Mason Sears – We’re selling marina protection

Mason Sears grew up on the coast of Maine in New England, and prior to joining SF Marina in the USA, where he is now Vice President, Sales and Marketing, he was pursuing everyone’s dream – building a complete marina in the role of Project Manager for Maine Yacht Center in Portland Maine. Just two weeks before the grand opening disaster struck – Portland was hit by a severe North Easter. The location of the new marina made it particularly vulnerable to wind-generated waves and the floating breakwater protecting the new 80-slip marina, with a traditional timber and steel construction and anchoring system, was not robust enough to stop the waves from wrecking parts of the floating structures.

Forced back to the drawing board, Mason contacted a few former university friends, and was linked into an international engineering list. There he reached out for advice on how to best stop heavy and persistent wind-generated waves, with the criteria that it had to be a “Proven Solution”. Based on his own disastrous experience and this new input, the solution had been staring him in the face all along – a floating, heavy-duty, concrete breakwater from SF Marina Systems.

“We did have a look at a range of concrete floating docks when we first started planning the Maine Yacht Center, but we didn’t think we could fit it into our budget,” says Mason. “After the storm, we sat down with the insurance company and the project owners and we agreed that going forward, the SF Marina Systems floating attenuator structure was the solution that was going to make the Marina viable in that rough location.”

The new design called for a 990-foot long, Type 400 wide breakwater, weighing some 650 tonnes, with a heavy chain anchor system with over a mile of 2-inch stud-link chain. The history and experience of the SF Marina Group proved beneficial in customer relations, and in providing comfort to returning customers that the “rebuild solution” would be successful. Maine Yacht Center today prides itself on being the calm, secure marina in the Casco Bay. The system has survived several significant storms to date with little damage, and the floating breakwater has recently been extended by 300 feet. “It’s not rocket science to build a single concrete floating structure. The trick is to keep the larger units together in extreme situations. The long-term sustainability is all down to the connection technology and low maintenance design, and that is where SF Marina is the best,” says Mason.

Soon after, in 2006, the Maine Yacht breakwater was installed, and Mason joined SF Marina the following year. Over the years he has helped many clients along the East Coast to protect their locations all year round. “My hard-earned advice is always to spend as much as you can on your attenuator. It doesn’t matter if you’re reconfiguring an existing marina or starting from scratch in a semi-protected or exposed location,” says Mason. “You always need to protect your marina as best you can. What we’re selling is protection. Our unique selling points are durability, low maintenance, and long-term survival. “Still there after the storm”.

“The East Coast of North America may look like one long cohesive coastline, but it consists of lots of different regions: the North East, Canadian Maritimes, Chesapeake Bay Region, the Carolinas, and Florida,” says Mason. “Conditions, traditions and design needs vary greatly between the five, and historically we’ve been more successful up north, closer to our plant in Norfolk, Virginia. But we’re slowly expanding into Florida. Right now, we’re involved in a major redevelopment of the famous Pier Sixty-Six South. They’re upgrading a Super Yacht Pier that can berth 350-foot vessels, and they’ll be hosting the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, superyacht pavilion in November”.

The all-new 150-slipway Fore Points Marina, a centrepiece in the redevelopment of Portland Foreside, is testament to the fact that Mason is completing projects far from home in Fort Lauderdale – but also protecting his own backyard.