Well, I’ve never before posted negative comments concerning a marina… but after 40 odd years of cruising, Captaining and being in the marine industry, our experience at the Alligator River Marina merits commenting…
We were heading North during Mid/late August 2011, called ahead during the late afternoon to see if a slip was available. A very pleasant young lady advised that there would be space available and to tie up on the south dock and come inside to register. We called again just prior to arrival and ordered food, as the store/restaurant closes at 1930.
Upon arrival we found the staff (gas station attendant and grill cook) to be pleasant, accommodating and rather friendly for being at the end of a days work. Our food was ready, we filled out the dockage form- paid for the slip and food and tipped the clerk and cook well for their kindness.
There was only one other transient boat at the marina, the place was essentially empty.
In the morning we took on almost $1,400.00 in fuel and bought breakfast for our crew of three. Between the prior night’s dinner, dockage, breakfast, and some odds and ends from the store, we spent near $1,700.00.
Our main concern was staying ahead of Hurricane Irene, as she was about 4 days behind us when we arrived. Our destination was Long Island.
In fairness, the marina is an adequate, no frills facility, with clean hot showers, laundry, a lounge with TV and internet access, all in a good location. The owner, Ms. Wanda on the other hand is someone we won’t soon forget…
Shortly after departing, we had a minor mishap and damaged one propeller. We telephoned the marina and asked (as their welcome package indicated) if they could arrange for a diver to change the prop. Ms. Wanda indicated that she would arrange for a diver to come to the marina, took our phone number, and said to come back.
Upon returning to the marina, she advised (with a smile) that the diver would not be available until the following afternoon. I explained that we would explore other options, as we wanted to stay ahead of the Hurricane, and that I wished we had known about the diver’s availability prior to returning.
Her displeasure (actually anger to near the point of rage) over our electing to explore our options was evident in her tone of voice, facial expressions and posture….
She simply said, “I doubt you’ll find another diver”. We telephoned a local marine surveyor friend and were able to arrange for a diver who could have been there in two hours. I advised Ms. Wanda that we had located a diver who would be there by late morning, thanked her for calling her diver, and asked that she please cancel his appointment for the following day.
A short while later she came to the boat… banged on the hull and said, “Make sure your diver gives me a certificate of insurance naming me and my marina”…. I called the diver and relayed her message… he said it was not a problem, and that he had dealt with “Wicked Wanda”(His characterization…not mine!) in the past. He then asked that I give her the phone…
This is where it got rather interesting… Ms. Wanda repeated the issue about the insurance and then told the diver that he would have to see her upon arrival, and pay her $30 “for the pleasure of diving from her dock”… an argument ensued between the diver and Ms. Wanda…she returned my phone and said, “I told you you wouldn’t find another diver”
I would have gladly paid the additional $30 to be on our way and ahead of the hurricane.
As I walked back to the boat she turned and said, “I guess you’ve got a real problem now”…
Throughout this situation I chose to maintain my self on the high road and was nothing less than polite… I simply responded, “Well Ms. Wanda, I must tell you, never will I spend $1,700.00 at anyone’s establishment to be treated this way… you have a nice day, we’ll be leaving shortly”
Before I could hit the start button she had us untied and free of the dock….simply unbelievable!
We got underway and arranged for the diver to meet us at Coinjock later that evening. Upon arriving at Coinjock we learned that she had called ahead… we assume in an effort to get us shut out. As always, Coinjock was a pleasure with Louis’ pleasant staff, excellent food, and live music.
Unfortunately, the diver was unable to remove the prop… we limped up to Portsmouth, VA where we were hauled by Full Throttle Marine at Tidewater Marina. It is without reservation that I recommend Full Throttle. They were prompt, friendly, courteous, and quite reasonable for the short haul and changing of both propellers.
Later we were told (but could not confirm) that Ms. Wanda had actually requested the diver to come the following day… If that is true I find it unconscionable that she would attempt to delay us by more than a day in the face of a hurricane for a few paltry dollars in dock fees and food from her store.
Would I stay there again?…Likely not, but anything is possible while on the water! Granted her fuel prices are as good as you’ll find in NC… but whoever you buy fuel from, she gets a piece of the pie… she is the local marine fuel fuel distributor!
We, too, have had a very bad experience with the Alligator River Marina. It was several years ago, we were traveling south and needed fuel. We, of course, did the usual callings and everyone was polite and nice.
Upon arrival at the fuel dock, the wind was blowing very hard (~25k) directly away from the pier. We tried to approach normally but could not. So I called to the dock attendant that we would approach nose on and asked if he could take a line from us and tie it off so we could then use the prop wash on the rudder to force the stern in. He used some choice words about my bad seamanship and told me if I didn’t know how to bring a boat in properly I shouldn’t be boating. He started to walk away. I called to him that I really needed his help and he turned back to us. When we got the bow of the boat near the pier, Suzi tossed him a line and indicated the cleat where we would like him to tie it. He ignored her and short tied the bow to the pier so tightly that there was no way we could bring the stern in. And again he walked away, ignoring our protests. Another boater volunteered to help and we got tied up.
Then, the dock attendant came up to us carrying the fuel pump nozzle and laid it next to our boat, gave me what I would consider a dirty look and walked away. A few moments later I picked up the nozzle and started to fuel our boat. After pumping several gallons the dock attendant came back cursing at me and saying he had not told me to pump yet, and that he was in charge and I wasn’t to do anything until he told me to. I apologized (probably not too sincerely) and he said that he wasn’t finished taking the reading from the last boat which had taken on fuel and that since I had pumped before he zeroed it out, I was going to have to pay what the pump showed was owed and that the previous boat had taken on over a thousand gallons. I explained to him that that was simply not going to happen. We were quite low on fuel or I would have paid for the 3 gallons which I pumped and left. We had intended on taking on over 100 gallons. As it was, we took 30 and went in to pay.
I told the lady inside that her dock attendant was extremely rude. She said, rather coldly, “That’s my husband.” I said, “I’m sorry.”
We will never go back there.
Your timely posting is appreciated. We have not “done the ditch” in about 3 years and will be in that vicinity this weekend. We were discussing whether we should stop in the event that there was new management, but now that we know that WWW is still there, we will–as has been our custom–plan our stops accordingly.
Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s North Carolina Marina Directory Listing For Alligator River Marina
Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Alligator River Marina