Long Beach has some of the best weather and water conditions in the country, so it’s no surprise that slips in the marinas are so highly sought after. Even though there are almost 4000 boat slips in the city owned marina, there is usually a waiting list, especially for the larger sized vessels. However, getting a “permanent” boat slip isn’t impossible. There are a few steps you have to take, and having the proper paperwork and documentation ahead of time can make getting that boat slip a breeze. Here’s how to do it.
1. Check each marina for permanent boat slip availability
The first thing you need to know is the terminology the Long Beach Marina Bureau uses. The city rents out slips in three different ways. “Guest Slips” are transient slips that are rented out for a maximum of 15 days per calendar month. These are usually used for boaters on a cruise up and down the coast, or people visiting the city. A “Temporary Assignment” or “T/A” is a boat slip rented out on a monthly basis. These are only available at the Alamitos Bay office, and are meant as a temporary way to fill a boat slip during the construction. These are not meant to be long term slips and the slip assignment will be cancelled when different phases of the construction are completed. For long term slips, much like renting out an apartment or house, ask the marinas about renting a “permanent” boat slip. These slips are rented out for an indefinite period, and many families have had boats in the Long Beach marinas for decades! Since the Alamitos Bay Marina is currently (as of May 2016) undergoing major construction, there may be waiting lists for different size vessels at different times of the year at the different marinas. The only way to find out is to call each office individually and see what their availability is. The office numbers and hours are:
Alamitos Bay Marina: (562) 570-3215 8am-5pm 7 days/week
Long Beach Shoreline Marina: (562) 570-4950 8am-5pm 7 days/week
Rainbow Harbor/Marina: (562) 570-8636 8am-4pm 7 days/week
Same day availability for slips is a rarity, so don’t expect to buy a boat then walk into one of the marinas and immediately get a slip. Doing so is a good way to risk having a boat with no home. Even if a slip is available, between their regular duties and appointments the permit agents for the marinas probably won’t be able to see you same day. Buying a boat and expecting to get a slip the same day or the next day is a recipe for disaster.
2. Get on the waiting list
If there is a waiting list, sign up on it. There is a nominal fee to sign up and a fee every year to stay on the list, but it makes sense to sign up as soon as you can. The wait can be anywhere from a month to a year or more, but as long as you stay on the list they will eventually be giving you a call. The paperwork for the waiting list can be picked up in the office, or can be mailed out, but cannot be faxed and is not available online. This is because there is a carbon copy that needs to be filed along with the hard copy.
The fees paid when you sign up for the waiting list are strictly to get on the list. They cannot be used as part of your security deposit, first month’s fees, or key deposits.
The name that is used when signing up on the list must be the name of the registered owner of the boat. No corporations are allowed, and the name on the waiting list cannot be transferred to anyone else. This means that even if the boat is sold, the new owner cannot take the old owner’s place on the list.
3. Play the waiting game
Like it was mentioned before, depending on what size slip you signed up for, the wait could vary from a few days, to a few months, to a year or more. Slip sizes in the Long Beach marinas range from 20′-120′, increasing by 5′ increments. The quickest waiting lists are typically 30′-45′, and the longest are 20′-25′ and 70’+.
There are a few reasons for the long waiting times for the slips. First, California has the second largest number of registered boats in the country, after Florida, and only so many available slips. Second, Long Beach is in a prime geographic area in Southern California. It is the closest marina to Catalina Island, protected by the breakwall that was constructed when the Navy had a presence at the port. Third, for over 10 years the marinas have been undergoing a massive reconstruction project. Slips have been kept open so that current boatowners (permittees) have a slip to move to when their dock is being reconstructed, and would not have to leave the city.
While you are waiting, it is a good idea to call any of the offices and get updates on your spot on the waiting list. As your name gets closer to the top, it is a good idea to start prepping your vessel and getting your paperwork in order.
One other detail to mention about the waiting list is it is possible to move down the list through no fault of your own. The Long Beach Marine Bureau has a program for permittees who need to leave their boat slip for a period of time, either for cruising or some other reason. The permittee can apply for a “Leave of Absence”, which is good for up to 5 years. When they are ready to come back, they can apply for reinstatement. This means that, instead of bypassing the waiting list completely, they are put back on the waiting list, but with the original date they signed up. This means the person will go at or near the top, pushing all others on the waiting list one spot down. So, if you ever call and find out you have dropped one or more spots on the list, this is probably the reason why.
4. Get your paperwork and boat ready
There are a few things you will need before the city can issue you a slip. The boat will have to be currently registered in the name of the person who signed up on the list, the boat will have to have current insurance with at least $100,000 in liability coverage (property damage or P&I) in the boatowner’s name, and you will need to provide your ID and a picture of your vessel. Vessels registered to one or more persons are allowed, but only one person is allowed to be on the permit.
The vessel will also need to be inspected before you can assume the slip. This means it will need to have the CF numbers and current decal, or the name and hailing port if it is documented; working nag lights, electrical systems, and bilge pumps; and the riggings, lines, decks, and below decks must be in good shape. If the rigging or dock lines are frayed, or there are soft spots on the deck, they may fail your inspection and deny you a slip.
5. Once you are called off the list, set up an appointment
Once you are called for a slip, the permit agent will need to set up an appointment to process your paperwork. The packet that you need to fill out can be faxed over and filled out ahead of time. When you are setting up the appointment, ask the permit agent if the vessel inspection can be done the same day; a separate employee, the field agent or Marina Agent II will do the inspection, and they are not always available the same time as the permit agent.
When you arrive for your appointment to process your paperwork, you’ll need to bring your packet, the paperwork mentioned above, plus first month’s rent, a security deposit which equals one month’s rent, and deposits for gate and restroom keys. The permit agent will give you the total over the phone when you make the appointment. The marinas accept cash, checks, and Visa or Mastercard.
6. Move in to your new boat slip!
Congratulations! Once all that is over-you’ve signed up, waited your turn, and passed inspection-the slip is yours! You’ll get your move-in date from the permit agent, and on that day you can tie up, fill up your dock box, meet your new neighbors, and make yourself at home!