Waterways Ontario
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Choosing a Marina
Finding a New Home Takes Homework

Anyone thinking of changing marinas this spring should do a little investigation. In a storm, as they saying goes, any port will do but when you want a place to stay for a whole boating season it’s better to be choosy. Let’s face it; you’ll be spending a lot of your fair weather “fun” time with other boaters with not much more room between you than the diameter of your fenders. So you’ve got to look around.

Start with Yourself

Start with yourself and the kind of boating you do.  Do you go to the boat for evenings and weekends?  Obviously a marina that’s close to home is better… but if you plan to take a couple of long voyages a marina that’s closer to your destination would be the one to choose.  Do you want the bright lights of downtown or moonlight and bullfrogs?  Do you want an active social whirl or quiet time with a couple of close friends?  These questions will narrow your search and give you a better idea of what you’re looking for.

A marina with a lot of sailboats is not, generally speaking, the best place for a power boater.  The opposite is just as true.  It’s not that sailors and power boaters won’t get along, necessarily, but you won’t have as much in common.  Besides, sailors will go out in winds that might keep power boats tied to the dock.  You might be lonely when the air gets up and just as lonely when you’re out on a calm day.

Walk About

Another important consideration is how the marina makes you feel as you walk around… are you comfortable… does the marina look like a place you’d want to stay… is your first impression of the boats and boaters you see there a good one?  Are you satisfied with the security?  In other words, are you comfortable with the gates left open all day or would you rather have the assurance that only boaters will be on the docks?  Are the facilities up to your standard?

See for Yourself

When you get the right answers to these questions you can get more specific.  Don’t just look at the map or model to decide whether your slip is the one you want… go take a look.    Are you comfortable with the distance or proximity to washrooms and other facilities?  Are you downwind from the gas dock and pump out?  If there’s a marshy area nearby you know you’re going to have to deal with more mosquitoes than you would if you were closer to open water and its breezes.

\"PractiseThink About Landing

Speaking of wind… take a close look to see how easy it will be to get in and out of your slip.  A slip tucked in a downwind corner is better for a skilled boat handler with twin direct drive.   You might be challenged when you try to dock your brand new single IO.  While you’re there, look at your neighbours, their boats, and the area around their slips.  When the lines look like they haven’t been untied for weeks and the lawn behind the boat has a big gas barbecue and a few picnic tables, you know there are likely to be a lot of people there on Saturday nights.  Maybe not the right slip if you want quiet… but if you enjoy a party, you’ll probably soon one of the gang.

Once you decide, it’s time to bring your boat in.  This is when you make your first impression.  So make it good one.  You might want to show off your boat handling skill and whip your boat into place but you’re better off to come in at idle, respecting the “no wake” signs and quietly set your boat in place.  When you tie up, take the time to tidy your lines and place your power cord neatly on the dock.  It’s simple… think of how you would like your neighbours to behave and that’s how you should be.

Deal With Challenges ASAP

However, if something happens later in the season and you get into a disagreement with your neighbour, deal with it right away.  Solve it quickly because little irritations can grow into outright feuds that are way past the original disagreement.  So as soon as you feel the tension, get up on the dock and start talking… and - even more important - start listening.  Find out what the problem is and figure out the best way to deal with it… a genuine apology might be all that’s needed.  The good thing about boats is that if you don’t like your neighbours you can move… but then you’ve got to go through the whole process of finding another slip!

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