Water Ways

By Ray Pendleton

Saturday, November 3, 2001

Big repairs account
for empty docks

Responding to a recent Water Ways column about Hawaii Yacht Club's 100th anniversary, a reader asked, "But what's happening across the harbor at Waikiki Yacht Club? All of their boats are gone."

A quick glance shows the docks there do look awfully empty. In fact, there wasn't that many boats missing at the WYC during the last tsunami warning. A club spokesperson says there's been no disaster alert this time. And no, the club hasn't lost its lease with the state. In fact, it's really quite the opposite.

After existing for several years on a month-to-month basis, the WYC signed a 30-year lease with the state in January, 2000. With this long-term lease came a profound sense of security for its members and they immediately began making long-overdue capital improvements.

Within a year and a half, the club's floors have been either resurfaced or carpeted, a new lanai deck for barbecues has been added and a 10-foot wide, 160-foot long, wood-decked wharf has been built along its entire waterfront.

This brings us to why the WYC's marina suddenly looks so empty.

The next major project facing members is to replace the club's badly aging docks. As have many of the state's marinas, the WYC docks had become potential insurance liabilities.

The docks had been originally constructed in the 1960s with a projected life span of about a decade.

Over the years, the docks had been patched, refitted and partially replaced, but as they were made of wood, they were a part of the food chain and subject to constant deterioration.

The WYC began by appointing a dock replacement committee to determine appropriate design configurations, materials and eventual funding. The committee had several volunteers with experience in architecture, as well as mechanical and electrical engineering.

After months of research, the committee presented the WYC membership with two design options and their projected expenses. The merits of each were hotly discussed and debated, but one was finally approved.

With a basic design accepted by the club's members, the committee and the WYC board of directors then heard proposals from a number of contractors specializing in recreational boat dock construction.

Due in part to its plan for using unique construction materials, the WYC eventually contracted with Bluewater Construction at a price of just over $1,000,000.

THENEWDOCK fingers will feature aluminum truss construction, decked with vinyl/wood composite planking that is impervious to weather, rot, or insects. According to WYC commodore Mike Welsh, one of the new marina's best features will be its ability to handle a visiting yacht up to 140 feet in length at one of its new Aloha Slips.

And, the commodore says, the new docks will be operational by Christmas, so an open house party for everyone is being planned between then and New Year's Eve.

Perhaps that party would be a great time for anyone considering building new boat facilities in Hawaii to see firsthand what a state-of-the-art marina can look like.

Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at

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