David Reay – The Port Macquarie Marina

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The Port Macquarie Marina has received a new lease of life lately, with major extensions underway and a new General Manager behind the desk. David Reay took up his new position last October, and he tells us there are some exciting things in the pipeline …

Hi David. What’s your background?

I moved to Port Macquarie when I was in primary school. I started at Port Macquarie Primary, and then went through St Joseph’s and MacKillop.

After I left school, I joined the Navy – I actually did two stints there. My first stint in the Navy was for 11 years, and I did a tour of the Middle East/Iraq on HMAS ANZAC as an Officer of the Watch. It was a very interesting time during 2002/03, with the war on Iraq, as it was the first time a Royal Australian Navy ship had fired in anger since the Vietnam War. After I left, I worked as Assistant Manager at Port Macquarie Race Club, which gave me a lead in to work at Queanbeyan Race Club.

I left the horse racing/Thoroughbred industry after working there for a couple of years, because of the Equine Influenza epidemic that hit, and I went back to the Navy for another 4 years. This time I was involved with a 6 month anti-piracy patrol off the Horn of Africa and other operations associated with the Afghanistan campaign onboard HMAS MELBOURNE.

All up, prior to leaving the Navy for the second time in March last year, I’ve completed 15 years of service – working my way up from Admin Clerk up to Navigator of a frigate.

Having grown tired of being at sea, I moved back to Port Macquarie – and I was very fortunate when the job with the Port Macquarie Marina came up when it did.

What is involved with your role at the Port Macquarie Marina – and when did you start your new position?

I’m the General Manager, which entails managing the retail and commercial tenants of the marina, and I’m also responsible for the boats and customers who visit – both short-term and long-term visitors. I look after the slipway that we rent to SeaKing Marine, and I also refuel boats when they pull into the marina. I’m kind of a one stop shop actually (laughs), with accounts, admin, project management and even doing maintenance work when required.

I started as GM in October last year.

What are some of the renovations/extensions planned for the marina?

We’ve already replaced one of the wharves and it’s made a huge difference to our operation. This happened in December last year, and we’ve had some fantastic feedback from people who’ve already used it, especially visitors for the Golden Lure.

We’re planning to replace the existing berthing arms and also extend the marina by building an additional berthing arm out towards the fuel wharf. Currently we’re a 64 berth marina, and when the new berths are completed, we’ll be able to cater for close to 100 boats. We’re able to cater for boats up to 18-20 metres in length at the moment, but only on one arm. The majority of boats berthing here range in length from 8 – 12 metres.

The second berthing arm is due to be replaced in March/April this year, hopefully followed by the sea arm after that and then the new arm off the fuel wharf. This will make the Port Macquarie Marina comparable in size and capacity to other larger marinas up and down the coast.

The marina was originally constructed over 30 years ago, and demand has increased now to the point where we need to cater for more – and bigger – boats.

The retail complex is also being renovated. What was originally the dive shop is being gutted, and there are plans to turn it into a café with an outdoor deck area. We hope this new café will be operating before Easter next year. We’re also in discussions to establish a new eating venue where Scampis restaurant was formerly located.

The gardens and landscaping around the complex will be revamped, and a new boardwalk will be built around the building to the waterfront.

It’s hoped the large shed currently located on the property will be rebuilt to rehouse the commercial tenants, allowing for an expansion of the existing retail space – but that’s further down the track.

The aim is to have a steady roll out of improvements, with the replacement of the berthing arms being the first priority. Replacing the arms will increase revenue for the marina through increased capacity and use of the facility, and this increased revenue will in turn help the planned expansion of the marina’s other areas.

We’re talking quite a significant investment on the part of Ariadne, the Port Marina owners, here – the replacement of the berthing arms alone is very expensive.

In an ideal world, and obviously it’s dependant on many outside factors, when would the planned renovations actually be completed?

By the end of this year we’d like to have all the arms replaced and the renovations completed for the new café and old Scampis restaurant area. Replacing the drystack shed on the property would more likely happen in 2013.

It’s a massive job we’ve taken on – even just moving all the boats from their berth, trucking all the new pontoons down from a company called Superior Jetties in Queensland; it’s going to take quite a while to complete everything.

What would be the benefits to the community of the planned renovations at the marina?

Extending the marina would generate a lot of interest from outside the town, as well as from within the area. We’re known by the boating community as a small marina at the moment, but providing improved facilities will encourage more out of town boaters – and this will help us to promote the local area, the bar and our waterways.

We do already get quite a lot of visiting boats from out of town, because we are about half way between Brisbane and Sydney. Major boating companies such as Maritimo and Riviera deliver boats up and down the coast and call in to Port Macquarie to rest and refuel. We see the potential for this to increase.

What else would you like to see happen at the marina in months to come?

The idea of all these renovations is to attract people to the marina, so they can enjoy the waterfront and café/restaurant facilities and a great time out. We want to encourage families to visit … it’s a marine sanctuary here, so no fishing is allowed, but I’d love for kids to come down and feed the fish. There are some good-sized fish in the water here!

The dragon boat clubs and fishing clubs use the facilities here; people attending the Golden Lure fishing competition each year berth their boats here, and I’d like to see that continue. We had 11 boats involved with the Golden Lure visiting the marina this year.

I’d also like to try and arrange some fun, family water events in the future – things like a bathtub derby, for example. We don’t really have those kinds of events here, and I think the community would really get behind them.

Thanks David.

Interview by Jo Atkins.

Photo: David (right) with Golden Lure veteran of 28 years, John Fitzpatrick of Newcastle, on the new berthing arm.

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