While cruising, you will find yourself in a marina from time to time. It might be for a few moments while you fill up on fuel or water, or you might be there for a few days while you carry out repairs. Some marinas even grant you their facilities when you pay a small fee for the use of their dinghy dock.
However it may come about, you will at some point in your cruising life, find yourself in a marina bathroom. Honestly, this is what really makes or breaks it for us when we decide how we like a marina. The piers and the piling just pale in comparison to the bathroom.
Think about it, no matter how fancy or terrible the pier is, you won't spend much time on it as you are only there to walk between your boat and shore. All the structure needs to do is hold your boat and get you to shore. We have been in places where cleats are abundant and the finger piers are long and wide, we have also been in places where the finger pier was a tiny twig that stuck out from the sea wall. No matter how fancy or diminutive the finger pier was, we still tied up and we still got to shore.
Compared to a pier, the marina bathroom is a place that you will be for a bit of time. Either using the shore toilet, or getting a shower, you will be in this place for some time and the conditions of it will create a lasting impression of the entire marina.
Some marinas have bathrooms that will rival 5-Star hotels! They will have air conditioning and heating, exhaust fans to pull out the steam from the shower, and large private shower stalls. My favorite is when they have plenty of hooks to hang your dirty clothes as well as your clean clothes you will put on after you get out of the shower. They will also have benches where you can place your soaps and other items while you take a shower. Last, but not least, they will have clean and spacious shower stalls that supply you with a steady flow of hot water to rejuvenate the crusty cruiser.
On the other hand, you will find some marina bathrooms that are more inline with a truck stop restroom. Everything is dirty, and the paint is peeling off the wall, and in the corner there is a shower stall with a curtain. These facilities will make you think twice about showering on shore, as the cramped accommodations of the head may seem more pleasing.
As a cruiser, you won't shower everyday for a few reasons:
1. It uses a lot of water.
2. You aren't around other people.
3. There is no stress, so you won't stress sweat (which is the smelly kind of sweat).
When you find yourself in a fancy marina with a wonderful bathroom, you might feel like spoiling yourself and showering everyday as a way to treat yourself. This is a wonderful way to relax and take advantage of the amenities you are paying for. Then when you find yourself in a less fancy marina, you will resort back to the old ways of showering every few days (or weeks) and showering in your own head to avoid going onto the shore head as much as possible.
Sadly, price for the slip does not always correlate with the bathroom arrangements. We have been in marinas that charge over $2 per foot and had acceptable bathrooms, and then we have been in marinas that charge $1 per foot and had the nicest bathrooms we had ever seen.
For the sake of extremes, one marina we stayed at charged $0.28 per foot, and its bathroom was acceptable. The ceiling light did not function so you had to bring your own lantern with you, and the shower drain was a bit slow, so if your shower was too long, you would be standing in a pool of water by the end; but this bathroom was similar to any bathroom you would find in a house. Nothing fancy, and nothing nasty; just average.
We are currently tied up at a marina that charges $1.50 per foot, and their bathroom is honestly the worst one we have ever encountered. I only use it for the toilet, while Maddie was brave enough to shower there. She did that once and regretted it, and won't do it again.