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Old 30-01-2018, 07:07   #1
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Dockwa

Just wanted to say it's a real shame marinas are adopting this website as the only way to reserve a slip. I just got off the phone trying to get a mooring.

Me - "Hi I'd like to reserve a mooring for four nights. Can you tell me if you have one available?"

Marina - "You need to access the dockwa website and make a reservation"

Me - "Ok but you can you tell me if there's one available since I have one bar of signal and I'm in transit?"

Marina - "No, we can't. You have to enter your credit card and create an account"

Me - "So I can't just grab an open mooring ball and come settle up at the office?"

Marina - "No, you need to use the website."

So I create an account, dig out my credit card and make a supposed reservation which now says pending. It will supposedly be approved "within 24 hours" so I guess that's when I find out if there's availability.

It turns something simple into a total pain. Looks like alot of marinas are selling out to this crappy site.
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Old 30-01-2018, 08:02   #2
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Re: Dockwa

I fear this may be a trend.

I'm old enough to have seen the same thing with campgrounds. Used to be you'd pull up and they'd find you a spot. In busy areas or times, you'd call ahead for that night's site once you had a feel for where and how far you wanted to go.

Now you need to reserve, using a third-party reservation system, months in advance.

Like camping has largely done, cruising is moving away from the model of going wherever and whenever you want. In many areas, it's already become more about the destination than the journey. Plan your two-week stay in the marina/resort months in advance. Travel directly there and tie up.

I only hope I don't live long enough to see it reach all the best cruising grounds.
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Old 31-01-2018, 21:22   #3
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Re: Dockwa

Hi WSMFP,

I couldn't help but feel my ears ringing, so hope you don't mind me chiming in. If you'd like to let me know which marina you're referring to in your post we'd like to follow up with them, because marinas can absolutely take reservations over the phone, VHF, and email as well as accommodate boaters who simply pull up last-minute. Feel free to email me directly at becky@dockwa.com Ė*or you can always message mayday@dockwa.com about this or any other issue, feedback, or feature request you have for us.

As for the 24 hours wait time, we are constantly working to help marinas be as responsive as they would be with any other mode of communication, and many are Ė*many respond within minutes. For some there is a steeper learning curve and we'll keep working with those marinas to provide quicker response times for boaters.

I'm sorry you had that experience, and will try to get to the bottom of it. We'll work harder to make sure marinas know they can and should take reservations however a boater chooses to make them Ė*to your point, making reserving a total pain is far from our intention.

All that said, did you end up waiting the full 24 hours?? After talking to someone on the phone who knows the reservation is coming, to let you sit and stew would seem like an odd business choice.

Hope to hear from you Ė*thank you again for (albeit inadvertently providing very valuable candor and insight.


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Originally Posted by WSMFP View Post
Marina - "You need to access the dockwa website and make a reservation"
...
It will supposedly be approved "within 24 hours" so I guess that's when I find out if there's availability.
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Old 01-02-2018, 00:23   #4
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Re: Dockwa

Becky, has Dockwa tried testing your own systems by making a phone call to marinas or on a VHF to see what happens?

Have you thought about becoming a Sponsoring Member of CF to support the forum or even offer a good discount to CF members who use your booking system? I look forward to your reply.

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Old 01-02-2018, 00:37   #5
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Re: Dockwa

Our experience with marinas using Dockwa has been unpleasant enough that we now look for places that do not use the system!
I canít tell you how many times a marina has refused to book a mooring or dockspace and simply referred us to the Dockwa app for answers to questions about availability.
Itís too bad as we also use online reservation systems to book campsites and have a much better time with them.
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Old 01-02-2018, 01:56   #6
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Re: Dockwa

Realistically, get used to it.

Airlines and Hotels did it a decade ago and now if you want a person, you have to go thru call waiting hell and you may have to pay a charge if you want a human to book it. On the positive side it's far easier to book a flight.

Of course, if you are going to switch to this type of system a 24hr confirmation period is crazy, particularly on a short notice booking. It the slip is available and the dimensions are OK, there is no excuse for it not to be near instantaneous.

It's probably a transitional thing where marinas are nervous about letting the computer handle it. It also means they need to keep their inventory up to date to avoid double bookings.

I'm guessing it will follow a pattern like airbnb where you used to always have to wait on the owner to confirm but now you are seeing "instant" booking options on many properties so you don't have to wait around wondering.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:53   #7
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Re: Dockwa

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Realistically, get used to it.
+1

If sailors are taught to pre-plan for so many things with their boat and journey, it doesn't seem that it would be too hard to pre-plan where your going to stop for the night.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:04   #8
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Re: Dockwa

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Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
+1

If sailors are taught to pre-plan for so many things with their boat and journey, it doesn't seem that it would be too hard to pre-plan where your going to stop for the night.
OK for motor boats- how do you pre plan as a sailboat? I can sail at 5 or 15, depends on winds. Schedules and sailing don’t mix well, and trying to keep a schedule can ruin the pleasure of a journey or even be dangerous.

Also, some boats need to have a conversation with the marina about options; for example my folding tri which is 14ft beam or 21 or 28ft beam, depending on whether I want to fold one or both sides. Others might need other accommodations for preferred tie up, or moorings vs. dock.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:20   #9
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Re: Dockwa

Sounds like the issue isn't with Dockwa, it's with marinas that decide that once they use Dockwa, they are absolved of any responsibility to manage their slips and moorings.

Vote with your feet if you can. Another great reason to invest in good ground tackle.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:25   #10
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Re: Dockwa

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Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
OK for motor boats- how do you pre plan as a sailboat? I can sail at 5 or 15, depends on winds. Schedules and sailing donít mix well, and trying to keep a schedule can ruin a journey or even be dangerous.

Also, some boats need to have a conversation with the marina about options; for example my folding tri which is 14ft beam or 21 or 28ft beam, depending on whether I want to fold one or both sides. Others might need other accommodations for preferred tie up, or moorings vs. dock.
There are exceptions but the vast majority of cruisers have a pretty good idea where they will wind up at the end of the day. I would say better than 95% of the time, when we head out for a days run, we wind up where we intended to windup. There have been exceptions but it's not a common problem. I'm sure you can pull up the app as you are a mile out and reserve a space just like you can call now as you are pulling up (the 24hr wait is not acceptable in my mind).

I do agree that requiring a credit card does create an issue if there isn't a reasonable cancellation policy. I could see something like, if there are small craft warnings up, you can cancel with no or reduced penalty but if you reserve a holiday weekend and just decide not to show up, it's reasonable that there is a penalty.

I haven't used the web site, but presumably you put in the length, beam and draft for your boat (not sure how they could make it work without that)...so if you want 21', enter 21' when it asks for beam.

I assume if a marina offers both docks and moorings, that would be an option built into the system.

As a reference, if you reserve a site at a Michigan State Park, you get to pick the specific site and they have pictures of each site along with length limits. I don't know if this system does that but technologically, it's very doable, so if you want to tie up on a specific side, you can pick your slip to accommodate that.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:39   #11
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Re: Dockwa

I again agree with Valhalla on this. Look, it's not like your offshore and making land fall for the first time in 10 days. And again, if you are, preplan a little.

We did a Trans-atlantic in December. I contacted Tommy, the dock master at the Antigua Yacht club a month before arriving and asked if they would have space. He said they should and to just contact him a day before arrival. We had a sat phone and called. At first they said they were full as it was Christmas but when I told them about the previous communications, they made space. This isn't a dockwa issue, it's just taking the time to plan ahead.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:45   #12
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Re: Dockwa

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Originally Posted by Argyle38 View Post
Sounds like the issue isn't with Dockwa, it's with marinas that decide that once they use Dockwa, they are absolved of any responsibility to manage their slips and moorings.
My thoughts too, it would mean that the marina doesn't need to employ anyone outside normal working hours because staff no longer have to process arrivals and collect payment, so cutting costs.

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Old 01-02-2018, 04:58   #13
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Re: Dockwa

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
There are exceptions but the vast majority of cruisers have a pretty good idea where they will wind up at the end of the day. I would say better than 95% of the time, when we head out for a days run, we wind up where we intended to windup. There have been exceptions but it's not a common problem. I'm sure you can pull up the app as you are a mile out and reserve a space just like you can call now as you are pulling up (the 24hr wait is not acceptable in my mind).

I do agree that requiring a credit card does create an issue if there isn't a reasonable cancellation policy. I could see something like, if there are small craft warnings up, you can cancel with no or reduced penalty but if you reserve a holiday weekend and just decide not to show up, it's reasonable that there is a penalty.

I haven't used the web site, but presumably you put in the length, beam and draft for your boat (not sure how they could make it work without that)...so if you want 21', enter 21' when it asks for beam.

I assume if a marina offers both docks and moorings, that would be an option built into the system.

As a reference, if you reserve a site at a Michigan State Park, you get to pick the specific site and they have pictures of each site along with length limits. I don't know if this system does that but technologically, it's very doable, so if you want to tie up on a specific side, you can pick your slip to accommodate that.
Some people in sailing boats seem to motor 95% of the time, or sail in trade winds, so yeah you can plan more easily. If you sail in variable conditions, e.g. eastern US, a good ~9 hour days sail can be <20 or >90nm, depending on wind speed and direction, or whether t-storms or fog are in the area.

For me the journey is where we are, and schedules/ time-commitments detract, and can even sway people to make stupid or dangerous decisions. I try to leave those ashore.
I get why Dockwa appeals to marina staff for paperwork reduction, and marina owners who might otherwise have dishonest staff doing a bit of side business. I also get why they want to book commitments ahead. I just don’t think it serves the customer as well as a phone call and a pleasant conversation.

PS I’ve used the Dockwa app and have it on my phone. It’s pretty good so I’m not a hater. I just prefer to deal with people.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:02   #14
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Re: Dockwa

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
If sailors are taught to pre-plan for so many things with their boat and journey, it doesn't seem that it would be too hard to pre-plan where your going to stop for the night.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
OK for motor boats- how do you pre plan as a sailboat? I can sail at 5 or 15, depends on winds. Schedules and sailing donít mix well, and trying to keep a schedule can ruin the pleasure of a journey or even be dangerous.

Also, some boats need to have a conversation with the marina about options; for example my folding tri which is 14ft beam or 21 or 28ft beam, depending on whether I want to fold one or both sides. Others might need other accommodations for preferred tie up, or moorings vs. dock.
Quote:
Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
There are exceptions but the vast majority of cruisers have a pretty good idea where they will wind up at the end of the day.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
If you sail in variable conditions, e.g. eastern US, a good ~9 hour days sail can be <20 or >90nm, depending on wind speed and direction, or whether t-storms or fog are in the area.

For me the journey is where we are, and schedules/ time-commitments detract, and can even sway people to make stupid or dangerous decisions. I try to leave those ashore.
The most dangerous thing you can have on a boat is a schedule.

I have nothing against making day-of or (tentative) day-before reservations, and nothing against DockWa per se. I'd rather use an app than try to get through on the phone, as long as I have all the information I need. But in a new area, or if I'm unsure of something, that verbal contact is essential.

More than a day or two out I may have a big-picture idea of what I'd like to do, but reality has a way of changing that. There are so many factors to consider in choosing the next day's destination. Not only weather, but mechanical issues, provisioning, local attractions, or just enjoying a little spontaneity. When cruising can no longer accommodate that, I'll sell the boat.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:05   #15
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Re: Dockwa

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
It the slip is available and the dimensions are OK, there is no excuse for it not to be near instantaneous.
The excuse is, if what Becky is say is correct, Dockwa marinas take offline reservations too. So Dockwa doesn't know if slips are open.

What Dockwa needs to do is adjust their marina employee interface so the employees can manually reserve a slip tjrough Dockwa and make clear to the marinas that it would be a good idea to use it.
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