Berth short­age leav­ing boat­ies fran­tic for leases

Is­sue only likely to in­ten­sify as Amer­ica’s Cup nears

Weekend Herald - - News - Tom Dil­lane Photo / Peter Meecham

A dire short­fall of avail­able ma­rina berths in Auck­land is forc­ing boat own­ers to “crawl over bro­ken glass” to pur­chase long-term leases cost­ing up­wards of $400,000.

The other op­tion for many des­per­ate Auck­land boat­ies is to shuf­fle their ves­sels across the city’s dif­fer­ent mari­nas for short monthly leases cost­ing thou­sands of dol­lars.

And the prob­lem is likely to get worse as Team New Zealand’s de­fence of the Amer­ica’s Cup in 2011 nears.

Auck­land ma­rina bro­ker Ken Dav­ern said the cost of many berths had dou­bled in the last year, and there is a wait­ing list of three years to get a ves­sel into many berths for in­de­mand city cen­tral mari­nas.

“The de­mand is out­weigh­ing the sup­ply. Some of the prices in Bayswa­ter have dou­bled in the last year,” Dav­ern said, who works for Mari­naBerths.com.

“I know there’s quite a few peo­ple who have been chucked out of the Viaduct or Hob­son West who have had to find new homes for their boats. Rents have gone up so high they can’t stay there.

“Be­cause there aren’t any mari­nas around the only choice for those guys who were rent­ing is to buy. If they get chucked out of the viaduct there’s ba­si­cally no where to go. They crawl over bro­ken glass to pay the money to get the rights to a berth.

“There’s a wait­ing list at Westhaven. If they were to put an­other 150 berths in there I could sell those be­fore they even start their devel­op­ment.”

Com­pound­ing berth sup­ply has been Team New Zealand tak­ing over the ma­jor­ity of Hob­son West Ma­rina as a base for the 2021 Amer­ica’s Cup.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s land man­age­ment com­pany Panuku Devel­op­ment owns around half the berths in the Viaduct Ma­rina right next to Team NZ’s camp.

Panuku gen­eral man­ager of mari­nas Tom War­ren said while there

are no “im­me­di­ate plans” to in­crease the cost of berthing “the Amer­ica’s Cup may im­pact mar­ket rates as we would ex­pect to see across all types of ac­com­mo­da­tion”.

To berth a 30-me­tre yacht in Viaduct Ma­rina in 2018 costs $65,520 a year.

NZ Ma­rina Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Chris Gal­braith said the Amer­ica’s Cup is go­ing to in­crease the num­ber of vis­it­ing yachts to New Zealand by a “sig­nif­i­cant amount”.

“With­out doubt there’s go­ing to be an im­pact on the value of the berths,” he said.

“It’s sim­ply a mat­ter of scarcity of sup­ply and the ex­cess of de­mand, and the de­mand driven by the Amer­ica’s Cup and those that event at­tracts.”

Gal­braith said, for ex­am­ple, the num­ber of

25-me­tre-plus su­pery­achts will go from around 35 a year en­ter­ing New Zealand to near

200 for the Amer­ica’s Cup. “Those boats have to go some­where,” he said.

“That takes out ca­pac­ity in the other mari­nas around the coun­try, but you’ve also got a per­cent­age that will go into Auck­land and fur­ther put pres­sure on that sup­ply de­mand sce­nario.”

Westhaven Ma­rina, lo­cated ad­ja­cent to Auck­land Har­bour Bridge, ac­counts for 30 per cent of the to­tal boat berths in the re­gion.

An Auck­land Coun­cil re­port in April 2018 found Westhaven had “achieved ef­fec­tively full oc­cu­pancy” and has wait­ing lists of “high lev­els of un­sat­is­fied de­mand”.

Specif­i­cally, as of March 2018 there was a de­mand for 237 ma­rina berths sized from 12 me­tres up­wards.

Auck­lan­der Mel Homer — a DJ on the Mix ra­dio sta­tion — leases a berth in Westhaven Ma­rina for her 14-me­tre boat for over $1000 a month.

“We don’t ac­tu­ally have a full-time one at the mo­ment, we’re jump­ing from berth to berth when they’re free, al­most on a month to month ba­sis,” Homer said.

“[We] cer­tainly didn’t fac­tor that in when we up­graded our boat this year. Plus the cheaper, pile moor­ings at Westhaven are no longer avail­able.”

From 2009 to 2018 the av­er­age oc­cu­pancy of Westhaven ma­rina was 92 per cent, reach­ing 97 per cent in 2018 — with much of avail­abil­ity re­stricted to small boats un­der nine me­tres.

A re­de­vel­op­ment of Westhaven Ma­rina is on­go­ing, af­ter 66 new berths were added to the ma­rina in

2015.

Westhaven Ma­rina ac­counts for 30 per cent of Auck­land boat berths and is run­ning at ef­fec­tively full oc­cu­pancy, ac­cord­ing to a 2018 coun­cil re­port, de­spite adding 66 new berths in 2015.

Mel Homer has to move her boat of­ten.Photo / Nor­rie Mont­gomery

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