Big boats, big dreams, and BIG opportunities

Today you are hearing from Bill Perry who manages boating related grants for the northeast region. He loves to spend his free time on the water (usually in paddle powered watercraft). 

Ever dream about spending 6 months on a boat traveling the world? Or possibly staying closer to home and traveling down the Intracoastal waterway for a few months in the fall? Or maybe a smaller dream of renting a boat that you could stay on for a week of vacation with a couple of stops to check out some seaside towns?

You probably don’t spend much of that dream time pondering the logistics of such a trip. Things like whether there will be a place to tie up for the night, where you will refuel, and whether there is access to a town with a decent restaurant or pharmacy along your route.

Along the coast, many marinas concentrate on providing seasonal boat slips. The owners can rent a spot to a boater for a fee for the season and have a guaranteed income stream from that dock or mooring. Renting to transients (those boats that happen to want to stop in for a night or a couple of weeks) is a less certain prospect. The possibility that there won’t be anything available along your majestic getaway or that you would not be able to secure a spot for the night when you really want to enjoy some time on land can make your trip less of a dream.

That’s where the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program tries to help. The BIG program provides funding to state agencies for tie-up facilities and associated amenities that are dedicated for use by transient boats greater than 26’ in length. State agencies, in turn, often partner or sub-grant funds to local communities, counties, or private marinas to build the docks and services that boaters need as they travel between locations.

These stops are important opportunities not only for the boaters, but for local communities as well. More communities are looking for options to open their waterfronts and convert them from the working waterfronts of days gone by to attractions with scenic views, restaurants, and open space. Large transient boats bring revenue to these areas in the form of tourist dollars for local businesses, fuel purchases, and taxes.

In the northeast, we have some great opportunities for transient boaters to travel along the coast. For example, Newburyport, MA recently opened its transient boater facility along the Merrimack River that includes mooring opportunities for 6 transient boats, a boater’s lounge, and restroom and shower facilities. In addition, Annapolis, MD renovated transient tie-up facilities that provide opportunities to visit its downtown area. The State of Connecticut includes seven BIG funded locations along the Connecticut River that provide tie-up options. Yorktown, VA provides easy access to local restaurants along with restrooms for boaters at its BIG funded dock. The list goes on.

So, as you dream about that carefree time boating the coast, the BIG program is working to ensure that there will be places to keep you comfortable, well-stocked, and safe, when those dreams become reality.

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