Blainemarina now full with Semiahmoo not far behind

Published on Thu, May 12, 2005
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Blaine marina now full with Semiahmoo not far behind

The Port of Bellingham finished an extensive three-year renovation of Blaine’s marina in the fall of 2001. Now, less than four years later, the moorage is completely filled, and the neighboring Semiahmoo Marina isn’t very far behind.

Blaine has 113 commercial slips and 516 slips for pleasure boats, and Semiahmoo has just under 300 pleasure boat moorages. Combined, the two facilities are home to almost 1,000 yachts, fishing boats, commercial vessels and live-aboards, and until recently offered some of the last public moorage available anywhere in the Puget Sound area or close to the B.C. lower mainland.

Not that there literally isn’t room. “We’ve never had to turn a visitor away in the 10 years I’ve been here,” said Andy Peterson, moorage coordinator for the Port of Bellingham’s Blaine Marina, “but yeah, we’re full now for people who want permanent moorage.” The final slips were taken by a few boat owners who forsook Semiahmoo for Blaine after a recent moorage rate increase. Many of the condominium slips at Semiahmoo are sublet by their owners, but the rates are set by an owners association.

Peterson said that he now has wait lists in all nine size categories in which the port markets its moorage slips. The smallest, at 26 feet, costs $143.76 per month, and the largest, at 120 feet, goes for over $600. Demand is highest in the 50-foot range.

“We tell people to plan ahead now when buying a boat,” Peterson said, “and we try to work with them, because you can’t rely on getting the moorage you need.” If you buy a local boat, Peterson explained, the port’s policy is that the seller may only sub-let his space for a year before either giving it up or putting his own boat in the space.

The Port of Bellingham has had a policy of asking that all new Bellingham tenants first locate in Blaine, Peterson said, but this will now have to change. “We’re also at capacity for the number of live-aboard tenants at 50 boats,” Peterson said, adding that when he first came to Blaine the live-aboard community “was like a little village” of about 25 to 30 boats. There are now 29 names on the current waiting list for a live-aboard spot in Blaine.

Dr. Larry Larson, president of the Semiahmoo Condo Moorage Owners’ Association, said that it’s a simple matter of supply and demand, plus that old real estate mantra, “location, location, location. Here, where we’re so close to such great cruising water, it’s no wonder that space is a premium.”

Peterson said that he tries to be optimistic with potential moorage customers.

“It’s not all doom and gloom. Sometimes there’s moorage close by in Canada, at Crescent Beach for example, or at Point Roberts Marina,” Peterson said.