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).