No Room at the Marina

Jan 24, 2022 by Jim Bronstien

The recent upsurge in yacht sales has created a shortage of available slips.

If you are part of the yacht industry, you know that the industry is booming. Superyacht sales are soaring. New and used sales are up. About 150 to 200 new superyachts are now being launched each year, and there is no sign that this will slow down anytime soon.

That’s the good news. The bad news? The vast majority of superyachts head to South Florida at some point in their travels, and during peak season there are simply not enough slips to accommodate the addition of boats into the market. It’s economics 101. Demand for slips has outpaced supply of slips, and the “no vacancy” list is long. And there is no sign that this will slow down anytime soon, either.

For marina owners, that is a good problem. For yacht owners, that is a bad problem. Many marinas in South Florida have recently indicated no or limited vacancy, a long waiting list, and minimum commitments of annual contracts (when there is room). Sadly, for yacht owners looking for a slip, and depending on size and preferred location, the “no vacancy” list may be long.

So, what are your options? Here are a few tips to help you find that elusive slip. First off, if your needs are short-term, you may find a marina with some vacancy if some of the annual slip customers are out cruising. Secondly, be nice to your marina staff! They can bump you up or down the waiting list based on many factors, and being a nice customer is always a big plus to a marina. Third, stick to your schedule as best you can. When a yacht makes reservations at multiple marinas “just to be sure” and then doesn’t show, it causes a mess for everyone else. Be considerate and stay in communication with your marina.

Capt. Ned Stone, on the 93-foot (28.36m) Horizon M/Y Water Lilly, suggests that you might have better luck if you lower your expectations of marina amenities. “Certainly everything that’s on everybody’s radar is sold out,” he said. “There are a couple of spots I was able to find that are off the radar —one spot that doesn’t have shore power, for example.”

Building new marinas sounds like the obvious solution, but it is not that easy. Even if a site can be found, it is a long and arduous process. Occasionally a new (or rebuilt) marina will surface and provide a little breathing room for yachts in search of a home. The most recent and best example is the newly rebuilt docks in the town of Palm Beach. It’s a long-overdue project with 84 megayacht slips ranging from 80 feet to 275 feet — and these slips won’t last long. In fact, even before the marina reopened Nov. 1, it was close to 80% pre-leased  with annual contracts.

It used to be that you could buy a yacht and find a slip wherever you wanted. These days, you’d best find a slip before you (or your boss) buys that next yacht.