Georgian Bay and the North Channel marinas offer some of the best base locations for your boat in Ontario ... or perhaps in all of North America. If you live in the Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario or anywhere in Central Ontario Georgian Bay has a marina for you. The Bay is very centrally located and more than one full service marina can be accessed by boaters living anywhere from Sault St Marie to Toronto or Lake Huron to Lindsay - in less than two hours drive. That is a huge area to draw boaters from and the geographic catchment is larger than many USA States. The reality is that when it comes to the cruising lifestyle you can choose an urban or rural environment and be right on Georgian Bay ... or you can live in Toronto and be on your boat in Georgian Bay in ninety minutes.
Well, what about Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe you say? Yes Lake Simcoe is also reasonably central and has some nice marinas, but it doesn't hold a candle to Georgian Bay when it comes to protected anchorages and sheer beauty. I don't want to pick on Lake Simcoe, as I sailed there for six years and lived on the lake and club raced, cruised and enjoyed a number of different boats on the lake - but it is not in the same league as Georgian Bay. Lake Ontario is close to home if you live in Toronto but scenery wise it's very "average". Whoops did I say that? The Group of Seven painters didn't trek to Georgian Bay to paint without good reason when they had Lake Ontario in their backyard! Fact is Georgian Bay & The North Channel offer spectacular boating opportunities for both sail and power ... a virtual paradise for cruising yachtsmen. Really the cruising competition for Georgian Bay is not in Ontario it is in areas like the Chesapeake Bay and the Caribbean - and you can't drive there in 90 minutes from Toronto.
The other great thing about keeping your boat in the Georgian Bay region is there are a lot of great marinas in all locations and in all shapes and sizes. A veritable marina buffet if you will. Several of the marinas in Georgian Bay south are among the largest freshwater marinas in North America. Marine service wise, everything is available from the ground-up custom yacht building, historic boat restoration and engine rebuilding, to boat dealers for every major brand of new boat available. Take a look at our MARINA DIRECTORY and you will see the huge volume of available marine services that Georgian Bay & The North Channel offer. We can help you with the math. There are over 10,200 dock spaces on the Georgian Bay & North Channel. Over 57 % are within an easy two hour drive from Toronto.
Marinas range from full service operations where your boat is cleaned automatically every week to totally do it yourself marinas where all you get is the dock. You get to pick based on your docking budget and how much work as an owner you are willing to do or capable of doing. Some marinas have onsite restaurants, some are club environments, some offer resort facilities and many offer onsite recreation like tennis courts, pool and children's play areas. Again you get to pick but there is certainly no shortage of boat docking options to choose from.
The big dilemmas that many boaters face are these:
Do I pick a marina that is closest to where I live to keep the drive time down???
Do I drive say an extra half hour to the marina and get into the 30,000 island region and save on boat fuel and time getting to a favorite anchorage???
Do I visit the boat perhaps less often and treat those visits as holidays and keep the boat at a marina smack in the prime North Channel cruising grounds???
Do I want my marina to be close to civilization with access to movie theatres and fine dining or do I want a marina somewhere quiet away from the hustle bustle of anything reminiscent of a city???
Other marina selection considerations:
There are social aspects to consider. Are there amenities or events that bring other boaters together socially important, if that is something you are looking for? Do they have organized things for kids to do? What about organized Rendezvous or group boat tours? Is the marina pet friendly? Are you looking for onsite dining facilities or nearby dining? What about access to groceries or banking - this may be important to some and not necessary to others.
And then there is the more intrinsic things, like do they offer full onsite mechanical services or have visiting service providers. Do they stock parts or can they get them quickly in an emergency? How long does it take to get unscheduled service and emergency repairs? Is the boat lift big enough for your boat? Is dry land outside storage included in your package or extra? If heated indoor storage is required is it available or can it be arranged by the marina? What about emergencies out on the water? Do they have a boater assist program?
What about recreation onsite like a pool, kids play area, club house or common meeting area? And how about the security and general upkeep of the property. Might be a good idea to spot check the cleanliness of washrooms. Are the facilities adequate for the number of boats in the marina?
There certainly are a lot of questions and things to consider that go beyond the obvious. Some of these will be requirements for some boaters and therefore they will have value in the cost of the service whether unbundled or imbedded ... and for others they won't want to pay for something they don't feel is important to them. Even the view from your slip could be a large factor in what you pay or which marina you will choose depending on how you want to use your boat and how much time you spend docked at the marina.
Decisions ... decisions - you'll have to work those out yourself.
The bottom line is you can't go wrong in choosing a Georgian Bay region marina as a home base for your boat!!!