Ghost Boats: The surprising truth of most boats in marinas

When you spend a lot of time around boats, you get to noticing some peculiar things about marinas. They’re like parking lots for boats – but imagine if the cars in the parking lot never moved!

Since I got my start in boating from the Seattle Sailing Club (SSC), I figured most boats get used every week – after all, all the SSC boats did (for the most part). Or if not weekly, at least monthly right?  No? Hmm. The surprising truth I eventually discovered is that most boats get used not at all, in the 8 months between September and June. And even in the 2-4 months of summer (the definition of summer depends on who you talk to), most get used weekly or monthly, but a few still don’t get used at all.


So for a while now I’ve struggled to make sense of this. We’re so fortunate to live in an area where it’s possible to cruise year-round – we don’t have to haul out and winterize our boats like people do on the northern east coast and Great Lakes.


There are two big reasons people don’t sail much in the PNW winter:

Read the rest of the post on S/V Violet Hour.

, , , ,

3 Responses to Ghost Boats: The surprising truth of most boats in marinas

  1. Shannon Morris December 1, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

    Yes! When I lived in LA, there were so many boats at Newport Beach just tied up to the piers. The channel out to the ocean was so busy, people didn’t want to go through. They just went down to their boats and drank gin and tonics on their boats. Like their boat was some kind of water condo. I can only laugh.

  2. Captain Jack November 30, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

    You think that’s bad here. You should see Long Beach, Ca! Thousands and I mean thousands of boats hardly ever leave the docks. You can see evidence of this by the dirt on the boat and next to the mooring lines. I’ve gone sailing many times and only find a dozen boats out sailing. I asked some people why, and they say because it’s either too hot or too cold. I can understand too hot for the wind doesn’t blow but too cold? I’ve gone out wearing shorts and a hawaiian shirt in late December. Only in the month of February I had to put on pants and fleece jacket.
    I just bugs the heck out of me that people pay moorage fees and not use their boats. I’ve seen more sailing activity all year round in Puget Sound than anywhere in L.A. County.

    • Patrick December 2, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      Exactly. It’s crazy to me how little some boats get used. The cost of keeping a boat is so much higher than chartering and club sailing if you only use your boat a handful of times a year.
      Obviously they’re not equivalent, and it’s hard to calculate the break-even point exactly – but that’s why I try to exceed the breakeven point by a factor of 3x-5x. If we were close to 1x it would make sense to consider switching back to charter + club sailing.

Leave a Reply