retrofitting marinas



Robert MacDonald, COO, owner, Marina Utilities, answers questions regarding significant trends contributing to the worldwide retrofitting of marinas. One important trend affecting marinas is the increase in vessel size. According to industry sources, the number of megayachts worldwide has more than doubled over the last decade. Mega yachts are those from 80 to 180 feet or more in length, with 116 -130 ft. being the average size built in the US.

Yachts have become wider and longer, up to mega yacht size. How does this affect the need for marinas to retrofit existing slips to accommodate the larger size?

There are two big issues that are driving the trend for retrofitting marinas. There are not enough slips to accommodate the big yachts, and the environmental movement has made it much harder to develop new marinas – it is much easier to permit for a retrofit than to develop an entirely new marina.

Do you see smaller boats up to 30 – 40 feet being relocated to dry stack to make way for slip reconfiguration?

Yes. That is exactly what is happening.

What are some compelling reasons for marinas to upgrade?

In addition to the larger yacht size, marinas are upgrading to provide more convenience for the boater, more options for gathering and staying in a location and more reasons for the marina to appeal as a destination.

Can you speak to electrical requirements and need for in-slip pump out?

The electrical requirements for modern boats are much greater than the needs were 20 year ago. Boats are larger and have more sophisticated electronics needs, so the electrical service requirements must adjust to fit the needs. The convenience for the boater also factors into the need for marina upgrade retrofits. In-slip pump outs eliminate the need to move the vessel to a fuel dock for pump-out; this benefits the live-aboard, whether crew, the owners, seasonal or weekend visitors. Even when the owner is not using a large boat or megayacht, the vessel may be chartered for use, and therefore slip needs are continuous.

Have docking systems (wider, different materials) affected the type of connections or cost of what you do?

Not the cost of what we do, because Marina Utilities supplies superior quality marina utilities systems regardless of the size or type of dock, but as the boats get larger, so do the docks, and this factors into the need for marinas to retrofit.

Can you describe the power pedestals that you provide?

We use high-quality weatherproof electrical equipment specifically designed for demanding, harsh climate marina use. The power pedestals will be custom selected to provide convenience, safety and utility.

Is there a tipping point at which marinas will have no choice but to upgrade and retrofit?

There are several factors affecting the timing of the retrofit. Hurricane/storm protection and the aftermath damage to docking and the piping and connection systems are an important reason why marinas must retrofit and upgrade. Marina lifespan is another. No project will typically last beyond a 20 - 30 year period, even if services are still functional, needs change and systems become more efficient and adaptable to meet needs – so it becomes an issue of competitiveness. Marinas without in-slip service will not be able to compete with the marina down the street that has in-slip services.

Marina Utilities has an annualstandpipe system testing service offered to marinas. Inspecting the standpipe systems can be an important indicator of the need for marinas to retrofit to provide adequate protection.

Do energy efficiencies extend to marina upgrades? Equipment, service, lighting, power?

While retrofits are not typically driven by energy efficiency, LED lighting can provide significant energy savings and can positively impact “Green” marina development and retrofitting for Clean Marina and ecomarina programs.

Does Marina Utilities provide utilities for common spaces in the marina, or only the slips?

Dockside utilities is our primary market, however Marina Utilities will provide landside utilities that connect to the marina, such as sewer and water connections ½ to 1 mile away.

In general, destination cruising is becoming more popular, with large size vessels and megayachts becoming the floating home away from home. With these floating homes, there are all the dockside requirements for continuous water, in-slip pumpout, internet, phone and electrical service. Convenience becomes necessity when owners, guests, crew and charter use means that vessels are in continuous service.


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