Charles Walker crosses the Intracoastal Waterway each day as dockmaster of both Pier 66 Marina and Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina (formerly Fort Lauderdale Marriott).
The two marinas are on opposite sides of the water adjacent to the 17th St. Causeway just north of Port Everglades. He uses a 19-foot skiff to travel comfortably at a few knots between jobs.
But on weekends, things speed up. Walker races what he describes as the fastest Honda S2000 car ever built. In his spare time he currently competes in quarter-mile drag racing with the National Sport Compact Racing Association (NSCRA).
His pearl white Honda goes 162 mph on a track of only 1,320 feet. An entire race takes about 8 seconds. His front wheels can actually come off the ground at the start.
“It’s a show car and a race car with 1,200 horsepower,” Walker said of the unusual combination of clean and fast. A racing Web site described it as “definitely one of the cleanest race cars to ever hit the track.”
Walker thinks 8 seconds is a bit long and is working on going a quarter of a mile in 7 seconds.
“It can be hard to control,” Walker said.
Walker is always looking for captains who race and said he’s met several. He said it’s great to mingle with the captains at the track as well as the dock.
“We hold ‘grudge matches’,” he said.
The marina part of Walker’s life began when a buddy suggested he be a dock attendant about 13 years ago. He did, then progressed to supervisor then dockmaster when his boss had a baby and didn’t return to work.
He uses his business degree from Florida Atlantic University to efficiently run the office end of both marinas.
Walker was born in Ft. Lauderdale of Jamaican and Lebanese descent. His parents have a wholesale business in Jamaica so Walker and his family visit each month.
Growing up, he always had boats in Jamaica so this industry has suited Walker well. At one time Walker had a 12-foot racing catamaran and competed in the hydro-sport class. The boat was so weighted down with a Johnson 110 motor it practically sank.
Although he doesn’t plan to own a boat again, he likes to educate his boys about the megayacht world. His wife, Diana, often brings 1-year-old Matthew and 3-year-old Andrew to see the boats at the marinas. And when a yacht owner invites them, they occasionally get a visit or a ride.
Walker talked a bit about his marinas saying Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina is a great destination for yachts because they can back right up to the pool and hotel. The dock on the ICW has hosted 316-foot Limitless and there is 16 feet of water near the bridge. He said they prefer long-term dockage at the Hilton Marina but will do their best to accommodate anyone.
At Pier 66, the docks closest to the ICW are for the boat show and many of the boats from those slips move around toward the back docks for the show. At the Hilton, only the face dock is used for the boat show.
At Pier 66 Walker said they have fuel discounts for volume and an owner’s card for LXR properties. The card can be used for restaurants and amenities and the crew has access also. They even have a 24-hour gym to accommodate the schedules of large yachts.
Walker runs both marina as one and will help the captain choose the best one for his boat.
“During FLIBS,” he said, “we are the only marina in the show that is still open for business.”