PHOTO: FOREST JOHNSON
Mega-size megayachts will be able to be serviced at Rybovich in about a year. It’s thanks to a just-approved dredging project, following a six-year effort by South Florida legislators and business leaders.
The federal government issued the permits on November 7. About 3,500 linear feet of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) will be dredged. The anticipated $2-million project will start near the Port of Palm Beach, just west of Peanut Island, and end at Rybovich’s property. The ICW depth will rise consistently to a minimum 15 feet (4.6 meters), from 10 feet (about 3 meters) on average. In some areas, the depths will be about 17 feet (5.2 meters).
Congresswoman Lois Frankel, who supported the dredging, calls it “a transformational game changer.” She made the statements at a press conference held at Rybovich, alongside city officials, Rybovich staff, and representatives of the Florida Inland Navigation District, the latter of which is financing the dredging. Currently, Rybovich can accommodate megayachts to 250 feet (75 meters). When the dredging is done next year, megayachts upwards of 330 feet (100.6 meters) can head there for service. For perspective, consider this: Rybovich has serviced nearly 380 yachts, 353 of them measuring 100 to 250 feet, over the past 18 months.
Similarly, the Riviera Beach Marina will be able to accommodate these larger megayachts. Combined with the increased capacity at Rybovich, this is key. The city of Riviera Beach has a private-public partnership to develop the marina district. As part of it, a division of Viking Yachts has a 50-year lease at the marina. It began upgrading the facilities in April, with plans including a waterside pathway, shops, and restaurants.
More dredging along the ICW may take place in Fort Lauderdale. All that’s needed is the issuance of permits. “If we don’t have the facilities to accommodate them, these megayachts will go elsewhere, and they’ve started to,” Mark Crosley, executive director of the Florida Inland Navigation District, tells the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. “Some are going to Europe, California is trying to pick up the business, and Jacksonville has a facility that used to do military vessels and is switching over to megayachts.”