If you sail or power your boat up to the Longbranch Marina these days, you can actually get off of it and walk to land.
Use the portable toilets. Take a stroll. Check out the Longbranch Improvement Club.
Some 40 people gathered Monday for a ribbon cutting at the new wharf, which replaces an aging structure condemned and fenced off by Pierce County in September.
The wharf was the only way boaters using the Longbranch Improvement Club’s Marina at Filucy Bay could get from their craft to shore – without taking a swim, club president Geoff Baillie said.
That left club members frustrated and boat owners a bit stranded.
The marina has 42 slips for permanent moorage, but the facility on Filucy Bay is used by hundreds of transient boaters each year, Baillie said.
It’s a major source of income for the 90-year-old club, a social and charitable organization near the southern tip of the Key Peninsula.
The club uses its earnings to help subsidize many of its projects, Baillie said. They include Feast or Famine, a fundraiser that supports the local food bank; Beyond the Borders, a summer arts and musical festival featuring acts from around the world; and an annual holiday program to help children make and get gifts for Christmas.
The group also maintains a historic 1939 building as its clubhouse.
The club raised just over $100,000 and got a commercial loan for $100,000 more to pay for its share of the project, Baillie said.
The county paid for demolition of the decrepit wharf – about $60,000, he said.
Just-retired County Councilman Terry Lee and recently installed Councilman Stan Flemming, helped move the project along, Baillie said.
“It’s a huge accomplishment and it’s a huge sigh of relief for our Longbranch Improvement Club,” he added.