10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Marina for Your Sailboat

Sailboat marinaChoosing a marina is one of the most important decisions that any sailboat owner will make, and should not be taken lightly. Many marinas try to lure sailors with their amenities and beautiful photos, but there is a lot more to consider. When choosing a marina, look beyond the obvious, and be sure that you are selecting somewhere that you will really be comfortable.

Here are 10 things to consider when choosing a marina:

1) Depth

The depth of the marina and any surrounding channels is very important, especially if you have a deep draft. You’ll want to consider seasonal changes in water levels for lakes or rivers, or tides if you are on the ocean. In our marina, the water level drops towards the end of the season and in storms (as much as 3 -4 feet). Boats in shallower slips sometimes find their season cut-short or that they’ve become grounded when water levels decline. Be sure to ask about current water levels, as well as variations.

2) Quiet Hours

Whether you are a night-owl or you prefer to retire early, finding a marina with quiet hours that matches your preferences is key. While most marinas claim to have some sort of quiet hours, the enforcement of these hours varies dramatically. Make the effort to check out the marina on a busy weekend evening, to observe the noise level on a typical night.

3) Amenities

Consider the amenities that are important to you, and avoid being drawn in by things that you won’t really use. Look for amenities including:

  • Pool
  • Fire-pit
  • Cooking areas (grill)
  • Common rooms
  • Bathhouses
  • Yacht club
  • Beaches/swimming areas
  • Shop or general store
  • Boat store
  • Availability of ice
  • Restaurants
  • Wifi (and how reliable it is)

4) Cleanliness of Bathhouses

If you plan to spend a lot of time at the marina, a well-maintained bathhouse is a must. Check out the bathhouses, and ask about the cleaning schedule. Nothing can make your stay more uncomfortable than dirty showers, or restrooms that smell badly.

5) What are the People Like?

One of the best things about having a sailboat in a marina is meeting other sailors and making new friends. Finding a marina with people that you like is important. Spend some time at the marina, and try to talk to a few people to get a feel for who your boat neighbors might be.

6) Distance from Vehicle to Boat

While it might not seem like a big deal, every time you are on your boat you’ll be bringing things with you, and a long walk can be a huge pain. Look at the layout of the marina and ask about slips available closest to the parking. We had a slip in a marina that was almost a half a mile from the parking lot – it was quite the hike!

7) Distance from Islands or other Attractions

Let’s face it. Sailboats move slowly. This means that distance to the things you want to sail to is key. Be sure to look at how far the marina is from key attractions – islands, beaches, fishing, etc. Also, ask about the depth of the waterways that bring you to the attractions from your marina.

8) Diesel and Pump-out

Any reasonably sized marina should have diesel and pump-out…. double check that yours does, or ask about how far away they are.

9) On-Site Service and Storage

On-site service makes getting repairs and maintenance for your boat easy and convenient. Ask about on-site service and storage, and don’t hesitate to look online for reviews.

10) Cost

Finally, cost will always be a factor in choosing a marina. Carefully weigh the factors above and compare them to the cost. When looking at costs ask about:

  • Cost for a slip based on the size of your boat
  • Additional fees or add-ons
  • Service fees if additional (electric, water, cable)
  • Launch and haul-out fees
  • Memberships required