Own a Piece of The Bay – by Ty Mellott

Own a Piece of the Bay

As boat owners, we are faced with several expenses. Most are fixed, and at times some being anything but. As with activities that one enjoys, the expenses however they are presented to us, are pretty much accepted as a necessity. The fixed costs are of course planned, and hopefully the ones unforeseen as in repairs are few and far between. Of the fixed, many of us are going to have three, slip, rent and insurance and for those who have yet to pay off their vessel, a bank note. Two of the three I have no advice on, but for slip and rent there are options that very well may assist in making it easier to make the buck stretch a little further.

Mind you this is in no way selecting one marina over another, as there are many fine facilities throughout the Bay and Delta. Marinas most often anyway, will be selected based upon the individual boat owner’s needs in proximity to home, area most frequently used while in the boat and of course amenities.

When it comes to the costs of where you keep your boat, there are four marinas in the Bay that give you another option vs. the normal way of slip rent. Three of these establishments offer a “fee simple” way of ownership and the fourth offers a “lease hold” way of ownership. Of the four, I was only able to sit down with the powers that be for two of them. Emery Cove Yacht Harbor in Emeryville and Glen Cove Marina in Vallejo, both of which offer the fee simple type of ownership. Fee simple and lease hold may require a small explanation in that only one, fee simple means you own the slip and the land below, whereas lease hold pertains to exactly that, you lease based upon the lease agreement between the marina and the state to put it simply.

Of the information here, I am merely relaying most of what I have researched from both the mentioned marina’s websites and newsletters. There is more information to be obtained by speaking directly to the marina operators themselves, should any of this spark an interest to own your slip vs renting it. After all, as time marches on and space becomes even more limited with the possibility of new marinas not being built, we are sure to face rising slip fees.

I am sure that many are familiar with condominiums and if not, I would think that you would be familiar with homeowner association dues. In the case of on the water, it might be easier to think of the idea of dockominiums as more fitting and is what both marinas call the slip ownership. Owning the dockominiums boat slip is very much like owning a condo in a residential development. You own and control your individual private boat slip, as well as the permanent rights to use and enjoy it. In that, you get to not only enjoy your slip, but also all the common areas including the docks, gates, parking lots, sidewalks, landscaping and bathroom & shower facilities.

One of the first benefits if not a main one, is the fact that being a dockominium slip owner is the ease of maintenance. Common areas as well as your slip are repaired, insured, and managed through your association dues. This of course is paid monthly to the marina, and the only other item of cost is electricity use and county taxes. You have to pay the county’s real estate taxes as you would do on your home. Just as in buying any property, you get a deed of which cannot be taken away or changed without fair compensation to you. In fact, because of this, your boat can also be considered a second home, to which mortgage interest and real estate taxes can be used as a tax write-off against money earned. The amount of dues that every slip holder pays (association dues) are considerably less than the average cost per foot per month in a traditional pay by month slip rent. The funds are paid directly to the marina, and are not only used for the normal day to day maintenance but a portion is held back, put into reserve funds set aside for future repairs and maintenance i.e. dredging and dock replacement.

Initial cost and pricing for the dockominiums is not very complicated, but more so than I wish to get into as I am not here to sell you the slip. But rather to give you information of which you may have had no knowledge of. However, I can say this, pricing does vary in several ways, such as asking price based upon the seller’s request, the ease of vessel docking, size including width and of course the location in the marina. Upon walking into the office and asking for ownership, you will be given a site map based upon availability of what you desire in size. Location being a prime factor will determine partly the cost and then it is up to you to decide what fits your budget. I have a friend that would pay more for an upwind slip vs down. He has issues docking in any situation, so I could see his reasoning.

There is nothing wrong with renting, and I would most certainly not want you to walk away thinking I suggested it. Slip renting is the norm, and I have paid my rent in many slips just as the rest of you have. Maybe one of the reasons is that for the most part the idea of owning was not the offered way to go or at best able to compare to. I think over the years, slips are going to be in greater and greater demand. One thing you have to ask yourself is, are you in boating for the long haul? Should the answer be yes, it might very well be something to investigate.

One of the questions that may arise is the ability to live aboard in a slip you own. Well, it is simple. As with a rented slip, marinas are governed by state agencies as to the percentage of liveaboards that are allowed in any given marina property. Generally, this percentage is anywhere from six to ten percent, based upon the resources that the marina has to offer the overall occupancy of the marina facility. You will not find any over a 10 percent liveaboard rate, and that applies to whether you rent or own. There are waitlists to do so, and if full you will be placed upon a waitlist. Note, that in all cases to become a liveaboard, you will pay an extra amount on top of slip rent or association dues.

What if you own the slip and either go extended cruising, sell the boat and waiting to find the next, or just got out of boating all together. Just as with any other property you own, you put it on the market to fetch fair market price at the time. Or even better yet you rent out your slip. You rent and collect the monthly due of which is based upon the suggested rent set by the marina. This is done and you never even have to meet the renter, as all is handled by the marina office and staff. If you should wish to sell, it is all facilitated by the marina staff as well. It would be good to mention that many that do own, own for the investment of the property. As it has shown with any property owned, the long haul of ownership is certainly considered a security in your return investments.

Overlooking the slips at Emery Cove Yacht Harbor.

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor and Glen Cove Marina have a lot in common in the fact that both are well run properties, and I was glad to stop in and visit them very recently. Emery Cove Yacht Harbor is in Emeryville, just off the freeway.

Beautiful views surround the Emery Cove Yacht Harbor.

Although being right in the middle of hustle bustle city life, the marina is quite serene and peaceful. Having access to the heart of the Bay, all your Bay boating destinations including the gate, are close and require little thought in getting to them. Located just north east of the Bay Bridge, the setting offers wonderful day views. The night views are also spectacular. The marina is run by Diane Isley and her very capable staff.

Diane Isley who is well known and respected in the marine industry is always eager to assist her tenants or fellow marina operators.

Diane has been at the marina since 1987, and is well respected in the marine community. Having been involved in both the Port Captains and Harbor Masters Associations and the Clean Marina’s Program, she is called upon by many for advice and assistance. These past couple of years have been remarkably busy at the marina, as Diane oversaw two major projects in the harbor. Dredging, which is challenging to any marina, but also the complete rebuilding of all the property’s docks. At this very moment, it is safe to say that Emery Cove Yacht Harbor has the newest docks in all Northern California and a perfect example as to how reserve funds from slip sales and association dues funded the project with ease in doing so.

The new docks at Emery Cove Yacht Harbor.
City views from Emery Cove are mesmerizing.

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor can be reached at 510/428.0505, or you can visit the website at www.emerycove.com.

Glen Cove Marina is in the Carquinez Strait just west of the Carquinez Bridge, tucked away on the north bank in its own little piece of the world.

Glen Cove Marina, tucked into the north bank of the Carquinez Strait, provides excellent protection.

For every part of solitude that you would be seeking, you will find it at Glen Cove. In some cases, you could certainly get lost in the feeling that you have stepped back in time to where the cares of fast-paced life never existed. The white Victorian house, which once served as the residency to the Carquinez Lighthouse completed in 1909 helps that cause quite a bit. Having been moved to its present location in 1957, it now serves as banquet facilities for weddings and other large gatherings. Upon purchasing the property 13 years ago, Nima Gabbay wasted no time in putting his flare present to the marina.

Pride of ownership shows in every action by Glen Cove Marina owner Nima Gabbay.
Glen Cove Marina, where time seems to pass you by.

Cleaning up and dredging the marina was high on his priority list, of which did not take long to complete. Since then, he has improved many areas of the marina including the docks, sheds, lighthouse building and landscaping. At present, progress continues on the new marina office being built just west of the current one. The night views may not be of the city and the Bay Bridge, but being just across the straight from the C&H Sugar refinery, when lighted gives the city view a run for the money. Located where it is, destinations to the Bay, Napa River and the Delta are very convenient.

The view at night from Glen Cove Marina.
Glen Cove Marina looking out towards the Carquinez Strait and the little town of Crocket.

Glen Cove Marina can be reached at 707/552.3236 or the website at www.glencovemarina.net.

Although the choices are many when choosing your boat’s home, there are only a few that offer the ability to own your own slip. Should you have found any of this interesting enough and want more info, you can always contact the marinas mentioned. With such a purchase, it is also suggested that you speak to your tax advisor or legal counsel to ensure it is your best move for the intentions you seek.

If you are already an owner, you might like to take the time to send me a note in the hope to share your experiences. I can always be reached at 
tymellott@yachtsmanmagazine.com. I look forward to seeing you on the water soon.