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2021 November December Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry

TALKING SHOP

TALKING SHOP Marina Punat: A pioneer in the Croatian Adriatic Now approaching its 60th anniversary, the multi-award-winning Marina Punat is the oldest marina on the Croatian Adriatic Coast and a vital part of the Marina Punat Group – a nautical ‘hub’ that also comprises a shipyard, resort hotel and shop. With over 30 years’ experience in the sector, Renata Marević CMM has been CEO of Marina Punat since 2011. Charlotte Niemiec invites her to talk shop Marina Punat sits on the island of Krk, the northernmost and largest island in the Adriatic Sea. Since its initial setup as a small winter storage facility within the adjacent shipyard in 1964, it has grown to become one of the region’s premier marinas. “It has an excellent location in a bay naturally protected from all winds,” says Marević, and is surrounded by waters that regularly reach 30°C in the summer months in one of Europe’s sunniest spots. Today, the marina boasts 850 fixedpier berths for boats up to 45m (148ft) on the sea and 500 additional spaces on land. Offering all modern amenities, including restaurants, accommodation, a wellness centre and spa, fitness and leisure facilities, and a charter scheme, it has ambitious plans for further development in both the short- and long-term. With the shipyard an intrinsic part of the marina’s success, one of its biggest draws is its boatyard, which offers state-of-the-art yacht servicing facilities for vessels up to 50m (164ft) in length. The slipways can accommodate vessels up to 600 tons and a 100-ton boat hoist. The yard has a covered working area of 2,800m² (30,139ft²) and specialised and authorised workshops are able to repair all types of boat engines. Renata Marević CMM (third from left), CEO of Marina Punat, with members of the marina team. Marević is proud of the marina’s humble, environmentally-conscious origins. In its earliest days, it was too expensive for marina founder and naval engineer Dragutin Žic to install concrete piers or a waterfront. Instead, he designed piers using recycled pylons from old railway tracks. These remain the basic building material for berths in the marina. Not only are they very strong, but the small components of manganese in the rails make them resistant to corrosion. Marina Punat sits in a scenic bay on the Croatian island of Krk, the northernmost and largest island in the Adriatic Sea. Using the Punat shipyard’s facilities, Žic designed and built a pontoon and hammer for driving a mass of 500kg powered by an engine. The first 11.5m (38ft) rail was driven into the hard rock at the bottom of the muddy 32 www.marinaworld.com – November/December 2021

TALKING SHOP Newly upgraded sanitary facilities include 20 luxury bathrooms. bay in 1973 and was then covered with wooden planks from above. This construction technique met two goals: environmentally, it allowed for the free flow of the sea under the piers; and its low cost enabled the marina to offer competitive prices compared to overseas marinas. “Today, we drive rails with a modern pontoon and a hydraulic hammer, which is much faster and safer, but the system is basically the same,” says Marević. After this, the marina design was modelled on existing marinas in Italy and France. For six months, Žic and three employees rammed enough rails to moor 450 boats and boaters began flocking to Punat, without any advertising. The marina quickly compiled a waiting list. In the following decades, the marina grew from one pier to an impressive 217 piers with an average length of 180m (590ft) and land infrastructure and facilities were added. The last major reconstruction of the sea part of the marina was carried out in 2014, when the piers were extended up to 200m (656ft) and five breakwaters were built. Improvement projects continue. For example, the marina has recently completed an upgrade to its sanitary space, which now comprises a modern 700m² (7,535ft²) facility with 20 luxury bathrooms and showers. A special feature is a separate bathroom for pets; the first of its kind on the Adriatic. This complements the dog parks and dog swimming pools available on-site. Other improvements include upgrading the restaurant kitchen, expanding the parking area and installing multiple dock ladders for emergencies. Plans to 2030 The marina, the shipyard and the hotel resort are set to benefit from significant new investments, reconstructions and improvements to services. This includes expanding capacity in a bid to raise the category of marina services to five stars. “In doing so, we do not intend to build new berths in the sea or on the land,” confirms Marević. As vessels today are on average larger in size, both in width and length, the reconfiguration will slightly reduce the number of berths in the marina but make them appropriately sized and more easily accessible. Extra dry berths will be built and finger piers added to wet berths. In the long run, and at a gradual pace, the marina intends to equip most of its berths with finger piers that facilitate access to the vessel (sideways on). “This will make for savings because mooring ropes will not be needed, and thus the sea basin among the piers will expand for easier vessel manoeuvring when entering and leaving.” Another important investment will improve facilities for the resident charter fleet of 150 boats. These occupy around 10% of the berths at the marina and are in the hands of ten charter companies. “We cooperate intensively with our charter partners,” Marević says. “Their guests are also users of our services – parking lots, restaurants and shops.” She knows how important it is to support charter initiatives as “many of today’s boat owners had their beginnings in sailing precisely through experience in charter.” Charterers waiting to board and check in and out need a waiting area, luggage storage, parking and refreshments. “Without expanding the inland part of the marina, we cannot provide them with a full service. Therefore, the part of the coastal zone in the marina that we do not use because it is shallow and unusable, we intend to fill in to get a larger land area, so we can offer our charter partners a new space for their operations,” Marević outlines. This will include new offices along the piers where their fleets are The shipyard is an intrinsic part of the marina’s success and boasts a 100 ton boat hoist. www.marinaworld.com – November/December 2021 33

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