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Old 26-01-2024, 09:50   #1
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The problem with booking marinas

It seems that planning trips with a marina stay has gotten so much more difficult than the "good old days".

I'm working on plans for a crossing from US to Europe late spring. But I've had the same difficulty even for local overnight trips on the Chesapeake. Marina's are reporting they are either full up or want to know the exact date (and time!) of your expected arrival. I'm crossing the frigging ocean on a sailboat for pete's sake. I'll be lucky to know in what week I'll be arriving.

What do ocean cruisers do? Book a slip for the entire arrival month? Anchor or moor for a few days and hope for an opening? Seriously open to suggestions.
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Old 26-01-2024, 10:08   #2
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

Were do you plan to land in Europe? kind of a big place.
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Old 26-01-2024, 10:12   #3
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

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Were do you plan to land in Europe? kind of a big place.
Annapolis -> Bermuda -> Azores -> Portugal (likely Lisbon) -> Med side Spain (e.g. Valencia). Then eventually to the Canaries as start of the return in the fall.
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Old 26-01-2024, 10:34   #4
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

That's some schedule, do you ever plan stepping ashore

Stay for the winter, leave the boat and fly back next year and enjoy a leisurely summer drinking French wines, eating British beef and Belgic chocolate. What's not to like

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Old 26-01-2024, 10:54   #5
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

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That's some schedule, do you ever plan stepping ashore

Stay for the winter, leave the boat and fly back next year and enjoy a leisurely summer drinking French wines, eating British beef and Belgic chocolate. What's not to like

Pete
Certainly a thought -- if I can find a place to keep the boat!
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Old 25-02-2024, 09:53   #6
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

Maybe skip Lisbon and visit Porto. Madeira is also lovely and not as hot/dry as the Canaries. We live on Madeira for 3 months each winter. There are some marinas but not many, but the winter weather is lovely.

Maybe not return in the fall, for those hurricanes seem to be gettng larger.

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Old 25-02-2024, 10:07   #7
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

Just stay flexible, except for booking a winter layover. Marinas are more likely to have a slip if you are calling from their entrance buoy.
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Old 25-02-2024, 10:51   #8
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

Unfortunately, in most places they are adding more boats than they are building new marina slips. Combine that with the explosion in the number of condomarans that take two regular slips, and marinas do run a lot fuller than they did in the "good old days."

Of course the marina wants an exact arrival date! What are they supposed to do, keep a slip open--and not paying--for a week, or a month, while you take your sweet time about arriving? Do you really expect a marina to take a reservation and keep a slip open, just for you, for an arrival "on some day in July"?

We have never had any issue with changing schedules made in advance. Just be reasonable about it. One marina had a policy that I thought was very fair: You got to change your arrival date twice. On the third change, you had to pay to hold the spot open.

When cruising, especially in VERY crowded areas (like the Med) with limited service spaces (like the Med), you have to be prepared to be very flexible, have a back-up plan, and never let the logistics issues bother you, or you will not have much fun.
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Old 25-02-2024, 10:53   #9
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pirate Re: The problem with booking marinas

Cannot speak for Bermuda as I avoid it however, most folk crossing pull into Horta in the Azores.
The time of your crossing is in the High Season so to speak so it can be busy however one can drop the hook in the harbour or if not chocker tie up on the Reception/Fuel quay till a spot opens, I have done both and it's no great hardship if you don't mind the dinghy ride from anchor.
Your other option would be Terceira's Marina da Praia da Vitória on the NE end of the island, much quieter with a well protected anchorage, a good jump off spot for Portugal.
If you want cheap sure berthing storage aim for Figuiera da Foz about 100nm N of Lisbon and roughly the same from Porto, a nice town, few marine services but nice staff and comfort facilities and road/rail links to both cities and international flights.
Lisbon you have Cacais marina and anchorage or a few miles upriver just past the bridge on the N bank is Doca de Alcantra or go further upriver to Seixal on the S bank where there's a couple of marinas to choose from. Most all on the N bank are full with local boats.
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Old 25-02-2024, 12:09   #10
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

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Of course the marina wants an exact arrival date! What are they supposed to do, keep a slip open--and not paying--for a week, or a month, while you take your sweet time about arriving? Do you really expect a marina to take a reservation and keep a slip open, just for you, for an arrival "on some day in July"?
No, I don't expect them to reserve for some arbitrary ever-changing date. The plan is to reserve from a week prior to earliest expected arrival date onward. Which I'm happy to do. But still having a hard time getting a commitment.
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Old 25-02-2024, 13:42   #11
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

If you aren’t stuck on annapolis, look north or south a few miles galessville, deale, or east over towards st micheals or Kent island. Knapps narrows. I’m near annapolis, and have had little problem booking a couple weeks out for ego alley on the weekends

Plenty of creek and coves to anchor in as well Unless you need to plug in…
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Old 25-02-2024, 14:22   #12
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

Good grief! I have never booked a marina stay anywhere in advance. I prefer to anchor anyway, but on the occasion I want to tie up I just ask on the radio, on the phone, or when tied up to the fuel dock. Seems there is almost always some spot we can tie up for the night. But, the biggest problem you are creating for yourself is setting a schedule, which is the surefire way to ruin any sailing trip. Never sail on a schedule!
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Old 25-02-2024, 20:00   #13
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

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No, I don't expect them to reserve for some arbitrary ever-changing date. The plan is to reserve from a week prior to earliest expected arrival date onward. Which I'm happy to do. But still having a hard time getting a commitment.
All I can say, is we haven't had any trouble. We do not often spend extended times at marinas, but there have been times we must do so.

In Charleston, SC, Brunswick GA, Grenada, Bahamas, and Panama. In every case we have had no difficulty getting a confirmed reservation ahead of time. Sometimes we are spending a hurricane season, sometimes we are going to be off our boat on a delivery. If it is a busy season, we know we need to make reservations far ahead.

A exemplary story. We were checking into Port Louis Marina in Grenada. At the same time, someone was trying to extend their stay there into hurricane season. The office manager was trying to explain to them that they did not have available slips. She turns to us, and asks "When did you make your reservation?" We say, "February." Mind you, this is June!

In short, if you can't get a commitment, the marina is full, or so close to it they can not promise you a slip. It is a problem. If you need to saty in a marina, you have to hustle and get one far enough in advance, or you anchor out. Maybe you find a last minute opening, or maybe not.
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Old 26-02-2024, 23:48   #14
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

You just anchor and call or ask around when you get there.
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Old 27-02-2024, 00:49   #15
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Re: The problem with booking marinas

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Certainly a thought -- if I can find a place to keep the boat!
I plan to end this year's cruise with a 4-6 month stay at James Watt Dock, Greenock, Scotland. With lift-out/return and a week on the hard the cost is £1940 (~$2500) for my 40 footer for 6 months. While its hard to secure short-term berths long ones like overwintering are easy; I booked JWD 2 months ago and I'm not arriving until October. Incidentally, you have 3 decent airports with frequent trans-Atlantic flights within easy reach.

OK - Scotland may not have the weather of the Mediterranean but then you don't have to play the ridiculous 'Schengen Shuffle' with bureaucracy. As an ex-Submariner (me too) you might appreciate the area as its close to the old Holy Loch Base and you'll enjoy(!?!) the boats from nearby Faslane.
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