Marinas seeing banner year, good news for them, bad news for boaters trying to find slips

The Bradley Creek Yacht Club has a 3 year waitlist for some of its slips
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 3:13 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The COVID-19 pandemic had unexpected impacts on businesses across the region, from struggling restaurants to a surge in boat sales; however, that surge has led to its own set of issues for boat owners.

Finding a slip in the area right now seems to be all but impossible so before you go out and buy that new boat, it might be a good idea to check if there is somewhere you can store it, otherwise, you might be stuck with a boat in your driveway.

“This past year has just been incredible in our business. I think a lot of it did have to do with COVID last year because people couldn’t do anything — schools were shut down, businesses were shut down — but the boating community, you were able to get out and do things,” said Kathy Raines, office manager for the Bradley Creek Yacht Club.

But that seemingly newfound desire for so many people to get on the water has made it difficult for many to find a place to store their boats; in fact, the Bradley Creek Yacht Club had to close their waitlist for its most popular slip rentals due to the wait time.

“So we closed the 22-24 boat slip rentals. That waitlist right now is about three years long so we’ve shut that one down; the only thing that we have left available to rent is a 65-foot slip,” Raines said.

Thomas Parker owns a boat and he recently lost the slip he had been using after the owner decided he no longer wanted to lease it out, and use it himself. While not expecting to get in somewhere immediately, Parker was not expecting what he found out after calling marinas in the area.

“I called a few marinas and I expected it to be a wait, but I didn’t understand that it would be something like 300 people on the list ahead of me, so yeah, it was a little shocking to figure out how long of a wait it is, but I kind of expected it to be a waitlist,” he said.

Parker started searching places like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist with no luck; eventually, he put out an all-call and managed to get lucky.

“Eventually, I made a post (on Facebook) and found one from a friend of a friend, and I feel like I got really lucky finding something available,” he said.

Of course, you can trailer your boat and launch it at a boat ramp, but that means you have to have a vehicle that can tow a boat, a trailer, and there are issues that you will have to face doing that as well.

“There’s not enough availability of parking — that’s the issue at the Wrightsville Beach boat slip and trails end boat slip — if you don’t get there at 5 in the morning sometimes, especially on the weekends, then you are out of luck. You can put your boat in but there’s nowhere to put your trailer,” Parker said.

It was a similar situation at other marinas in the region, with waitlists with more than 100 people on them and zero availability for the foreseeable future. Parker said he expects there to be a little bit more availability if you head north or south into Brunswick and Pender counties.

“I think the options are you need to get away from Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach area; there seem to be more options up north but if you live in Wilmington do you want to drive 45 minutes to access your boat?” he said.

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