FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla – The Fernandina Harbor Marina began its soft-opening on Friday morning after being closed for more than three years.
The marina was heavily damaged during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Many of the docks were destroyed, forcing the marina to close.
It welcomed boats back to the docks on the southern side of the marina starting Friday morning.
"Typically we have to turn boaters away every day but now we’ll be able to allow them to come in and tie up," said Bronson Lamb, project manager of the marina rebuild.
Lamb said the new southern attenuator is 800 feet and built to withstand a strong storm in the future.
"These are heavier sections than what was here," explained Lamb. "They are longer sections. These are 60 feet and the old dock they were 10 or 12 foot sections.”
For commercial operators and boaters, the opening is a long time coming. Kevin McCarthy owns Amelia River Cruises. Over the past few years, he’s continued to operate out of the north side of the marina, but told News4Jax that accessing fuel has been a struggle.
“We run up and down the river to get fuel," explained McCarthy. "I have to go about four and a half miles a day to get fuel. I burn ten gallons of fuel every time to go get the fuel, so it’s difficult.”
Fuel stations are not back open yet. The northern end of the marina is still waiting for repairs, but Lamb said the goal is to have it open by early June.
Some boats will start docking at the southern attenuator this weekend during the soft opening.
“We’ll see much more business at the marina. That will help tremendously,” said McCarthy. "We’re really happy to have it finally back together.”
The southern docks are expected to open to transient boaters on March 1, 2020.