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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Belgium, Holland

    Default Where does all the money go ?

    As a belgian sailor, I'm quite perplexed by the rates quoted for berth prices in the UK. I always imagine the harbour master biting on a lemon, before he asks me to fork up 17£ for an overnight stay in my 31 footer. I couldn't be able to ask someone that amount without laughing myself silly.

    To put matters in perspective: one night in Ostend costs me the better side of 10£ Blankenberge=6£). My annual berthing fee in the Terneuzen marina is about 650 £, 31 ft boat, electricity, finger berth, 30p for a shower. Nieuwpoort would cost me 380£ (is cheapest), but it's 70 min drive longer, less access to other ports, and quite a distance from the nearest pub.

    How come UK prices are double that or more ? A few theories

    1) UK marina's are commercial entreprises, while mainland marina's -with a few exceptions - are non-profit, member-owned: could play a part. The few exceptions in the Low Countries that are privatly owned (Port Zelande, Delta Marina,..) are slightly more expensive than the non-profit ones.

    2) Personnel costs. When I'm enjoying a post-sail evaluation (read: drinks in the cockpit), and I see a neighbour returning from sea, I get up to take his lines. When I do the same in the UK, people are amazed by this small gesture. In the UK there's a student in blue shorts and white T-shirt, with the marina logo on it to do that. Do you really need a 24/7 harbour master office ?

    3) Supply vs. demand
    OK: not many marina's from Brighton to Ramsgate. But that doesn't apply to the solent.

    4) Amenities. One thing I always notice on UK marinas is the security. Is the all-round fencing intended to keep locals out, or yachties in ? After five marinas you have ten access codes (shower+entry). Again: dutch commercial marina's (i.e. Wemeldinge) are similar, whereas others, you simply step of the boat on the quai. The boats are part of the town, not some lot of posh owners,wanting to keep to themselves. I doubt whether more boats get broken into/vandalised than in the UK.
    I know my neigbours, so when I see someone on their boat that shouldn't be there, I at least ask a few questions to the visitor. I know my neighbours do the same for me. Do you know how much renting a security firm costs ?

    Have you ever asked your marina where the money goes ? Or are you scared you're going to lose your berth , and have to pay just to be on a waiting list (don't even get me started on this).

    Group of people on the pontoon: skipper is the one with the toolbox
    My boat and others
    The boring Monday to Friday stuff

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2001
    West End, Surrey, UK

    Default Private v Public

    I think all of your points are vaild but the main argument is the public v private side.

    Large corporations simply want profits from their investments quickly and in large amounts.

    It is also a case of supply and demand in some cases e.g. Lymington pushing it up.

    I think the town quay at Southampton is council run (i could be wrong) but they can still afford to charge high levels as they are surrounded by Ocean Village, Shamrock Quay, Hamble, etc

    If I was prime minister i'd start a building programme for council run marinas tomorrow but unfortunately im not.

    Stay in Belgium and enjoy..... (nice beer too, Duvel anyone?)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    on board or in Austria

    Default Re: Where does all the money go ?

    Really curious to see answers to this. Sailing around between differnt countries I have alwys wondered what drives the hugely differnt prices. And it's not just marinas, often it is same good sold in different countries, and yes, while you know what the tax is in the various countries, it doesn't help much explaining.

    Seems your points are all quite reasonable and the result is probably a combination of them. I would add to your points that for about anytrhing the price level in the UK is higher, even if you could just have the goods sent in from another place, people don't seem to do that regularly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2001

    Default Re: Where does all the money go ?

    Some valid points and not for profit marinas would certainly be cheaper. It stands to reason. However;

    In general, real estate prices are high in the UK. Specially in the South, which is where you mention. Also, something like 80% of UK yachting is along the South Coast. (I'm told...)

    I really don't believe that we "take the lines" for fellow sailors less in the UK. It's almost a social occupation for many. I'm always seeing willing hands held out. Like wise, I've not seen so many official hands on the pontoons in marinas, unless requested.

    Theft of electronics and other items is a big problem in the UK. True it's worse on swinging moorings but ask any marina and they'll tell you that the security measures were almost demanded. Sad but true.

    I'm not defending the high charges. It's the one thing that would put a question over my ownership of a yacht. However I can't see it changing radically. Yet...(A recession might change that).

  5. #5

    Default Re: Where does all the money go ?

    Interesting question - we have been musing exactly the same point as we sailed down the French coast this summer. The conclusion we came to was that marinas in the UK and on the mainland were usually run by different organisations for different objectives.

    In France, marinas are usually owned by the locality, and maintained as part of a tourism / local economy project, rather than be required to make a profit. There seemed to be strong local pride, and a willingness to compete with the town next door. Frequently we would find ourselves benefitting from free concerts for example - intended to draw the visitors in. And this attitude was encouraged because demand was less than supply - even in August, we never found one full marina unlike the UK south coast.

    In the UK, marinas are property development projects, usually operated by private companies. When I last investigated, it was clear that the companies were not making money hand over fist as many yotties suspect, except perhaps in busy areas of the south coast. Nevertheless, they have to make the maximum return on their investment, helped by the fact that marinas are exempt from the Restrictive Trade Practises Act ie they can fix prices quite legally if they wish to do so. (I am not saying that they do do so - just that they can.) Demand exceeds supply on the south coast - though that doesnt explain why marina charges on the East and West coasts are little different in some cases. Land prices in the UK are higher than in Europe, and the complicated lengthy planning process (with a little local extortion known as planning gain) worsens this.

    Dont agree about the manning though. There often were twice as many staff in French marinas as I would expect in the UK

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2001

    Default Re: Where does all the money go ?

    Same with airfields. Just put the word airfield instead of marina.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Default Re: Private v Public

    I don't think its absolutly a public / private question. Its really down to the cost.

    Price up 24/365 security
    other staffing costs
    maintenance / cleaning of buildings and equipment
    Interest on capital

    And a number of etc. s

    Look at the number of boats and divide the first figure by the second.

    You arrive at a surprisingly large number. Much larger than the figures for Belgium.

    The only way to reduce it is to have some form of subsidy, be it from Local or Central Government or from income generated from surrounding real estate.

    I recently paid £2 per hour to park in Central London Thats makes marina charges look cheap!

    Maybe there is room for a "no frills" type of marina; just a pontoon berth, no showers, no security, no car park, no lift outs, no hardstanding.

    Would anybody go for it?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2001

    Default Marina cpys

    Seems most marina cpys are private ltd. Where did you get your info from when investigating them?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2001
    North Wales, sailing Aegean Sea or Menai Strait

    Default And hotels

    Cost of overnight accommodation in UK is horrendous. We often stay in Formule 1 in France for little more than 20 GBP per night for the room. Basic but perfectly adequate and clean Many nice hotels in Holland come in at 100 guilders, somewhere around 30 pounds.

    I recently stayed near Slough in a fairly average hotel with incredibly small rooms that cost me 120 pounds, plus breakfast. Thankfully I was not paying.

    Answers to some technical queries at new website

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2001
    'ang on a mo, I'll just take some bearings

    Default Exchange rates don\'t help

    Your premise is correct, but the situation is made worse by the continuing strength of the pound. France didn't seem nearly such a bargain when there were only 8 FF to the UKL.

    Next time, it'll all be different.

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