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Marina fee hike OK with users

It just got a little more expensive to moor The Adventure, Paradise, Snake Hipps and other boats of all sizes at the Oak Harbor Marina.

Despite small increases in moorage rates over the last couple of years, rates at the Oak Harbor facility are significantly below other marinas in the area and there is a perpetual waiting list for slips.

Harbormaster Dave Williams recently presented the city council with a moorage rate comparison and a proposal to increase rates by 6 percent for covered moorage and 3 percent of open moorage. The council members readily agreed.

And boat owners don’t seem to have a problem with the increase.

“It’s a good marina, so it’s fair,” said Tony Gobernatz of Mukilteo, who owns the 40-foot Seawatch V. “It’s close, it’s clean, when the tide goes out you’re not stranded, and it has all the amenities.”

According to Williams, the Oak Harbor marina competes with LaConner, Anacortes and other marinas that are in sailing distance to the San Juan Islands, the most popular destination in the Sound.

One big advantage Oak Harbor has over many other marinas, Williams said, is that it has 129 covered slips while a big marina like Cap Sante in Anacortes doesn’t have any. He explained that it’s darn near impossible to get covered slips permitted anymore since they could have a detrimental effect on eel grass and other aquatic life.

“They’re becoming more and more rare,” he said. “There’s a real value to them.”

Yet compared to the marinas that do offer covered moorage — Edmonds, Everett, LaConner and Deception Pass — the Oak Harbor rate was 14 to 22 percent below the average, depending on the size of the boat. While LaConner’s rate for 50-foot covered moorage is $7.83 per foot per month, it was $6.57 in Oak Harbor.

In addition to the increase in rates for moorage, the live-aboard fee was increased to $40 to $50 per month since the Department of Natural Resources is introducing new rules that will make oversight of live-aboards more demanding on staff time. Also, live-aboards are now subject to the state’s 12.84 percent leasehold excise tax.

The cost of parking storage also increased from $30 to $35 a month. Hoist card lease fees were increased from $15 to $25 a month.

The theoretical revenue gain from all the proposed increases, Williams said, is $38,362. That’s if the boat slips are full all the time.

“Our tenants are supportive of the increase,” Williams said. “The marina committee unanimously approved it.”

Williams said he’s “trying very hard” to create a reserve in the marina’s budget to handle Acts of God and other unforeseen problems. He told the council that his goal, and the goal of the marina committee, is to develop a capital facilities plan next year.

One thing the marina needs, Williams said, is more large slips for boats over 36 feet long.

“That’s where the market is,” he said.

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