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I walked around the Alameda Marina on Saturday night

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  • I walked around the Alameda Marina on Saturday night

    I stopped to put gas in the truck and get some gas station food on the way back from a Highland Games and decided to walk around the dry storage at the Alameda Marina to give my legs a break from sitting.

    wow.....a LOT of empty parking slots, and maybe only 1/3rd as many sailboats as I remember. The south lot seems to be a breeding ground for Farrier trimarans, though.

    Then I walked a couple of the small boat docks and was shocked to see 6, 8, 10 empty slips on each dock.

    Whats' the deal? I mean, fiberglass boats don't dissolve, they had to go somewhere.

  • #2
    As I approach my first haul-out/bottom job for a couple of years, I'm wishing my boat was back on a trailer there.

    I drove through recently and noticed the same thing - lots of empty spaces. Although drysailing is an economical way to own a smaller keel boat, I suspect it's not economical enough and many of the boats were either sold or are parked in the owner's driveways. The loss of home equity money and the desire to spend it has had a huge effect (IMO).

    Another test is to walk the docks and look at registration stickers (and bottom growth). I suspect there are lots of boats in our marinas that are behind on their slip rent. No need to chain them to the docks - they've essentially been abandoned - but it costs the marinas too much to have them cut up.


    • #3
      Actually, the overwhelming majority of boats in slips that I saw had 2013 reg stickers on them. There were a few moss-growers but not an inordinate amount. Then again, it was dark and I couldn't see much below the waterline. I just remember the dry storage being thick with masts, and now there are a lot of empty slots and a bunch of powerboats.

      I saw that Coyote Point just had a lien sale... not sure what was on the list, tho.


      • #4
        Alan & Bob, Yes, lots of old(er) 22 - 30 foot sailboats are disappearing. If you want a 30 foot berth at Clipper in Sausalito they have quite a few to choose from, and they recently completed tearing out a bunch and replacing them with 40' slips. The back lot at Schoonmaker has far fewer trailered boats than a few years ago. Napa Valley Marina is crammed with boats sitting and moldering away. A walk through there would reap many boat names you'd know from racing days a decade ago. They're regularly cut up - I donated a Newport 30 to the pile earlier this year. No one wants those old fixers, no matter how well they might have sailed in their day. Napa Valley has started requiring a "cut up" deposit on boats coming in.

        A walk through the Presidio or Richardson Bay Marinas would also reveal dozens of old boats we used to race against. They're looking pretty mangy. I know you'd find the same at Pt. San Pablo and I suspect at Coyote Point.

        The same thing has happened to racing on SF Bay, if you haven't noticed. YRA and club beer can races depend on those older boats, but they're just not around and being sailed. How many Ranger 23s were there and how many are being sailed today. Ditto for many other "used to be" classes. Only the Santana 22s labor on in any numbers at all.

        On my dock at Clipper, very few boats on the "30 foot" side are sailed. Their owners keep them registered & insured (a requirement), at least keep them fairly clean (another requirement), and pay the monthly rent, but don't sail them. More boats on the "40 foot" side are actively sailed, but quite a few of them are Club Natique Hunters and Bennies. Over in Basin 4 there are dozens more just sitting there - and quite a few empty slips.

        I wonder about marinas further up the river?


        • #5
          Vallejo Yacht Club had a good year in 2012 and filled many of its 30' slips, then saw some drop off this year. Most of the boats get visited, if not sailed, fairly regularly. I think the club's atmosphere helps. I really enjoyed it there.

          Vallejo Marina (city) has many shallow areas and is really struggling, with lots of vacant slips.

          Martinez Marina did some dredging but recent reports indicate it was insufficient. As I recall the docks are in poor shape, with many unusable.

          Benicia Marina has a lot of vacancy in the smaller slips. Again, insufficient depth in many areas of the marina (they dredged the fairways but not under the slips) and shoaling in the entrance. Also, their slip rates are high because of the goofy lease arrangement with the city. I was there for several months 2-3 years ago, and most of the sailboats just sat.

          (I haven't been over to Pittsburg, Antioch or farther upriver in several years.)

          It sounds like there are many, many sailboat owners who are paying to dock boats they aren't using.


          • #6
            Originally posted by BobJ View Post
            It sounds like there are many, many sailboat owners who are paying to dock boats they aren't using.
            Clean bottoms are FastBottoms!


            • #7
              Coyote Point used to have a 2-3 year waiting list to get in. Now, there are empty slips everywhere. However, they're rebuilding dock 29, which is one of the 60-foot-slip docks and I understand they're staying with that size. Then again, that dock was the one that got the most wave and wind action, by far, so it makes sense that it needs fixin' before the others.


              • #8
                Another change is that back in the 70's and 80's, the first sailboat people bought was in the 22'-26' size range, then moved up to a 'larger' 27'-30', finally 'graduating' to something in the 33'-37' range. From the mid-90's on, the first boat many folks bought were in the 34' range. As those classes grew, folks who raced smaller boats graduated up, and the marina's had a configuration issue. Marinas built in the 70's were geared for most slips being in the <30' range, and had to change to accommodate the now larger sized occupants.

                All that 'history' aside, I think a lot of folks have either found the economic downturn not conducive to buying lunch, drinks and some dinners for x number of crew appealing, and it may have coincided with a lot of plans to finally start families (my excuse), so folks aren't sailing as much if at all.

                Carry on.


                • #9
                  I totally get that racing and sailing in general has dropped in terms of participation, but what I don't get is where all those 60's, 70's and 80's fiberglass BOATS got to. If they're not floating in a slip or sitting on a trailer, the only other real option I can think of is the chainsaw and the dump....and that would be sad.


                  • #10
                    Statistics and projections do not support your nostalgic observations:

                    Number of boats registered in the Bay Area in 1980: 82,754
                    Number of boats registered in the Bay Area in 1990: 95,322
                    Projected number of boats registered in the Bay Area 2001-2010: 111,752

                    Clean bottoms are FastBottoms!


                    • #11
                      I wonder what the split is between power/sail?


                      • #12
                        Assuming Matt is referring to Tables 4 and 5 in that study, it's total registered boats. That includes a blizzard of 14' aluminum skiffs, etc. Apples and oranges.


                        • #13
                          I disagree. Yes, the tables do not differentiate between trailered boats and those that live in marinas. But it is reasonable to assume that if the the total number of boats registered in the Bay Area has increased by 30,000 or so in the last 30 years, that the number of sailboats that live in marinas has as well. The trend is clear- more boats over time, not less.
                          Clean bottoms are FastBottoms!


                          • #14
                            The report is dated 2002 and the numbers quoted for 2001-2010 are simply projections on what they think might happen based on what they knew at the time. A lot has changed in the last dozen years. It would be interesting to get current numbers and to know if that includes documented vessels.

                            I don't think Berkeley has much of a waiting list but there is not a lot of room either. A walk around or an aerial visit via Google Maps (the photo is in the last year or two based on how things look) shows some empty spots on D & E (NE corner) but those are the only docks that have not been rebuilt yet so they may be trying to empty them out. On L dock where Ahi lives (I think it's 30' on one side and 35' on the other) there is some turn over but rarely does a spot stay empty for long. Most of the boats seem to go out at least occasionally and some very frequently.


                            • #15
                              Alameda Marina has plenty of empty slips for sure, but Grand, Pacific and Marina Village are near capacity. Further, when Alameda Marina changed ownership and the rates went up, lots of people moved thier boats elsewhere. Also, it's an older marina with wooden docks.

                              My point is; I don't think you can take a lunchtime stroll around Alameda Marina and then make broad generalizations about recreational boating in the Bay Area.
                              Clean bottoms are FastBottoms!