By SUE QUIGLEY
The preferred destination for local and beyond boat enthusiasts, Hernando Beach Marina remains focused on adding more new development programs designed to provide a superlative customer service experience.
The marina was voted top choice in Hernando County for the second year in row for boat sales and service on Florida’s Adventure Coast. The marina is a full service marina with its on site canvas shop and the largest selection of new boats on the beach.
Under the leadership of General Manager Bill Jay, who has decades of operational experience under his belt, the marina offers boaters a prime location on the Gulf, as well as an ideal blend of outstanding service.
“I’ve been here since 2017 and since then, we have made significant changes,” said Jay. “It continues to be my mission to add even more improvements to the marina while providing exceptional technical support and service for boaters,” he said. “We’ve already achieved many of our intended goals and racked up considerable improvements to our facilities and daily operation.”
Hernando Beach Marina has full-time, fully trained and certified technicians on staff who work diligently to keep everyone on the water for fun, trouble-free boating. Under the guidance of Service Manager Mike McClelland, they work in a dedicated area that is now roofed and free from the Florida weather elements.
“We did this to be able to improve with servicing requests from our customers,”Jay said. “It means our technicians can work indoors and not be affected by the inclement weather, thereby giving our customers excellent turnaround.”
With a big fishing season coming soon, Jay explained that “now is the time to think about boat care and servicing.”
“Our service department is well stocked for both boat care and parts and in the event we do not have the part, we can get it the next day,” said Jay.
Part of providing continuous and safe service at the marina is having two forklifts. Forklifts are the heart of a high and dry operation and that’s why the marina made a considerable investment with the purchase of a brand new forklift.
Jay explained “that buying a Wiggins forklift was because of its safety track record and Wiggins is the specialist company in long-load, center forklifts.”
He said, “I’m very proud of our new Wiggins forklift making it our second forklift in operation. It cost us a fair chunk of money and means our customers can enjoy zero down time at the marina.”
He further added that safety being his utmost concern, he chose Wiggins because they are on the forefront of safety and reliability.
Forklift drivers at the marina are Kevin, Don and Josh. They’re longtime core staff at the marina and know customers by name.
“We keep our staff fully trained and our technicians are certified in Mercury and Suzuki products,” he added. “That’s very important to us.”
With easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and only a short sail from places like Anclote Key, Clearwater and St. Petersburg beaches, Hernando Beach Marina has become a prime choice for boaters from northern states. There are storage solutions for all sorts and sizes of boats and our high and dry boat storage facility now has room for a total of 300 plus more boats, plus it can handle boats of 36 feet.
“Storage is key to them,” said Jay. “That’s why we’ve roofed our open racks and why we’re offering a substantial discount for annual renters.”
Hernando Beach Marina is a full service marina with fuel, servicing, a restaurant and showers. Boaters can call ahead and within 45 minutes, their boats can be fueled up, and fully stocked with ice, water, soda, beer and snacks and ready to leave for sea.
“And when boaters come back, we rinse off the boat and flush out the engine ensuring the long life of your engine,” said Jay.
He added that the Ships’ Store has also been expanded and outfitted to offer more choices in last minute necessities like oil and lubricants, fishing gear, lures, tackle, frozen bait, safety wear and basic maintenance supplies.
The marina sells and rents out pontoon boats; the cost is dependent on size. For inexperienced boaters, the marina can also recommend the finest offshore captains here in Hernando County. Most of them have lived here all their lives and have been boating and fishing here for decades.
Any marina or recreational boating facility is a very popular use of coastal waters but, with the growth of recreational boating along with the growth of coastal development in general, it has led to an increased awareness of the need to protect the environmental quality of our waterways.
“We are a recreational Marina and we intend to stay that way,” said Jay. “We are doing all we can to take pressure off the boat ramps in the area.”
Community involvement is important to the marina. Each Fall, in collaboration with the Hernando Beach Marine Safety Support Group, the marina sponsors the Hernando Beach Cardboard Boat Race. Each boat must carry at least one sailor, and the vessels are made of corrugated cardboard. Two- part glues and Flexseal are not allowed. Awards are given in several categories, including an award for the most dramatic sinking. This year’s race is scheduled for Oct. 17, 2020. Contact 352-596-2952 or [email protected] if you would like to participate. Proceeds benefit boating education and safety and marine environmental issues.
“Of course, a lot of them may sink,” Jay said. “But in a most entertaining fashion!”
After a day of fishing or recreation, finish the day with some relaxation and great food at the waterside Tropical Grille. The restaurant, open from noon to 8 p.m. daily, sits above the boat slips right on the canal where diners can enjoy not only delicious seafood but some of the most beautiful sunsets found anywhere on the gulf.
Chef Mark Peloquin, a Bostonian, knows about New England seafood which he ships in on a daily basis. Burgers, sandwiches, fajitas, wings and steaks, as well as your favourite tipple, are also available. To view the full menu, visit www.tropicalgrille.com.
IF YOU GO
Hernando Beach Marina
4139 Shoal Line Blvd
Hernando Beach Florida 34607