Must explore marina options
By DAVID MOASE
THRERE is little chance the Coffs Harbour yachting fraternity would ever forget about the problems caused by the size of the international marina, but just in case, along comes the Pittwater to Coffs yacht race.
The approach of the annual event is accompanied by a shuffling of berths to create the necessary space to fit the visiting yachts.
Some large vessels are parked in the harbour, others are encouraged to sail elsewhere for a week.
What can't be escaped is that the marina, with approximately 160 berths, is too small to comfortably handle the demands of supporting a major yachting or fishing event.
"There has been a big expansion in the boating industry," Val Crawley, owner of the marina, said.
"More people are buying boats and the vessels are getting bigger.
"If the marina facilities are not expanded, the city cannot look to hosting major events in the future."
Mr Crawley's concerns were reflected by PittwaterCoffs race director Stephen Merrington when he spoke at the race presentation.
"The growth of the event was the main topic of conversation between Coffs Harbour community leaders and the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club officials over this past week," he said.
"The particular concern has been the ability of Coffs Harbour to host an event, which has growth demand as large as the Coffs Coast region's own growth.
"For the last two years, there have been constraints on the Strathfield PittwaterCoffs fleet size because of the rapid increase in Coffs Harbour marina occupancy rates.
"This has certainly caused some angst."
Mr Crawley says the marina needs to be expanded, or a new facility built on the southern side of the harbour.
He favours the second option as a home for the commercial fishing fleet and the slipway, because relocating working boats would increase the chance of gaining federal and state grants to help pay for the new marina.
The space created if fishermen vacated their existing berths would allow for the expansion of the marina to a size that would better serve the leisure boating industry.