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Eyeing the 2017 boating season

Alex Doty • Jan 2, 2017 at 2:00 PM

We’re only a day into 2017, but Grand Haven Municipal Marina staff are looking ahead to the upcoming summer boating season.

City Community Affairs Manager Char Seise recently discussed with City Council the upcoming boating season and some of the changes the staff expects to deal with. One change is the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ new boat slip reservation system.

“This year, the city was selected to participate in a pilot program with the DNR, which I think is going to be very helpful to us and our marina staff this summer,” Seise said. 

Seise said she’s hopeful for a successful year with the pilot program, which will allow boaters to reserve their favorite slips, reserve slips next to another boat if they want to dock together or choose which side they want to tie up.

“This new, enhanced reservation system will allow people to do their reservations very similarly to what campgrounds are able to do,” Seise explained. “We’ll be able to put information about each slip, which will be helpful.”

Customers can make reservation decisions based on the length, width and draft of their vessels — a process city officials have said could provide better customer service and save harbor staff time in making slip assignments.

“We’ve had a couple of tests on it already with group holds,” Seise said of the system. “We’ve had one little glitch, but they were able to fix it quite quickly.”

Previously, boaters would make a reservation through the state's system, which guaranteed them a slip. Upon arrival, boaters would then be assigned a specific spot at the marina.

While marina officials prepare for the new reservation system, they are also hopeful for a busier summer than 2016.

“This summer particularly, we had a lot of rainy weekends and a lot of stormy weekends,” Seise said. “(The weekend) is our busiest time of the season.”

City statistics show there were 1,099 boats that visited the Municipal Marina last year, down from 1,623 boats in 2015 and 1,238 in 2014.

“We did see some numbers down quite a bit from last year,” Seise said. “Even though last year was a cooler summer, it was a drier summer. Boaters don’t come out quite as often if it’s a rainy season.”

Seise noted that she’d like to track the number of users and nights stayed in more detail to get a better idea of trends and marina impacts.

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