Marina development moves on

Hutt News

28-HUT-McLellanHarbourside destination: Seaview Marina chief executive Alan McLellan says walkers, cyclists and people looking for a pleasant spot to eat their lunch are turning up in increasing numbers.

Work on adding 56 berths to Seaview Marina is about to get under way as part of a major development of the area. The creation of 43 more 10-metre berths and 13 berths for big catamarans will take Seaview Marina a big step closer towards completing maximum development inside the breakwaters. A crane is already on site to begin work on the redevelopment of F and G Piers, marina chief executive Alan McLellan said.

At present plenty of 10m boats are having to be moored at 12m and 14m berths, which means the marina is not maximising revenue and has no larger berths left to offer new clients. The redevelopment, which should be done before Christmas, means the marina will again have 12m berths to market.

“It’s a constant demand,” McLellan said.

The marina’s berths are 94 to 95 per cent occupied.

“We find that if you build, the boats will come.

“It’s better than holding off until you have a waiting list and then building.

“The product is such that if people can see a berth they can go, ‘Yes, that’s what I want’.”

In presenting the marina’s annual report to city councillors earlier this month, McLellan and board chairman Brian Walshe outlined plans that would see in- water development completed, probably within five years.

Plans for H (2015-16) and I (2017) piers would allow another 60 or so berths to the south. Part of that work will see establishment of a commercial vessel wharf, and a floating diesel and petrol facility shifted closer to the entrance of the marina so that any boat seeking to refuel doesn’t need to wend its way through all the moorings. Fishing charter vessels and more than a dozen commercial fishing boats are mixed in with recreational boats, including about 30 on which people live permanently.

“It does cause problems,” McLellan says.

“Starting up a boat at 3am for an early start fishing can cause a bit of conflict.”

In future, the commercial vessel owners will have their own area.

These final 60 or so berths will bring the marina to its capacity of about 370. At that point, councillors have a decision, McLellan told Hutt News last week.

“Council could keep the marina as a strong cash flow business, or they could sell it, or sell the berths off.

“There are a whole range of options.”

With 242 trailer boats on site, the marina is at capacity – unless storage goes up, known as “dry stacking”. Storing boats on top of each other happens in Auckland, where land prices and demand is higher.

“The economics aren’t that great in Wellington.

“We don’t believe people here will be prepared to pay $5000 to $6000 to store a trailer boat.

“But that time might come, I think. Maybe once we finish the in-water development, that might be the next thing we look at.”

A year in which it hasn’t all been smooth sailing That summarises Seaview Marina’s 2014-15 annual report to its shareholder, the Hutt City Council. The marina’s surplus was $209,571 ($577,922 before depreciation), a return on equity of 4.5 per cent. Marina board chairman Brian Walshe and chief executive Alan McLellan told councillors this month it would have been over the 5 per cent target, at 5.2 per cent, were it not for a one-in-50 year southerly on June 20 this year. McLellan said the “Wahine- size” storm caused about $500,000 of damage.

An uninsured 50-foot yacht on the hardstand blew over, and while the $200,000 cost was an issue for the owner, the marina decided to upgrade all boat cradles at a cost of $30,000. About $200,000 of damage was caused to piers, with the marina having to pick up the $35,000 insurance excess. Another blow was that after four years of being full, three large tenants were lost from the marina’s Sea Centre. However, casual tenancies secured since then were bringing in about 50 per cent of the lost revenue and McLellan said he was confident of having it fully tenanted again within six months.

A client survey last year showed marina users put satisfaction with service ratings well over the 85 per cent target. However, there was push back from a Seaview Marina Users Group when berth and trailer parking prices were put up 1.9 per cent. McLellan told councillors it highlighted the fact that, unlike some other marinas, Seaview was not dominated by owners of million-dollar boats, but those with $50,000 vessels:

“People who are passionate about their boating and who don’t want to be priced out of it.”

He said the relationship with the user group members was now on a more even keel, and they had been invited to attend board meetings to get insights on the marina’s planning and spending. Deputy Mayor David Bassett said he and the mayor had fielded a lot of calls from user group members earlier in the year and he was glad the boaties were able to attend board meetings.

“There’s nothing like eyeball to eyeball contact to sort out differences.

“For all our sanity, please keep that up.”

As well as installing two new unisex showers/toilets, the marina has completed another 120 metres of the landscaped walkway around the marina perimeter. This was one of the criticisms of the user group, which argued council – not marina revenue – should pay for that. But McLellan told Hutt News the marina attracts large numbers of non-boaties – people who want to walk and cycle around the facility or have their lunch by the boats.

“Cars and pedestrians have to be separated, or someone is going to get hit.”

In one sense the council does help pay for the walkway, he said. The marina gets a rates rebate in recognition of the fact it provides facilities for recreational users.