As reported on

2020 was an unusually eventful year, so some developments that would otherwise have captured more attention are still waiting to be unpacked. This was partially the case for the new milestones being set for the integration of technology with marina operations and management. Some of these pioneering moves are getting good coverage and recognition. At the same time, the overall course these innovations appear to be mapping out towards the higher-tech “marina of the future” tends to be more uncharted.

One of the big marina tech stories of 2020 was Gulf Star Marina in Fort Myers Beach, Florida opening what they describe as “the world’s first SMART marine storage facility.” Featuring fully automated storage and retrieval (ASAR) technology that is also transforming automobile industry and warehousing operations, Gulf Star’s new drystack facility gives them greater storage capacity and launch/retrieval efficiency in a highly hurricane-resistant structure; it also allows them to promote a new level of integrated customer service and convenience. Per their website:

This high-tech system will enable us to put your boat in the water in just seven minutes … Additionally, we provide concierge level service at every turn! That includes soap wash top side, engine flush, rub rail scrub down, service request noted, and cover.

Following years of proven operational success with The Port Marina’s touchscreen, computer-controlled bridge crane system, which cut the launch and retrieval cycle to 25% of what it was previously, F3 Marina is scheduled to open its second automated drystack storage facility in Fort Lauderdale later this year. While the costs and benefits of automated systems vary based on the technology and manufacturer, these two examples reflect the growing trend of computerized automation and connectivity within the industry, pointing towards the aspirational idea of the “smart marina.”

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