You've always wanted to live and work around boats. The logical step was to buy a small marina that had its share of pleasure and commercial water craft. You've got your hands full. Each dock, boat slip and port building must be maintained to keep attracting customers. Your best bet is to find a marine construction firm that you trust. Have them give your marina a thorough inspection and then fix any problems. Meanwhile, learn how barges and tug boats can also help keep your marina running smoothly.
All About Barges
Long, narrow and with a flat bottom, barges are the trailers of the open water. Some are self-propelled, but most must be pulled into place by a tugboat. Large barges may need two or more tugboats to push or pull them through the water and nudge them safely next to a waiting pier or anchor point. The two most common types you'll find in a private marina are commercial and residential barges.
Barges can carry cargo or have cranes attached to assist in heavy lifting. Barges also help in dredging. A dredge is like a huge vacuum cleaner that sucks up accumulated bottom silt and deposits it on a waiting barge. Dredging keeps ship channels open in local harbors.
If your marina has houseboats, then you already have a collection of residential barges. Step into a modern day designer houseboat and, if it weren't for the motion under your feet, you'd think you were on dry land. Floor to ceiling windows, designer kitchens, posh living areas and decks with a wraparound water view are just some of the available features. These houseboats do need a tugboat to move about.
Uses for Both Types of Barges
Residential style barges are sometimes used as temporary or permanent housing for marine offices or workshops. If your marine construction firm has extensive work to do on your property, they may tow over their own barge for the duration of the job. The barge could just be stationary, holding construction equipment or housing a portable office. Or, it could have a dredge attached and be pulled into the dredging zone by a tug whenever needed.
Any good marina needs a tugboat. Harbor tugboats are smaller and more maneuverable than their seagoing cousins. That's all you'll typically need to move houseboats around and rescue stranded boats that for some reason missed their slip. If your marina is on the ocean, you might need something more substantial to make open water rescues.
Either way, unless you are skilled in the art of tugboat towing, it's best to leave it to the professionals. It's not as simple as towing the family car on a rope. Even in a harbor setting, rough swells can do damage to both the tug and the towed vessel.
Tugboats and Marine Construction
Tugboats that are designed to tow barges and dredges are considerably larger and have more power. While a harbor tug can usually be run by a captain and a mate, these vessels usually require a larger and more experienced crew.
If your marina is on the large size and in a part of the world where oil drilling is prevalent, then you'll likely see oil platform support tugs motoring in and out. Or, perhaps there is an offshore wind farm only a few miles from your location, which also requires tugs for maintenance runs. If your marina can secure a contract with these large, ocean going tugs, it could be very lucrative. Before you go after that business, make sure any needed repairs at your facility have been taken care of by your trusted marine construction firm.