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New reservation system set to sink or swim Jan. 1

POULSBO — Port of Poulsbo Manager Ed Erhardt often likens his guest moorage facilities to a giant, floating motel.

As of Jan. 1, 2004, that resemblance will be a little more obvious.

For the first time ever, pending commissioner approval, individual boaters will have the opportunity to reserve a spot via telephone. Prior to 2004, the marina’s guest moorage only allowed advance reservations for groups of 15 or more boaters. Single boaters were given moorage on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The purpose is for boaters who live a long distance away,” Erhardt said of the new service. “For example, it’s for the gentleman who lives in Seattle and can’t get off at noon to get out here. So he knows when he gets here that there will be a slip available for him.”

Erhardt said he also thinks that boaters with crafts larger than 60-feet will also take advantage of the reservation system because there are currently only two guest spots that accommodate those sizes.

Erhardt said he plans to begin the trial by setting aside about 10 slips on the port’s F dock that will be available for reservations over the phone with a credit card. The additional 58 slips on F dock will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and E dock will continue to primarily be used for boating groups.

“I’m going to try this and see if it works,” Erhardt commented. “If I get a reasonable success rate, I’ll continue it. Whether I expand it will be determined how often it’s used.”

The reservation system will also be accompanied by new reserved signs that were created recently by port maintenance crew members Richard Stice and Andy Jackson.

“The ones we had before were very small and unnoticeable when a boater would be pulling in,” Erhardt explained. “I gave the maintenance guys a challenge that I wanted something noticeable and easy to change ... I think it was a good result.”

Already, two boaters who heard about the Jan. 1 switch over have asked to be first in line to try the new reservation system. But Erhardt cautioned that if the system is successful, it will not necessarily mean all guest moorage will someday be offered for individual reservations.

“I don’t want to go much more than 10 slips because I think it would detract from the overall people who like the first-come, first-served system.”

Also starting the first of the year, the port will be monitoring VHF channel 66A to offer boater assistance and moorage information.

“Generally, that’ll be for information for the boaters,” Erhardt said.

Pending commissioner input, individual reservations are expected to be unavailable for the July 4 holiday and Viking Fest weekend, the same restrictions as the port has for group reservations.

Information about the Port of Poulsbo’s new reservation system is available at http://www.poulsbo.net/portofpoulsbo. Reservations can be made starting Jan. 1 by calling (360) 779-3505. Erhardt said ultimately, he hopes to eventually have the reservation system available online.

“But that’ll be much farther down the road. Probably after the first year evaluation is completed,” Erhardt said.

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