Thanks to Superstorm Sandy, boat enthusiasts at the Jersey Shore will find slip availability severely limited this spring and summer. The storm wreaked havoc with the region’s marinas, tossing boats around like toys and tearing apart the valuable infrastructure needed to house them.
But in Belmar, at least, the municipal-owned marina is prepared to handle the increased interest it expects as one of the few marinas to escape relatively unscathed. This is no small news for a Jersey Shore town that relies on the tourism a thriving boating and fishing community can bring. "Losing our ability to welcome boaters would have been a devastating blow," said Tom Volker, who sits on the Board of Directors of the Belmar Business Partnership. “With our boardwalk well on its way to being replaced and most of our oceanfront merchants ready to do business, we feel confident that Belmar will be prepared for another great summer."
Water-related business is especially important to Belmar. Surrounded by the Shark River, Shark River Inlet, and Atlantic Ocean, the town has long been a draw for boaters and fishers. The town’s central location in the tri-state area – it is only about an hour from both New York City and Philadelphia, an easy drive from Pennsylvania, and has both train and bus access – have made it a destination for fisherman for over 100 years. "You can be in the ocean catching fish in five minutes,” said Erika Gerzsenyi, co-owner of the Seaport Inlet Marina, “and we have access to some of the most robust wrecks and reefs on the Jersey Shore." That history with boating prompted the town to invest heavily in its municipal marina.
That bodes well for boating enthusiasts in the region, as well as those who travel to the Jersey Shore for boating, because it means that unlike many other marinas in the region, slips are open and available. However, Volker warns, “They will fill fast." The nearby Seaport Inlet Marina also came away with minimal damage, but its 100 slips are filled. The facility does offer boat repair services, according to Gerzsenyi, giving boat owners who need post-Sandy repairs somewhere to go that is close to the ocean. The marina is the closest to the ocean on Shark River. Belmar officials said they are glad the storm did only minimal damage to the amenities added to the area in recent years, including picnic areas, a riverside beach, tennis, a double-wide boat ramp, new floating docks, and more. It means the boating business will proceed as usual. "We expect the charter boats and boat rentals so vital to Belmar’s summer season will be functioning as normal," Volker said.
The Pier 9 Bar & Restaurant, opened at the marina last year, will also be reopened for the summer season, as well as the miniature golf course located on site. All the shops, restaurants, inns, and other attractions important to the town’s tourism season are also fully functional, too. Most are within walking distance from the marina. “We came through okay, so to celebrate we plan to make this a great summer," Volker said. "Our hearts go out to the other shore towns that cannot say the same."
For more information on the Belmar Municipal Marina, visit www.belmar.com, call (732) 681-2266, or email the marina at email@example.com. For more information on the Seaport Inlet Marina, visit www.seaportinletmarina.com or call (732) 681-3303. For the Belmar Tourism Commission, visit www.visitbelmarnj.com or call 732-681-3700, ext. 214.