This month we've mostly been thinking about berthing pains...

This month we?ve mostly been thinking about berthing pains. They seem to be cropping up all over the place at the moment, and they?re unlikely to be alleviated by deep breathing, a warm bath or some enternox.

There are two stories in the magazine this month that concern motorboaters both here in the UK and in the western Mediterranean. In Postcards from the Med there is a report on the shortage of available berths in the western Med. In fact, it?s not so much a shortage of berths as a complete lack thereof. According to our man on the Côte d?Azur, there are no berths available for love nor money along that coast, and most of the marinas in the Balearics and the Costas are similarly devoid of space.

But all is not lost for those who wish to keep their boats in the Med. The Italians are going flat out to build new marinas, and their planning regulations seem to be far less stringent than those in France or Spain so there doesn?t appear to be the endless battle between the conservationists and the marina developers. Further east, Croatia, Slovenia and Greece are becoming much more motor-boat friendly, and Croatia in particular is already blessed with excellent marinas, built before ?the troubles? and now being renovated for northern Europeans in search of uncrowded cruising grounds and naturist marinas. Okay, cheap flights with low-cost carriers don?t go to places like Piran, but you can still fly to the central Med relatively cheaply and the quality of cruising is superb.

The other story comes from one of our readers, who is outraged that his marina actually measured his boat and charged him at a higher rate because of his pulpit. While obviously regrettable in this chap?s case, it?s hard to blame the marina for charging boats at LOA rather than waterline length. As David Marsh points out in his answer to the letter, marinas set their rates according to the laws of supply and demand. It?s the same all over the world ? if you want to keep your boat in a fabulous location (Poole, Antibes, Portals or wherever), you have to expect to pay top dollar to do it. It?s a real-estate thing, and we shouldn?t be surprised by it. And we shouldn?t be surprised if a marina charges for the actual amount of space taken up by a boat.

It would be great to have inexpensive marina berths in lovely places, but we have to be realistic in our expectations. Marina developers build and maintain marinas for profit, just as most of us supply goods and services to others at a profit in order to buy and run our boats. Sometimes it?s galling to pay top dollar for something, but there is always another option ? cheaper moorings in out-of-the-way places. And very often, with those cheaper moorings in out-of-the-way places comes a better quality of boating life.