The Town of Palm Beach Marina, the only public marina located on the 18-mile (29km) long barrier island between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, reopened to the public in November 2021 after a $40 million rebuild. Completed on time and under budget, it provides a significant upgrade to the marina facilities in Palm Beach County, Florida, and its first year of operation has been a huge success.
Development of the master plan, which began in January 2017, was approved by the Town Council on 10th April 2018. And, as South Florida is experiencing increasing demand for larger slips, the approval of the project design addressed the growing need to expand the marina to allow access for larger vessels, including superyachts.
Murray Logan Construction was chosen as the general contractor for the project and Bellingham Marine was contracted to undertake the marina portion of the extensive renovation. Working together with the Town’s consulting engineer, Baird, the scope of work included total replacement and redesign of the existing marina, and installation of a hurricane-rated Unifloat concrete floating dock system which was put through its paces with minimal ensuing damage by Hurricane Ian. Steel pipe piling with HDPE sleeves, installation of ADA compliant aluminium gangways and waterside utilities were included.
The marina now comprises 84 slips, ranging from 60 to 294ft (18 to 90m) divided between three docks: the Brazilian, Australian and Peruvian. An additional 250ft (76m) structure, the Royal Palm Dock, was included in the project to accommodate superyachts through the use of side ties. Before the renovation, the marina was only able to accommodate one 200ft (61m) yacht, but with the completion of the project it has increased this capacity tenfold.
Odds are good that marketing conditions that existed when your marina was built have changed. You may have a “problem child,” a section of the marina that is underperforming. Or, you may suspect there is an opportunity you could capture if you could repurpose part of your marina.
You’re not alone. Around the world owners are adapting their facilities to welcome superyachts, and it’s paying off. In some cases a marina’s existing floats can be reconfigured and reused without additional pile. That usually avoids reliving the lengthy permitting process.
Superyachts may offer the promise of increased revenues and improved brand caché. The prestige of becoming a superyacht marina can make your marina more competitive and allow you to charge more. Revenue from large yachts may be more consistent than vacancy-prone small slips. Marinas that cater to larger boats can expect higher revenues from fuel sales, supplies and services. They are also unlikely to be burdened with derelict or abandoned vessels.
There are limitations. Reliable channel and basin depth, maneuvering room and ample electrical power are required. 480V 3-phase is essential, as captains do not like to run generators in port. High-speed, high-capacity refueling nearby is an asset.
To answer that question, we held a round table discussion organized by The Triton, a newspaper for captains and crews, at the 7th Street Wine Company in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The event was sponsored by Bellingham Marine and held on April 4, 2007. Robert Wilkes leads the discussion and reports for Marina World. Hosting was Steve Ryder, Manager of Project Development for Bellingham Marine.
One of the fastest growing segments of the boating world is super yachts 30 meters and above. This is a world where moorage is difficult if not impossible to find in many places. New, larger marina slips are being constructed at a much slower pace than the number of super yachts being launched. This presents a challenge to coastal developers, marina operators, yacht captains, and the dock companies that build marinas.
What do the owners, captains and crew of super yachts want in a moorage? One marina builder, Bellingham Marine, wanted to know. Encouraged by the success of their marina at Port Forum, Barcelona, Spain, they sponsored another “forum” in Ft. Lauderdale. Under The Triton’s and Bellingham Marine’s invitation, eight captains, an engineer, a chef and a purser gathered for a lively group discussion. All were seasoned veterans who have sailed the world; all had a lot to say about the marinas they frequent.
Marina World (MW): We’re here today to get opinions about the marinas you use. We’re hoping the discussion will inform marina operators and developers. The question for the evening is: “What do you look for in a marina?”
Round Table (RT): Slips are not big enough for the boats that are being built right now. The sizes of the vessels are increasing, and it’s getting worse. So you end up spending a lot of time at anchor.
RT: I’m captain of a yacht just over 200 feet long, and fat. It’s hard to find a place to put it.
RT: In the Med it’s a problem to find big boat berthing. If you don’t book today, you haven’t a chance for summer. Nothing is easy in Europe, versus here in the U.S. And size means more people, not only more guests but more crew. They need services…taxis, airlines. It’s no secret, we are captains, but we are service providers number one.
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MAGAZINE: Marina World
ISSUE: May/June 2007