By Dorie Cox
Construction is underway at Las Olas Marina, but it does not impact the in-water display at this year’s show.
The marina’s dock layout remains similar to that of recent years, but changes are apparent on the upland property. The former marina office building is gone, leaving employees in an office in the new five-story parking garage that opened last December with 650 parking spaces and a multi-use, open-air event space on the top floor. Surface parking lots to the north and south of the East Las Olas Boulevard bridge are now construction areas.
Suntex was awarded a 50-year lease to operate the property for the city of Fort Lauderdale and the company plans include a three-story, 24,401-square-foot marine services building, a dockmaster’s office and a ship store.
Each of the 68 slips on the Intracoastal Waterway will be geared for large yachts over 70 feet, with finger pier docks at least 15 feet wide for golf carts. T-head docks include “side-to” space for 200 and 315 feet of dockage, and slips inside the marina will accommodate yachts up to about 180 feet.
Also in the plans are two restaurants, offices, a rooftop gym and a swimming pool.
Dockmaster Tim Nipple is a familiar face to many at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. He spent 20 years at the southernmost marina in the show and now works at the most northern one. He began the job this spring and said the show is a good start for the yachting season.
“It creates a lot of ‘extra, extra,’ but the show must go on,” he said. “This is a big draw for the city.”
He said the new marina development will be a nice addition.
“It will probably be the place to be,” Nipple said.
Jim Porter has been the assistant dockmaster for four years. He is retired from the U.S. Coast Guard, where he served as bosun and mate for more than 18 years. Military duties included deck watch, and search and rescue, which transferred to his next career.
“I got into yachting by mistake, I helped a friend on a 100-foot Broward,” Porter said. He started as a deckhand, then became second captain on board and worked on a variety of yachts before joining the marina.
Dorie Cox is editor of Triton Today. Comments are welcome below.