Marine Service Center faces usual pre-season bottleneck

The Marine Service Center is extremely busy right now, but Harbormaster Steve Miller said the amount of business is normal for this time of year.

“The end of March through June is our busiest time of the year,” he said. Commercial and sport fishermen are getting ready for their active season, and the summer tour business is getting started.

Most of the business comes from commercial vessels, but Miller added that sailboats and yachts come out of the water for work too.

Most of the labor this time of year is “what we call a shave and haircut,” he said. “Which includes pressure washing, bottom paint and zincs.” The wait time for that work this time of year is two days to 10 days.

Whether a do-it-yourselfer or a boat owner paying a contractor for work, appointments are required for a boat lift. “We have people who are scheduling out three to nine months in advance,” Miller said. “People get mad at us because we can’t accommodate them” when the lifts are fully booked.

The borough owns and operates two lifts and a hydraulic trailer to pull boats from the water at the service center.

To accommodate the bottleneck of vessels, vendors usually work long shifts and weekends.

In addition to the service providers who lease space at the center, the downtown waterfront property has storage space for about 85 boats.

“More property would alleviate some of the congestion but not all,” Miller said. “The other thing that would help is if the long winter projects were completed prior to the spring rush so those spaces could be used for the quick turnaround of the spring boat rush.”

“This busy period is a testament to the importance of The Marine Service Center and the crucial role it plays in maintaining the health and performance of the vessels,” Miller wrote in his report for the May 28 borough assembly meeting.

The Port and Harbors Department is looking at its rate structure for boat haul-outs and could consider higher charges for peak time, with lower rates during non-peak use, to help spread out the demand, Miller said in an interview May 29.

While pre-summer work tends to be lighter-duty maintenance, winter projects include new shafts and repowering boats, he said.


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