Scituate boaters camping out for elusive marina slips

SCITUATE, Mass. — Ray Shanahan bought a boat during the pandemic and he’s desperate to dock it in Scituate Harbor.

“We called it a ‘pandemic boat’ and we are here waiting for a slip so we don’t have to trailer it,” he said.

Shanahan and his family joined a handful of other boaters Wednesday afternoon, setting up camp next to Scituate’s Harbor Master on Edward Foster Road. Their makeshift campsite resembles a line of anxious Black Friday shoppers, only instead of discounted TVs and laptops, it’s a piece of paper they’re after.

“There’s no waiting list, this is actually how you get the slip each year. You’ve got to come down and camp out, stay the three to four days beforehand,” Shanahan said.

Marina slips are like Scituate Harbor parking passes and there’s a finite number. When a boater declines to renew a slip, their space is given to the next person in line every Aug. 1. The annual cost depends on how long your boat is: this year boaters said it’s $110 per foot.

Several years ago, boaters started lining up to be first to claim an unused slip.

“This is the earliest people have been down here. It kind of keeps getting earlier and earlier each year,” Shanahan said.

“We’re a boating family, but I wouldn’t camp out for four days,” Scituate resident Caitlin Coyle said. “Everybody bought boats during the pandemic. Now there’s a whole bunch of people who need a place to put their boat and there’s just not enough capacity for that.”

“If you trailer a boat and you trailer it each time you’ll know this is the best situation, to have a slip,” Shanahan said.

Town Administrator James Boudreau did not respond to a request for comment.

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