Florida marinas scramble to make repairs

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Florida marina owners from Fort Pierce to Boca Raton are hoping repairs to facilities damaged by the recent hurricanes can be finished before winter residents show up expecting to moor their boats and yachts, according to a story in today’s Palm Beach Post.

A combination of limited marine contractors, a shortage of boat slips even before the storm and extensive hurricane damage has put a squeeze on available dock space. In the early 1990s, a boom in marinas in the area produced 1,000 new slips. But by this year, marinas were looking for ways to expand, the newspaper reported.

After Frances, Old Port Cove in North Palm Beach lost 40 slips, Blue Heron Docks in Riviera Beach lost 24 slips, and a host of small marinas had slips damaged.

But damage to Treasure Coast marinas was worse. In Stuart, more than 70 slips were destroyed at three marinas near the old Roosevelt Bridge. And in Fort Pierce, the city's 200-slip marina was devastated.

"We're already getting reports of people not coming down here," April Price of the Marine Industry Association of the Treasure Coast told the Post. "So many docks were taken out."

Higher prices and limited dock space may force boaters to dock farther south in Fort Lauderdale or north in Daytona Beach, or simply make do until temporary repairs can be made, the newspaper reported.

Making matters worse, few contractors specialize in working off barges and driving pilings beneath the water. Summerlin Seven Seas in Fort Pierce, one of the contractors, received 204 calls last week to do dock repairs. Although turning down many of them, Summerlin has two years of work ahead of it fixing dock damage from Frances.

"For me to get to every last person, it'll take two years. I had six months' worth of work before the storm," co-owner Joy Summerlin Yancy told the newspaper.

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