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What is a Marina?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A marina is a facility which caters to small boats and recreational boaters. Marinas consist of basins or sheltered harbors which are fitted with equipment suitable for the use of small watercraft. They can include a variety of amenities. Marinas may be administered by municipalities, private organizations, or even individuals. Use of the marina usually comes with a fee which can vary depending on the types of services someone wants to use. Some marinas may have special hardship rates or may donate a few berths to charitable organizations such as groups which take disadvantaged children on sailing trips.

One of the key services at a marina is mooring. People can lease a space along a dock or buoy for the purpose of mooring a boat when it is not in use. Some marinas offer related services such as dry storage for times when people will not be using their boats for a while, slipways or cranes for getting boats into the water, and so forth.

A marina also commonly has services like a refueling station, stores which stock basic marine supplies, repair facilities, and related businesses. Marinas can also have restaurants and recreational facilities for the use of members and visitors, and some even have features like car rental agencies which can connect visiting sailors with rental cars, concierge desks which offer services like hotel and restaurant reservations, dry cleaning, and so forth, along with medical clinics for basic medical needs.

People who wish to dock at a marina usually need to pay a fee for docking which is based on the duration of docking. In some cases, marinas may have arrangements with facilities in neighboring areas; a member in good standing of Yacht Club A, for example, could dock at Yacht Club D for free for a day. Services like dry storage usually cost extra, reflecting more work on the part of the marina staff.

Marinas also usually offer security services. The facility may be guarded, and usually has cameras and other security features which are designed for the protection of marina members. This can be a welcome benefit for people who are concerned about theft or vandalism, and people who sleep on their boats at night may also appreciate the presence of a guard who can act quickly if a security threat presents itself. At a minimum, a marina is usually secured with gates to which only members have keys, to keep unauthorized access to a minimum.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By sunshined — On Sep 07, 2011

We live close to a lake and the marina is a very busy place in the summer time. Once winter comes though, there is not much going on around there.

Some people will have a marina slip and keep their boat their year round, but this can get kind of expensive. We have very cold winters, so there is no way the boats get used year round where we live.

It is cheaper for most people to store their boats somewhere else during the winter. During the summer it is a different story though. If you have your boat docked at the marina, it makes it so much easier to come and go with your boat.

There are many conveniences associated with the marina that you don't have if you haul your boat in and out every time you want to use it.

By gimbell — On Sep 06, 2011

I'll tell you what a marina really is: noisy. There is a very large marina resort near my home, the fancy kind that has lots of restaurants, its own medical center, and -- of course -- tons of tourists.

The marina looks like a thriving community center, but for those who are actually members of the community, it can be irritating how boats and people are constantly coming and going from the docks.

I'm considering moving somewhere quieter and a bit further away. The marina is beautiful, don't get me wrong. If I was a visitor I'm sure I would love it. Having seen it every day, tough, a regular quiet neighborhood would feel like the vacation.

By TheGraham — On Sep 06, 2011

I love the fact that you can put your boat into dry storage at a marina if you need to. I love sailing, but I'm leaving for a six-month trip to England for college in a few months, so I can't leave my boat just floating at the marina docks. Storms and just plain time could be too much, and I wouldn't be there to sail it anyway -- why take up somebody else's docking space for half a year?

I had the marina take my boat out of the water and store it in dry storage. The big cradle thing they lifted my boat out with was really interesting -- I can't believe back in the pirate days they had to do that with ropes and pulleys. Yikes!

Anyway, now my boat is safe and snug in dry storage, and will patiently wait for me to return home and sail again. Marinas are really a great thing.

By hanley79 — On Sep 05, 2011

@VivAnne - Wow, your local marina must be very large to fit yachts inside. The only marinas I've ever seen only have had spaces to fit fairly small ships through.

The yacht-building people probably care about costs, since I'll bet a lot of money goes into building each of those yachts as well as selling them. Any business wants to turn a profit, after all, so they would probably hate to spend much on the marina rental.

I have a small boat of my own, and while preparing and planning for some longer-term sailing trips I researched prices to dock in various local marinas. It seems Marina rental prices vary a lot. Some places charge docking fees by the month, and run into the hundreds.

Some charge by the day. Some charge by the footage of the boat, with a flat rate per foot. The prices I saw for that varied from $9 per foot all the way up to about twice that.

Hope that helps answer your question. If you meant how much it costs to rent the whole marina for something huge like a yacht, I'd imagine it costs a small fortune.

By VivAnne — On Sep 04, 2011

I live on a peninsula, and there's a bay marina in my town. Mostly small sailboats like to come and go from the marina, but one repeated use for it that I've noticed is that the owners dock yachts there a lot.

I thought this was weird and that yachts had their own type of marina, so I looked into it a bit. Turns out, the yachts there are under construction -- they stay docked in my town's marina while the interiors are being finished and furnished. I guess this is an example of a private company renting a marina.

I wonder how much it costs to rent a marina? For something like a yacht company, which sells each of their ships for literally millions of dollars, the cost wouldn't really matter.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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