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March April 2019 Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry

TALKING SHOP

TALKING SHOP Marina manager Ian Wilkinson, excited about the upcoming Foss Harbor marina development plans, enthusiastically promotes the visitor attractions of Tacoma. Foss Harbor: nestled in the Northwest Tacoma in Washington has been transformed since its period of mid-20th century decline to a thriving waterfront community, recently named as one of the most liveable areas in the USA. Its marina, Foss Harbor, is no exception. Charlotte Niemiec invites Ian Wilkinson, marina manager, to talk shop Foss Harbor marina, which lies on the Pacific Northwest coast in the state of Washington offers stunning views of Puget Sound, a complex system of interconnected marine waterways and basins and home to the Cascade Mountains, the Kitsap Peninsula and the San Juan Islands. A highlight for any keen boater, “one of the great things about the region is its extensive maritime heritage,” says Ian Wilkinson. “Cruising, sailing and fishing are woven into the fabric and boating is one of the more popular pastimes.” There are dozens of marinas within a 20-mile radius, providing a wide range of cruising destinations. Foss Harbor marina “is literally in the heart of downtown Tacoma and is within walking distance of dozens of world-class museums, shops and restaurants,” he adds. With such a variety of local competition, Wilkinson focuses on providing world-class service and all modern amenities. “Tacoma boaters may have many marina options to choose from, but we believe our facilities and customer-focused mentality help set us apart. We want to make every boater feel like our most important customer,” he says. The marina is currently in the final stages of negotiations with the City of Tacoma to develop a high-end, mixed-use residential community. The approximately US million project will include 325 residential units and a variety of shops, restaurants and marina support facilities such as washrooms, laundry services and a grocery store. “This unique development will combine all the elements of a fullservice marina and thriving waterfront residential community, creating an exciting and convenient destination for boaters, tourists and Tacoma residents alike,” says Wilkinson. He expects permitting to commence within 12-18 months, with construction beginning shortly afterwards. “It’s taken several years to get to this point in the process, so we’re incredibly excited for this project,” he adds. “Our marina is right at the mouth of the Foss Waterway, so this complex will be The esplanade and adjacent lounge area forms a popular hub for boaters. one of the first things visiting boaters see, thus serving as the focal point of Tacoma’s thriving waterfront.” Superyachts on the rise Foss Harbor has 416 slips ranging in size from 26-50ft (8-15m), including 20 end-tie moorings that can accommodate vessels up to 95ft (29m). The most popular slips are those in the 44-50ft (13-15m) range, which typically have a waiting list of two years or more. The marina can also accommodate up to 20 superyachts from 70-95ft (21-29m) on end-tie moorings. One of the newest piers, B-Dock, can accept vessels up to 130ft (37m). “While superyachts aren’t yet as ubiquitous in the Northwest as, for example, Fort Lauderdale in Florida, recent legislation and tax benefits have been introduced to make Washington a more desirable superyacht destination in the coming years,” Wilkinson says. The marina has existed and operated under several different names and ownership groups for more than four decades. The current owners took possession in 2001 and rebuilt virtually every dock at the marina over the next few years, with some built as recently as 2015. “We have four remaining covered piers slated for replacement within the next three to five years, depending on permitting and market conditions,” Wilkinson adds. Current occupancy is around 96%, but the marina is typically at full occupancy 16 www.marinaworld.com - March/April 2019

TALKING SHOP Foss Harbor marina is in the heart of downtown Tacoma, offering easy access to museums, shops and restaurants. from March through to October. Most berth sizes have a waiting list between six months and two years. Environmentally-conscious All piers are floating pontoons attached to steel piling, with synthetic decking and fully encapsulated foam flotation. “Floating piers are a must here,” explains Wilkinson, “as our tidal ranges can be as great as 15ft [4.5m] in a given day!” A fuel dock offers ValvTect diesel and ethanol-free unleaded fuel and is capable of fuelling boats up to 110ft (33m) in length. The marina provides a free pump-out service on the fuel dock, as well as a complimentary berth-side pump-out boat service for its moorage tenants. “While some marinas in nearby cities charge US0 per month or more for this amenity, we include this free service as an incentive for our boaters to be environmentallyconscious when it comes to disposing of their waste,” says Wilkinson. “We believe that operating a world-class marina facility can and should be done in an ecologically responsible manner in order to preserve this precious aquatic resource for future generations. Our status as the 2015 Washington Clean Marina of the Year is proof that this is an achievable goal.” A boatyard is available near to the marina that can repair and refit vessels up to 100ft (30m). A haul-out service is located immediately across the Foss Waterway, just a few hundred feet from the marina. While the marina does not have drystack storage at this time, it has 96 11ft x 22ft (3m x 7m) upland storage lockers, which can be used for small boat or vehicle storage. These are particularly popular with the marina’s many live-aboard residents, providing much-needed additional storage capacity. Modern amenities Other amenities include a marina market/ship’s store, washrooms and showers, laundry services, a tenant lounge, waste oil/fuel recycling, kayak and paddle-board rentals and a fuel dock and pump-out service. Cameras are located throughout the facility and all piers have locked security gates accessible only by marina residents. But security is not a particular concern. “Despite our location in a relatively dense, urban environment, safety and security issues at the facility are minimal,” Wilkinson says. “Tacoma has come a long way since the ‘rougharound-the-edges’ days of the 1970s and 80s.” The marina has recently added free WiFi throughout the entire site, which Wilkinson says is “simply a musthave in this digital age”. There is also an on-site USCG captain’s licence training provider, Flagship Maritime, which allows boaters to obtain their CoastGuard certification in just two weeks – all while staying at the marina. Foss Harbor is home to one of the newest Freedom Boat Club franchises (see article p.22), which offers an affordable boat club membership as an alternative to vessel ownership. “Our partnership started about a year and a half ago and has proven to be an attractive option to getting people on the water, particularly among the Millennial demographic, whose participation in traditional boat ownership has declined in recent years,” Wilkinson explains. Freedom also offers its members reciprocal access to its other 140 plus locations in the US. At 34, Wilkinson – a qualified private pilot, guitar player and scuba diver – is no stranger to marina management; over the last 12 years, he has managed marina properties in Texas, Wisconsin and Washington State. He received his Certified Marina Operator’s certification from the International Marina Institute in 2017. “If you’re passionate about marinas, boating and want to remain at the forefront of this rapidly-evolving industry, I highly recommend getting your CMO/CMM certification,” he says. “It’s incredibly challenging, but even more rewarding in the end.” CGI of the Village at Foss Harbor, the new mixed-use residential community that will combine all the elements of the marina with the waterfront. www.marinaworld.com - March/April 2019 17

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