Vinoy to redo dock, earn 'clean' status

Published March 28, 2007

Almost two years after a hurricane destroyed its floating-dock marina, the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club has started replacing its 74 slips in the basin north of the city pier.

"We're always going to be vulnerable to storms, and there is no breakwater out there," said Russ Bond, Vinoy's general manager. "Our best line of defense is to put in a fixed dock."

Hurricane Dennis moved through the Gulf of Mexico in July 2005 and largely spared the Tampa Bay area. But the storm's course created easterly winds that piled up water in the Vinoy basin, bouncing its floating docks on 4- and 5-foot waves that eventually tore them apart.

"That storm blew straight out of the east for three days," said Nancy Frainetti, whose boat rental business is opposite the Vinoy in the basin. "They invited me to take my boats over there, but I went to the municipal marina because there is a breakwater."

Bond said the marina was insured as part of an overall club policy, but the $4-million marina replacement cost didn't meet the deductible on a policy aimed at catastrophic events. He said it has been a chore to work through the permitting process but the result will be a sturdy, attractive marina that is environmentally friendly.

"We're on a very visible waterfront," he said. "We have to be respectful."

Bond said the marina's permits require it to meet criteria as a "clean marina," meaning the facilities will have to meet 10 qualifications, including keeping the water clear of oil and litter, providing restrooms and garbage containers, and prohibiting the discharge of raw sewage from boats.

Frainetti, whose business, Electric Marina, revolves around a clean boating environment, said she's glad to hear of the marina's return and the new restrictions.

She said she now sees boaters anchored in the middle of the basin not using sewage disposal facilities, meaning they must be dumping in the water.

Frainetti doesn't blame the Vinoy, whose reopening may alleviate the problem. She said she'll be glad to have the marina in operation.

"The aesthetics of having those yachts back will be nice," she said.

The new marina will have the same 74 slips but they will be larger to accommodate larger boats, Bond said. Misener Marine Construction, which won a competitive bid for the project, will reorient the slips to fit an average 48-foot length into the original envelope, as required by permits from the city, county and state.

Some of the Vinoy slips could be occupied by July, Bond said, while the entire project will be done perhaps by October. He said there are already 30 to 40 boaters waiting to lease a slip.

Boat owners have to be club members to rent a slip, Bond said, but he's not worried about filling spaces because he extends leases on only 49 of his slips, reserving the others for short-term rentals and group events.

He said the cost of the marina may mean his rents rise above those of the city's nearby facilities, but he intends to keep them competitive with the regional market.

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or pswider@sptimes.com or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.