In the past couple of weeks I’ve had a few folks reach out to us asking for an example of what they should expect to pay for slip rental in marinas in the Southwest Florida area. This post is intended to be a guide on how marinas charge for live aboards and what to look for in your search. The rates below are current rates for February 2018.
Disclaimer: The rates and fees below are current at the time of writing this post. If you have any questions regarding current rates after the date of this post, you need to contact the marina or visit their website to find the latest rates and fee schedule.
For comparison’s sake, I’m going to compare the current marina we are living at, Salty Sam’s, and the marina we lived at previously, SnookBight. Both marinas are located on Fort Myers Beach and have a lot to offer, but they vary in cost, amenities and the way they charge their rates. I’m also throwing in there the Fort Myers Beach Mooring field rates as well since someone inquired about it. It’s quite different than being in a marina but it is an option for living aboard.
In the table below, I’ve shown the current annual slip rates and fees for each marina. The mooring field doesn’t have annual rates, just daily, weekly and monthly. With marinas, if you sign a contract for an annual slip you usually pay a discounted rate. If you plan to pay by-the-month or not stay there annually, plan to pay higher rates. For example, the annual rate at Salty Sam’s is $15/ft and the month-to-month rate is $16.50.
One thing to note right off the bat is that Snookbight charges by the slip and all of their slips are 50′. This means that if your boat is smaller than 50′, you will still be paying the rate for a 50′ slip. When inquiring about rates you always want to ask if the rate quoted is by the foot or by the slip. Other things to consider are: what are the live aboard fees, if there are fees for pump outs, how do they charge for electric and what amenities do they offer.
Live aboard fees vary from marina to marina and the amenities associated vary as well. Most marinas offer shower and laundry facilities, however, they don’t always offer Cable TV and WiFi. I think these days, most marinas try to offer WiFi but cable TV isn’t always available. Additional amenities we’ve seen offered include a pool although this is not usually standard so it’s something to consider if you like swimming. Of course, we are are talking about Fort Myers Beach and there is always the Gulf of Mexico to swim in.
Electric is typically either a flat fee or metered. Most marinas we’ve lived and stayed in meter the electric and costs vary significantly depending on the season. We’ve had electric bills as cheap as $15 in the winter months and as high as $160 in the summer months when running two A/C units. Right before we left SnookBight they implemented a flat fee for electric. Using two 30-amp plugs we would have been paying $95 per month. The flat fee probably would have averaged out to be about the same as metered since it’s pretty warm here year round and our winter months are short.t
When living aboard in a marina, you will need to have the holding tank pumped out from time to time. As a Florida Clean Marina, SnookBight offers weekly pump outs for free probably to aid in maintaining that designation.The mooring also offers free pump outs via a boat that will come to you and pump you out as you need it. Salty Sam’s on the other hand, charges $10 per pump out and we’ve been put on their weekly rotation for pump out so our monthly cost is $40.
Many marinas offer mail service. At SnookBight, we had a mailbox and key to retrieve mail and at Salty Sam’s you can get your mail in the ship store where it is pooled in a bin with the rest of the marina. We receive our packages at Salty Sam’s but I switched our mail service over to a PO Box on the beach. I did this because at SnookBight our mailing address was a the marina’s address (a business address) so when when we moved we could not forward our mail and had to change it manually with anyone who sent us mail. I switched it to the PO Box so in case we moved again, it would easily be forwarded.
Our monthly marina live aboard costs
The table below shows a comparison of live aboard marina rates for our 40′ trawler. As you can see, it doesn’t really make sense for us to stay at SnookBight since we would be paying much higher rates because of the slip size. For 50′ vessels this wouldn’t be as much of an issue even though their rate is $1 more per foot. The live aboard fee is also almost twice the live aboard fee of Salty Sam’s. Even with flat fee electric and free pump outs the monthly costs would be several hundred dollars more per month. Add on to that the mysterious 4% State Submerged Land Lease fee they tack on to your bill and you’re paying almost $1,200 after taxes. I’m not sure what the Submerged Land Lease fee is or why we don’t pay it at Salty Sam’s so if anyone knows I’d love to know the answer to that.
Every marina is different in how they charge for slip fees and the above costs is probably a good representation of the range of costs from high to middle range for Fort Myers Beach. Their are a few tiny marinas that, if you could get into, would be cheaper although they typically offer very little in terms of amenities. We looked at a couple but dismissed them because of lack of WiFi or parking. SnookBight is a relatively new marina and is probably the nicest marina on the beach in terms of amenities and location. It is also corporately owned so you will pay more to stay there. Salty Sam’s is family-owned and has been around for quite a long time. They don’t have the high-end facilities and pool like SnookBight but it’s still very nice there and very well kept up.
Obviously the mooring field is quite cost-efficient in terms of living aboard but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that works full time and needs to be punctual for a job because of many factors including bad weather and possible dinghy motor issues. Also, you have to factor in the additional time it takes to haul your laundry ashore, grocery shop and transport and fill jerry cans of fresh water to bring back to your boat. If you are retired or aren’t on any kind of schedule, the mooring field would be a good option at least until summer. I can’t imagine spending a summer on hook or in the mooring field in the sweltering days of our long summer months (June – October) without A/C.
Questions to ask when inquiring about marina rates
Below are some things to ask marina staff when you’re inquiring about live aboard rates in marina around here:
- Does the marina offer annual rates?
- Do they charge by the foot or slip?
- Do they require a security deposit?
- What is the live aboard fee and what does it include? Amenities offered, cable, WiFi, etc?
- Is electric metered or a flat fee? What is the fee if a flat rate?
- How does the marina handle pump outs? Self-serve or staffed? Is there a cost or fee?
- Does the marina offer mail service?
- Is there available parking?
I feel it necessary to mention that finding a marina that allows live aboards in this area is becoming increasingly difficult especially if you are only planning to stay seasonally. SnookBight and a few other marinas are encouraging seasonal folks to sign an annual contract in order to reserve their spot as they fill up quickly in the winter. We’ve been told by a couple people that our marina isn’t currently accepting any more live aboards at this time most likely due to the facilities being at maximum capacity. Of course, they may open it back up in the future for accepting live aboards so you just have to call to get the latest news. I think this goes for all marinas in the area.
Hope this helps give a little perspective on what to expect cost-wise and what questions to ask when inquiring about rates. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments below.