What is a Boat Marina? [FAQs About Marinas]

A boat marina can seem like an exciting place, and one that you definitely want to spend more time at, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be/ And what about actually owning one of your own? Do you want your own marina? Or do you just what to check them out for yourself? Well, we’re going to take a look at what you need to know. 

 What is a Boat Marina?

A boat marina is a place where you can buy, service, store, or use a dock to get your boat into a body of water. Depending on the location you can pay to rent dock space for a season that can get you through the entire marine season of your area.

A boat marina usually houses at least a few boats but could house upwards of several hundred. The purpose is to make sure that you have a space to store your boat during the boating season so you can easily get out onto the water. But marinas may also have the ability to store your boat on the off-season, getting it up and out of the water or keeping it in a space where it will stay warm enough to be safe all year. 

What is the Difference Between a Harbour and a Marina?

A marina is usually a private business that operates the entire suite of services and availabilities including docking, mooring, sales, service, storage, and winterizing. A harbour is generally a public property operated by a governmental organization that usually only has docking and mooring, it can also be a commercial port meant for transporting goods.

If you’re looking to store your boat for any length of time you’ll want to dock it at a marina. A harbour is generally only for short-term use and is not meant for you to rent or to stay for an extended period. You may be able to stay at a harbour while you get something to eat or for a couple of hours to spend time at a park or local area, but then you would be expected to move on somewhere else so you don’t hog the space. 

Do Marinas Own the Water?

Marinas will rarely own the water they are located on as waterways are open for public use under Federal law. Your marina may be allowed to be considered the owner of the docks attached to their property as long as they do not interfere with the passage of vessels. 

This also means that the marina has limited control over the waterways themselves. While any water that is inside the marina (such as water that flows between separate docks) may be part of their jurisdiction, water that passes by the outside edge of the marina will generally be open to the public and therefore you do not need to be part of the marina in order to get quite close to those docks (though no one is allowed to damage another person’s boat). 

What Does a Marina Do?

Marinas are usually considered full-service private marine service. They will usually have a showroom for boats, a membership system for dock usage, have a storage area that could be inside or outside, a marine service department with a dock operation manager, and a dock system on the water. The facility may be in multiple locations based on geography or availability in the area.

While you are not required to use all of the services that are provided at a marina, it’s definitely going to be easier for you if you do. After all, you’ll be able to get better deals and better service if you’re getting everything done at one place. Not only that but you don’t have to worry about transporting your boat in order to get any services that you need. 

What Type of Business is a Marina?

Most businesses will be limited liability corporations, owned by a single or multiple shareholders. This allows for either individuals or a management company to oversee operations and make decisions for the marina. It is also possible that a marina could be owned as a co-op, where the members go together to decide on important decisions for operations, similar to what a yacht club would have.

Is a Marina a Good Investment?

Marinas can be a good investment if conditions are favorable. If there is a lot of marine activity in the area and a strong link to a body of water it can be a great pickup. If the area is not economically feasible or the facility is deteriorating it will be a more difficult investment.

The truth is that it’s going to depend on the amount of work and effort that you’re willing to put in. Even in a lucrative area, you’re going to have to put in quite a bit of work in order to get and keep your marina up and running. You’ll need to hire the right staff and make sure that you keep enough people storing their boats in the marina. If the marina isn’t in good shape you’ll have an even harder time getting it where it needs to be, but it is still possible. 

How Many Marinas are There in the World?

There are tens of thousands of marinas in the world. In the United States alone there are 12,000 alone. Some countries don’t have a conclusive list of their businesses but if you go near any major body of water you can almost bet there will be a marina nearby.


When it comes down to it you can absolutely find a lot of marinas out there and a lot of people who own them. But is it the right thing for you? Well, that’s going to be entirely up to you. Not to mention you’re the one who will need to decide if you what to leave your boat in a marina or if you’re interested in storing it somewhere else. 

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