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Should You Buy or Lease a Slip in the Caribbean?

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There’s nothing like a place to call home. Especially, when you’re cruising away from home. Many marinas throughout the Caribbean offer opportunities to dock your yacht for a season, annually or longer. Should you buy or lease a slip?

The biggest advantage of having a permanent slip, is that you can consider the assigned berth your ‘homeport’ in whatever island you chose, even in peak season when marinas could potentially have little or no availability. The disadvantage is potentially limiting yourself to one geographic area. Yet this is easily solved by choosing that location wisely. That is, consider the services, amenities and recreational activities at the marina and its neighboring environs and match them up to your life and cruising style.

There are two ways to obtain a slip of your own. One is to buy and the second, which is much more prevalent, is to lease.

Christophe Harbour is a good example of the former. The 2,500-acre resort and superyacht marina located on the southeastern peninsula of St. Kitts launched the sale last year of the region’s only freehold superyacht berths for vessels from 350- to 400-feet. According to Aeneas Hollins, director of yachting, the new superyacht berths are being offered for sale with deeded, freehold title and range in price from US $6.25 to US $7 million.

IGY Marinas are one of several marine properties that exemplifies the latter.

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You have options to buy or lease a slip with IGY. Island Global Yachting's Simpson Bay Marina on St. Maarten
Island Global Yachting’s Simpson Bay Marina on St. Maarten

“All of our locations offer seasonal and annual slip leasing options,” says Key Mellinger, sales and marketing manager for the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company that operates marinas in the Turks & Caicos, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Lucia, as well as on the Caribbean sea side of Columbia and Panama. “These are typically for durations of 4- to 12-months with renewal options at the end of the term.  We do have locations that offer long-term leasing options which allow vessel owners to purchase a slip lease for anywhere between 5- to 15-years depending on what best suits their specific needs and use of the vessel.”

Similarly, berths are available at Camper & Nicholsons’ Port Louis Marina in Grenada on a lease basis for periods of 3- to 35-years for vessels between 40- and 300-feet in length.

“Initially, we would provide a simple guide to the lease and suggest a visit to the marina. This would incorporate viewing what is available on the marina and discussing the owner’s requirements and how we can best assist,” says Glynn Thomas, general manager. Thomas adds that leases are for specific slips rather than general dockage, and that a standard lease can be completed in a matter of weeks.

There are definite advantages to lease a slip on an annual basis.

Travel in style at Puerto Del Rey
Travel in style at Puerto Del Rey

“Year-round customers receive a lower rate on their slip’s monthly rent in appreciation of their long-term commitment. Long term lease holders also receive additional benefits when it comes to pricing in our boatyard and hurricane plans,” says Carlos Ponce, sales and customer service manager at Puerto del Rey Marina, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

Jolly Harbour Marina and Boatyard on Antigua
Jolly Harbour Marina and Boatyard on Antigua

Customers with an annual contract at Jolly Harbour Marina in Antigua receive unlimited dockage within the marina and storage in the boatyard during the summer season. This contract also includes one haul, launch, pressure wash and chocking package, according to Jo Lucas, general manager of Eastern Caribbean Marina & Boatyard Ltd., which owns the marina. “This proves to be a great option if an owner is coming and going through the year to use the vessel.”

A disadvantage of an extended stay commitment is the slip must be paid for whether the vessel is in the slip or not.

“Seasonal agreements are priced at a different rate, but also offer more flexibility on the lease with a minimum requirement of 3 months or more,” says Puerto del Rey’s Ponce. .

Puerto Del Rey Marina and Boatyard
Puerto Del Rey Marina and Boatyard

The third way to get a slip to call home is as a land and sea combination. One of the latest of these opportunities is underway in Antigua. 

“In partnership with The Inn at English Harbour, we have launched Admiralty Residential Development, an exclusive marina residential development project which allows motor and sailing yacht owners to own a condo or timeshare unit with the possibility of leasing a dock space,” explains Roberto Falangola, managing director of Antigua Slipway Ltd. “The development consists of 8 to10 units, with an option of two or three-bedrooms on 4.18 sea view acres in English Harbour, Antigua. The property uniquely overlooks the historic Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour with a comfortable 5-minute walk to Antigua Slipway Ltd.”

Blue Lagoon Marina
The entrance to Blue Lagoon Marina

The Blue Lagoon Hotel & Marina is also expanding, according to owner, Kelly Glass. “I am developing 4-acres across the water in The Blue Lagoon. We are building another marina where slips could be sold in combination with a condo or hotel suite on land.”

In the end, Puerto Del Rey’s Ponce says it best: “There are countless advantages to having a slip in the Caribbean! The great weather, numerous islands to explore and cultural diversity makes everyone feel they belong to a special place.”

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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