California harbor should be model for Hawai`i

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin 12/21/02)
By Ray Pendleton

Several people e-mailed me after reading Water Ways on Nov. 30 when I proposed that privately run marinas, rather than state run, might better serve Hawaii's recreational boat owners.

As you might suppose, some were in total agreement and some argued for the status quo.

Oddly though, of those who disagreed with my assessment, the majority were still highly critical of how the state has run our "small boat harbors" for the past 50 years, or so.

But, their attitude seemed to be, "We'd rather deal with the devil we know than with the one we don't."

It appeared some boat owners feel that as long as their marina is state run, they will have some say in its management and pricing through their legislators, if not through the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

There also appeared to be the lack of a clear picture in the minds of a few of what a privately run marina could look like.

To those I advised finding the Nov. 2002 issue of Sea Magazine. In it they can read and see what Southern California's Dana Point Harbor is all about and then try to picture similar facilities here, perhaps in a place like Keehi Lagoon.

Dana Point Harbor was created in 1971 and although it is one of the smallest harbors along the California coast, it offers an abundance of amenities for recreational boaters.

The harbor is administered by the Orange County Harbors, Beaches and Parks District and harbor master responsibilities and police protection are provided by the Orange County Sheriffs Department. Its Harbor Patrol facility and boats are staffed 24 hours a day.

The county also has 42 guest slips for boats up to 40 feet and charges a nominal 40 cents per foot a day. There are also free anchoring areas available.

Still, the vast majority of the mooring facilities in Dana Point harbor are privately operated.

The largest facility is the Dana Point Marina with 1,462 slips and rates that range from $8.85 per foot a month for a 20-foot boat, to $15.60 per foot for an 85-footer.

Somewhat smaller, the Dana West Marina has 980 slips with rates ranging from $6.72 per foot to $14.

In both cases, their amenities read like a dream list for Hawai`i: restrooms, showers, electricity, storage lockers, dock boxes, dock carts, dock security, cable TV, dry storage, pump-out stations, snack bars, picnic areas, secure parking and laundry facilities.

In addition, these marinas are surrounded by the kinds of businesses and facilities that make it so much more than just a place to store boats.

There are two very active yacht clubs, sportfishing charters, boat rentals, tackle shops, a shipyard, a fuel dock, yacht brokers, marine hardware, motels, and numerous waterfront restaurants, cafes and curio shops.

The harbor's Ocean Institute and Ocean Education Center provide visitors with the opportunity to view the historic "tall ships" Pilgrim and Spirit of Dana Point and to tour its Surf Science, Ecology and At-Sea learning centers.

Dana Point Harbor, under predominately private management has grown, improved and prospered in its 30-year life. Can anyone say the same for Hawaii's small boat harbors?

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