Owning a Marina

By Jonathan Guion

There is a romance to working each day at a marina and spending your day around the
water and boats. In addition to the romance, a well-run marina is a great business model
with significant profit potential. Marinas generally fall into two categories which include,
recreational marinas and boatyard marinas.

The recreational marina is designed for the recreational boater and, whether dry storage
or wet slips, includes amenities to attract the boater. These amenities include clean
restrooms at a minimum and can include a restaurant, a pool, snack bar, picnic areas, bait
and tackle or ship store, fuel, boat rentals and frequently, events to entertain and keep
guests engaged and on site. You notice, I said guests. A well-run recreational marina is in
the hospitality business and needs to cater to its guests. Revenue from a recreational
marina comes from slip rentals and the related amenities. When the slips are rented out on an
annual or full season basis, the revenue tends to be very steady and predictable.

A boatyard marina is typically geared to the maintenance and repair of boats, though they
often also rent slips to the recreational boater. The amenities at a boatyard marina are geared
more to servicing and repairs to the boats, including out of water work yards, larger lift
capabilities, parts and supplies and access to service contractors. Revenue from a boatyard
marina comes from repair services, parts and, depending on its size, some slip rentals. Once
a marina builds, and maintains, a reputation for doing great work, the revenue stream will be

In spite of the romantic aspects, running a marina is managing a business, and needs to be
treated as such. There are several successful ways to manage a marina business, which
include self-management, hiring an onsite manager or hiring a third-party management
company. Self-management is the most involved and requires the owners to actively
participate in the daily operations. If you are out-going, have a happy disposition, enjoy
helping people and want to be hands on, self-management could be for you. If you don’t want
to be hands on every day, you might be better served by hiring an on-site marina manager
to handle the day-to-day operations and you can focus on the oversight and the long-range
issues. Finally, if you are more the investor type and only want to visit occasionally, you
have the option of hiring a third-party marina management company to handle everything.
The third-party management company will hire and handle the staff, handle the income and
expenses, and prepare your capital maintenance list. Each of these options has a different cost
associated with the management process, but remember a well-managed marina has great
cash flow potential.

Cloud-9 Aerial Photography

The Yankee Point Marina (shown here), and currently for sale, is a unique mix of both
the types of marinas. Yankee Point Marina is a secluded, quiet family marina with pool
and snack bar, waterfront lounge, fuel and recreational marina amenities, but is also a
successful boatyard with a significant portion of its revenue coming from the established
21-year-old boatyard operations. With over 100 wet slips there is a good balance between the
recreational and the boatyard operations. Ready for some romance?

Jonathan Guion runs Coastal Marina Sales focusing on marina and commercial waterfront sales on the Chesapeake Bay and in the Mid-Atlantic region. He can be reached at 757-496-0866 or at [email protected].

Broker: Shimabito Properties LLC, 1340 N. Great Neck Rd., Suite 1272-120, Virginia Beach, VA 23454