An improved mooring area in the Beaufort River and upgraded electrical connections will make Beaufort more appealing to visiting boaters through a $100,000 federal grant received by the City of Beaufort and the Downtown Beaufort Marina.
“For boaters who travel up and down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Beaufort will be a much more appealing place to stop for a night or two or three,” Beaufort City Manager Scott Dadson said of the marina upgrades and new mooring field. “For too many years we’ve overlooked this important part of marketing our city to the boating community.”
Work is expected to run from July 1 through December. The U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Services are the federal funding agency for this Boating Infrastructure Grant. Key elements in the project include:
• Installing two step-up transformers to increase the electrical voltage from 208 to 240 volts on the marina’s outermost dock which serves visiting vessels. The improvement will provide better customer service and make the marina more attractive to larger vessels traveling the Intracoastal Waterway.
• Installing 16 professionally-managed moorings for transient boats in an approved area of the Beaufort River, in the area already used as the city’s “harbor.” Such mooring space isn’t available between Charleston and St. Augustine, Fla. The new moorings will replace the approximately 12 randomly placed anchoring and also will involve removal of dilapidated boats which will improve water quality.
• Replacing two existing but rusting electrical disconnect systems at the marina and installing new disconnects in stainless steel housings.
The mooring buoys will either be fabricated by a marine contractor or purchased through a vendor. The most cost effective approach will be the one selected. The buoys will be installed by a licensed marine contractor under the supervision of an engineer, said Libby Anderson, Beaufort’s planning director.
The project is part of the capitalization of the Downtown Marina, which is city-owned but managed by Griffin Enterprises. Capital costs are part of the lease agreement with Griffin Enterprises.
The mooring field and electrical upgrade project received endorsements from the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, Beaufort Sail & Power Squadron and local boaters.
Because of its location within the historic downtown area and proximity to historic and tourism amenities, the Downtown Marina attracts a significant number of transient boaters. During the spring and fall, the major seasons for transient boaters in South Carolina, the marina typically hosts 10 to 20 boats per night, according to the marina management company.
The Downtown Marina has approximately 1,140 feet of pier devoted to transient boats and can accommodate 38-40 boats of 26’ in length. Currently, there are no mooring facilities in the Beaufort area.
Transient boats desiring a mooring must either dock at the marina’s transient piers, if room is available, or continue to 65 miles north to Charleston, or 240 miles south to St. Augustine, Fla. A mooring field with associated professional management will increase the opportunities for boaters moving through the area.
While some boaters prefer moorings, many desire the conveniences offered by dockage at the transient pier. The Downtown Marina falls short in satisfying the electrical needs of large, modern, well-equipped vessels — largely because the electrical service at the marina was installed in the 1970s.
“This grant will help make our marina, and downtown Beaufort, a better choice for boaters as they travel the Intracoastal Waterway. They are a tight-knit community and word spreads fast about marinas with good, or bad, service,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said.
“When these boaters enjoy our restaurants and shops, when they enjoy our Waterfront Park, we want them to share their experience and to come back frequently. Some of them may even decide to relocate here. This is another investment in our future,” he said.