NEW RMYS MARINA BRINGS BREATH OF FRESH AIR
July 3, 2014
The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) is one of the mainstays of Melbourne boating with a vibrant 140-year history. History has a way of repeating itself. Case in point: in 1879 the St Kilda Sailing Club (as it was then called) had a few dozen members and a bank balance of £17 (the currency of the time). The club submitted plans to the town council to build a club shed. St Kilda residents opposed the project and quashed the application, but club leaders persisted and were rewarded in 1885 when the Lands Minister provided a ‘free grant site’ for the shed. It was built at a cost of £120. The project took nine years.
Fast forward 125 years to 2nd February 2014. On a hot summer day in Melbourne, RMYS welcomed the public to its all-new 250-pen marina. The festive occasion attracted more than 300 celebrants, many of whom plunged into the water in the 40°C heat. The new marina features floating concrete pontoons by Bellingham Marine Australia and accommodates boats from 10m to 23m. New gangway, utilities, fire protection and pump-outs were included. The harbour’s wave protection was enhanced by extensive improvements to the breakwater and the addition of a new wave attenuator, also from Bellingham Marine Australia. Service pedestals and Keco pump-outs were provided by M-Tech. Just as happened more than a century earlier, the project took nine years.
RMYS is a familiar landmark on Port Phillip, a large protected body of water on a scale with San Francisco Bay. Convenient to the city’s CBD, RMYS was the venue for the 1956 Olympic sailing competition and is known for its busy race programme.
Time for an upgrade
RMYS leaders recognised in the late 1990s that the existing marina with its fixed timber docks and swing moorings was outmoded and becoming a liability. Melbourne has several yacht clubs that compete for members and the marina was inadequate by comparison. Seeing that a new marina was essential to the club’s financial viability, the members formed a new entity called St Kilda Safe Harbour Ltd in 2003 to prepare the way for a new facility. The work was funded by $5,000 pledges from 140 members. The first applications for permits and approvals were filed in 2005. As the applications worked their way through the approval process, Parks Victoria launched the St Kilda Safe Harbour Concept Plan to redevelop the harbour and breakwater. The RMYS application was subsumed into that process and RMYS and Parks Victoria worked together on researching, planning and eventually phasing the construction.
The complexity of the planning and approval process had exploded since the club built its first shed. “No one can appreciate how long and complicated the process of building a structure on water can be until they’ve done it,” said RMYS general manager, Rod Austin. “This is a politically sensitive area and we had to satisfy 11 separate community interest groups, meet with them and resolve their concerns. It took a long time. We depended on our volunteers to attend the meetings and win over the public, and they did a magnificent job. Once the work began, there were no problems, only compliments. Because of our people’s community relations skills, our project is done. There are several other projects on Port Phillip, some of which started before ours did, that are still waiting for approval.”
Pontoons and breakwater
RMYS hired the engineering firm GHD to be lead engineer and lead contractor for the project. The club reviewed tenders from several pontoon manufacturers with differing pontoon systems and eventually opted for a floating concrete system from Bellingham Marine Australia. The 140m wave attenuator was also sourced from Bellingham Marine Australia due to its proven performance and durability. Fitzgerald Constructions was the contractor for the improvements to the breakwater. The project included an extension to the south end of the breakwater and a new spur, or groyne, at the north end. Construction presented unique challenges. Because the breakwater is far from the shoreline, the massive rocks had to be accumulated on the beach then loaded onto ‘Moxy’ trucks. The trucks were then loaded onto barges and moved across the harbour to the breakwater. The rocks were placed in exact locations determined by GPS coordinates,after which the trucks had to motor backwards to the barge and return to shore for another load. The operation took nine months and 2,000 truckloads of rock.
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