A discussion of progressive berth rates and the marketability of berths in the Berkeley Marina

This discussion started on the docks when I mentioned progressive berth rates, and continued in email. I think it's representative of opinions common among the owners of large boats. In this case, the boat owner has a relatively new boat over 50 ft long, and does not berth in Berkeley.


The boat owner:

You might want to look at the condition of the docks, cleats, and current resident "bigger boats worth bigger bucks who won't mind paying higher fees" on the larger slips on O Dock --- There are a few there I'm betting would be worth half what your (much smaller) boat is worth.


My response:

Right - but isn't it also true that some of those boats are just one step up from derelict, and never go out?

I don't think the marina serves its intended purpose if the big berths are being used for dead storage - In fact, it demonstrates that those berths are underpriced if they can be used for that purpose.

There's no-one who really "doesn't mind" paying higher fees, of course. But that $4K Santana 22 is paying a full 1/3 of its value every year just for berthing ($5.05 x 22 x 12 / $4,000 = 0.33) while the $90K 45 footer pays about three per cent of its value for berthing every year ($5.05 x 45 x 12 / $90,000 = 0.03). And I think I've chosen a relatively high value for the 22, and a low value for the 45.

So, which boat is going to be shopping price, and which boat is going to be shopping location, service, and amenities?

That said, it's critical for Berkeley to get its act together with respect to service and amenities, if it expects to be more attractive to big boats.


The boat owner's response:

Agreed -- I sure wouldn't pay any price to dock permanently where we are located this weekend! (guest berth on O-dock)

But, just as you can't sell real estate based on "what it would be worth if it were fixed up", the Marina will have to fix things before attracting new berthers. And I'll bet they're not prepared to have empty berths during the transition. The Marina manager probably prefers derelicts to empty slips.


My response:

Was it the presence of the derelict boats, or other things about the condition of the docks?


The boat owner:

We love Berkeley, we berthed there for 10 years with our previous boat. But our deeper draft has forced us to try other marinas and the difference is clear.

1) The new staff in the Berkeley Marina office seemed more ammenable to supporting the boater than prior contacts.

2) The cleats at our guest slip were undersized, rusted, and in some cases coming loose from the dock.

3) One immediate neighbor (could be a nice guy but who knows) was obviously using boat for storage, and his dinghy was sinking.

4) Others in the vacinity were obviously not sailing (covered with blue tarp, bilge pumps constantly running, that sort of thing).

5) There's no comparison regarding the restroom/shower situation. Check out Marina Village again when you come by to go sailing with us.

6) We pay extra for power at Marina Village -- unmetered electrical usage must cost the Marina a fortune!

7) Our guest slip at Berkeley cost $18.00 per day. We will pay $10 in Vallejo. We paid $26 at South Beach. Go figure.

You're welcome to use the comments as long as we stay in positive mode -- remember that I've been a manager and I know the pressures those guys are under. I rather imagine the Marina has been a cash cow so long that maintenance and upgrading are WAY on the back burner for the city of Berkeley.

Also, when you present a sliding scale on slip fees, folks will stomach it better if the higher rate is the rate, with discounts for smaller boats due to "excess supply". You get the same result without entering into the economic debate about "deserving" etc.