San Francisco Bay hosts one of the densest fleet of pleasure crafts in North America. It is home to some of the most comfortable and upscale marinas in California, and also of some of the most neglected ones. A duality that represents the growing gap between the unimaginable wealth of the Silicon Valley, which is the geographical extension of the bay, and the financial hardship that threatens a significant portion of its population, and harms several cities and counties in this region full of stark contrasts. In this protected body of water that offers great conditions for boating, the replacement of marina infrastructure is delayed more than most places by regulatory, environmental, and economic challenges.
When the Emery Cove Yacht Harbor saw its wooden infrastructure slowly slip into disrepair, its members and management decided they would not wait for an accident, and would rebuild everything with the best available technology. After visiting multiple freshly rebuilt marinas around the USA, the Emery Cove team was inspired by the ones they saw in Newport, RI and also only a few miles north of Emeryville, in Richmond, CA. What did both have in common? Floating docks built by Structurmarine with a modular aluminum structure designed to withstand the wear and tear of an active boating community and the most extreme weather conditions. They methodically installed most decking materials on the deck of the barge that maintains the marina, exposing all of them to the worst possible treatments. Chains, fuel, tools, work boots and Bay Area weather imposed accelerated wear and tear, and tropical wood showed the best durability. Shortly thereafter, a sample finger dock, made of aluminum and covered with ipe, was delivered by Structurmarine to the ECYH basin to be shown to the members. Unanimously enthusiastic, they approved the choice of the management, and the design work began with a visit of the marina team to the Montreal plant.
One of the challenges of the construction was to replace the marina’s floating infrastructure while reusing the existing piles. Piles and permits required that the shape of the old pontoons be precisely reproduced. A temporary structure was set up so that the 400+ boat fleet could be moved in rotation to keep them accessible while each section of the marina was being rebuilt. A challenge similar to replacing the tablecloth halfway through dinner without spilling a glass or taking away one’s plate! The marina’s breakwater was also replaced by a new technology recently developed by Structurmarine that meets the strict local regulations. Concerned about the impact of this extensive work on the environment, the ECYH team gave a second life to the existing pontoons by making them available to neighboring marinas that needed them, and by recycling material from what had to be disassembled. The management of debris was taken very seriously so that the marina could maintain its Clean Marine environmental certification.
Emery Cove Yacht Harbor is quickly becoming one of the most popular marinas in San Francisco Bay, not only because of its strategic location close to the Bay Bridge and its efficient and friendly staff, but also because of its elegant aesthetics and superior craftsmanship.