Angie’s List for Boaters
Finding good help in a far flung port may be easier as the Mariner Exchange app takes hold. The boating app sources marine services, separates them by type, and rates the vendor via consumer feedback.
It all began with an effort to profile a wide range of regional boat service vendors located around the northern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. We have watched this startup gather momentum in the Annapolis, MD area, spread north and south on the Bay, move into Delaware waters and recently send their crew to Newport, RI to launch their app with a focus on New England sailors and services.
The goal is to link boaters with marine trades providers through a user-friendly app that geographically links nearby marine services, lists their technical talents and adds ratings and reviews. Their premise is that word of mouth is the “old school” way to find someone to fix boat problems such as an overheating diesel or a broken shroud.
Many boaters are skeptical. They see independent marine services as an opaque and fragmented industry, one that would benefit from a third party information flow. The Marine Exchange works as a centralized hub pointing boaters toward a wide range of repair providers. Users can book a needed service and receive an estimate. The app uses crowd-sourced info compiled from the experience of other boaters who have used a specific service. Feedback from users is shared on the app helping to steer others seeking a qualified service provider.
Cofounder Alex Nicholson (no relation to the editor), alluded to a boat owner from Long Island who was Cruising on the Chesapeake Bay and need a technician to repair an ailing AC system. Unsure of capability of the local options, he decided to fly his homeport technician to Baltimore in order to reconcile the problem. Alex pointed out that 71 percent of boat owners are middle class families and aren’t about to fly in a “have-wrench-will-travel” technician. But they do want more than a yellow pages listing to effectively hire a local tech.
Mariners Exchange has recently developed partnerships with Sea Tow and The Waterway Guide. Their arrangement with the latter includes a significant valued added for app users. The inclusion of the Waterway Explorer, a detailed, digital chart option, is very useful to cruisers exploring the Chesapeake Bay’s abundant coves and harbors. Marinas are listed and their services are called out—there’s even small anchors embedded on the charts that depict a wide range of available anchorages—a real value to those heading north or south on the Bay.