspective. There are two main security concerns to be aware of.

First and foremost is the structural security of the marina. Is there public access, or is access controlled? Is there an overnight security patrol? Walk around, and come back at night. If you can’t see what’s preventing a drunk tourist or a homeless person from using one of the moored yachts in front of you as a place to bed down for the night, then assume that one or both will. 

Second, the other notable security risk to the yacht is often a matter of local geography. The potential for damage to the yacht as a result of incoming weather.  Some marina’s provide almost complete protection from heavy seas, others have a reputation for allowing enough of that energy into the marina. Chafe guards, extra fenders, and doubling up on mooring lines to ensure redundancy can certainly help, but some marinas have an Achilles heel that is exposed by specific sea states and wind directions. Have conversations with the locals. Ask when the last storm that damaged lots of yachts occurred. Ask the marina to provide details on its incident record. 

Best Marina Security. Three Use Cases.

Once you’re comfortable that a marina is taking basic precautions to prevent unauthorised access to your yacht, and that the marina is robust to incoming weather, then selecting the right marina becomes a matter of taste. Your taste in marinas is going to be driven by how you intend to use your yacht. Three use cases stand out.

The Seafarer. In this case, the marina is fundamentally just a secure place to keep the yacht safe until you can get there to go cruising. The ideal marina has a convenient and well-stocked store for provisioning, and is optimally located around easy access to cruising waters.

The Day Sailor Out on the water all day, but back in the marina at night. Unlike the seafarer, the day sailor does not view the marina as strictly functional. Core services like quality wi-fi (or good 4G/5G signal) become important. Amenities around the marina like restaurants and shopping are valued. The ideal location of the marina is one that affords easy access to high quality local anchorages. 

The Holiday Home. The marina is a resort. Forget first line property, this holiday home is literally on the water. Here real facilities are key, a yacht club being the prime example. A sense of an owners’ community is often cited as a positive by clients. Good restaurants nearby is often high on that list too. Bluntly, the optimal location of the marina is land-focused. The marina is likely to be prime real estate and be annexed to an iconic location.

Best Marina Offseason Facilities

In our article identifying winter preparation tasks to focus on we discussed the value of marina services. For yachts under 24m, hauling the yacht and storing the yacht can be economically viable and good practice. If this is your plan then local climate controlled storage is important, ideally as part of the marina operation. 

Where full winterising services are not available, it is helpful that the marina either provides or accommodates services that maintain systems, run engines and otherwise check on the yacht.

Best Marina Cost Factors

Being blunt, good marinas are not cheap. There is often demand that outpaces supply by some margin. For the same reason, however, cost should not be confused with quality. That is, the delta between cost and quality is often low. Similarly priced berthing options may have significant variance in services and amenities because demand often outstrips supply. 

This demand imbalance often turns marinas into cash cows, and there is little incentive to either innovate or compete on quality of experience. Walking the marina and speaking to the owners that have already committed is invaluable. A change in management or ownership can quickly degrade (or less often upgrade) the experience for yacht owners. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you want some advice. If we can help we will.

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