Here in Australia we are very fortunate to have so many world-class boating destinations within arms reach of one another. East coast playgrounds like the Hawkesbury River, Port Stephens, The Whitsundays and Sydney Harbour are on every boat owner’s hit list, yet many families, couples and friends are more than comfortable to simply cruise around their home port on the weekends.
Which begs the question: how can we encourage more people to get out and explore our great coastline by boat?
The East Coast Luxury Aquatic Travellers Club (ECLAT) is a great example of how the industry can collaborate to make travelling the length of coastline much more accessible and affordable for the Australian boating community.
Under this initiative, permanent guests of Abell Point, Soldiers Point, Empire Marina Bobbin Head and Gladesville Bridge are entitled to complimentary reciprocal berthing at any of the award winning marinas in the network. While this does create an incredibly cost-effective way to explore the coastline, Luke McCaul from Abell Point Marina (the newest marina to join ECLAT) says that the program is equally about maintaining the high level of customer service that boat owners currently receive at their home port.
“By providing an extended network up the east coast of Australia, members have the option to go cruising and pull into a partner marina with the assurance they will be well looked after. This helps to build loyalty and trust for all members and a greater awareness for good quality marinas.”
Mr. McCaul anticipates that his Airlie Beach clientele may utilise the network over summer when the weather in the Whitsundays is quite balmy and tropical and feel like a cooler change in the southern marinas.
Similarly, General Manager of Soldiers Point Marina Darrell Barnett has seen many of his customers take advantage of the arrangement by travelling north to Abell Point Marina for the cooler southern months at no additional cost.
“This autumn and winter we have also hosted visitors from both Gladesville Bridge Marina and Empire Bay Marina who are luxury marina hopping up to Queensland, which was our intention when we established the ECLAT Club,” he said.
Another example of a beneficial network is the d’Albora Marinas reciprocal berthing program, which provides access to seven modern marinas situated across popular boating regions in New South Wales and Victoria. As a d’Albora customer you are awarded two months of free berthing every year at locations including Pier 35 in the Melbourne CBD, Rushcutters Bay in Sydney Harbour and Nelson Bay in the heart of Port Stephens.
I’m interested to see how initiatives like these marina networks evolve and grow over coming years here in Australia. Will we see a widespread berthing partnership program which allows members to stay at any marina they choose to visit for one simple monthly fee? Could marina berthing become an included cost in boat sharing and syndication programs, or vice versa?