Article reposted with permission from News From The Bow.
“A Marina in Need is a…”
(Reflections on a Relationship Between Boater & Marina)
More years ago than I care to remember, a young first-time boater called his local marina. “I need a spot for my boat” was all he knew to ask. Having heard stories of limited dock space and long waiting lines, the young man expected, at best, delays or a referral to another marina. Instead he heard a kind voice reply “Sure, come on in. We’ll have a spot for you”. It was that simple. This was my first marina experience. Mary Lockwood, matriarch of the large family that owns and operated the marina, had set the bar.
Mr. Lockwood (William Sr.) stood patiently and waited for me on a finger pier as I motored in. He had replied to my call on channel 16 from outside the highway bridge and helped me with bridge protocol, channel navigation and the marina’s location. Those were the days before GPS, and my boat had no Loran. Mr. Lockwood, a paper chart and my boat’s compass brought me home.
There he stood. Echoing his wife’s brief comments, this tall, lean, smiling, helpful gentleman simply stated “Welcome. Swing about and tie up here”. He helped with the lines and, with no need for further conversation, disappeared. Bill Sr. and Mary Lockwood had supplied me with precisely what I needed at the time…enough support to bring me home and plenty of space for me grow as a boater. For this I will always be grateful.
Many years later, but more than a decade ago, I found myself again on the same finger pier at the marina. This time I was standing alone. Having recently been separated I sought shelter aboard ship. To my surprise I was hailed by crew from three nearby boats with an invitation to join their “recently separated” party that night. It is said that misery loves company, and I thoroughly enjoyed theirs. The marina had, once again, come to my rescue.
For nearly three years, during the off-seasons, my sons and I lived aboard at the marina. Our summers were spent elsewhere on a mooring, our preferred summer residence being aboard but conveniently separated from the world. Winters as liveaboards taught us many lessons…some about boats, more about friends, co-workers and family. In an unpredictable life one foundation of support soon became, again, apparent. We relied on our marina for a place to stay, for power and water, and for repairs and advice. The marina and its employees had proven that they would be there for us when we needed them.
Heavy snows and ice would have made traipsing across the narrow wooden bridge to the boat difficult, but a marina employee cleared the path for us. Ice would have grown around the boat’s hull but for a “bubbler”, its meaning and importance foreign to me at the time, that was placed underwater to prevent this. My young son, in a near panic, warned me of our first “volcano” during a winter freeze at Lockwood’s.
Fellow liveaboards and I met every winter to run water hoses and replenished our tanks. Many a night I was lulled to sleep by the sounds of crickets and birds and the gentle sway of the mast at dockside. Boating neighbors became close friends (and some contributors to NFTB). Most recently, when my boat’s alternator melted, Mike Lockwood came to my rescue in Jersey City…on not one, but two occasions until the problem was fixed.
As I prepared for an ocean voyage we dipped deeper into the marina’s reserve of knowledge. Special fitting were machined to stabilize hatches, doors and floorboards. Electronic equipment was expertly installed. Advice flowed freely. My relationship with Lockwood Boatworks, Inc. (“Lockwood’s Marina”) will enter its thirty-first year next month, and I am still relying of the expertise of the Lockwood family and the marina’s employees.
Lockwood’s Marina, a family-owned business in central New Jersey, has weathered more than fifty boating seasons. Much has changed since its beginnings, yet much remains the same. A bit of history on this “family affair” follows.
It is a story of a family owned marina/boatyard/marine store that, despite challenging times, continues to succeed.
Lockwood’s Marina was made possible by the marriage of William and Mary. William’s parents owned a bait shop where the store now stands, and sold fishing gear and ice cream until the business was destroyed by a hurricane in 1950. As a young man William built rowboats and displayed them on the creek. He began dredging the creek to create docks in 1963. Once boaters arrived Mary’s contributions kicked in. She was concierge and manager for their small store and bookkeeper for the business. Mary bought the paints and boating repair supplies, and learned how to operate a marine business. William managed the docks and yard, and did repairs. Together they built a reputation for reliability and quality.
Today Lockwood’s Marina is still in the family. A total of eighteen (18) of William and Mary’s descendants currently man the store and the yard. Among them are William and Mary’s ten children and numerous grandchildren. When asked what the founders would think of the marina today, Janet O’Conner, one of their daughters, unhesitatingly stated “They would be very proud of how everyone has gotten along and continued the business together”.
As with any business involving waterfront and boating, the marina’s biggest challenges include today’s economic downturn and how this will affect boating, increasingly restrictive state and federal fishing laws that reduce the numbers of fishing boaters, the need to continuously train technicians in the fields of high tech marine electronics and mechanics, and environmental restrictions on the types of products used and how these are disposed of.
Mike and Robert Lockwood discuss the the need to stay up-to-date on marine mechanics and fishing regulations
For the Lockwood family these challenges seem laced with opportunity as their development plans for the “Old Spy Marina”, located just east of the railroad bridge on Morgan Creek, become more than just paper designs.
Upon leaving Raritan Bay you must pass through two bridges before proceeding up Morgan Creek to Lockwood’s Marina. The first is the “Rt. 35 Highway Bridge”, which opens hourly during the season. Next is a NJ Transit railroad bridge that opens on demand. If you plan to enter Morgan Creek and your vessel draws more than 6 feet, it is best to do so within an hour either side of high tide.
Several years ago I encountered, to my great dismay, a partially opened railroad bridge along with a swift incoming current. The Lockwood team repaired considerable damage that occurred when the bridge’s steel deck mercilessly encountered my boat’s mast. Although this experience was upsetting, the repair crew had me back on the water within two weeks of the accident. What my son refers to as my “bridge phobia” will be the topic of an upcoming article on the psychology of boating.
In the current economy approximately 50% of the marina’s business is described as “insurance work”. The marina draws boats needing repairs from Cape May and Atlantic City north past Jersey City and Long Island. The rest of Lockwood’s business is renting dock space to owners of fishing boats (40% of dock renters) and sailboats (60% of dock renters), and the marine store. Gas and diesel are sold at the docks, all of which now float.
Plans for the future of the marina include the development of the Old Spy Marina to include a fuel station, new bulkhead, more dock space and, in honor of the family’s ancestry, a bait shop and small store that will sell ice cream.
Today a single liveaboard enjoys the peaceful and quite lifestyle at Lockwood’s. The marina’s former dog “Frisky” has passed away and no longer holds court for visitors. A future Frisky, however, is reported to be practicing for the position of “yard dog”.
When all is said and done, our family and the friends we make on our journey through life is all that matters. My family and friends know that I have a soft spot in my heart for the Lockwood family and their marina. What began with Mary’s kind voice thirty years ago thankfully continues today.
Family businesses are more difficult to find these days. Municipal and corporate marinas are becoming more the norm. In this challenging boating environment Lockwood’s is an example of a family marina that has proven itself to be up to today’s challenges. NFTB chose to highlight this story as much to shine a light on a family marina that works today as to explore the history of a local landmark. We look forward to a day when family businesses once again flourish on the waterfront.
Lockwoods Marina is located in Morgan, NJ and can be reached by phone at (732) 721-1605. Their website is www.lockwoodboatworks.com.
More great articles like this can be found on News From The Bow.