In the waterfront world, dock space is at a premium. There are just too many boats for the number of slips. Compound that problem by adding a boat that is larger than most to the mix, and your yacht may end up like a modern-day Flying Dutchman, condemned to sail until Judgment Day.
Okay, so maybe it’s not quite that bad-some say the situation is even better this year than last-but supply will never keep up with demand, particularly for the large-size slips that seem to hardly ever come available.
How does one negotiate these treacherous waters? If only there were a guide, someone who knows about waterfront facilities in your area-someone who’s so plugged in, they know when yachts are coming and going. Someone like the person who just handed you the keys to your new yacht.
Your broker may just be the answer-and it makes perfect sense.
“We know the dockmasters or at least we know the facilities available to our clients,” says Andrew Cilla, owner of Luke Brown Yachts in Fort Lauderdale. “We know how to negotiate the best rate-because, in fact, dockage rates can be somewhat negotiable.”
Yacht brokers are so plugged into the dockage scene because they need to find places to keep the yachts in their inventory. “Some marinas give a little better price if the boat’s for sale,” says Cilla.
Can’t hurt the marina, either: An empty slip is filled with a boat that will be kept pristine as it draws potential yacht owners to their facility. But maybe you’re not looking for premium dock space, but have other considerations, and don’t live right where you want to keep the boat.
“In a short span of time, we can let the client know what his options are and be able to evaluate those options,” says Cilla, who can put a stamp of local knowledge on the choices available. “For example, it’s a nice location but it’s an hour ride to the ocean and you’ve got to open four bridges. Bridges don’t open on a demand, so on a bad day you’re two hours from the ocean.”
But in such a tight market, brokers have had to think beyond traditional solutions, and their clients benefit from this as well.
“We have access to dockage behind private homes,” says Cilla. “We maintain a database of homeowners who have in the past rented their docks to our clients. One of us here at the office knows the dock or has used the dock in the past.” That means the brokers not only know the dock exists, but they know its condition and circumstances.
Cilla cited an example: “We know the homeowner, and the homeowner is in the marine industry, which is important to us. If a fender board were to kick out or a fender were to drop, or a line weren’t tied right, we feel that information will be brought to our attention or the client’s attention.” And while dockage behind private homes generally discourages liveaboards, it’s a place to keep the yacht.
And that’s what you’re after, after all.