Ripley marina revamped for bigger boats

The recent overhaul of Ripley Light Drystack Marina 'wasn't built just for today,' says Deas Manning (left) of Carolina Dockage Properties, with marina assistant manager Jonathan Orton.

Bigger was a better goal for Ripley Light Drystack Marina.

For years, the marina had to turn away boaters who were looking to store oversized vessels out of the water.

So when the Ashley River facility came due for a makeover, its owners rebuilt the scaffolding with heavy-duty building materials, allowing it to hold boats that weigh up to 20,000 pounds.

The facility -- six towering racks of boats situated along S.C. Highway 61 -- completed its $2 million renovation earlier this month. Bruce Wallace, director of operations, estimates the drystack can accommodate 100 boats that are 35 feet or longer.

Deas Manning of Carolina Dockage Properties, who is marketing the marina, said that even though the economic recession has hurt the boating industry, the facility's renovations will outlast the recession. "It wasn't built just for today," he said.

Even with the slowdown, the marina is about 75 percent occupied.

The marina's 1.1-acre property formerly housed a 180-slip warehouse built in 1988.

Back then, the sturdy building was supposedly the only local boat storage site to withstand Hurricane Hugo, which blew through the area in September 1989.

But by last year, rust was eating away at the structure, which had an awkward and inefficient interior configuration, Manning said.

Construction workers demolished the building and replaced it with six open-air stacks.

This week, it was back to business as usual.

One worker used an oversized forklift to pluck a Boston Whaler stored 50-feet in the air and slowly moved it toward the West Ashley inlet. The machine swung the 3,500-pound boat effortlessly over parked cars and marina attendants waiting to prep the boat for its owners, then crept to the water's edge before lowering it in.

Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549 or kstech@postandcourier.com.