By Robert Wilkes
Caution: this is a story of marina redevelopment and expansion in New Zealand that contains a number of challenging Māori names. Be undaunted. It’s an inspirational story well worth the effort.
Lake Taupō is considered the “beating heart” of the North Island by Māori. The lake bed is formed by a huge volcanic crater and is owned by Ngati Tūwharetoa, a Māori tribe made up of 26 hapū, or sub-tribes. Motuoapa Marina nestles on the shore of a village of the same name. Now that you have mastered these challenging Māori names, we begin.
New Zealand is a new land that rose from the sea as the result of the massive collision of tectonic plates. Lake Taupō is in a volcano caldera or crater formed by multiple eruptions over 300,000 years. The last major eruption 1,800 years ago may have been the natural phenomenon noted at the time by chroniclers in China and Rome. Located in the middle of the North Island, the 623 sq. km lake is the largest in New Zealand. Major population centers are three hours south and north, notably Wellington and Auckland. The lake is dotted with stunning cliff-side Māori carvings and visitors enjoy fishing excursions and adventure tours. Remarkably, but not in New Zealand, there are ski resorts not more than 30 minutes away.
The original marina was built fifty to sixty years ago by local boating enthusiasts and members of social organizations who wanted a place to keep a boat on the lake. They did it with grit and sweat on weekends. They created a cozy marina for family boating in a beautiful setting; some say it has the greatest trout fishing in the world. All the slips are permanently rented by local residents and boaters who drive up from the cities.
Ready for renewal!
Unfortunately, there were no hydrologists among the volunteers. While the lake water just outside the marina is always pristine, the water inside did not flush and was stagnant, algae-choked and infested with invasive catfish. There were plenty of other issues. An island took up valuable space in the middle of the basin. Boats berthed around the perimeter were pile-tied with their bows to a crumbling timber sea wall. The “boaties,” many of them aging, had to clamber onto the pointy end with their groceries in their arms and shuffle alongside the deckhouse to the cockpit.
Motuoapa Marina was loved, but long past its useful life. There was no water, no electricity, no security, no lighting and no services. Part of the marina was on the boundary of private land and half the boaters were effectively trespassing to get to their boats. Worst of all, due to a lake level that fluctuates by 1.4 meters over a year, boaters couldn’t access their berths or navigate the channel during low water.
And you think your marina has problems!
Wave attenuator design is becoming more critical than ever to the success of your marina. Learn from the experts what you need to know when it comes to attenuator design.
By Robert Wilkes
Floating wave attenuators are a recurring subject in Marina Dock Age. Jack Cox wrote about them in “Revisiting Marina Design Standards” in the January/February 2017 issue. This month we present a wide-ranging dialogue between Cox and another experienced engineer, Craig Funston, focused on the question, “What basic knowledge should a marina developer have about wave attenuators?”
Let’s meet our engineers for this discussion. Jack Cox is a principal of SmithGroup JJR. Cox spoke to us from his office in Madison, Wisconsin. Craig Funston is principal of Redpoint Structures in Bellingham, Washington. Both have long résumés with impressive marina design projects, including dozens of wave attenuators, and both are respected experts in the field.
Marina Dock Age: Do you see any trends in developers’ criteria for tranquility inside a marina? What do they consider an acceptable wave environment?
Jack Cox: Owners used to tell me that if their marina was as calm as the competition, it’s calm enough. We’re not hearing that anymore. Marinas are becoming social neighborhoods and people like to spend time on their boats in the slips. Boaters used to be alarmed when sailboats rocked and their shrouds got tangled. Now they’re upset if a guest spills a martini while watching the sunset.
Craig Funston: I agree, but the trend toward quality is true of everything, not just marinas. If we all had to live in the small houses we had in the 1950s we wouldn’t be happy. Everything has gotten better, including marinas.
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?
Hurricanes are dramatic. Each marina in the path of the storm has a different story to tell. These stories help us learn about engineering, design, preparadness and planning.
By Robert Wilkes
In the December issue, the Marina Dock Age report about damage from the storm highlighted the importance of good communications before and after a hurricane. The article provided Internet sites that listed the condition of marinas, which marinas are opened or closed, navigation conditions on waterways and where fuel is available. See the December 2016 issue, page 42.
Marina damage from Hurricane Matthew varied from scattered tree limbs to total destruction.
This article shares the hurricane stories of three marinas that found themselves in the path of Matthew. They are Fort Pierce City Marina and St. Augustine Municipal Marina in Florida, and Harbour Town Yacht Basin on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. We’ll take them as the hurricane did, from south to north.
The city of Fort Pierce’s $31 million rebuilding project opened in June 2015, and replaced the marina that was destroyed in Hurricane Frances in 2004.
We are approaching a turning point as an industry. To put a round number on it, the modern marina industry is about 50 years old, a half century of explosive growth in which the number of marinas and slips parallels the growth in boat ownership.
By Robert Wilkes
Few “original” marina industry pioneers are still on the job and Randy Short is one of the West Coast’s most prominent. In February, 2014, the governor of California appointed Short to the state’s Boating and Waterways Commission. The board addresses issues relating to recreational boating and plays a role in managing grants to develop boating infrastructure.
Short is a hands-on marina guy. He has more than 30 years building and managing marinas with Almar Management. The company operates 17 marinas throughout California, Hawaii and Mexico. Short was instrumental in building their properties at Ko Olina Marina in Hawaii, Cabo San Lucas in Baja California and many projects up and down California.
At Almar Short helped create the art and science of operating a quality marina with high standards of service, cleanliness and safety that has served as a model for marina operators around the world. Short was Almar’s Chief Operating Officer for many years and is now President and CEO.