If you’re hoping to get moorage for your boat in any Comox marina, there’s only one question to ask yourself: “Do I feel lucky?”
You may have noticed the same boats in the same places, month after month, year after year. There’s a good reason for that: their cleats are tied to the most sought-after real estate on water, that rarely, if ever, opens up for rent.
What looks like one big parking lot for boats is actually four separate marinas. The Comox Valley Marina is located on the far right of the boat launch and has its own locked gate and rampway. The manager described the waitlist as “substantial” – likely over 100 names. Very occasionally, smaller slips in the 27 – 30-foot range become briefly available if the annual occupant choses to temporarily backyard a vessel that can be trailered during the off-season.
Just left of the boat ramp is the Gas N’ Go Marina with 16 full slips. Manager Debbie MacLean described the waitlist simply as “long.” However, once in a rare while a slip becomes available, and if the boaters next in line have since moved on (or passed on – you can only imagine how long it takes to reach the top of the list), some lucky boater gets moorage. Stories on the dock tell of people buying old boats, not to keep the boat, but for the berth it occupies.
Next and centre, Jeff Whetter oversees the Comox Municipal Marina. Earlier in the year, he was getting up to six calls a day asking for moorage. He holds a 20-year-old waitlist with up to 60 plus names per slip length. And the turn-over? He mentions the popular 40-foot length and says, “Well, I’ve been here for, let’s see, 10 years,” and then raises one hand to count less than five.
Far left from the boat ramp, the Comox Valley Harbour Authority is responsible for Fisherman’s Wharf and the Courtenay Slough. Priority is given to commercial vessels, and the Courtenay Slough is further limited by tide and depth. There’s no waitlist because there’s no point.
There’s a beautifully understated paragraph on moorage by the authors of The Sailing Bible that begins: “It is easier to leave a marina than to arrive.” How true. Unlike the countryside of soil, the watery real estate of the Comox harbour has reached its limits.