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OLOH Essentials: Dockwa

OLOH Essentials: Dockwa

OLOH Essentials highlights a variety of things that help to make our cruising more enjoyable and convenient.  Hopefully they’ll enhance your time on the water as well!


It was inevitable.  We have long had apps to book our flights, hotels, rental cars and countless other travel endeavors that previously required setting aside time to make a phone call.  Prior to Dockwa, reserving dock space worked the same way.  Sometimes it would go smoothly and sometimes it was a great source of frustration.  At many marinas, particularly smaller ones, there’s not always someone available to answer the phone.  If the dockmaster was fueling a boat or helping someone tie up it was unlikely you were going to get them on the line.  Then time would pass as you hoped they checked the voicemail in time for you to keep your plans.  Very frustrating.  Relieving that customer frustration coupled with the idea of helping marinas realize otherwise lost revenue is where the concept for this terrific app was born.  From the Dockwa website:

The idea for Dockwa stemmed from our home in Newport, RI, where we realized that boaters are frustrated and marinas are losing opportunities to significantly increase their bottom line. Today, the average exchange between boaters and marinas requires fifteen “touches” from the time the boater decides to take a trip to the time they check out of their slip. We believe there is something inherently wrong with that, and we are on a path to change it. 

Dockwa has been a game changer for the way we like to cruise.  It has truly streamlined our planning process from how we research marinas to how we pay for our dockage (it’s all done through the app or their website).  Because the reservation process still requires human interaction on the marina’s end, response times and the quality of information provided varies from marina to marina.  We’ve only had just a couple of frustrating situations where a marina never responded to a reservation request which obviously defeats the whole purpose but, on the whole, we have had excellent experiences with this service as have our cruising friends – we’re obviously writing about it here!

The marinas we’re most impressed with respond in short order and are quick to respond to any follow-up communication with the app’s easy-to-use system to “message marina”.  We do wish there was a system in place to message a marina prior to committing to a reservation.  Sometimes we may only be interested in reserving if we have advance knowledge that we’ll be able to dock on a T-head or next to a boat we’re cruising with.  You can certainly make a request and ask that they only book the reservation if the request can be fulfilled but it adds an extra layer or two to the process.  I have often called ahead to have that discussion prior to submitting a reservation but that takes away from streamlining things.

Then there are marinas that run with it and take things to the next level with the amount and quality of information they send along once a reservation has been confirmed.  Stock Island Marina Village is a great example of how things should be done.  Our reservation with SIMV was made through Dockwa and prior to our arrival the marina followed-up with an extremely informative email containing their slip map, things to know about arrival and check-in as well as a host of other pertinent local knowledge.  Aerial photos are nice but we wish every marina would at least send or link to an actual slip map.  It’s such a simple thing that makes such a big difference to cruisers.

We encourage you to give Dockwa a try.  It’s free to download and costs you nothing to use.  At the rate marinas are adapting Dockwa – and we wish they all would – we know the experience will only continue to improve and become more ubiquitous.  And why shouldn’t it?

Dockwa in the Apple App Store

Dockwa for Android

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