Gulf Star Marina is bringing the boating industry into a new era as the world’s first smart marine storage facility. The Fort Myers Beach-based marina has replaced heavy forklifts with advanced technology for automated storage and retrieval (ASAR). A stacker crane and shuttle concept runs on a rail, and launches and retrieves boats from the water within minutes. The vessels get a good scrub down before they’re stored inside the 29,000-square-foot, hurricane-resistant, multi-level facility, which uses concrete tilt-wall construction to withstand hard winds.
“Ever since I saw a forklift put a boat in the water, I was just scratching my head. It’s dangerous and very difficult,” says Todd Carroll, owner of Carroll Properties, which developed Gulf Star Marina. “This automation just changes that.” The concept came out of necessity. Before its recent upgrade,
the historic Fort Myers beach location was previously home to an aging dry storage barn from the 1970s that could only hold boats up to 25 feet. “We really wanted to build a facility to accommodate larger vessels,” Carroll says. “It pretty quickly came to our attention that we were just not going to have the room to have the conventional forklift.”
Gulf Star Marina partnered with Southwest Florida’s GCM Contracting Solutions (the exclusive provider of ASAR technology) and MHK Architecture, as well as Austria-based LTW Intralogistics, to complete the facility. Now, it can hold up to 20,000-pound, 40-foot boats indoors.
The high-tech system adds to a sophisticated marina experience. Guests can use an app to schedule their estimated arrivals, and the computer-operated system will transport their boat. Upon arrival, they are treated to full concierge service, including ice, drinks, an on-site fuel station and retail shop and ship store. “It’s unique in so many ways. It just doesn’t feel like a marina. It feels more like a retail setting with the ability for the automation to deliver your boat to the water on a pretty small transfer bay,” Carroll says. “What’s so exciting about this technology is that it’s going to allow future developments to set these marina barns back off the water.”
The reimagined space can serve as inspiration for waterside locations to come. “As we built and developed this, we realized how game-changing it is and how many different uses and possibilities it’s going to lead to,” Carroll says. “We’re just excited to be one of the first facilities in the world to use this type of technology.”
- ASAR technology, provided by GSM Contracting Solutions
- Concierge service
- On-site fuel station, retail shop and ship store
- Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille next door
- Dry storage for up to 40-foot boats
- Built to withstand winds up to 200 mph
Gulf Star Marina, 708 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach 239.463.9552, gulfstarmarina.com