Sonoma County officials are crafting long-range plans to renovate the aging public marinas at Bodega Bay, where commercial fishermen tie up alongside weekend sailors and tourists flock for clam chowder and the smell of the briny sea.
The marinas are part of the allure of Bodega Bay, a milieu that includes marshlands, birdwatching, coastal trails and a history of the native Pomo and Miwok and early Russian traders.
"What we see is a natural resource and very important economic base tied together that could provide the public with real insight into the environmental system and economic system and how it all works together," said Caryl Hart, director of Sonoma County Regional Parks.
In the short term, the county will shift the commercial and recreational boating operations at Mason's Marina to Spud Point, which is large enough to handle all of the boating.
Long-term, a renovated Mason's Marina could become the home to the charter boats now located at the much smaller Sport Fishing Center.
There could also be an educational center at Mason's and a hub for recreational activities such as hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, whale and dolphin watching, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, rowing and day sailing.
"What we want to do is preserve a pristine environment at Bodega Bay and a healthy environment," Hart said.
Spud Point Marina, which operates on a $2.5 million annual budget, was built in the 1980s, has 250 slips and is home to the Bodega Bay commercial fishing industry.
Thirty percent of the slips are unused, and the facility is in need of repair. Electrical transformers need to be replaced, said marina manager Betty Tenret, and the aging and breakdown-prone ice machine, critical to salmon and crab fishing, would cost $750,000 to replace. The crane used to lift boats out of the water for repairs, inspection and maintenance also needs to be replaced.
"Spud is a decent marina, it just has some infrastructure needs," Tenret said.
The county last April took over management of the adjacent Mason's Marina, which has 175 slips. The 29 boats berthed there will be moved to Spud Point.
Mason's also has the North Coast Fisheries commercial fish-buying operations and a $137,800 annual budget, but may need as much as $1 million in repairs.
"It is in fairly poor condition; it is not full and it makes more sense not to run two like marinas right next to each other," Tenret said.
The Sport Fishing Center at Porto Bodega is the county's smallest operation, essentially a portion of a dock with six slips for charter boats and a $20,000 annual budget. The long-term proposal is to move the charter boats to Mason's, if Mason's is renovated, and lease out the dock.
Tenret said the next step is to conduct a feasibility study.