Saturday, May 3, 2014

No Reservations Required

Marina at Emerald Bay, Bahamas

Motivator’s crew seldom makes reservations at a marina.  We usually just show up and expect the marina of our choice to have a slip available for us.  So far we haven’t been turned away.  When we arrived at Emerald Bay, the dock master gave us directions to D-dock and then told us to pick an empty slip.

Port Louis Marina, Grenada

The only exception has been Port Louis Marina in Grenada.  Port Louis also has an abundance of empty slips, but they only have one dock that meets Motivator’s power requirements, and it fills up with other U.S. boats.

Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Most marinas stick to a pricing schedule that would make one assume that they have to turn away business.  At Ocean World Marina we were a little miffed at their deteriorating facilities and creative new revenue streams.  They were “estimating” power and water charges and adding a 10% “Dock Tax” to the bill.

Puerto Bahia, Samana, Dominican Republic

Puerto Bahia Marina was one of the few marinas that appeared to be adjusting their pricing to reality by actually reducing slip fees.  It seems developers jumped on a marina study done in 2005-2006 that predicted a shortage of boat slips.  Then, new boat sales were increasing by 38% per year so the thinking was that people were going to need a place to park them.  And then there was that little problem in 2008.

I was discussing empty marinas wanting high slip fees with Bob on Tide Hiker, and he asked this interesting question.  “Why don’t marinas price slips like airlines price seats?”  It is the same principle.  Once that aircraft takes off with an empty seat that is lost revenue that will not be recovered.  A boat slip that sits empty overnight is also lost revenue.  It would be easy enough to hand Mr. & Mrs. Cruiser a rate sheet that says if we are 40% occupied the rate is X, 60% is XX, and 80% is XXX.  Airlines do it, but they are sneaky about it.

Unfinished power cabling

The marina pricing subject came up with Tide Hiker’s crew when I mentioned we were stopping at Emerald Bay for a few days.  Bob looked at me strangely and said at $2.00 a foot, that place does not have enough to offer.  I agreed and assured him that Motivator’s crew is usually only comfortable in the $1.00 a foot range or less.  I then explained D-dock at Emerald Bay.  Because the cabling was not finished before the last bankruptcy, they only charge $1.00 a foot on D-dock.

Let me see if I have this straight?  It is $2.00 a foot for the opportunity to buy power from them at an outrageous rate, or you can run your generator and pay $1.00 a foot.  In Motivators case I think I can run a generator when I need to, cheaper than $49 per day.  But, that is just one of Emerald Bay’s unique features.  Surge is the other issue.

Seawall at Emerald Bay

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that an architect’s greatest tools are sometimes an eraser and a sledge hammer.  In Emerald Bay’s case it might take a few sticks of dynamite.  To facilitate all of the condos planned for around the marina, the developer poured concrete seawalls encapsulating the bay.  Swell from the northeast or east enters the bay and has no place to go but to bounce off the seawalls.  A natural beach would be a wonderful improvement.  

Port Zante Marina, St. Kitts (Reasonable at $.75 per foot)

We really do wish the marinas of the Caribbean and the Bahamas well.  While we are very comfortable anchoring out, it is nice to be able to pop into a marina occasionally for repairs or provisioning without worrying about spending the retirement savings in one spot.

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