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Pier 66 Marina to reopen with megayacht focus by Ft. Lauderdale show

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Ft. Lauderdale’s Pier 66 Marina is scheduled to reopen in October with more than double its dockage for yachts larger than 150 feet.

Previously the marina accommodated about six large yachts but it will now hold 16, said Kevin Quirk, vice president of operations for LXR Luxury Marinas.

“Ten more slips is huge; it doesn’t happen easily,” he said.

The increase in availability for large yachts — credited mostly to an upgrade in power — will have a significant impact for Ft. Lauderdale, said Phil Purcell, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.

“Pier 66 is thinking forward,” he said. “Right now, I’d lay odds we have dockage for under 12 vessels over 200 feet. This makes a big difference.”

It’s all in the numbers

From its opening in the 1960s, iconic images of Ft. Lauderdale include the marina and the one-of-a-kind vessels that dock there. Located just north of the 17th Street Causeway bridge on the eastern shore of the ICW, the marina has always attracted the area’s largest yachts.

But time has taken its toll. Dockmaster Charles Walker has seen the marina deteriorate over the years. He started as a dock attendant there in 1995 and has been dockmaster since 2006 for the company’s three Ft. Lauderdale marinas, including the Hilton docks across the ICW and Bahia Mar Yachting Center.

He’s been apologizing to yacht captains and owners for years about the state of the marina, knowing that renovations were on the drawing table. After years of working with local, state and federal agencies to get all the required permits, the economy took a turn that put work on hold. Renovations finally began last summer.

“We haven’t been a destination marina for several years as the marina declined,” he said.

The footprint of the marina won’t change, though the layout in the basin will be reconfigured to fit larger vessels. The major improvement in the $20 million renovation comes with upgraded power.

“The number of linear feet for megayachts was limited to six because of shore power,” Walker said.

New pedestals will provide up to 1,000 amps and 480-volt three-phase power. Junction boxes will allow two yachts on each pedestal. And this will allow up to 18 yachts of 150 feet or 16 yachts larger than 150 feet, Walker said. The new pedestals include cable, data and wi-fi.

“There will be less stuff on the docks but more options,” he said. “After 35 years, no more apologies.”

Walker consulted a blueprint to explain the new layout: The main bulkhead on the ICW remains at 650 feet. A new pivoting dock will be added east of the fueling station with 400 feet of dockage on the outside and 300 feet inside the basin.

There are 800 feet of dock along the Mercedes River on the marina’s north side, with 300 feet on inside. And 700 feet remain along the Marion Canal on the east end of the property for smaller yachts.

New floating docks in the basin will have two T-heads of 150 and 130 feet, in addition to slips for boats 40-90 feet.

The new slips will include pumpouts, and the fuel dock will be upgraded to handle high-speed fueling.

“There are several spots to fuel, including the outside wall,” Quirk said. “So when a yacht like Seven Seas needs fuel, we can pump 100 gallons a minute.”

The docks, designed and being built by Finland-based Marinetek, will have retro-looking cleats installed on runners so that they can be moved to adjust for various sizes and configurations of yachts. The docks are similar to those at Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach.

The docks will have technology that can easily be replaced, repaired and added to so maintenance will be simpler, Walker said.

Bob Cury of Robert Cury & Associates and RJC Yacht Sales in Ft. Lauderdale is happy about the upgrades. His company has displayed yachts at Pier 66 for the past 25 years.

“We currently dock several brokerage yachts on the newly completed F-dock and hope to maintain our original face-dock location during the upcoming boat show,” Cury wrote in an e-mail from out of the country.

Status report

All of those improvements come in phase two, which recently began. For the past year, workers have been reconstructing bulkheads all around the property.

As of mid-June, the basin was empty and preparations had begun for the installation of floating docks. Although the marina is not dredging, divers are in the water pulling everything out. And after the construction crew sends down divers, the marina sends another set to double check, Quirk said.

“We have found 60-year-old Coke cans, deck chairs, lawn chairs, bicycles and shopping carts,” he said.

The new dock configuration takes advantage of the deepest water, Quirk said. And he said there is a depth of 17 feet at the face docks by the bridge.

“We did not dredge inside,” he said. “We have adequate water from 13 to 15 feet and we put big slips where the deeper water is.”

The marina intends to dredge when federal dredging of the ICW occurs, tentatively planned to begin later this year.

Construction at the marina is expected to be complete in time for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this fall.

“The phone doesn’t stop ringing,” Walker said. “People just ask, ‘are you open yet?’ “

Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at dorie@the-triton.com.

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