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Bremerton Marina filling fast

The goal was 50 new tenants and that's what they got.

Consultant Bob Wise said Friday that he's met his goal of bringing 50 new tenants to the Bremerton Marina since he began his marketing work in April.

Wise is slated to make a report to the Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday. His contract with the port ends Sept. 10.

"We're really happy about how things have gone," Wise said. "The marina is at its highest (occupancy rate) point in its history."

Wise was hired by the port, which owns and operates the Bremerton Marina, to bring new boats to the marina which historically has operated at a 25 to 33 percent occupancy rate. The marina has been open for about five years and has 220 permanent slips.

Wise said, by retaining the current tenants with financial incentives, adding 30 new long-term boats, and adding another 20 smaller boats, the occupancy rate at the marina is now at 55 percent.

"We've pretty much doubled the number of boats in the marina," he said.

That was accomplished through a marketing plan that included offering smaller slips to smaller boats at a discounted price.

Previously small boat owners had to pay $288.25 a month for a 36-foot slip, when they didn't need that much space. A change made was to allow boats to lease space based on length. An example is that a 18-foot boat owner would now pay half, or $144.13 per month.

Moorage rates at Bremerton run from $144 to $591 depending on the size of the boat.The marketing plan also offered a year's moorage free for one year paid.

The lease was set up so that boat owners would pay moorage every other month, and sign a two-year lease agreement. That brought in 30 new tenants, Wise said.

With those changes, and by taking on an advertising campaign in select print media and through social media, Wise was able to target the marina to a better, more interested audience.

"By using social media and by advertising in top boating publications in the Northwest, we were able to show what a great product we have," Wise said. "It wasn't long before the word got out."

He noted that the Bremerton Marina's Facebook Page has 125 likes, "but, in reality, that means we've made an impression on two to three thousand people because each of those 'likes' are putting the message out there to others."

Another part of the marketing campaign included special events at the marina. Wise said participating in National Marina Day brought in new people to Bremerton.

"And adding things like the Rock the Dock concerts on Fridays just meant there was more activity at the waterfront, which is always good," he said.

In fact, he said, there are still a couple of events he's working on including the Boats Afloat boat show on Lake Union, where he will have a booth showing off the Bremerton marina. He's also making connections in the super yacht world hoping to attract some larger yachts to Bremerton.

"Those boats drive economic activity," he said. "Right now the 9th largest yacht in the world is sitting right off Seattle, doing business in Seattle for several months. It's that kind of thing that hopefully we can attract to Bremerton."

Wise's contract was for $45,000, for five month's work. He's known for his success in the boating community through his business, Marsh Anderson LLC, which manages marinas.

He had previously bid on managing the Bremerton Marina when the commission was considering contracting out the management of the marina.

But the commission opted not to do that. It was following that decision that commissioners extended the consulting and marketing contract to Wise. He is the owner of the Port Hadlock Marina and slips in the marina in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island where he resides.

As for the future, that's in the commissioner's hands, he said.

"It took the combined work of the (port) staff, Tim (Thomson, Port CEO) and myself to make things happen," he said. "I'm going to go Tuesday with some final, updated numbers and make my report, and then it's in their hands."

Wise said, however, he'd be open to an extension of the contract, or looking again at managing the marina for the port.

Tuesday's meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Bill Mahan Conference Room at the Port Administrative Building, 8850 Highway 3, Bremerton.

Also expected to be discussed Tuesday is the process for replacing Thomson who announced his plans to retire at the end of 2013.

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