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Marinas expect clear sailing in near future

Area boaters could soon be headed for open waters
2020-05-13 ap
Bayport Yachting Centre will soon be busy with boaters anxious to begin the season. Andrew Philips/MidlandToday

While Georgian Bay is relatively quiet these days, that could soon change.

Marinas are busy gearing up to welcome boaters as the province is expected to lessen restrictions today surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including plans to open up golf courses, marinas and other outdoor recreational businesses.

“It couldn’t happen sooner, it’s great,” said Dave Rozycki, president of Maple Leaf Marinas, which operates seven Simcoe County marinas, including Wye Heritage Marina near Port McNicoll, Bayport Yachting Centre in Midland and Beacon Bay Marina in Penetanguishene as well as the Bay Moorings redevelopment project.

“We’re ready to go and customers are raring to go.”

Rozycki said it feels like they’re “on the final leg of this journey.

“In conjunction with Boating Ontario, we’ve made proposals to the province telling them how we would operate, how we would look after washroom cleaning, physical distancing, gas-dock protocols and all those sorts of things,” he said. “And it sounds like they’ve bought it. They believe we can open and do it safely.”

Rozycki said there are no specific marina guidelines the province is making them follow, but rather relying on marinas to ensure policies are adhered to through self-policing and common sense.

Maple Leaf, which has also created safety guides and guidelines for both customers and staff, is sending out an update letter to all clients later today.

Earlier this year, the company added South Bay Cove Yacht Haven and Paragon Marina in Honey Harbour as well as Lefroy Harbour Resort and Kontiki Marina in Innisfil to its stable and now has 2,440 total slips in the region.

Starting last Monday, the province allowed marinas to open to begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but they didn't allow boaters on the property, unless the vessel was considered a person's permanent home.

Prior to that date, Rozycki said they’d been operating the marinas with a “bare-bones staff” to keep the properties operational and the boats safe.

Bayport general manager Kyle MacDonald said the facility is currently operating at close to it full staffing complement of 46 with high-school students having been hired for the summer.

“We’ve got all hands on deck,” MacDonald said. “I expect marinas to be open to the public in the very near future.”

MacDonald said being able to start getting ready two weeks ago helped.

“We were very fortunate to be able to have staff working without customers,” he said, noting employees have been working steadily to get boats into the water, including those housed over the winter months the heated storage area, which allows that building to be freed up for its dry-stack operation that serves day-use boaters and cottagers.

But even with that move, MacDonald said the marina’s still about two months behind its normal annual schedule.

“We’ve got about 50 to 70 boats in the water and normally we’d have about 200 boats in at this time of year,” MacDonald said, adding those now calling to book a launch date will likely have to wait until next month to hit the open water.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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