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The owners of a marina in Richmond, California were challenged by an outdated, underutilized dock.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.

For any marina suffering from an outdated, underutilized dock, weak revenue streams, and /or are in a market where there is a shortage of slips for large yachts, Marina Bay offers a good example of a non-traditional solution.

Like most marinas, Marina Bay’s budget could not handle a major improvement project. But they did have some funds available that could be used for a small renovation.

Their idea was to use the docks they had. They would reconfigure them and upgrade the utilities on the dock to transform the underutilized space into one that would solve their problem and improve the marina’s bottom line.

The marina’s Unifloat concrete floating dock system proved to be a viable asset. The dock system’s flexible connection design created an opportunity for the marina to transform the existing dock into one that could accommodate big boats.

Unifloat docks are connected by a waler and thru-rod system. This design provides tremendous flexibility when it comes to configuring the docks. The thru-rod channels of the mainwalk and the finger pier modules line up perfectly. With new longer thru-rods Bellingham was able to rearrange the modules and make them one solid unit.

With the help of Bellingham Marine’s team, Marina Bay Yacht Harbor was able to take its 290-foot-long dock with 30 and 36 foot fingers on either side and transform it into over 450 lineal feet of side-tie moorage that could handle a variety of boats.

the marina's finger piers were used to create a wider, stronger dock

Pile frames were built around the existing pile to create internal pile guides. The modules from the finger piers were laid end to end along the length of the dock to create a wider, stronger walkway.

All but five of the existing fingers along the 290-foot-long dock were removed. The fingers that were left were extended to 40 feet using left over modules.

20-inch square pile frames were built around the existing piles to create an internal pile system allowing yachts to safely moor on either side of the dock. The removed fingers were then laid end to end parallel to the existing walkway to create a wider, stronger walkway that could handle the loads from the larger boats. The reconfigured dock is about 3 ½ feet wider than the original.

New water and sewer lines, a separate dry standpipe fire system and all new wiring for electrical were added to the dock.

The main concern during the conception of the project was whether the existing pile could handle the kind of load the larger boats would have on the system. Bellingham worked with their structural engineers and determined the existing pile could be used.

The unifloat dock system allowed the marina to reconfigured their existing dock to better suite the market

G-dock’s transformation created 450’ of moorage space for vessels up to 150’ and five 40’ slips.

As evidenced by Marina Bay Yacht Harbor and others who have taken on similar dock reconfiguration projects, we can see it’s not always necessary to start from scratch in order to create new opportunities for our marinas.

For most small marinas, having an area that can accommodate transient yachts, can be a great asset. The dock can provide enormous flexibility – giving a marina the option of taking in a single superyacht, two small yachts or even multi-hulls. With larger boats often comes higher revenues from fuel sales, supplies and services.

What characteristics do the bigger boats tend to seek out in a facility? Security, service and cleanliness. The same characteristics all boaters appreciate.

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