SlipFinder, new boating app, getting mixed reviews at marinas

A screen registered boaters will reach on their smartphones when they use the SlipFinder app to locate a last minute reservation for a boat berth. (Credit: Courtesy)
Registered boaters can use the SlipFinder app to locate a last minute reservation for a boat berth.

Need to order a pizza? Click on an app. Need to book a plane ticket? Click on an app for that, too.

Need to find an open slip at a marina while out on the water? Well, now there’s an app for that.

The app SlipFinder — a recent addition to the boating world designed by two Long Islanders — allows boaters to make last-minute accommodations from their smartphone. Several local marinas have signed on with the app this season, while others remain skeptical over its effectiveness.

SlipFinder allow marinas to list their vacant transient slips. Boaters can then use the app or website to purchase the slips as they become available, something that is “revolutionary to the industry,” its website states.

Great Peconic Bay Marina in South Jamesport, Port of Egypt in Southold and Townsend Manor in Greenport have all signed on with the app.

“It’s basically very, very simple and straightforward for the consumer to use and it just seemed like it was easy,” said Dawn Williams, the manager at Great Peconic Bay Marina. “They could book their slip and call up and we get a text and the payment is all done. It was really simple so that’s why we decided to go with it.”

Treasure Cove Marina in Riverhead and Strong’s Marine in Mattituck shared an interest in the app, but are waiting to officially join.

“Our season’s already begun,” said Lauren Lizewski of Strong’s Marine. “We took reservations months ago. It’d be a big transition working from two different systems.”

She said the marina may use SlipFinder next season.

Created by Todd Brice, who runs Yacht Service Ltd. out of Amityville, and Keith Cooper, the app distinguishes itself from other reservation services because of its ability to list last-minute openings.

The app has potential competitors.

DockHop.com, which launched around the same time as SlipFinder, is currently merging with Dockwa of Newport, Rhode Island. In an effort to change the way boaters search for dockage and storage facilities, it works with dock masters to replace antiquated reservation systems and replace them with an Internet-based system, according to Tyler Kneisel, one of DockHop’s founders. Boaters pay 5 percent of their reservations as a booking fee.

Mr. Cooper said the difference between SlipFinder and other services is that no one else is currently offering to link the boater with an open listing that can be booked directly through the app at the last minute. SlipFinder handles the billing process online on behalf of each marina. For this service, boaters pay a SlipFinder a convenience fee of 10 percent of the booking cost.

Currently, SlipFinder has partnerships with 95 marinas along the eastern seacoast of New England all the way to the Bahamas, as well as in the Great Lakes and San Diego. With 88 million recreational boaters in the country, Mr. Cooper is confident the app can further expand its reach.

Others, however, aren’t so confident.

Jeff Goubeaud at the Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport said it was not the time of year for him to evaluate a new service. He’s also concerned that despite efforts the two app developers have incorporated to ensure a smooth booking experience, the boats that show up may not fit in the spaces he has open.

A space for a 30-foot boat isn’t adequate if the craft turns out to be a wide catamaran, Mr. Goubeaud said. His staff knows the questions to ask so each booking will fit the needs of the customer. That includes the power needs, since they vary at different places at the marina.

Mike Acebo at Brewer Yacht Yard in Greenport points out that Brewer is one of a number of membership yacht yards from Maryland to Maine that respond to needs of its members first. Any Brewer member is able to use an available, appropriately sized slip without further charge, but that could be compromised by other bookings coming in from the Internet, he said.

Mr. Cooper said that someone trying to book a slip could provide a picture of the craft or forward a picture from the dealer to the marina to avoid this problem. Additionally, once boaters create a profile, their information stays, making it so that they don’t need to repeat it at each marina.

He remains optimistic that many others will sign on to the service.

“We’re revolutionizing the boating industry by giving marinas and customers a means to communicate in real time,” he said.

[email protected]