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Old 10-20-2020, 09:13 PM   #1
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Military Marinas

Hi there,

We're planning on transitioning to becoming live-aboards within the next two years. We are military retirees and have visited several Navy bases with marinas.

The question we have is do any veterans have experience with military marinas from transient perspective. What are your favorite military marinas and what restrictions have you encountered? We're planning to acquire a 52' trawler with a ~16' beam and a ~5' draft.

We're interesting in knowing the military marina environment. Do you know of a centralized place to learn of these options? So far our favorite from 10 years ago was Boco Chico near Key West. Newport, RI has a nice, but limited marina as well.

Our experience is that the Navy has the best ocean front real estate!

Jim
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:26 PM   #2
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No, but there has been a a marina for military personnel near the foot of the northern end of San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge.
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Old 10-20-2020, 11:30 PM   #3
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I don't think you would fit into a slip at Newport RI but they might have space on the long piers. Transient space is limited. (Note that Newport is closed to transients at the moment)
I don't think you would fit into Portsmouth NH. Small slips as I recall and limited transient slips.
Agree though that Newport and Key West have great facilities.
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Old 10-21-2020, 12:05 AM   #4
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IMO most of the base marinas are not setup for transients. In Florida Patrick AFB has a very nice marina but dockage is limited. We stopped at Manatee Cove Marina at Pensacola Naval Station but it’s really designed as most are for small fishing and sailing rental recreation use.
Rving is a much better option, most all military bases have rv parks, with excellent rates and availability with Air Force Bases being our favorite when we rv’ed.
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Old 10-21-2020, 05:11 AM   #5
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I kept a boat at Treasure Island from 1995 through 2018. The first few years was part of MWR (morale, welfare, and recreation) dept of Naval Station Treasure Island. BRAC closed the base in 1998 and slowly transitioned to the City and County if San Francisco.

MWR is tasked with providing recreational outlets did military personnel. They had various equipment available such as ski rentals, travel trailers, and a few boats for rent.

My sense is that it would be unusual for a MWR marina to have large slips, and facilities for transients or liveaboard are bleak, though I did liveaboard at Treasure Island for over 5 years, including during the NSTI years.

Markpierce: the marina at the base of the GG Bridge is operated by MWR out of Travis AFB. But the small restaurant - the Presidio Yacht Club - is open to the public (not a yacht club at all). It was originally the officers club for Fort Baker, a detachment of the Presidio until it was closed in the early 1990s. There used to be a marine railway where you could haul a boat all the way I to a warehouse beneath the restaurant. I'm pretty sure I hauled the last boat on that railway when I took a Newport 28 sailboat I'd purchased from MWR in Treasure Island over to do a bottom job in 1998 or so.

As beautiful as Horseshoe Cove is, it's not a great transient stop. I doubt the marina has open slips, and access to anywhere is awful. But it does have an iconic view of the GG Bridge that has been used as the backdrop of many TV commercials.

Peter
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Old 10-21-2020, 05:12 AM   #6
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My experience is hit or miss.

There are lists of military marinas posted on the web, some by organizations like the Great Loop Association....but you have to join some.

Better off just calling the Morale or Outdoor Recreation office at the base you are going near for info. I too would say they are not transient oriented, but usually accommodating or helpful with other local info.

Any of the ones in touristy areas are going to be tough to get transient space in during the "season" of when events happen. Then too, slip space including transient has not kept up with the sheer number of boats....so transient spaces are becoming harder to come by.
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Old 10-21-2020, 05:25 AM   #7
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The marina at Boca Chica NAS just outside Key West meets this description:

" the Navy has the best ocean front real estate!"

All I can help you with, have only driven past it

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Old 10-21-2020, 05:36 AM   #8
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Boca Chica is an interesting study in the downfall of using an MWR facility. I had a slip in Boca Chica and had upgraded boats specifically to stay there long term in 2023 when my wife retired. The new commander changed a decades long policy to limit the time anyone can stay in the marina to 4 years. We turned in our slip and went back on the waiting list. He also required that you keep your vessel in the slip for greater than 6 months each year. A lot of northern based retirees gave up their slips rather than stop cruising and having to pay the additional Florida insurance to stay into hurricane season.



On the plus side IF you can get a slip the price is awesome. With a 52 foot boat you are looking at a 5 plus year wait minimum. For you the price would be around 475 month including electric. Waterfront and a great airshow most days. Just be prepared for rules to change when commanders change. If you are military then you know the deal.



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Old 10-21-2020, 06:06 AM   #9
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Personally, I like the idea of limiting time and encouraging transients.

Its the lifestyle we enjoyed (hopefully) when active duty and probably bought boats to be cruisers and not squatters. Might as well own a dirt dwelling.

Other marinas I know of have been kicking around the idea of charging all year round to ensure a snowbird slip. Not full price ....but way more than a deposit

With anchoring restrictions and full anchorages popping up all over....and probably getting worse..... some sort of changes are needed.
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Old 10-21-2020, 08:27 AM   #10
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Our limited experience has been hit or miss, too. Mostly miss.

The obstacles have been MWR marinas usually have only limited number of slips (if any) for our size (and 50A shorepower), and then there's that pesky competition (we're way further down the totem pole compared to active duty troops). IOW, they just haven't worked out for us, so far. Not a problem.

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Old 10-21-2020, 09:35 AM   #11
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[QUOTE=DonW28;935211]
Waterfront and a great airshow most days.

I can attest to that. There was a beach at the end of the runway where pre-911 where there was public access. You could almost feel the heat of the Tomcats taking off. Back in my time in the Southern end we saw just about everything the military flew come through NAS Boca Chica, including A-10's and even an SR71.
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Old 10-21-2020, 10:25 AM   #12
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IMO most of the base marinas are not setup for transients. In Florida Patrick AFB has a very nice marina but dockage is limited. We stopped at Manatee Cove Marina at Pensacola Naval Station but it’s really designed as most are for small fishing and sailing rental recreation use.
Rving is a much better option, most all military bases have rv parks, with excellent rates and availability with Air Force Bases being our favorite when we rv’ed.
Not sure where you are speaking of. There is a Manatee Cove Marina at Patrick AFB. Note that they will only accept a MAXIMUM of 45' boats . . . and that is including bowsprit, and swim step . . .unless you are the retired Admiral with the ~55' Hatteras that hasn't moved for years . . .

Pensacola NAS has two marinas, Sherman Cove Marina, which is near the mouth of the bay, but only set up for smaller boats, maybe 26' maximum (don't quote me on that), and Bayou Grande Sailing Marina, which has a LOT of slips, not sure maximum length, but probably 60' or so. Sheltered, and deep water. If you want long term moorage, you are REQUIRED to live within 100 miles of the marina due to hurricane plan . . . No absentee moorage, and no live aboards . . .

We sold the house, now are seriously looking for our next boat . . . .but can't find the one we want . . . . .

Anyone know of a nice DeFever 48 or 49 for sale, or maybe a ~47' Marine trader or similar for a reasonable price, not listed on Yachtworld? If so, please PM me! Good luck!
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Old 10-21-2020, 12:25 PM   #13
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Note that MWR has no incentive to offer transient slips. If someone has left their slip for a long cruise, MWR will rent it out. MWR must be self-supporting, with user fees covering all costs and overhead.
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Old 10-21-2020, 12:37 PM   #14
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Note that MWR has no incentive to offer transient slips. If someone has left their slip for a long cruise, MWR will rent it out. MWR must be self-supporting, with user fees covering all costs and overhead.

They have incentive if a transient slip can make more money than a permanent one.


Regular marinas do it and MWR marinas have to be self supporting but I am not sure their overhead is exactly like a private marina.
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:09 PM   #15
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They have incentive if a transient slip can make more money than a permanent one.
Regular marinas do it and MWR marinas have to be self supporting but I am not sure their overhead is exactly like a private marina.
They rent all of their slips in the spring. There is typically a waiting list. They do not hold back any transient slips. Marina is simply a part of MWR. It's not a separate cost center. All of MWR must be self supporting. So the marina may subsidize the commissary or the auto repair shop.
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Old 10-21-2020, 10:22 PM   #16
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They rent all of their slips in the spring. There is typically a waiting list. They do not hold back any transient slips. Marina is simply a part of MWR. It's not a separate cost center. All of MWR must be self supporting. So the marina may subsidize the commissary or the auto repair shop.

The Commissary has nothing to do with MWR. Totally different agencies, and not a part of MWR. . .
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Old 10-23-2020, 12:24 PM   #17
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[QUOTE=slowgoesit;935268]Not sure where you are speaking of. There is a Manatee Cove Marina at Patrick AFB. Note that they will only accept a MAXIMUM of 45' boats . . .

Pensacola NAS has two marinas, Sherman Cove Marina, which is near the mouth of the bay, but only set up for smaller boats, maybe 26' maximum (don't quote me on that), and Bayou Grande Sailing Marina, which has a LOT of slips, not sure maximum length, but probably 60' or so. Sheltered, and deep water. If you want long term moorage, you are REQUIRED to live within 100 miles of the marina due to hurricane plan . . . No absentee moorage, and no live aboards . . .

It was Sherman Cove Marina not Manatee Cove, we stayed there two days tricky entrance and shallow depths in the marina but well marked channel. The marina manager never mentioned a 26’ maximum length. Our Manatee was the only boat that size there and I would agree with the 26’ limit, The young lady who checked us in and cleared our dockage by phone may have erred. I would not use that marina again unless I had a much smaller boat.
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Old 10-23-2020, 01:49 PM   #18
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The Commissary has nothing to do with MWR. Totally different agencies, and not a part of MWR. . .
True, but they all must be self sustaining so the great marina services we received are probably history.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:51 PM   #19
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Eglin AFB, FL

Eglin has a very nice Marina, our 44’ Cat was too wide 18.5’. Just past the Marina is the Eglin Yacht Club. We stayed there several nights after we joined the club. The annual membership is only $100 and no slip fees. This includes electricity, water and ice. They are a great group of people to be around.
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Old 10-26-2020, 01:44 PM   #20
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Eglin has a very nice Marina, our 44’ Cat was too wide 18.5’. Just past the Marina is the Eglin Yacht Club. We stayed there several nights after we joined the club. The annual membership is only $100 and no slip fees. This includes electricity, water and ice. They are a great group of people to be around.


NAS Pax river often has space for transient and can handle larger boats on the older, fixed, docks. We are based at Newport Naval Station. No slips held back for transients but they will rent out slips while members are gone. Only two T heads can handle larger boats, and we live on one of them in the summer. One long dock with no power also often available. They also have mooring balls, but not for larger boats. The local Navy Yacht Club, Coasters Harbor, has a couple of moorings as well. Plenty of swing room but not strong enough for a large boat in a blow. Transients slips are $2-3/‘ or so.
All that said, location can’t be beat. Short dinghy ride to town and city dinghy docks.
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