When UK marinas get this full, the boat industry braces itself...

When UK marinas get this full, the boat industry braces itself for the inevitable price hikes as marina operators, like city traders, take their profits and seek a return on their investments.

Rumours abound as to MDL’s plans, but they’re playing it cool – or not returning my calls, at any rate. Given MDL’s record, these rumours have a certain apocalyptic quality, but if they have learned one thing since the late 1980s it is the importance of public relations. Connoisseurs await a formal announcement of MDL’s new berthing rates with bated breath.
Yacht Havens Group (YHG) like to present themselves as minnows in a market whose rates are set by their voracious competitor, but their new idea for Lymington Yacht Haven will elicit a low whistle of admiration from MDL: a ‘300 non-refundable deposit to remain on the waiting list.

At 1,083 names this was admittedly getting out of hand. Now, if your name comes to the top and you take up a berth, you get the deposit back, plus interest, against your first year’s fees. But if you get a berth elsewhere, get posted overseas, change your mind, sell the boat, die, or have any other valid reason for wanting to remove your name from the list, you don’t.
Given the sheer front of this proposition, readers who have written in show admirable restraint. “I fail to understand why a non-refundable deposit is required, since a fully refundable renewal deposit would do just as well,” says one. Quite. Peter Waring, the RYA’s marinas specialist, is equally at a loss.

YHG present the scheme as a “drastic” but fair method of reducing their waiting list.
And anyway, “people who can afford to berth in Lymington can probably manage ‘300”, as a director of the company put it to me. No doubt they can, but that’s hardly the point. When I spoke to YHG in mid-August they’d had 150 cheques, with two weeks to run until the deadline: rather less than the 50% take-up they were predicting in mid-July, but still ‘45,000: not a bad return on 1,083 photocopied letters. YHG insist that all this money will, of course, be given back when boats move off the waiting list and into
the marina. But not immediately. And not all at once. Meanwhile, it’s a substantial amount to have sloshing about in the accounts: enough to buy some public relations advice, perhaps?