Marina Owners Try to Get Back to Business After Hurricane Sandy

By Lauren Wanko
NJ Today

Marina owners Robyn and Bill Bartels dedicated the past 30 years to their family business — Chadwick Island Marina. But it only took one act of Mother Nature to wash it away.

“We basically lost our business for six months and it seems like the world stopped on Oct. 29,” Robyn Bartels said.

“My wife and I, we haven’t even seen a paycheck in six months. We’ve been living out of our pocket. All of our savings, it’s gone, it’s done,” Bill Bartels said.

Just about everything was lost to the superstorm. Four feet of flood waters inundated the marina store, destroying the inventory. The gas dock is completely totaled. The bottom of the cash register is still filled with water and at least 150 boats were tossed like toothpicks.

“Half of my customers lost their boats. To have to tell your customer that their boat’s gone, it was very hard,” Robyn Bartels said.

Chadwick Island Marina is open now, but since they lost half their customer base, half of the 202 slips are empty.

“We depend on our slip customers and our winter customers who stay on land. And if people don’t have boats they’re not gonna need us,” Robyn Bartels said.

“This summer’s shot, it’s done. If I could break even on this summer I’d be more than happy,” Bill Bartels said.

Private businesses aren’t the only marinas hit hard by Sandy. Municipal marinas, like the one in Shark River Hills, were hammered by the superstorm. The Shark River Hills Municipal Marina lost eight fixed piers, two marina buildings and 46 boats were tossed into the neighborhood four blocks from the marina.

This past summer, the township finished updating portions of the marina. Then came Sandy.

“When Hurricane Sandy hit, it took it all out again so we’re back to square one, redoing the whole marina,” said Neptune Township Mayor Eric Houghtaling.

Crews will start dredging within the next 10 days.

“We’re gonna be driving more pilings and putting in more floating docks. So basically when we’re done, all of our docks will be floating docks,” Houghtaling said. “It’s very important that we get this up and running, and we’ll have it 90 percent back to where we want it by Memorial Day.”

Back at Chadwick Island Marina, the Bartels continue the process of rebuilding even if customers are slow to return.

“People are not ready mentally or psychologically to get into the swing of things yet. This has been detrimental in a lot of different ways that nobody ever thought,” said Robyn Bartels.

But like so many other Jersey Shore marinas devastated by Sandy, the Bartels are determined to fight, to keep moving forward.