How To Choose The Right Marina

Marinas, Moorings and Berths

OK, you now have the boat of your dreams. Just one tiny little challenge exists. Where do you put it?

Most people decide on a marina, depending on the size of the boat. Given that we are talking about boating, you won’t be surprised to hear that marinas are not cheap!

Their pricing is usually based on so much per metre LOA. Some marinas have a two-tier system, with lower per metre rates for smaller boats.

Location, Location, Location

The first practical criterion to consider is location. That can mean somewhere fairly local to you, or it can mean an idyllic spot in the sun – typically the Mediterranean for Britons.

The great advantage of somewhere local is that you can easily get to your boat when you have the time, and the tides and weather are suitable. At Go Earth, we can use our database of marinas to tell you all the marinas within easy travelling distance.
For others, having their boat in a sunny climate is of prime importance. You need to take account of flight availability and cost; and the different rules and regulations abroad.

Types of Marinas

The three main categories are:

  • Coastal marinas
  • River or lake marinas
  • Canal marinas

Coastal marinas tend to be large, have substantial facilities, are usually professionally run and can accommodate most types and sizes of boats. They are tidal and so marina access times need to be considered. They may be behind a lock or cill gate.

The surrounding environment can be very varied – from the picturesque to the industrial. The main UK locations tend to be clustered around the south coast, north Wales and the Scottish lochs. River or lake marinas tend to be more modest iin size and often have fewer facilities.

They may be tidal or nontidal. For example, the River Thames has both tidal and non-tidal sections; it is tidal up to Teddington Lock, and non-tidal beyond that. The largest lake in the UK is, of course, Windermere, with several marinas of varying sizes. It provides a peaceful, but limited, boating environment. However, even if
your navigation skills are severely limited, it is difficult to get lost on Windermere! The 10-knot speed limit restricts the use of the lake for fast motorboats.

The smaller river marinas may provide a more intimate, friendlier, more personal service. Some can be very picturesque indeed. These marinas are usually only suitable for smaller boats such as cabin cruisers, and smaller
sports cruisers.

Finally, we have canal marinas. These are part of the extensive canal network in the UK and are specifically for narrow boats. One feature is the culture of canal life – it is friendly, slower paced (indeed, for those used to powerboats, much slower paced!), with many residential occupants. Canalside pubs are a welcome feature of many canals. Learning how to use the numerous locks on the canals is an essential skill.

Internet Access

For many people, boating is a way of getting away from it all completely – and if that’s you, then feel free to ignore this section. For others (the author included, I am ashamed to admit!), continued internet access is crucial for business reasons. So, you need to check what the internet access is like at your marina – in your berth and even down below deck where the signal might be weakened.

Berth Holders Associations

Most marinas have a berth holders association that exists to represent the interests of berth holders, who, after all, pay a lot of money for their berths.

Associations carry out activities such as putting on social events, organising ‘cruising in company’, putting pressure (if necessary) on the marina to improve facilities, running a website with useful information (such as tides and local pilotage), attendance at local boat shows, and gaining discounts from local chandleries, shops and restaurants in the locality. My local association at Conwy (www.cmbha.net) does all this, although associations can vary in how active they are.

Anchors Away

You might be wondering if there is any ‘objective’ way you can assess the quality of a
marina. Well, there is an award scheme run by  The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA), called the Gold Anchor Award Scheme. It awards from one to five anchors to qualifying marinas, based on a variety of criteria.

Marina Facilities

Of course, there are many other factors to consider. You can email info@boatsearch.earth and we will be happy to provide advice.


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