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Old 27-09-2009, 10:20   #1
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Yikes, No Slips!

This is my first post here and I hope it's in the right place.

My wife and I decided it was time to make the leap and buy our first sailboat, a Catalina 30. We love the boat and we are doing fairly well learning to sail. We think that this is something that we will enjoy for a lifetime.

One thing that we never considered was being able to find a slip in our area. I guess we just thought that there had to be something available, after all this is Michigan, the Great Lake State. Yea right. Our boat is now moored in a slip that is a 3 and a half hour drive away and belongs to the previous owners who will be using it in the spring. We were hoping to have it close to home come springtime but we can't find any slips available. We live in the Traverse City area and every place we call tells us that they can put us on a waiting list which in Traverse City is 7 years long. The shortest list we have found is an hour away and is still a 2 year long list.

So here we sit, new boat and no place to put it. Anyone have any ideas?
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Old 27-09-2009, 10:25   #2
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I've found that actual waiting times are often much shorter then thepredicted wait up here in the PNW. (when they call people who signed up 2 years ago they either sold their boat, got a slip somewhere else etc alot of the time) The other possiblility is, do the marinas allow someone who has a slip to sublet it up to 6 months a year? Up here some do. I lived abord for 3 years subletting in the same marina...had to move slips every 3-5 months but that wasnt really a hassle...
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Old 27-09-2009, 13:00   #3
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I sure hope you're right because come spring I'm the owner of one expensive paperweight.
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:02   #4
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be patient

I loved spending time with the boat in Traverse City 3 years ago...I can see why it would take time to get a slip! I met people there traveling all the way from Illiinois who kept their boats in cool spots like Suttons Bay, so competition is tough, mainly because it is such great sailing there.
I was on the waiting list for years where I am now on Green Bay, started to think it was like Packer tickets, you have wait for someone to die or be
3rd generation native, but my time came and now that we have our "ideal" spot, I am antsy to move the boat south...go figure!
The good news is you don't have to despair in the meantime. When the boat is farther away or at a marina that isn't ideal, you block more time and actually stay on it, and it is conducive to taking longer trips. While it may be a disappointment not to have it for sunset sails, a lot of people around here think nothing of driving 3 hours to their summer cottages in the woods for a weekend, so why not a sailboat? When we kept our boat on Lake Michigan rather than on the bay, I managed to get most of our friends and family seasick, so I no longer have to worry about entertaining guests, and we have the boat all to ourselves now .

If you can afford it, staying as a transient and moving around every 2 weeks might also be doable, if a bit of a pain.

I'm sure if you look farther north there will be spots to put your boat. You might have to go as far as St. Ignace...but I remember they had a beautiful but almost empty marina!


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Old 01-10-2009, 10:11   #5
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I agree with Cheechako, up in the PNW the whole "slip thing" is a bit of a joke. We had friends just buy a 37'er and get a slip within a week.

Marina's keep lists of (wannabe) boat owners that are looking for slips. When a slip comes up the marina starts going down the list calling prospective renters. Most (all?) don't have boats yet so they tell the marina they will get back to them or pass on the slip.

Those that have boats and keep calling the marina's tend to get in when the slip opens up. In our friends case, the marina was just happy not to have to go down the whole list calling people again.

Not saying it's the same where you are, just that it's how the game is played around here.
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:50   #6
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Anchor out. (if possible) Buoys (if available) Haul out during winter. Cheaper and more fun.
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:45   #7
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Ok. Your in a pickle.

I would call the marine and Kiss *ss. Talus is right they always give you a line about wait lists and given there are some long lists. But if you call back to them often and be very nice.... they usually can find something for you.

If not find yourself a nice mooring spot, purchase a cheap old hard dinghy to leave on the shore. Drop a mooring and save yourself thousands per year!
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Old 02-10-2009, 01:16   #8
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I've found in the past that regular (daily) personal visits to the dockmaster at various marinas will get you in faster than anything else. Be nice and friendly, not pushy. People like to do favors for people they like. Also, take them a snapshot of your new boat. Dockmasters will often give preference to boats that will make their docks look better. Out here in Cali, the real estate market is apparently causing many people to get out of boating. I am in the process of changing slips and found that every marina in Marina del Rey has slips available. I ended up getting a new slip at a price less than when I moved to my current slip 6 years ago. Yikes! Good Luck,

Mike
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:51   #9
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personal touch

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeinLA View Post
I've found in the past that regular (daily) personal visits to the dockmaster at various marinas will get you in faster than anything else. Be nice and friendly, not pushy. People like to do favors for people they like. Also, take them a snapshot of your new boat. Dockmasters will often give preference to boats that will make their docks look better. Out here in Cali, the real estate market is apparently causing many people to get out of boating. I am in the process of changing slips and found that every marina in Marina del Rey has slips available. I ended up getting a new slip at a price less than when I moved to my current slip 6 years ago. Yikes! Good Luck,

Mike
Yes yes yes, Mike. Getting to know the owner or dockmaster of a place you'd like to get into is a near guarantee of finding yourself first in line when something comes open. I find myself fighting the urge to just fill out an online form and the grouse about nothing happening. Every time I've actually gone down to visit the place and chatted someone up, I've gotten a space.
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:01   #10
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The " Waiting List " thing is the same here in the Northeast...

They tell you 7 years...but,I was on 3 waiting lists and got a call from all three after one season....
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:02   #11
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I agree with Mike, Find a Marina you like go there alot make friend with people and it will get you in alot sooner if it comes down to the point you must move take it close to that marina and drop a hook until they can get you in.

Dutch
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:23   #12
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Steelshooter,

Since you have not been back since September I assume you have already found a slip.

Right now there are probably more slips in the bay then needed, but they are not neccessarily where you might want them or at the price you might want. Clinch has a long waiting list and will probably stay long. Elmwood's list got a lot shorter last year with the addition of the new dock. The state is making them keep 20+ transient slips or the list would probably be down to people that are only on it because they MIGHT buy a boat. Centerpointe had slips the last I had heard ( they are a little pricier but they are there). Harbor West owners have slips for sale and slips for seasonal rent. Again, maybe a little higher than Elmwood, but still a good spot for TC. Going up the Bay Suttons Bay has always had a long list, but I know that last year they lost a lot of boats and cut down on the list. Northport, which is where I would love to be, forget about. I have been on their list for 6 years ( longer than I have owned the current boat) and have only moved from high 80's to mid 80's on the list. Those are summer homes in there.

The other option, dependent on your budget and cruising plans, is transient. If you are gone to other parts of the bay or lake for 30-45 days it is not much more expensive and gives you lots of options. Elmwood, with the exception of Cherry Festival, almost always has transient slips available. You can usually get into Suttons Bay if you arrive early, and Northport as well. Once you are in you can stay for X amount of days, and as these places do not take reservations it is almost unlimited. Sail for the day and come back to your slip that night. If you don't plan on sailing the boat to Beaver, Mackinac, Charlevoix, etc. it quiet a bit more expensive, but does give you options. Remember, when you pay for a seasonal slip it is rented as transient and you do not get a piece of that fee. So, you pay when you are there and also when you are doubling up in another marina.

What Northport offers you is the option to go to Charlevoix for lunch and return. You won't be doing that from TC. I am in TC, but always stage the boat to Northport when heading north to Beaver, etc..

Good luck.....see you on the water.
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:45   #13
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waiting lists

I put my name on the waiting list here is Santa Cruz in 1989 and got a slip assignmenet in 2005!
75 miles north in the San Francisco Bay there are plenty of slips ... no wait.
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Old 03-01-2010, 15:13   #14
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Thanks all for your replies, I did in fact find a slip. Funny thing is it's just as far away as the one I had this past summer, 2 1/2 hour drive. Instead of being in Holland it's in Mackinaw City.

I had contacted every marina in the area hoping to move the boat closer but I was really starting to lose my patients dealing with the marinas in the area. Most everyone I dealt with was nice enough and helpful a few were a bit pompous and I don't think we would be a good fit in those marinas. A number of marinas were way over our budget even if they would have had a slip available. One of the things that became tiresome quickly was the application fees, $100 to $150. None of the fees were refundable so if a slip became available and we took it we would lose the deposits at all of the other marinas we had applied to. As nice as the Traverse area is and we do love it here, it is still our backyard. We did enjoy getting away this past year for our sailing weekends even though the sailing in our area is probably nicer. One of our favorite destinations is the Mackinaw area. I think the sailing in the Mackinaw area should be fantastic, from the bridge to the islands the whitefish to the fudge it hard not to love the area. I talked with the harbormaster there, a really nice guy and they had a contract in my hand in days, the price is lower than our slip in Holland by about $400.

So the plan is we are going to sail the boat from Holland to Mackinaw in the spring, a bit of an adventure at least for us newbe sailors. Then we are going to see how it goes this summer. If we find the drive to inconventient we will continue to try and get a slip in Frankfort which was our first choice. We are on the waiting list there already so it should be just a matter of time before one becomes avalible.
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Old 03-01-2010, 15:26   #15
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Glad to hear that you found a home. I did not suggest Mackinaw City because of the distance, but a great place it is. I like both Mac City and St. Ignace, with a nod to Mac City because everything is close and the heads are nicer in my opinion. That location gets you to the Island easily as well as Cheboygan and the North Channel if you have the time. Almost the same distance to Beaver as Northport.

Good Luck.
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