Is finding a boat slip to rent at a marina that is family-friendly, has good service and offers resort-style amenities too much to ask?

boaterlifeonlinePeople spend a lot of money on their boats and deserve a good place to dock it for the season. But it’s more than just the boat slip. A marina should be like a getaway or vacation every time you go to your boat.

I think a lot of marinas need to step it up. Far too many marinas seem to think they can get away with the bare minimum for their boat slip rentals. Bathrooms are not kept clean. Ship stores are hardly stocked. Dock hands are no where to be found. And you certainly can’t trust your most valuable possession to the maintenance department that has a bad reputation.

When we first started boating, a boat slip rental at a marina was simply a place to dock our boat. Almost every weekend we would take our boat out on trips. The cruise was always nice and the destination was always fun, but we realized that every weekend we were trying to get away from our home marina so we could go to a nicer marina. On top of our boat slip rental, we were paying for transient fees at other marinas just to get to a nicer marina.


A Family-Friendly Marina

The turning point was when we decided it was time to start a family. We had more priorities than “just the basics” with our new marina. We wanted a family-friendly marina that had good service and the kind of amenities we found at our favorite destination marinas.

kid friendly marinaFor boaters, a marina becomes a second home while on the water. With such a large investment in time and money, boaters deserve to have the best possible home port when selecting boat marinas. Boat marinas offering a variety of service and recreational amenities make boating convenient and pleasurable for the entire family.

So we came to the conclusion that it was time for us to drive a little further and pay a little more for a marina that offers a lot more than the average marina…. and more than just a boat slip rental. Boy was it worth it.

The best boat marinas for families are ones that offer something for everyone in the family. We chose a marina that had important things we needed – like good service and nice docks – but we also wanted things that would be great for kids. A clean bathhouse was a necessity. A big pool with a baby pool was a must-have, along with a nice playground area with grassy areas.

Marinas with Resort-Style Amenities

Port_Annapolis_poolIt’s great to go on boat trips and get away to new marinas in new towns. But there’s no reason why you have to “escape” your home marina to experience some waterfront amenities as a boater.

I think its essential to have at least the following amenities at a marina where you rent a boat slip for the season:

  • On-site restaurant and bar
  • Swimming pool and lounge area
  • Dock-side cable and Wi-Fi internet service
  • Dock-side pump-out service
  • Laundry facilities
  • Well-stocked ship’s store
  • Dependable service department
  • Fuel dock
  • Helpful dock hands

It also helps if your marina has a great view and easy access to waterways for trips. Our marina is also close to some great coves for anchoring out and rafting up with friends.

spring boat prep launchBoat Service Amenities at Your Marina

All boat marinas should offer basic services for haul out, drop-in, maintenance and unexpected repairs. Exceptional boat marinas should take it a few steps further and offer first-class, quality service.

Above all, be sure to choose a boat marina with reputable, well-trained technicians capable of handling various mechanical services and repairs. On-site repair services are a great amenity when the unexpected happens to a boat.

In addition to repair services, boat marinas that offer convenient services at the dock can keep the focus on boating fun.

  • Dock hands for docking assistance
  • Pump-out services at dock
  • Fuel discounts to slip holders
  • Spring commissioning, dry storage and winterizing
  • Ship’s store stocked with essential parts and supplies
  • Pressure washing (throughout the season)
  • Gelcoat or fiberglass repairs
  • Painting, varnish or bright work
  • Wash, wax and detailing
  • Bottom painting

We currently dock our boat at Skipjack Cove Yachting Resort on the Sassafras River (off of the Chesapeake Bay) located in Georgetown, Maryland… and we couldn’t be happier!

As transient boaters on the Chesapeake Bay, a few of the marinas with good amenities we enjoying staying at are Haven Harbour Marina in Rock Hall, MD, Baltimore Inner Harbor Marine Center in Baltimore, MD and at Mears Annapolis in Annapolis, MD.

What’s your favorite marina and why?
Please post your comments!!

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Diane Seltzer

Founder & Editor at My Boat Life
Diane is the founder of MyBoatLife.com as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids BoaterKids.com. She is also active in the boating industry, serving as the marketing director for a marine sunshade product, SureShade, and founder of Marine Marketing Tools, a collaborative site for sharing marine marketing best practices. Diane is also the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.

8 Comments

  1. Boston indeed takes boating experience to the next level. It is city’s oldest continually operating yachting facility offering small town hospitality with big city convenience.

  2. My favorite would have to be the marinas in Boston. They have what every boater needs like clean shower rooms, shopping areas, good restaurants with the view of the Boston waterways and an exciting night life.

    This (MA) marina has world class facilities run by marine experts that will take good care of your boating needs. They have 500+ slips and 100 secured moorings. Service and repair is also available 24/7.

    I have been coming back to the Boston marinas for more than 10 years because of the quality of service I get and because I just love the place.

  3. Might I add, the marinas in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore are also great. I dock my boat at the Anchorage Marina. It is the cheapest in the harbor, it doesn’t have a restaurant on site but there are many within walking distance. I have had my boat here for 10 years and I love it.

  4. This post is very timely for us, Diane! I and my family are about to spend our much-awaited vacation in one of those gorgeous Mass. marinas. Out of all the destinations in New England, we’ve learned that MA has the best offerings as far marinas are concerned.

    Speaking of which, have you tried any marinas in Mass.?

  5. Rock Hall has the best fireworks in July and Mear’s is known for quality, including the one on Eastern Shore, at the Narrows. Castle Harbor Marina and Yacht Club,Chester River, around the cove from Mears; low key, quiet with a touch of Jimmy Buffet, Pool as well, and good access to both Rock Hall and all the amenities of the Chesapeake Bay. You could eat breakfast,lunch and supper every day and still not be able to visit all the restaurants of the Chesapeake Bay!!! Love it too. Captain Patti

  6. I know Haven Harbour Marina in Rock Hall. That grill is a great spot to have a burger and watch the view from the deck.

  7. I couldn’t agree more!! that’s why I boat at Mear’s Annapolis – cost a bit more but it is the best. we have a beautiful pool, pavillion with free breakfast on Sunday and excellent service. makes all the difference being at a marina you love.

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