Bay Port's Indoor storage buildingThe exterior of Bay Port’s indoor storage building is attractive considering the huge size and height.

There are powerful reasons why we are seeing more marinas offering indoor boat storage – just consider the case of Bay Port Yachting Centre.

The backdrop is Georgian Bay, a simply vast body of water that includes the 30,000 Islands and an area 80% of the size of Lake Ontario. It’s 120 miles long and up to 50 miles wide, yet there is a wealth of sheltered, small boat cruising, amazing parklands and what many would claim are a lifetime of anchorages to explore.

The Bay Port Yachting Centre is on Georgian Bay in Midland Harbour, close to both Midland and  Penetanguishene; basically, in the middle of both towns.  Along the shoreline are many cottages as well as year-round homes. This is both a great summer cottage area and also a popular retirement community offering a picturesque, walkable downtown, plus lots of nearby outdoor recreation spaces and of course, some of the world’s greatest fresh-water boating.

Friendly StaffIt makes perfect sense that Bay Port would be a very successful marina anyway, but several years ago, Ken MacDonald who was the manager there for many years, saw the opportunity to build an indoor storage facility for the marina’s customers and their boats.

Friendly staff are ready to help move boats and keep them clean and attractive throughout the season.

This huge new building was a big investment and a pioneering move given the relatively short season in the area. The Bay Port facility would be worthy of a prime location in perhaps Miami, or Fort Lauderdale where boating is a year-round business. Recreational boating in Georgian Bay basically runs from May 24th to Thanksgiving; a much shorter window of business opportunity.  But, it was a brilliant call.

The ‘main course’ is that Bay Port’s indoor storage building delivers the most convenient and complete boating experience on Georgian Bay. Right now, it is full, but people come in and out as their personal situations change, so new customers can usually get in. We visited last August and got the tour through this great facility. The Bay Port Yachting Centre is part of the Maple Leaf Marinas group, operating seven major marinas in Ontario.  Steve Goddard is now the General Manager at the Bay Port Yachting Centre.

Large ForkliftThe very large forklift can easily move even fairly large boats with impressive precision.

We learned that the big rush comes in June from those who want summer ‘in and out’ storage services; the boat is stored ready to go in a pigeonhole. Phone ahead by just a little and when you arrive, your boat is in the water, ready to go. When you return, the team lifts it right out, often washes the bottom clean, and puts it back into the pigeonhole for the next time.

That’s great service, but an even better move is to book your slip in this building year ‘round. You receive a lower rate across the 12 months and overall, this is actually less expensive for the owner of a good boat in many different ways.

First, let’s assume your boat is valuable. Perhaps it is new. It could also be a classic, but for many families, the practical value of their boat is really the replacement cost. If the boat is how you get to your island, you likely have the boat you need now and that you will always need.  Obviously, maintaining it makes economic sense and nothing beats year-round heated indoor storage. You save money on service, maintenance and especially on depreciation. At the end of the weekend, drop the boat in the worry-free safety of the folks at Bay Port till the next weekend or vacation.

Short distance from building to launch basinIt also makes sense for families who do not have waterfront property. Boat ownership is the gateway to Georgian Bay, even for smaller runabouts or water sports towboats. If you have a live aboard, or a day boat with a head, Bay Port can have you ready to go any time, on short notice and from there, all of Georgian Bay is yours. Good weather? Let’s go!

The short distance from the building to the launch basin helps keep up the pace on busy summer weekends.

The boats that are kept at this indoor facility are catered to more. There is staff there all day during the summer and Bay Port has now invested in a second forklift. They have two operators available on the weekends to keep up with customer demand. That gives their customers the assurance of being able to have their boat launched or retrieved easily.

The team at Bay Port Yachting Centre can put as many as 200 boats in and out in the course of a day. The building contains approximately 350 boats, so 200 a day should keep everyone happy.

The building is heated, so the owners of these boats do not face the usual winterizing cost. They have natural gas heaters that are surprisingly efficient. The heaters cycle on and off through 24 hours and can be relied on to keep the building above freezing without a big environmental impact.  That could even help you extend your boating season. Consider how that might work for you.

The boats have their bottoms washed regularly and that helps keep them looking great. You can even leave the top canvas up or down as you wish.  All an owner has to do when they return the boat is turn the engine and the battery off and walk away. How easy is that!

express cruiser being launched

Once this express cruiser is launched, it will be moored in the basic while the owners load and board. Note that the boat has been stored with the canvas off and is ready to go on launch.

Bay Port Yachting Centre also has the basin that they use as a holding area and they can do a valet service for those who want to spend the weekend in the water.

Then, in the winter when boats aren't being used, Bay Port is able to fill in the storage building floor space with boats that normally spend the summer in outdoor slips, so that’s good business for the marina and a benefit for those boat owners. It is such a big building that they store some yachts that are 70 to 80 feet long, safe in the indoor heated security.

The costs are $16.75 per foot on a seasonal basis, or $13.00 per foot for year-round storage. During the season, they have two people handy so that a second person can handle the lines, help the boaters and guide the forklift. The Wiggins Marina Bull forklifts are really precise and accurate.

In other marinas, shrink wrapping boats for storage is a common way and it may seem more economical, but while the shrink wrap helps to protect the decks and some of the hull from winter deterioration, keeping the boat indoors results in far less gelcoat damage. That means less need to compound and wax to keep the boat shiny and attractive, so there is a saving there. The heated building virtually guarantees there will be no freezing damage for internal systems. You might even get a break on your boat insurance, but perhaps the best news is that ‘side’ of environmental benefit.

With Bay Port’s system, there is no big chunk of shrink wrap that might end up in a landfill next spring. Fewer cleaners and chemicals are needed too. Finally, by keeping the boat in top shape, it stays in service for longer and avoids ending up in a landfill. We strongly recommend this approach to service and storage for your boat. We think that boating is better at Bay Port Yachting Centre.