Charting a course: Fairwinds Marina plans on growth, added services

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This is the time of year when marinas are sleeping. Boats sit “on the hard” in their shrink-wrapped cocoons like rows of giant pillows. Docks are bare and slips empty except for a few hardy souls who want to keep their boats in the water and may actually be living aboard. For the most part, marina offices are closed. It’s winter, although this winter hasn’t been as snowy or cold as many others it precedes.

But owners of Warwick’s newest marina, Fairwinds in Oakland Beach, are not in hibernation.

Joe McGrady, whose business partner is Eric Presby, is planning more for the marina that won the marina category in the Best of Warwick competition. He has his sights set on a national designation for an Elite Fleet Boaters Choice Award, a recognition that McGardy’s Dutch Harbor Boatyard in Jamestown won last year.

The recognition that goes to the top 0.6 percent of the top marinas in this country and the Caribbean would be the icing to the work he plans to put into Fairwinds.

“We feel we have a solid vision for the future. We want to bring Fairwinds to that level,” McGrady wrote in a recent email.

To get there, McGrady enumerated some of his plans for 2020. They include increasing marketing in both marina and ice cream areas (Fairwinds opened Parkey’s Ice Cream last summer); filling its seasonal slips; increase land and water storage customers; grow maintenance and services; and maintain the clean conditions customers expect.

There’s more to come in the years ahead.

“[We’re] just beginning to explore options for dredging,” McGrady said. He called dredging a “multi-year commitment” but one they would like to take on to increase their slip count that is now 112 and to handle more deeper draft boats.

“Additionally, we would like to create an in-house haul capability. We feel these long-term goal improvements will set Fairwinds apart,” he said.

Since McGrady and Presby acquired the property, formerly Warwick Cove Marina, from John Williams in 2017 for $805,000, the marina has undergone a significant transformation. The landside of the marina was cleared of derelict and abandoned boats, the marina office was completely renovated and an adjoining house – more of a shack on Seminole Street – was bought and renovated as Parkey’s Ice Cream. On the waterside, docks and their services were rebuilt. Other improvements McGrady lists include a new 300-foot dock with the capability of handling larger vehicles with full power and water and the addition of McShane Yacht Sales at Fairwinds. McShane is also located in Yarmouth and Marshfield, Mass.

McGrady put the investments made at several hundred thousand dollars.

“I must say that the previous owner, John Williams, has been nothing but awesome since we bought the marina. John has been a wealth of knowledge and has continually offered advice and help with any issues we have had questions with,” McGardy said.

Williams continues to play a role in Warwick Cove that is home to more than 3,000 boats and considered one of the busiest pleasure boating harbors in the state. Williams operates the fuel dock at the mouth of the cove across from Harbor Lights.

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