Coronavirus has played havoc with every aspect of our lives this year, including our ability to get out on the water. Though we had access to our boats from mid-June, it wasn’t until the first weeks of July that cruising could start again as restrictions on overnight stays were relaxed. Not surprisingly, marinas have reported “exceptionally high use” for berth holders desperate to get back on the water and make the most of their boats.
But despite the fine weather midsummer, it is still a drastically curtailed sailing season. So rather than getting the boat hauled out in October, many sailors are reportedly looking to extend their boating activities. Marinas have been quick to spot the trend, and many are offering discounts and promotions to those who keep their boats in the water this winter. The offers range from cut-price scrub-offs to pay-as-you-go berthing.
“Boating is a great outdoor activity that can be safely enjoyed while maintaining social distancing,” says Hannah Wagstaff of Yacht Havens. “Now that boating is firmly back on the agenda, there’s a general feeling that people will sail longer into the autumn this year, if the weather is mild and settled.”
Rebecca Moll of Fox’s Marina on the River Orwell in Ipswich also says they are expecting berth holders to stay in as long as the weather allows. “A number of the boats we have launched were specifically heading out with the intention of making self-isolating easier,” she adds.
Of course, it’s not all about marinas. In many well protected UK harbours, it’s possible to rent a swinging mooring for the winter at a fraction of the summer rate. So, while many Poole Harbour moorings are out of commission during the winter, Poole Moorings offers buoys in deep water at the top of Holes Bay for just £250 for the five months from November to March. They are suitable for boats up to around 13m LOA. Falmouth Haven, meanwhile, offers summer mooring holders a 50 per cent discount on winter mooring. Rates for just the winter season (November to March) are £433.60 for an 8m boat, rising to £903.70 for 13m LOA.
In other places, the winter mooring fee is pro rata'd as a proportion of the annual fee. In picturesque Conwy, North Wales, for instance, a month for a non-resident Oceanis 38 would be charged at one-twelfth of the annual £1,471, or £122.
Insurers say that many policy holders could keep their boats afloat without seeing a rise in their premium. Craftinsure, for instance, says that customers in England and Wales face no winter restrictions even on a swinging mooring, while those in Scotland and Northern Ireland can keep their boats in a marina berth during the winter for no extra charge.
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