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Building a sustainable marina

How can we combine sustainable actions to achieve the desired social, economic and environmental goals? In this Marina World session, well-known hands-on marina consultant, Oscar Siches (OS), discusses this three-pronged aim with John Hogan (JH), author of ‘Sustainable Marina Development’ and CEO of marina design and build company Superior Jetties, and Steve Sammes (SS), general manager of Mulpha Sanctuary Cove Marina, an award-winning resort on the ecologically sensitive Australian Gold Coast.

Left: Panel members (l to r) – John Hogan, Steve Sammes and Oscar Siches.

Left: Panel members (l to r) – John Hogan, Steve Sammes and Oscar Siches.

OS: We immediately associate sustainability with the word “green” but it means much more – to keep a good quality of life in all ways. We need to do things to keep our standard of living. For example, we need to build things. The socio and economic aspect is very important as without money we cannot work.
I think Australia is the best organised country in the world for nautical activities and businesses, which is why we have two Australians sitting beside me. Australians have achieved a very different balance. When a new marina is necessary, people understand this and they back it up and make it happen. John can give examples of this – he has just built the longest floating superyacht pier in Australia.
JH: The Gold Coast, where we are based, has a wealth of boaties and around 700km of waterfront canals. People start boating at a very young age. We consider three aspects – environment, economics and social – but to that I add a fourth: destination protection.
Superior Jetties expanded Sanctuary Cove Marina by adding 48 covered slips.

Superior Jetties expanded Sanctuary Cove Marina by adding 48 covered slips.

We take great pride in having built such a long pontoon, and with care, as our environmentally-friendly concrete pontoons are filled with expanded polystyrene. The state government is changing the rules so that only expanded polystyrene or air can be used for floatation and that means we will build with the least harmful approach and it will last, maybe, 50 years.
OS: So, what apparently is bad may have strong social weight. Over to Steve…
SS: I came onboard at Sanctuary Cove to awaken a passive business model, and in 2020 engaged with Superior to expand the marina by adding 48 undercover slips.
Australia’s longest floating superyacht pier at Southport Yacht Club

Australia’s longest floating superyacht pier at Southport Yacht Club

When we look at Sanctuary Cove, we see a huge event venue for the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show but also a huge resort with many assets. We looked at how we could improve services and create other potential income and we introduced Platinum membership to deliver over and above normal expectations. We offer a hotel room service to berths all via QR code scanning. This drives extra revenue but adds no extra costs.
We also reached level 3 in the Clean Marinas programme, were certified as Fish Friendly, and secured the Platinum 5 Gold Anchor rating from the GMI.

OS: Normally we run away from politics and we are a very easy target for blame. I think we have to make the effort to learn government language and talk. We should be a lot more active, take them out on the road to demonstrate how good our work is for the community because we are not ‘marine’ anymore we are ‘hospitality’.
Sanctuary Cove opened in 1988 offering a new kind of resort-style community living. Residents enjoyed all kinds of leisure amenities.

Sanctuary Cove opened in 1988 offering a new kind of resort-style community living. Residents enjoyed all kinds of leisure amenities.

SS: Yes. Sanctuary Cove opened in 1988 offering a relaxed lifestyle. And people bought into it. Every year half the people who visit the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show are not boaties. The structure of the whole is not just for boaters – it’s a promenade for people who enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of marinas.
JH: We have a lot more to think about in terms of design and materials. If we take the polystyrene out of pontoons, for example, they no longer float. A major problem! But polystyrene is an oil-based product. There’s a big technical challenge, and we need to be a part of it.
The annual Sanctuary Cove Boat Show is the best-known of the many events held at the huge resort.

The annual Sanctuary Cove Boat Show is the best-known of the many events held at the huge resort.

SS: We are very fortunate on the Gold Coast as the government embraces industry and there’s lots of momentum. They “get” it. And on a broader scale, the Brisbane 2032 Summer Olympics are not far away and this will bring so much.
These discussion points are abstracted from the Marina World Tech Talk held at METSTRADE 2022, Amsterdam on Tuesday 15th November.

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