The recently expanded Inn Marina on Gasparilla Island is as green as possible in a business forced to deal with chemicals, gas and sludge sluiced from boat hulls.
The public Inn Marina, a close relation of the Gasparilla Inn & Club, is one of just 257 out of more than 5,000 Florida marinas to qualify for the Florida Clean Marina Program. Its focus on going green was emphasized as the Inn Marina's last expansion was approved in October 2009.
"Being named a clean marina is a big deal," said Jack Damioli, Gasparilla Inn & Club president and general manager. "We're really proud of that."
Damioli said the expansion answered a clamoring Boca Grande need. The 14,434-square-foot addition added 70 dry slips for a total of 214 dry slips on site and a small, square-shaped area for boat wash, paint and prep next to a large cistern.
The expansion also added new dry storage space with an accessory boat wash, paint and prep area and a large cistern. A boat rigging/detail center and ships store with second-story indoor storage was included.
"There was so much pent-up demand," said Damioli. "Demand is still fantastic. We're 99 percent occupied now."
Inn Marina at a glance
Manager: Brian Knight
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. every day except Christmas
Dry storage racks: 215 that can accommodate boats up to 30 feet long
Wet slips: 35
Ship's Store: fuel, boating supplies and snacks.
Qualifications: Certified premier Mercury Dealer in service and repair.
Where: 891 Eight St., Boca Grande
The Inn Marina's expansion was completed in 2011. It remains the only boat storage facility on Boca Grande.
"We just needed more storage for island resident's boats," Damioli said.
Inn Marina Manager Brian Knight, a sixth-generation Boca Grande resident and a member of the statewide Marina Advisory Committee, said his ecological tactics include recycling; using "green" cleaning chemicals; eschewing ethanol, which helps break down boat engines; and even restoring long-unproductive scallop beds nearby.
Customer Bill Holmberg of Boca Grande just then stopped by the marina to ask about oil disposal. Knight told him he'd be out later to help.
"We do make house calls," Knight said with a smile.
All boating sales and maintenance needs can be fulfilled here. Master technician Gary George holds every available certification for Mercury engine work, a brand name known as the top saltwater-resistant motor. The Inn Marina is a certified premier Mercury dealer in service and repair.
Specialist Earl Pretzel can handle all Yamaha questions.
"If it's boat-related, we can do it," Knight said.
Damioli said the Inn Marina is a low-impact marina with only 14 or so boats moved per day.
"That's not a lot," he said. "Other nearby marinas do at least twice as many."
Knight and the Inn Marina also started a scallop bed rejuvenation program two years ago by reseeding beds that had gone dormant. He's encouraged by early results.
"The scallops are showing up again in areas where they were years ago," Knight said. "So we're doing something right."
The Inn Marina, bounded by the Boca Grande Bayou on the north and east, features 215 dry storage racks that can accommodate boats up to 30 feet long and 35 wet slips. It also offers fuel, boating supplies and snacks in the Ship's Store at 891 Eighth St.
The 2.36-acre site has 444 feet of frontage on Eighth Street E and 759 feet of shoreline on Boca Grande Bayou. The property has 24 wet slips and a boat storage building with 144 dry slips.
The dry storage buildings are large metal warehouses. A 100-foot wide area separates the homes to the west from a boat storage building. The 60-foot wide area closest to residences is heavily vegetated and includes an 8-foot high fence.
The boat rigging/detail center and ships store with second-story indoor storage features a metal roofed wraparound porch - a traditional element of the Boca Grande district.
Damioli would not rule out any future growth possibilities for his marina, which is hemmed in by neighboring homes or water.
"One never knows what our plans are for the future," he said with a smile. "We're always looking for opportunities."