So What Does Cruising Cost? Dot Too


Some Slips are Bare Bones

Renting a slip is a lot like renting a car. The advertised rate is much less than the price, and you have to add a lot of stuff to get the real number. And daily is the most expensive choice. [And I’ve ignored taxes.]

Most marinas have a daily rate which many will discount. The latest twist is some are only honoring their day discounts on the first day of your stay. Some have a weekly rate, and almost all have a monthly rate which may be discounted if you sign a contract.

Cost Elements

A marina stay will usually involve (at least) the following.

STANDARD DAILY RATE – the more desirable the location, the higher it goes. Sometimes it correlates with value received.
DISCOUNT – for whatever reason, usually some kind of membership, i.e. BoatU.S.
WIFI – a few still charge, and some are charging for nearly nothing.
CABLE – very variable, depends a lot on business model (see below)
ELECTRICAL 30 AMP – usually a fixed fee with no visible cost basis

PUMPOUTS – some marinas will require and bill for these whether they are needed or not

MONTHLY RATE – competition driven more by local’s needs than transients
LIVEABOARD FEE – these range from high “go away fees” to pure profit
MONTHLY UTILITY FEE – these are liveaboard fees by another name – they didn’t budget for you to be around all the time.
MONTHLY CABLE TV – very variable, depends a lot on business model (see below)
MONTHLY ELECTRICITY FLAT RATE 30 AMP – a better deal than daily but with no visible cost basis
METERED ELECTRICITY – usually at commercial rates and the best possible deal for low consumers

A lot of this cost structure is determined by whether the marina:

  • is a business and owns the slips;
  • is a service that helps condo slip owners keep their slips rented;
  • or is an appendage of a land condo that helps keep owners’ slips rented.

Today a growing number of marinas are owned by corporations, whether that is good for the cruiser or not, who knows? We have been well cared for by independents and mega outfits, and we have been exploited by both as well.

Marinas are very variable about how long your boat is. You thought it was on the document, huh? Our 40 footer is 40 to 50 feet long depending on where we decide to stay. Some outfits charge on boat length. (One said it was robbery to do otherwise and gave me a refund for 5 feet after realizing I had given them the overall length of the boat and dinghy.) One place we stayed measured us with a surveyors tape and declared we were a 43 foot boat from bow pulpit to davit tips. Most charge us for 45 feet – the distance from the bow pulpit to the back edge of the dinghy in davits. However recently we were charged for 50 feet because the boat had to be completely contained in a slip, and their slips were 40, 50, 60, 80… [We were just about the only boat completely contained in a  slip in that marina — gotcha!]

Marinas are very variable in what they charge, but almost without fail, you are better off to buy a month and leave early if you think you will be somewhere for nine to eleven days. And one marina we encountered let us back into this arrangement after we had already been paying day-to-day. They will get our business again if we go through North Carolina again.

The table below presents the picture. But first a bit about electricity.

We use between 2 and 9 KWH/Day when in a marina on cloudy days. The first number is hatches open. The  second is AC on. We have been charged between 6 and 39 cents per KWH in the US and 75 cents in the Bahamas. Our daily costs would have been between 12 cents and $3.51 a day. And yet with one exception we have never been charged less than $4 a day for electric and have been charged as much as $9 in the US. What we have been paying for with the $3.88 to $5.49 excess I can’t say – hopefully it goes into a capital improvement fund, but I suspect it drops straight to the bottom line. Needless to say we prefer metered power (except for the places with low monthly flat rates – subsidized by the daily traffic?).

Summarizing the chart, our daily marina stays, which we try to limit, have averaged about $71 a day. Where weekly rates have been available, the break point seems to be get seven days for the price of five. Where monthly rates have been available, and we have had the need, one can generally get 30 days for the price of nine to eleven.

Online rate sources have been useful, but not as useful as calling and talking to a human. Humans can cut deals. Don’t make the mistake of calling to verify the rate. Call to ask the rate and to start creating a connection with the service provider. Online reservation systems are utilitarian, but you are just a nameless number till you arrive.

Click Pic for easier reading.


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