Mooring fee hike
By BELINDA F SCOTT
JUDY HALE says she is not exaggerating when she says losing her boat would kill her.
The veteran yachtswoman and round-the-world sailor, who is battling serious health problems, fears a meteoric rise in berthing fees at Coffs Harbour International Marina will see her lose Checkmate, the 38ft Compass yacht that took her family round the world for five years.
The retiree says getting back aboard Checkmate is the goal that keeps her going every day, but she fears the rising price tide will drown her sailing dream.
"It's absolute piracy," Mrs Hale said, contremplating a bill that will jump from $2500 to more than $4500.
She is not the only yachtie upset by the sudden rise in the cost of local sailing.
One boat owner said the price of berthing a 10m boat at Coffs Harbour had risen 77 per cent.
He said the old management's $2240 annual fee rose 13.8 per cent in November under the new management, to $2550, and would increase by 56 per cent from February 1 to $3980, making a total rise of 77 per cent in four months.
Annual payments for berthing will no longer be available, forcing boat owners to pay the more costly quarterly charges.
But the manager of the Coffs Harbour International Marina, Rob Galbraith, said the recent rises seemed steep because the rates had been so low for such a long time.
New owners took over the Coffs Harbour International Marina in August.
Mr Galbraith said Coffs Harbour's berthing prices were still 'near the bottom' compared to other marinas with comparable facilities and the Coffs marina was right in town, unlike Yamba and Port Macquarie marinas.
He said the new owners had just ordered five new security gates for the fingers and planned new fendering; new power points on each finger and new water facilities.
The commodore of the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club, Darren Digney, said there had been no fee rises at the Coffs Harbour International Marina for five years and the marina needed improving and repairing.
"A lot of blokes are not happy and they're whingeing, but it's been coming for a long time," he said.
He said marinas up and down the East Coast of Australia were full and were turning into 'floating caravan parks' at the expense of those who wanted to travel and sail.
Mr Digney, who like the Hales paid in advance for his berth in 2006, said the fee rise from February meant a 25 per cent hike in his costs for mooring his 11-metre boat in Coffs Harbour, from $780 to $995 a quarter.
He welcomes the new owners' plans to install security gates on the fingers of the marina, saying it would be the first time boats would be protected.