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5 Fast Facts About Solar Powered Lighting

For small facilities where the logistic of bringing electricity to the dock isn’t feasible there is good news, your options for solar powered lights are improving. But don’t get your hopes up for running an entire marina’s lighting needs on solar lights, it is not in the cards quite yet.

Off-the-grid lights for remote boat docks

Pole mounted, solar powered lights at Townsville Recreational Boating Park in North Queensland, Australia enabled the city to provide safe access during non-daylight hours without the need for running power down to the docks.

A marina’s lights serve two main functions. The first and most important function is safety. There are codes and regulations that govern lighting requirements for marinas and boat yards to ensure the docks and upland areas are well lit. The second function is that of aesthetics and user comfort. Many marinas add supplementary lighting to improve the user experience and to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for their tenants.

As we discussed in our previous blog post about alternative energy sources, different facilities have different incentives in mind when researching alternative power source options. The same is true for solar lighting.

Whether a facility is considering solar lighting for economic, environmental or power accessibility reasons there are five things to keep in mind.

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When it Pays for Your Marina to go Solar

The desire to pursue alternative energy sources is driven by several key motivators including economic savings, self-reliance and sustainability. If you have a marina located in a sunny region with upland property and are looking for ways to cut your operating costs, solar power just might be worth looking into.

solar panels at Marine Group Boat Works

Marine Group Boat Works in San Diego, Calif. recently installed a 483kW rooftop solar system, which is estimated to result in an 81% reduction in annual electricity consumed and an estimated energy cost savings of $155,000 in the first year.

In December of 2016, Marine Group Boat Works (MGBW), located in San Diego, California became one of the first American boatyards to install a large scale, rooftop solar system. According to an article in the Solar Tribune, the new 483kW solar system is located on the boatbuilder’s 35,000-square-foot facility in National City.

The Solar Tribune article also states MGBW anticipates an estimated 81% reduction in annual electricity consumption, generating a savings in energy cost of approximately $155,000 in the first year and over $3 million in net savings over the 25-year warranted life of the solar modules.

When president of MGBW, Todd Roberts was asked why the group decided to go solar he replied, “Our initial decision to go solar was driven primarily by our desire to be a zero-emission, low impact boatbuilder. There’s no question that solar is an economic benefit, but there are many other advantages.”

Solar as an Alternative Energy Source

Alternative power sources continue to advance. Prices of solar photovoltaic (pv) modules are falling, technology is rapidly advancing and local governments and other agencies are creating incentives in the form of rebates, tax credits, loan programs, and grants to support individuals and businesses interested in pursuing solar technology.

But what does this mean for marinas?  Is solar power a viable alternative energy source for marinas? If so, how can your marina take advantage of it?

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How to Create a Successful Future for your Marina

Planning for the long-term growth and financial success of your marina means predicting the future. This includes anticipating and budgeting for future investments in your marina’s infrastructure.

Marina Dock Replacement

A capital replacement fund is part of a long-term financial plan that strengthens the fiscal health of a marina’s business.

Have you given much thought about what it will cost to replace the docks in your marina 20 years from now? Although the idea may be mind-numbing, it’s important information to know.

Knowing this will not only better prepare you for the inevitable future but will give you a clear picture of the value of your current docks.

Owners and operators pour an amazing amount of blood, sweat and tears into building their marina businesses. However, too often planning for the marina’s future doesn’t occur until it’s too late to do it effectively.

How to Determine the Future Cost to Replace Your Marina

If you know the cost to build your original marina and the year it was built, you can get a pretty good idea of what it will cost to rebuild the same marina at the end of its useful life.

In order to make the jump from original cost to future cost, we need to make 2 assumptions.

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Improve Access and Improve your Marina Customers’ Experience

Conscious design choices can enhance ease of accessibility within your marina. Learn 5 things that will promote universal access and guarantee a positive experience for all your customers.

Bellingham Marine's concrete docks at Silver Gate Yacht Club

A dock that is well-lit, has a wide, stable walking surface and is free of trip hazards is appreciated by all boaters.


A happy, satisfied customer can be a business’s best marketing tool. Their word of mouth marketing has the power to quickly build you up or tear you down.

Give your customers something to talk about. Like how much they appreciate the ease with which they are able to navigate your docks. And how comfortable it is to be tied up at your marina.

The idea of accessibility or Barrier Free Access is nothing new. These terms are often used to describe the extent to which an environment is accessible by people with physical limitations or disabilities.

In the United States, the Access Board, a federal agency committed to accessible design gives guidelines for boating facilities, to ensure compliance with mandated accessibility and barrier free access laws and codes. Many other countries have a similar governing body which oversees legal accessibility requirements.

Code requirements often include:

  • gangway slope,
  • walkway and finger pier width,
  • clear space and clear opening measurements,
  • and slip mix or the number of required accessible boat slips.


Beyond legal accessibility guidelines is the idea of universal design.

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Cut through the clutter: Learn what actions a marina can take that will have the greatest environmental impact

Posted on by RComstock

A growing number of marina developers are looking to take an ecocentric (or environmentally conscious) approach to the design, construction and operation of their boat facility. This article reveals the environmental issues that are the biggest concern on a global scale and offers 6 guidelines for marina owners and operators to use in making purchase and operational decisions.

Environmentally conscious marina develoment

According to John Englander in his book High Tide on Main Street, marinas should be thinking about conservation of “energy” rather than conservation of “things”.

Marinas operate in some of the world’s most sensitive habitats.

As environmental concerns grow, more people are wanting to take an active role in being a part of the solution.

Put these two together, and marina owners and developers are smack-dap in the middle of the world’s environmental efforts.

Population growth aside, the single biggest environmental concern is climate change. Biodiversity, water and pollution are the next big 3.

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Make Sure your FRP Rods are Approved for Pontoon Use

Posted on by RComstock

Not all composite products are created equal, and not all FRP rods are suitable for use in the construction of pontoons.

FRP Rods for use in Pontoons

FRP thru-rods for pontoons are a highly specialized product.
The performance properties of Pultron’s FRP pontoon approved thru-rods are attributed to the composite mix, thread design, use of a specialized nut, and a thorough quality control process.


The FRP pontoon approved Thru-Rod from Pultron Composites is a highly specialized product. It was developed by Pultron in partnership with world marina builder Bellingham Marine exclusively for use in floating dock systems.

Pultron’s one-of-a-kind FRP thru-rod will not fatigue or deform under long term stress. It has tremendous tensile, shear, and thread strength and was specially designed to withstand the dynamic forces and corrosive nature of the marine environment. The rod’s specialized performance properties are directly related to the composite mix, a unique thread design, and use of a specialized nut.

There is great variation between products within the composite industry. By definition, a composite is made up of various parts. While products from different manufacturers may look similar their physical, chemical and performance properties most likely differ.

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High Vacancy Rate? Unlock your Marina’s True Potential

Posted on by RComstock

The owners of a marina in Richmond, California were challenged by an outdated, underutilized dock. They found themselves frequently turning away big boats. Their solution, reconfigure the dock they had to maximize slip revenue and create new revenue streams.

MBYH reconfigured one of their docks using existing dock modules

The marina’s reconfigured dock is shown on the far left during the Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show. The reconfiguration allowed the marina to bring in bigger boats.

Bellingham Marine recently completed a renovation project for Marina Bay Yacht Harbor, in northern California. Although the marina’s challenges are not uncommon, their approach for overcoming them is somewhat unique.

G-dock at Marina Bay had a number of problems. But the most frustrating for the marina was the high vacancy rates of the dock’s small slips. At the same time, the marina was turning away larger boats looking for moorage.

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One-of-a-Kind Rowing Dock for NE University

A case study in technical design and constructability of floating structures: Northeastern University boathouse ramp and crew dock

Floating rowing pontoon

An oversized aluminum gangway leads down to the University’s low freeboard rowing dock.


The most fascinating part about this small rowing pontoon and gangway built for Northeastern University in Boston, MA, are the challenges associated with the constructability of the design and how they were overcome.

At 100 feet wide by 17 feet long the gangway at Henderson Boathouse is truly one of a kind. To a layman, these dimensions might not seem extreme. But to a marina builder, to build an oversized gangway like the one envisioned for Henderson and have it land on an 8-foot-wide by 120-foot-long floating dock that has a six-inch freeboard is no small feat.

Northeastern’s vision for their new boathouse and rowing dock was perfect on paper. The poster child for functional luxury – elegant in design and calculated in its function.

The challenge was in the constructability of it. The University hired renowned marina builder Bellingham Marine to help design and build a system that would meet the rowing team’s technical, aesthetic and budget requirements.

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New Boat Park Addresses Unique Site and Use Requirements

Bellingham Marine construction concrete pontoon for new boat ramps

Three new boat ramps with concrete pontoons and two new fishing jetties provide much needed access to the waters around Townsville, Australia.

For the residents of Townsville, the process of taking their boat out for a day on the water was riddled with frustration. Long waits and lack of parking combined with the stress often associated with launching and retrieving a boat (especially by individuals newer to trailered boating) was creating frequent outbreaks of ramp rage at the city’s boat launch parks.

The small town of Townsville, located in North Queensland adjacent to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, is heavily steeped in a culture of boating. The town has a population of 171,000 residents and nearly 26,000 of them have a boat under eight meters long. With only eleven existing boat ramps to service all the city’s boaters, the city was simply unable to handle the number of boats wanting to get on the water each day.

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Bellingham Marine Teams up with other Washington State Companies to Find a Solution to Stop Erosion of Louisiana’s Shorelines

This innovative shoreline erosion product has a negative buoyancy

This innovative modular wall system is proving to be a strong contender in the fight to stop the rapid erosion of Louisiana’s marsh lands.

As you may be aware, Louisiana’s coastal landscape is washing away at an alarming rate; more than a football field is lost every hour to the Gulf. Home to half of the country’s oil refineries, miles of pipelines that serve 90% of the Nation’s offshore energy production and 30% of the Nation’s total oil and gas supply – the landscape on which all this is built is washing away.

Although there are numerous forces that have led to the catastrophic level of destruction of Louisiana’s shorelines, a major force at play is wave action. Desperate to slow the rate of land loss, in 1997, Louisiana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Service (DNRCS) started a research program focused on the development of a retaining wall type system that would stop the rapid loss of Louisiana’s marsh lands.

Numerous systems were developed, studied, and tried by Louisiana’s DNRCS between 1997 and 2012 but none were found to be a viable solution. In 2012, a team from Washington State submitted a concept for a buoyancy compensated erosion control module. The modules were installed along a 500’ section of wetland along with several other systems being tested.

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