Denis Frain, the city’s municipal marina director, gave Brown and this Gabber reporter a 30-minute guided tour.
“It’s well thought out and engineered,” said Brown.
The field, opening in about 10 days, will accommodate up to 25 sailboat-only moorings and each vessel can be up to 60 feet in length, said Frain. In the beginning, 22 mooring balls will be available for daily or weekly rentals while three will be reserved for monthly timespans for non-liveaboard sailors for up to six months.
“We can adjust it as we need to,” he said.
Rates will be $22 per day, $139 per week and $332 per month.
Like slips at the marina, mooring ball rentals will be handled through a popular online reservation service called Dockwa. Gulfport was the first municipality in Florida to start using the system, said Frain.
The reservation process will include a series of emails to boaters that confirm payment, provide how-to instructions for attaching the front or bow of a boat to a mooring ball and amenities details about marina facilities along with a weekly list of municipal events, said Frain.
“This is a baby mooring field,” he said. “I think it fits this area and this footprint very well.”
The 17.5-acre mooring area faces Williams Pier, the Casino and beach area.
At their January 16, 2018 meeting, city council approved a contractual bid agreement with American Underwater Contractors of Tequesta, Florida, to begin the process of creating a mooring field. At their February 20 meeting, council gave final approval to create the facility.
According to a city memorandum, the mooring field will “ideally address the issues of unregulated anchoring in a city managed and controlled [area] of Boca Ciega Bay, which is associated with damage to sea grass colonies from dragging anchor, degradation of water quality due to improper trash and sewage disposal, and [incidents] of derelict vessels.”
The city has also purchased a pump-out boat that will regularly service vessels using the mooring field, said Frain. Additionally, it will be available to boats anchored in city-governed waters that extend about half way out into the bay.
Frain is completing a mapping process that will soon identify the bay area monitored by the city based on GPS coordinates.
The installer working with Gulfport to create a “state-of-the-art” mooring field has has experience in creating other facilities at Boot Key Harbor in the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys, St. Augustine and Miami Dade, “which is one of the largest in the state,” said Frain.
Gulfport’s mooring ball screw-type anchors extend 14 feet into the ground because an area of soft mud is involved, he said. They are also rated to withstand a Category 1 hurricane, “though we will advise boaters to leave the field during a storm.”
“I like that it is symmetrical,” said Brown who also teaches math at the high school level. From the water, the field “and the city look beautiful,” she said. “We’re lucky to be here.”