As boats get bigger and are built with an increasing number of power-hungry systems, some of the nation’s older marinas are struggling to keep up. Not only do they lack the slips to fit the larger boats that so many Americans want to take out cruising, but they also lack the shore power systems and staffs to service them.
The Town of Palm Beach Marina was a classic example of the problem. It’s the only public marina on the island of Palm Beach, Florida, and has long been popular with boaters because of its proximity to the Worth Avenue shopping and dining district. Boaters who tie up receive free access to the oceanfront par-3 golf course, the health and wellness facilities at the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center and the town’s 13 premier tennis courts—so boaters always continued to tie up, even as the marina itself deteriorated. And, increasingly, more and more of those boaters were becoming frustrated. The marina was originally built in the 1940s. It had undergone upgrades over the years, but the most recent ones were in the ’90s. Some of the concrete piles and caps were more than 60 years old, and the single-phase shore power simply didn’t have enough juice to service today’s boats that require three-phase power.