Owning and operating your own boat isn’t always plain sailing. If you choose to dock your boat at the right place you can conveniently and comfortably step aboard whenever you want, but this does come with a price tag.
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned sailing pro or are simply looking to purchase your first-ever boat, you may be wondering how much docking your boat is going to cost. And it’s a valid worry!
While some marinas will only charge you a flat, affordable daily or seasonal rate, others in more popular locations will push the boundaries of what you can afford, with additional premium features and services becoming available throughout the duration of your boat’s docking.
But is it really worth the investment? Is there a large difference between docking in a regular slip vs that of a “prime” location?
As a boat owner, it’s vital that you find a reliable place to keep your boat securely docked. But comparing cost, accessibility, and location (to name a few) can make the process that much harder.
This guide has been designed to lend a helping hand to you. So if you’re looking for a new place to dock your boat, we’ve got you covered.
Different Types Of Berth
Renting a place at a marina for your vessel is commonly referred to as “renting a slip” or “renting a berth.” Essentially, this can be viewed as the boating equivalent of a secure car park.
If you aren’t aware of the differences between docking and mooring, finding a suitable location for your boat can become a highly confusing process. Luckily, there are several different types of berth available to choose from.
- Docking is the process of tying your boat to an assigned spot on the shore but still having full access to the land. Docking your vessel does not require the involvement of an anchor and instead relies on lines and fenders to keep your boat secure. You dock at a marina that has both slips and berths.
- Mooring is the permanent location of your vessel in the water, located near the shore. Your boat is attached to a single section on the seafloor using an anchor that is either fixed to a buoy or directly connected to the seabed. Mooring areas also have no direct links to the land, and your anchor remains behind when you decide to move your boat or leave the area. In this instance, you’ll have to use a small vessel (such as a dinghy) to get from land to your boat.
- Permanent mooring means you can reserve a slip for an entire season.
- Transient mooring means you’ll have to pay rent per day to keep your boat in a particular area. In the long run, this can work out to be far more expensive than permanent mooring each season.
Mooring Vs Anchoring
The difference between docking and mooring is the location of the anchorage. This is a designated space for boats to anchor down and does not provide access to land.
The overall difference between an anchorage and mooring a boat is a way in which the anchor is used. Mooring uses anchors at the location while anchorage requires you to use your anchors.
Where to Keep Your Boat
You can usually find regular docking slips in small towns, dotted about the entire length of the coastline. They are also usually in smaller and more remote marinas.
A large majority of these marinas will not be able to provide you with premium services and access to popular sailing waters but are generally great for year-round boat storage.
Prime locations for docking your boat are larger cities and bays, including Florida and San Diego. The docking slips here offer premium all-around services while also giving you access to some of the most popular coastal sailing waters.
How Much Does It Cost To Dock A Boat?
The short answer? It depends entirely on the location of your chosen marina. Docking fees for boats also largely vary depending on the location, length, and season in which you choose to set sail.
Regular Docking Slips
As a boat owner, the affordability and accessibility of these areas help to draw you in. Annually, a regular dock slip can cost you anywhere in the region of $12-$240 per foot (/ft), with an average of around $50.
Per hour, you can expect to pay between $2 and $3 to rent a “regular” boat slip. This is usually preferred by individuals who only want to keep their boat docked for a short period.
Overnight stay charges are not much greater, averaging around the $4-$6 mark. You can also take advantage of this service monthly for $20-$25/ft, and annually for $23 or $24/ft.
Just keep in mind that these aren’t set figures. The charges will vary according to several factors like location and reservation time.
Prime Location Docking Slips
However, a marina in a more prime location could set you back between $120-$240/ft per year. One of the most expensive and most notable of these is Marina del Rey (located in California) which can cost a staggering $192 – $384/ft per year.
Aside from the costs of docking your vessel, you can also expect extra fees when using a prime-location dock slip. Due to popularity, a marina’s price may multiply because of these charges.
Some marinas have extended waiting lists and may require a deposit to secure your place for the season. This fee is usually in the range of $150-$200 but can be increased or decreased depending on where the marina – and the spot that you’re renting – are located.
You may also want to look towards purchasing a smaller boat to avoid having to fork out additional money for docking. It’s a good idea as some smaller-sized vessels only require anchorage, which can be affordable even in a prime location.
Many marinas may add another $25-50 deposit for a car parking card and a security key on top of this cost. Again, this depends on the individual marina and its location.
Annual mooring rates appear to average at about $80-$250 per year. However, US-based transient moorings seem to average at about $20-$45 per night. This remains the same regardless of your boat’s length which is highly convenient.
The only issue with transient mooring is that you may end up paying more money over a period than simply purchasing a permanent seasonal space to dock your boat.
In the low season (usually November through March) you could potentially save money while mooring. This means that you can enjoy discounts of up to 70% but this is not offered often.
You will also find electricity and tenant lounges in a boat slip, and these may come with their own set of charges. Aside from docking your boat, there are several additional amenities that you might be charged for. This includes:
- Electric – Spaces in a marina are either metered or met with a flat fee. As a result, you may end up paying anywhere between $10 to $50 per day for electricity. The overall amount does depend on the number of appliances that you use, and the rate of electricity that goes along with them.
- Tax – Some states put a tax on less than seven months’ stay at the marina.
- Membership fee – Yacht club or resort membership fee is an additional charge if you’re not a member of the said organization.
Docking Slip: Things You Need To Consider
Choosing a marina or slip to dock your boat is not as simple as you may believe. Dock fees vary according to your choice. Below, we have listed some things that you need to consider.
- Availability – This is one of the most vital parts you need to look at when choosing where to dock your boat. If you want your boat to be docked at a more popular marina, you may need to put your name onto a waiting list in time for peak season. But it’s always a good idea to prepare for a shortage of space and cover all your bases just in case.
- Accessibility – This is another important factor you need to consider when choosing a location to dock your vessel. Notably, you should carry out some research on the tide tables.
- Conditions of the Marina – You will want to know the ins and outs of your chosen marina’s conditions. Are there strong currents? Small or large tidal waves?
- Security – You need to trust that your boat and any belongings inside will be kept safe when it is docked. However, you should take extra precautions with personal items to ensure that everything is as safe as it can be.
- Docking or Mooring? – Mooring is best if you’d like a bit of privacy, but docking is the most popular and most convenient way of parking your boat. It may also be the more cost-effective option of the two.
- Wet or Dry Boating Slip – Wet slips make taking your boat in and out of the water as easy as possible. As a result, it comes with a higher price point. But if you are a seasonal boating enthusiast it may be an idea for you to rent a dry slip.
- Renting Period – Marinas intend to rent out their space as efficiently as possible. Smaller boats that cannot occupy an entire slip may not be desirable and is a large reason why there is usually a minimum length for boats being docked in a marina. Essentially, you’ll be charged for the price of a larger boat even though your vessel barely fills out the space.
- Maintenance Policy – You need to know all about the work policy of your chosen marina. They may not allow any outside professionals to conduct any sort of maintenance service on your vessel, and may instead have their team of professionals at the ready.
Our Final Thoughts
Overall, it won’t cost you an extortionate amount of money to dock your boat on a “regular” slip. However, a marina in a more central location may incur greater costs.
The annual total of docking for regular sailboats ranges from $800 to $1,800 but this can vary depending on your chosen marina’s location, the length of your boat, the size of the slip, and the season in which you want to keep your boat docked.
Aside from paying the rent of the slip, you will also sometimes have to pay fees to cover additional services which will be added to your overall bill.