A new marine travel lift was installed at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard, Inc. last week. The new lift has a width of 46 feet 8 inches, height of 43 feet and has an inside clearing of 33.5 feet for vessels. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

A new marine travel lift was installed at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard, Inc. last week. The new lift has a width of 46 feet 8 inches, height of 43 feet and has an inside clearing of 33.5 feet for vessels. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

Northern Enterprise Boat Yard expands business

Northern Enterprises Boat Yard, Inc., the largest privately owned dry dock marina in Alaska, is expanding its docks and boat-lifting capabilities in an effort to better serve the peninsula marine community.

Located on Kachemak Drive, the boatyard currently operates a 75-metric-ton travel lift, but is installing a new machine that will extend the carry weight to 220 metric tons, and is constructing a new dock, which will allow much larger vessels to be raised from Kachemak Bay.

“This has been a two-year-long project trying to get this going,” Aaron Fleenor, operations manager, said. “We decided to go with a larger capacity lift to be able to service a greater part of our fleet in Homer and the entire state of Alaska. Really, this yard services every corner of the state.”

Owner Ken Moore said the expansion made sense as the business continues to grow each year.

“There have been hundreds of boats built in this yard,” Moore said. “Consequently, we’ve grown and grown, and we’ve done it all on the basis of trying to make it as good as we can for the boat owner. … We’ve got to have the infrastructure to make it better for people, easier for people.”

The current loading dock at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard is 93-feet 8-inches long and can fit a 28.5-foot-wide vessel. The company will lengthen the preexisting dock by 50 feet to 143-feet 8-inches, as well as install a third leg to the dock, which will be capable of lifting up to 32-foot-wide vessels. Currently, the dock is being built in stages in Seattle and transported to the boatyard by barges. Harris Sand & Gravel, Inc., is the construction contractor.

The ground beneath the dock will be fortified with Geogrid to reinforce the structure, but Moore said this will be a challenge.

“We’re going to have people building the dock in a short period of time, but our biggest problem here is soggy ground,” Moore explained. “We’re on blue clay and mud, so we’ve got a considerable project this summer trying to get things to where we can hold the lift up.”

The new travel lift has a width of 46-feet 8-inches, height of 43 feet and has an inside clearing of 33.5 feet for vessels. The lift weighs 100 tons, and with the maximum weight that can be loaded onto the machine, the overall weight of a future load could total more than 600,000 pounds. Moore says the new travel lift, made by Marine Travelift Inc., is the best U.S.-made lift they could have bought. The lift took three days to construct on the property and will be put to use once the dock is complete.

Moore said the expansion is necessary because boats are continuously being built in bigger sizes, and the marine community needs accommodations in order to lift, service and store the newer and larger vessels.

“It doesn’t take long to look around and see that the community needs something that will pick up bigger boats,” Moore said. “We’ve had a lot of people come to us with boats that we can’t lift. There is a lot that we can’t do that will still fit inside the dock. A lot of the boats are getting bigger and bigger and are way too wide. The ones that aren’t too heavy may be too wide, too long, or too something. So consequently, this thing is going to be all-around bigger.”

In addition to the dock construction, the entrance to the boatyard itself will also have to be expanded because of the size of the new travel lift. Moore explained that the gated entrance is about a foot shorter in length than the lift can pass through, and the culverts underneath the entrance will also be extended. The company is laying gravel in an additional lot to make space for more boats as well.

The construction is expected to be finished by the end of the summer.

Because of the new dock and lift, Northern Enterprises Boatyard will be able to serve a larger portion of the marine community that Moore says has supported them. Moore also thanked the city of Homer for helping the process go smoothly.

“The city of Homer has made it easy for us,” he said. “Bryan Hawkins, the harbor master, walked a lot of our stuff through. He’s really been a huge help. The city has made it easy also. We’ve hardly had to anything to get our permitting and so forth through.”

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources also helped out when the company ran into some problems with state statutes and its loan, Moore said.

“DNR went to bat for us and made things easier,” he said.

In addition to lifting boats from the water, Northern Enterprises Boat Yard houses more than 40 businesses, including welders, mechanics, gas distributors, marine goods manufacturers and even a restaurant. Moore also said the expansion is necessary because so many boats use their business for services provided by other companies renting space at the boatyard.

“We lift a lot of boats just to get repaired because we have all of these facilities,” Moore said. “We’ve got a machine shop and a lot of different things going on.”

Northern Enterprises Boat Yard Inc. was established in 1982 and has steadily expanded to 35 acres of operating grounds. The boatyard is owned by Moore and his wife, Snooks. The couple will be the Grand Marshals in the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center Fourth of July parade. Fleenor and his wife Amber will fill in for Snooks Moore while she is out fishing in Bristol Bay.

For more information, contact the company at kshores@ptialaska.net or 907-235-8234.

Reach Sarah Knapp at sarah.knapp@homernews.com.

A boat is lifted out of the water at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard on Kachemak Drive. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

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