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Old 05-18-2021, 09:45 AM   #1
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Safe Harbor...what's the deal.

They are seemingly everywhere. Aside from the calling each individual marina I cannot find anything on the web, or even here, as to the viability of joining their "club" or their fee structure. Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-18-2021, 10:19 AM   #2
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I think they are just buying up marinas . not sure there is a club to speak of . some marinas seem to have worse customer service after they take over.
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Old 05-18-2021, 10:57 AM   #3
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What is the deal ? Pretty vague, but we are "members" of this elite club.
Most of us have failed to see and feel the benefits of the acquisitions. We have lost features that we used to have and enjoy like free nights at neighboring Brewers Yards. Oh and Wifi !!!!! Each Marina is run very differently and some get more upgrades than others, Hmmmm
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Old 05-18-2021, 11:28 AM   #4
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Each Marina is run very differently and some get more upgrades than others, Hmmmm

To some degree, that was the case under Brewers before Safe Harbor as well. Some yards just had better people in charge and some got more or less facilities (sometimes due to limitations of the location).
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Old 05-18-2021, 11:54 AM   #5
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Have grown to dislike safe harbors to the point that when homeported in cove haven barrington took my boat to Hinckley for any service or repair I couldn’t do myself. Have a friends homeported on west passage and Massachusetts locations who also are doing the same.
The corporate mentality and administration/ownership by non boaters in this service industry isn’t a good mix.
Knew Brewer a bit. He was committed to boating.
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Old 05-18-2021, 04:40 PM   #6
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Safe Harbor is slowly buying up many marinas in my area. They tend to be pretty good but also at the top of the price range. I avoid them if possible. There are often better, family-run marinas nearby and I'd rather give my money to them.
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Old 05-18-2021, 05:22 PM   #7
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They are seemingly everywhere. Aside from the calling each individual marina I cannot find anything on the web, or even here, as to the viability of joining their "club" or their fee structure. Thanks in advance.
You become a member by having a slip at any of their locations. It's automatic.

Safe Harbor is very aggressively adding marinas, even more aggressively since they were acquired by Sun Communities. Their latest numbers were 115 marinas in 22 states. Their recent acquisitions have also been large and expensive including Rybovich and Lauderdale Marine Center which are very large yards although these are not yet including on the locations on their website which indicates the deals may not have closed yet. That would be more an issue on Rybovich due to the extended time since it was announced.

Here are the member benefits.

https://shmarinas.com/lifestyle/
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Old 05-19-2021, 04:56 AM   #8
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They also bought New England Boat Works. Hope they have the good sense to leave them alone in that like Rybovich on the design and building side they’re singular institutions.
Believe when they control enough of the market they will drive prices up and see this already occurring. Only up side to them for the average boater is they have deep enough pockets as to have the bank of lawyers and lobbyists to effectively fight further restrictions on marina development and conversion to other uses. Still, in sum don’t see them as a positive force and hope you all will support independent marinas in preference to any of their holdings.
What I mostly object to is this “lifestyle” hype they’re selling. I just want a good slip, a good dockmaster, enough rollies , decent bathrooms/showers/laundry on site and security. Also want really good techs and wrenches at a fair price. Find at their places costs go up due to all the “lifestyle “ enhancements they have and I don’t want or use. Very unimpressed with the quality of the service work and excessive billing for that subpar work.
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Old 05-19-2021, 07:21 AM   #9
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They also bought New England Boat Works. Hope they have the good sense to leave them alone in that like Rybovich on the design and building side they’re singular institutions.
Believe when they control enough of the market they will drive prices up and see this already occurring. Only up side to them for the average boater is they have deep enough pockets as to have the bank of lawyers and lobbyists to effectively fight further restrictions on marina development and conversion to other uses. Still, in sum don’t see them as a positive force and hope you all will support independent marinas in preference to any of their holdings.
What I mostly object to is this “lifestyle” hype they’re selling. I just want a good slip, a good dockmaster, enough rollies , decent bathrooms/showers/laundry on site and security. Also want really good techs and wrenches at a fair price. Find at their places costs go up due to all the “lifestyle “ enhancements they have and I don’t want or use. Very unimpressed with the quality of the service work and excessive billing for that subpar work.
"What I mostly object to is this “lifestyle” hype they’re selling. I just want a good slip, a good dockmaster, enough rollies , decent bathrooms/showers/laundry on site and security. Also want really good techs and wrenches at a fair price. Find at their places costs go up due to all the “lifestyle “ enhancements they have and I don’t want or use."
If the lifestyle does not appeal to a majority of the folks they will need to adjust it as time goes on. If the lifestyle does appeal to the majority of folks then the rest will need to adjust.
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Old 05-19-2021, 12:44 PM   #10
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Diversity is the spice of life. Totally agree different strokes for
Different folks. But suspect just like the impact
of big box stores on small independent stores diversity will decrease as a chain like safe harbor increases its market share. You’re absolutely right their business model is lifestyle which has great appeal to many. They’re likely to be successful. Just like Google or Alphabet diversity will decrease as they increasingly control the market.
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:02 PM   #11
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Good analogy Hippo and likely correct. I do miss the local hardware store that would have drawers of unique things you can't find at Home Depot and some old guy who knew exaclty where to find them. Regarding marinas, I'm not against the "lifestyle" thing and sometimes it's a positive. What's unfortunate, just like the Home Depot comparison, they are gobbling up lots of small family-run businesses that have been providing great service for years. But it's OUR fault. We get what we ask for and vote with our wallets. We are just getting what we apparently want.
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Old 05-19-2021, 02:49 PM   #12
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They're also buying up some poorly run marinas -- some on the verge of bankruptcy.

A bad thing when there are no other buyers? Dunno.
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Old 05-19-2021, 04:49 PM   #13
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They face the challenges of appealing to a broad base. Disregarding the service and support boatyard functions for the moment, I think of marina customers. You have transients, active cruisers, and low use boaters. Someone mentioned lifestyle and others have mentioned membership and much of that would appeal to active cruisers. Amenities may appeal to transients. However, all these lifestyle and amenity items cost money and they're things the low use boater doesn't need or want to pay for. Nothing new to this but just a challenging equation to balance.

I think they face one other major challenge. While some people will love Safe Harbor, others will resent them. It's great pushing your brand but what about the customer who didn't like Safe Harbor in Massachusetts. Is he going to hold that against all Safe Harbor? Some will. We own some major brand hardware stores and I can tell you those who don't like one store will often talk badly about the entire brand and stay away. More closely related, I know people who won't stop at a KOA facility because they've decided they're too high priced.

There are two approaches. One is to tie everything together. We've chosen in our businesses to run each location separately and all look like mom and pop stores. A lot of people who prefer mom and pop and local marinas will be very reluctant to embrace Safe Harbor.
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Old 05-19-2021, 05:02 PM   #14
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Brand is very important today and any marina named Safe Harbor will carry at least some of that brand whether they like it or not. I have been to a few in my area and I have to admit they are usually a top notch facility. Nothing against that. They are also at the upper end of the price range. Again, that's ok, you get what you pay for if that's what you want. But there are also some independent family-run marinas that give better service and sometimes have as-good facilities, sometimes not. There are also those that have very rustic facilities, and that charm can be appealing at times as well. I guess what I am saying, and there is no stopping it, is that it will soon be a question of whether you want to tie up at Home Depot or Lowes for the night. Take your pick, you know what you're getting at least.
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Old 05-19-2021, 09:06 PM   #15
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If the lifestyle does not appeal to a majority of the folks they will need to adjust it as time goes on. If the lifestyle does appeal to the majority of folks then the rest will need to adjust.
I hope I'm wrong, but I think what "appeals" to boaters is changing.

It started with Dockwa. A fantastic idea if you like to schedule your annual two-week boating vacation at one popular resort marina well in advance. Not so much if you're a cruiser who picks each evening's destination on the fly, based on weather and your mood.

It seems most boaters today want either (1) day boating/fishing, or (2) a money-is-no-object floating condo at a full-service "spa" resort. Dockwa and Safe Harbors (that would be a merger made in heaven!) are just responding to that demand.

We're seeing the end of an era. Hopefully a few independent marinas will survive, and a few anchorages not fill up with moorings, until I'm too old to care.
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Old 05-20-2021, 04:56 AM   #16
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Capt Tom spot on. Car guys, motorcyclists v dentists on harleys, flyfishers (the fish don’t know how much your rod cost) and others who love a activity for itself face the same dynamic. It isn’t totally about aging out or the changing demographics.
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Old 05-24-2021, 02:26 PM   #17
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I was talking to a local marina to put my recently purchased GB36 there. They later informed me that the marina was sold to Safe Harbor and they wouldn't take a boat my age (1973) under any conditions.
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Old 05-24-2021, 02:59 PM   #18
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In our neighborhood (Sakonnet River, RI), Safe Harbor bought up the Brewer yard and also a smaller private yard (Pirate's Cove). They kept all the staff and leadership in place in the Brewer yard (already very good) and they completely rehabilitated the decrepit Pirate's Cove yard. I think the Pirate's Cove yard had been allowed to go to seed for years intentionally as the writing was on the wall that a buyout would occur. In any case, Safe Harbor (really the guys from the former Brewer yard a mile away) completely rebuilt the docks and revamped service and management etc. This is their first season after rebuilding over the winter. I was a customer for one year at the old private Pirate's Cove yard and honestly anything would be an improvement, but it does look like Safe Harbor has done a nice job. Prices certainly went up considerably but there has been substantial investment in core infrastructure so it is at least somewhat justified.
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Old 05-24-2021, 03:53 PM   #19
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It's the same situation in many sectors...hotels, restaurants, etc. Many people like to be able to count on a consistant service, level of quality and such. I remember stories from decades ago in third world countries whereby people said they were pleased to find a McDonalds, for example, not necessarily for the food, but because they would be more likely to find a clean bathroom.
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Old 05-24-2021, 04:07 PM   #20
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I'm watching their actions to take over St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. It looks like that will go through. I have been on a waiting list for two years for a slip. When I spoke to the dockmaster last week, he told me they were throwing out the list because they expect alot of the old boats to move out, once Safe Harbor begins raising rates. He said that as improvements begin, boats on the newer docks will see 10% price increases each year, for five years. Here is the latest article....
https://www.tampabay.com/news/st-pet...or-renovation/
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