In Harbor Springs and elsewhere, high demand is driving up marina waiting lists

HARBOR SPRINGS – People hoping to get a permanent pass at Harbor Springs City Marina, or many other similar ports throughout the state, will have a long wait.

While Michigan’s waterfront communities have long drawn an ever-changing queue of boaters from across the state and beyond, Harbor Springs harbor master Michael Johnson said demand has only increase as the city approaches the third tourist season since the start of the COVID -19 pandemic.

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“Especially in the last couple of years as people have discovered that it’s easier to be outdoors than indoors if you have… a threat of COVID,” he said. “It’s really broadened our business…I think it’s the same with every other marina I can think of that I’ve spoken to in the last year.”

Harbor Springs has had a long waiting list for berths in its marina for more than two decades, but Johnson said it’s especially noticeable now. There are currently 150 people on the list. The port is due to open on May 16.

Dredging the Boyne City Municipal Marina could cost more than originally estimated after soil samples returned showing elevated levels of certain metals.  Due to contamination, disposal of sand and mud at the bottom of the marina may require additional care and expense.

This is a situation that seems to be an industry-wide phenomenon.

In data released by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, 2020 saw a 9% increase in boat sales and other marine-related transactions, totaling $47 billion.

This peak has still not completely diminished. Despite a slight decline in 2021 of around 4-6%, demand is still at record highs and may even see a further slight increase this year, according to the association.

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A Detroit Free Press article last month said the Detroit-owned Riverside Marina also had a waiting list of more than 100 people, and booming demand in boat sales has led to supply shortages. in many boating communities across the state, which has one of the highest. boater rates.

Boyne City has also been planning a 30-slide expansion of its public marina for nearly two decades. In a previous post, Boyne City Harbor Master Barb Brooks said that all public marinas on Lake Charlevoix are full. The city itself has 44 slips and also has a waiting list of over 100. Some people have been on this list for over 10 years. .

Harbor Springs has 77 slips, 43 of which are available to passengers

Boyne City Marina Docks

But the city is somewhat limited in terms of adding space due to its port plan, which limits the total footprint of space allowed to be used for the marina.

“It also becomes an overcrowding problem,” Johnson said. “Harbor is one of the deepest natural harbors in the state, probably in the Midwest, but still, you know, we’re limited by its overall size.”

But he said it was overall a good thing for the community and the long-term boating passes were a good source of income.

“It’s kind of a high class problem,” he said. “We’re taking care of as many people as possible, and it actually works in everyone’s favor to be able to do that, and it looks like we’re going to have another busy summer.”

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