Debbie Hogan, harbormaster at the Palm Coast Marina, has sold some homes in her 30 years on the docks. She’s not a real estate agent, but she has served as the gatekeeper for the city’s visitors on the water.
Hogan has seen it many times: Boaters chug through the Intracoastal Waterway, visit the marina and ride bikes around town. They like what they see. They buy a house.
“I’ve seen a couple hundred do it,” Hogan said Thursday, Feb. 3, in her cozy office at the marina. “We had three this winter.”
Hogan calls the marina an “economic engine” for the city. She employs two full-time people and eight other part-timers. But more importantly, she said, the visitors get off their boats and shop at Palm Coast stores, buy groceries, eat at restaurants and go to the movies. They spend time at European Village, which is a stone’s throw away.
One group of four couples even bought a car to share for a season, and then sold it again before sailing on.
Moreover, several small businesses have built up around the marina, which drives boating traffic to the area. Repair services, canvas and upholstery repair, cleaning and detailing are a few, in addition to two businesses — Yacht Brokers Inc. and Tropical Kayaks — run by Meg Goncalves.
“Debbie has done a great job of keeping the marina full,” she said. “She has the ability to make everybody feel at home.”
Goncalves said the Palm Coast Marina has generated enough traffic to keep her businesses successful.
She added that this area will likely never boast a tremendous number of tourists, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.
“That’s why many of us moved here,” she said.
Eric Spingath’s Electric Boat Rentals of Palm Coast Inc. is another business owner who has benefited from the marina.
To help the boating community even more, Hogan is organizing the second-annual Swap or Sell for used boating items. It’s free, and everyone is invited. Bring your own tables and chairs for the event, which is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, at 200 Clubhouse Drive.
So if you have an old boat pump to trade, check it out. Or just go to meet Hogan, the matriarch of the marina (she also is a pet lover and always has doggie treats on hand). And bring an out-of-town visitor.
After the meet, that visitor could even turn into a resident.
— Brian McMillan