Specialty Docks Designed for Paddle Boat Use
March 1, 2017
Get on board with the paddle boat trend and unlock a new revenue stream for your marina. The idea that marinas are only for the privileged can be a harmful attitude.
By Robert Wilkes
To many in our communities, the local marina is as distant and forbidding as Area 51. From the outside looking in, they see security fences and locked gates. The unintended message is, “The water is for the privileged few.”
That may be changing. There is a growing trend to build marinas with facilities for sailing dinghies and affordable human-powered water craft. Kayaks and other paddle boats are supplied by rental concessions or brought to the marina on a car top. Sailing dinghies are part of clubs and schools. When equipped with low freeboard or slanted-deck docks, young but eager student sailors build confidence by launching and retrieving their sailing dinghies unassisted.
Human-powered watercraft is the fastest growing segment of the boating industry. That’s not surprising given the surge in active outdoor lifestyles. How many friends did you see today wearing a Fitbit?
Marina “dead spots,” notches and corners too small for maneuvering and unusable for slips, come alive when re-purposed for paddle sports. Even the narrow and shallow strip of water between the parking lot and the first mainwalk can become Kayak Boulevard, as in Blu Harbor Marina in Redwood City, California (see photo on page 23).
Marinas around the country are incorporating clever and imaginative dock structures designed to help make ingress and egress of kayaks and other paddle boats safer and more stable. Many owners specially configure launch docks to assist the disabled go from wheelchair to kayak on their own.
New energy is poured into the marinas as more people get involved in boating. The community shares the love of water sports together, young and old. The hedge fund manager uses the same marina as the barista that makes his coffee.
Boating is Changing
The marina industry was built on two developments since the 1950’s: boating manufacturers developed affordable fiberglass boats and Boomers bought them and filled our marinas. But instead of buying bigger boats every few years, Boomers are getting out of boating. So the future of the marina industry depends on introducing younger generations to boating.