Blue Turtle Cruising

Fort Myers Beach live aboard marinas – what to expect to pay

In the past couple of weeks I’ve had a few folks reach out to us asking for an example of what they should expect to pay for slip rental in marinas in the Southwest Florida area.  This post is intended to be a guide on how marinas charge for live aboards and what to look for in your search. The rates below are current rates for February 2018.

Disclaimer: The rates and fees below are current at the time of writing this post. If you have any questions regarding current rates after the date of this post, you need to contact the marina or visit their website to find the latest rates and fee schedule.

For comparison’s sake, I’m going to compare the current marina we are living at, Salty Sam’s, and the marina we lived at previously, SnookBight. Both marinas are located on Fort Myers Beach and have a lot to offer, but they vary in cost, amenities and the way they charge their rates. I’m also throwing in there the Fort Myers Beach Mooring field rates as well since someone inquired about it. It’s quite different than being in a marina but it is an option for living aboard.

In the table below, I’ve shown the current annual slip rates and fees for each marina. The mooring field doesn’t have annual rates, just daily, weekly and monthly. With marinas, if you sign a contract for an annual slip you usually pay a discounted rate. If you plan to pay by-the-month or not stay there annually, plan to pay higher rates. For example, the annual rate at Salty Sam’s is $15/ft and the month-to-month rate is $16.50.

One thing to note right off the bat is that Snookbight charges by the slip and all of their slips are 50′. This means that if your boat is smaller than 50′, you will still be paying the rate for a 50′ slip. When inquiring about rates you always want to ask if the rate quoted is by the foot or by the slip. Other things to consider are: what are the live aboard fees, if there are fees for pump outs, how do they charge for electric and what amenities do they offer.

Live aboard fees vary from marina to marina and the amenities associated vary as well. Most marinas offer shower and laundry facilities, however, they don’t always offer Cable TV and WiFi. I think these days, most marinas try to offer WiFi but cable TV isn’t always available.  Additional amenities we’ve seen offered include a pool although this is not usually standard so it’s something to consider if you like swimming. Of course, we are are talking about Fort Myers Beach and there is always the Gulf of Mexico to swim in.

Electric is typically either a flat fee or metered. Most marinas we’ve lived and stayed in meter the electric and costs vary significantly depending on the season. We’ve had electric bills as cheap as $15 in the winter months and as high as $160 in the summer months when running two A/C units. Right before we left SnookBight they implemented a flat fee for electric. Using two 30-amp plugs we would have been paying $95 per month. The flat fee probably would have averaged out to be about the same as metered since it’s pretty warm here year round and our winter months are short.t

When living aboard in a marina, you will need to have the holding tank pumped out from time to time. As a Florida Clean Marina, SnookBight offers weekly pump outs for free probably to aid in maintaining that designation.The mooring also offers free pump outs via a boat that will come to you and pump you out as you need it. Salty Sam’s on the other hand, charges $10 per pump out and we’ve been put on their weekly rotation for pump out so our monthly cost is $40.

Many marinas offer mail service. At SnookBight, we had a mailbox and key to retrieve mail and at Salty Sam’s you can get your mail in the ship store where it is pooled in a bin with the rest of the marina. We receive our packages at Salty Sam’s but I switched our mail service over to a PO Box on the beach. I did this because at SnookBight our mailing address was a the marina’s address (a business address) so when when we moved we could not forward our mail and had to change it manually with anyone who sent us mail. I switched it to the PO Box so in case we moved again, it would easily be forwarded.

Our monthly marina live aboard costs

The table below shows a comparison of live aboard marina rates for our 40′ trawler. As you can see, it doesn’t really make sense for us to stay at SnookBight since we would be paying much higher rates because of the slip size. For 50′ vessels this wouldn’t be as much of an issue even though their rate is $1 more per foot. The live aboard fee is also almost twice the live aboard fee of Salty Sam’s. Even with flat fee electric and free pump outs the monthly costs would be several hundred dollars more per month. Add on to that the mysterious 4% State Submerged Land Lease fee they tack on to your bill and you’re paying almost $1,200 after taxes. I’m not sure what the Submerged Land Lease fee is or why we don’t pay it at Salty Sam’s so if anyone knows I’d love to know the answer to that.

Considerations

Every marina is different in how they charge for slip fees and the above costs is probably a good representation of the range of costs from high to middle range for Fort Myers Beach. Their are a few tiny marinas that, if you could get into, would be cheaper although they typically offer very little in terms of amenities. We looked at a couple but dismissed them because of lack of WiFi or parking. SnookBight is a relatively new marina and is probably the nicest marina on the beach in terms of amenities and location. It is also corporately owned so you will pay more to stay there. Salty Sam’s is family-owned and has been around for quite a long time. They don’t have the high-end facilities and pool like SnookBight but it’s still very nice there and very well kept up.

Obviously the mooring field is quite cost-efficient in terms of living aboard but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that works full time and needs to be punctual for a job because of many factors including bad weather and possible dinghy motor issues. Also, you have to factor in the additional time it takes to haul your laundry ashore, grocery shop and transport and fill jerry cans of fresh water to bring back to your boat. If you are retired or aren’t on any kind of schedule, the mooring field would be a good option at least until summer. I can’t imagine spending a summer on hook or in the mooring field in the sweltering days of our long summer months (June – October) without A/C.

Questions to ask when inquiring about marina rates

Below are some things to ask marina staff when you’re inquiring about live aboard rates in marina around here:

  • Does the marina offer annual rates?
  • Do they charge by the foot or slip?
  • Do they require a security deposit?
  • What is the live aboard fee and what does it include? Amenities offered, cable, WiFi, etc?
  • Is electric metered or a flat fee? What is the fee if a flat rate?
  • How does the marina handle pump outs? Self-serve or staffed? Is there a cost or fee?
  • Does the marina offer mail service?
  • Is there available parking?

I feel it necessary to mention that finding a marina that allows live aboards in this area is becoming increasingly difficult especially if you are only planning to stay seasonally. SnookBight and a few other marinas are encouraging seasonal folks to sign an annual contract in order to reserve their spot as they fill up quickly in the winter. We’ve been told by a couple people that our marina isn’t currently accepting any more live aboards at this time most likely due to the facilities being at maximum capacity. Of course, they may open it back up in the future for accepting live aboards so you just have to call to get the latest news. I think this goes for all marinas in the area.

Hope this helps give a little perspective on what to expect cost-wise and what questions to ask when inquiring about rates. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments below.

14 thoughts on “Fort Myers Beach live aboard marinas – what to expect to pay”

  1. Thank you so very much. Currently traveling in my 2013 RV and have been considering a trawler in my future. Retired and ready to try something new. Thank you again and I very pleased to have found your website. Safe travels.

    Reply
  2. Great info Kim and congratulations on the PM article. Very well done! Hopefully we’ll run into you at Trawlerfest. We will be there on the Friday for a morning session and to walk the docks as part of a long weekend trip working with someone from Curtis Stokes brokerage to get on a variety of trawlers from Stuart down to Miami. We’ve given up on the “dream” DF 49 due to the price and really haven’t been on much else so we need to get a sense of other possibilities as we get ready to buy.

    Regarding live aboard marinas in SW Florida, we made the decision to go west coast rather than east coast and during a long weekend for a half marathon event in downtown St. Pete discovered the St. Pete Municipal Marina in the revitalized downtown. They have a nice website that includes a detailed price list. Residents pay less than non-residents and the Florida resident monthly for a slip up to 44 ft, including tax, is $477 and the live aboard fee is $193 including the tax and pump outs for a total of $670. There is no pool on the property but the fantastic North Shore Aquatic center is very close.

    This is a very low slip cost for a “floating condo” in a prime location because it’s government owned not private. The combination of low cost and great location means a 2 year waiting list which is close to our time frame as Amy retires Jan 2020. You have to send in a waiting list application with a $100 deposit. Since we don’t know exactly what boat we’ll have we sent 2 applications, one for up to 44′ and one for up to 50′.

    Reply
    • I’ve spoken with them and for our size sailboat (42′ Catalina) there are 114 other people on the wait list before us. The marina has become very popular and wait lists are long.

      I used your list to look for other marinas so really appreciate your info and research.

      Reply
  3. Very informative; thank you. I hope you don’t mind answering some questions. We have a family business; Airbnb’s, short term rentals. Currently all our rentals are downtown Sarasota and Siesta key.
    We want to give people experiences and not just a place to sleep. We’ve been researching what it takes to rent out live aboard boats.
    We looked into Marina Jacks; no rentals allowed and no houseboats. Any tips on marinas that could fit the bill? Any help is much appreciated!

    Reply
    • We also looked into Marina shacks for a live aboard and rental idea. Out Zflirida friends say there is no market for AirBnB s on the water but I disagree . I would rent anything on the water . Maybe I’m just unique . I’d like to find somewhere between Sarasota and Punta Gourda .

      Reply
  4. I’m planning on selling my home and my 26’ Balboa Sailboat in 2021. I want to but a 35-42’ Sailboat to live aboard as I’ll be fully retired (68 yrs old). I want to live in Florida and which coast doesn’t matter but I also want to sail to Central America, the Bahamas, and all through the islands. A Marina to call home of a variety of spots is becoming a concern. Any suggestions/tips?
    Thank you. Your article was helpful to be sure.

    Reply
    • Hi Irvin,

      Live aboard marinas are becoming difficult to find in our area (Fort Myers/Naples) especially in the winter months. Also, the water here is quite shallow, I know that some sailboats experience issues getting in and out of marinas in the Fort Myers Beach area. There may be more options north of us, maybe Sarasota/St. Pete/Tampa area. Also, we’ve heard the east coast has plenty of marina options (not sure about live aboard or year-round). As you head south to the Keys, the marina become quite expensive and hard to find slips. The best thing to do is look at a map and locate the marinas of interest and do some calling around. Good luck, hope you find your “home base” marina!

      —Kim

      Reply
  5. Kim looking to buy a live abroad dock do u know of any ? my son is living in key west but wants to move more north can u help? thanks have a blessed day John irving

    Reply
    • Hi Bassam,

      Most marinas post their current slip fees and liveaboard fees on their websites. They change frequently so it doesn’t make sense to keep posting them. This article was simply an overview of what to expect to pay and what to look for in terms of “extra” charges and how they can add up. Some marinas charge an inclusive rate for everything (slip rent, electric, pumpouts, etc) while some charge additional for each amenity. You just need to make sure to ask the questions about these when enquiring.

      Reply
  6. Hi there,

    Looks like I’ll be relocating for work, to the Fort Myers area in Feb 2021, and searching for a boat rental to live aboard temporarily. (3-6months possibly?). I’m not really attracted to condos, or apartments life, and feel like I need time in the area to look around before I settle down and purchase something, (perhaps a boat, perhaps a sail boat)! Let me know if you have any leads. I may be moving with one other adult and my, well loved by all, rescue pooch.

    Reply

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