This Pollyanna cries out for better marinas
THE disintegration of the docks in our state-run marinas has been a nightmare for recreational boaters and a reoccurring subject in Water Ways for more than a decade.
And barring some sort of minor miracle I imagine that won't likely change anytime soon.
Still, call me a Pollyanna, but I can't help believing that eventually our lawmakers will finally bite the bullet and either fund the rebuilding of those structures or allow the private sector to give it a shot.
After all, it would seem that even the biggest landlubber in the Legislature must ultimately grasp that floating slums in such tourist meccas as Lahaina and Waikiki are not in the state's best interest.
That's why a recent article in the trade publication Marina Dock Age explaining the factors that lead to choosing the best dock system for a marina caught my eye.
Dennis Kissman, president of Marina Management Services in Boca Raton, Fla., wrote that although price is what usually comes to mind as the most compelling factor, the process should go beyond just the cost of the system, as there are other important factors to consider.
Those factors, he noted, are the expectations prospective slip holders are likely to have for the marina, which include the desire for a safe, secure and boat-friendly environment.
However, he warned, the marina owners must also carefully evaluate their prospective clientele because construction and maintenance costs are directly related to the mooring fees they must charge.
"I have come across several marina developments that were built for a Rolls Royce market, but existed in a Volkswagen market," Kissman wrote. "Likewise, I have seen marinas under-built for the market they were serving."
I recall writing once that Hawaii should be able to offer boaters both Chevrolet- and Cadillac-level facilities, after hearing a harbormaster testify to the Legislature that local boaters only wanted Chevys.
It's always seemed to me there is a reliable market here for both ends of the boating spectrum as there is for buyers of multimillion-dollar mansions as well as median-level real estate.
If a solid but unpretentious marina was constructed in Keehi Lagoon, for instance, and priced for the average consumer, then might not an up-scale marina be appropriate for, say, Waikiki's Ala Wai Harbor?
And perhaps a similar balance could be arrived at on Maui by expanding a "Chevrolet" marina in Maalaea Harbor or Mala Wharf and creating a "Cadillac" in Lahaina Harbor, which boaters have needed for so long.
In such scenarios, boat owners would then have a choice that was dictated by their ability to afford one over the other rather than one dictated by governmental social engineering.
As I said, call me a Pollyanna, but as sure as I am that the Superferry will one day be as accepted on Kauai as a plate lunch, I'm sure our state's boaters will eventually have modern well-maintained marinas.