Tarpon Springs Yacht Services Causing a Commotion
By Renee Burrell
Aerial photo of Tarpon Springs Yacht Services
TARPON SPRINGS - A new boat yard in Tarpon Springs was the talk of the recent boat show in St. Petersburg and is a hot topic amongst boaters lately. The idea for Tarpon Springs Yacht Services (TSYS) was developed five years ago when Allen Pitman of Palm Harbor and Steve Hickok of Dunedin were on a dock, commiserating about how all of the boat yards were being bought up by developers.
During the past three years, two important boat yards in the area, Ross Marina and Clearwater Bay Marina, were bought by developers and closed permanently--a disturbing trend that Pitman and Hickok feared would only spread further.
The pair of local mavericks decided to buck the trend and get ahead of the developers; found an ideal location and built a state of the art service yard. Their previous experience served them well as Allen had been running a successful mobile repair business for years and both he and Hickok have been around boats all of their lives. Bouyed by investors Doug and Felica Branham of Dunedin and propelled by their dogged determination, Pitman and Hickok opened TSYS for business last June.
Says Hickok, “We have brought newer and better equipment to the area. TSYS is the only service yard between St. Petersburg and the panhandle that can lift boats up to 75’, with up to a 20’ beam and weighing a maximum of 160,000 pounds. Sailboats are hauled and launched without loosening or disconnecting stays. Our hydraulically operated travel lift allows the experienced operators to quickly position slings in the proper place on customer’s vessels to assure proper hauling.”
TSYS is a clean yard. According to Hickok, vendors use only hooded, vacuum sanding equipment and all liquids, including bilge water, is contained and disposed of in the proper manner. Wash water is contained, treated and reused. “The yard is swept on a daily basis. This is not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for our customer’s boats as there is little or no damaging dirt settling on the gelcoat surface of the boats while in the yard.”
The yard itself is like none other in the Gulf of Mexico with groomed retention ponds, trees, grass and shrubbery. In addition, TSYS offers their customers the choice to pick from the areas most experienced vendors such as Pitman Yacht Services, Pelican Marina and Doug Bruce Wood Works or the option to bring in vendors of their own choice.
Hickok served briefly on the Pinellas County “Boaters Access Commission” chaired by county commissioner Susan Latvala. Hickok stated that although the county is doing a great deal to protect boating in the county, it’s an almost impossible task. He said, “With the exception of very few legislators our representatives seem to remain uninterested in preserving our states third largest industry. By the time our state, house and senate become motivated to be proactive to preserve marinas, boat yards and docks, it will be too late. What with the price of waterfront property, and the Department of Enviro-nmental Protections’ self imposed permitting delays, the cost of building new service facilties has become prohibitive. In fact TSYS may be the last one to be built in our State.”
In the end, the best may have been saved for last with the development of Tarpon Springs Yacht Services. To learn more about TSYS, you can visit them at website at:www.tarponspringsyachtservices.com or call 727-937-0100. Visitors are always welcome!
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