Pier Point Marina in Dewey Beach has left McKinney family ownership for the first time since 1966.
Blue Water Development, headquartered in Ocean City, purchased the property for $5.75 million, according to a Sussex County deed record dated Dec. 15, 2021. The Town of Dewey Beach received $86,250 in transfer tax revenue as a result of the sale, and the state received $143,750.
Blue Water spokesperson Claire Denney said by email Jan. 12 the marina will operate as is for now, and major marina upgrades and property enhancements are being planned.
“This family-owned business has been a staple of Dewey Beach on the Rehoboth Bay for over 60 years,” Denney said. “Blue Water is honored to carry on that tradition and apply our signature style of management to this integral part of the fishing, boating and water enthusiast culture of Dewey Beach.”
The property has 135 boat slips, a boat ramp and boat hoist, and six personal watercraft docks, she said. Two 2-story houses, a storage building, and a 3-story structure comprising the marina office and two apartments also sit on the property.
“This marina is a great piece of waterfront property and is a great opportunity to elevate the water sports and recreation in the town of Dewey,” Denney said.
In a Jan. 11 interview at the marina office, Marty Karlik said her father Charles McKinney bought Pier Point Marina in April 1966. According to family records, he purchased the property from his partner George Simpson; it had operated as Simpson’s Marina since 1958 and was originally called Wilson’s Pier in 1949.
Along with her father, Marty said she and her mother Georgia, and siblings Gene, Homer, Charles Jr., Donald, Ronald and Carla worked together for years, offering sales and repairs for boats and motors, renting marina slips, creating memories and developing lasting friendships.
“We leased and sold fish heads, nets, rowboats – some with oars and some with small outboards. I really enjoyed stringing the fish heads,” Marty said with a laugh.
From head boats at the inlet, Marty said the family would get huge metal trash cans full of fish heads. She’d string up the fish heads, and the pier would be full of happy kids crabbing.
“All of us grew up here,” Marty said. “Family dinners, birthdays and holidays, we’d all get together and fill the house with 40 to 50 people. It was a lot of fun. As grandchildren and then great-grandchildren came along, we just continued the same thing.”
Marty’s son Shane, also present during the interview, said his family had received offers from others who wanted to develop the property, but it was important to the family that the marina stay. Shane said Blue Water picked up his lease for next year, and he hopes to continue on with them when the lease expires.
Shane said he has leased the property from his family since 1998, after returning from four years’ active duty with the U.S. Navy. He then served over three years in the Navy Reserves, then transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves, in which he still serves.
“These people want to keep it,” Shane said. “No one’s building marinas anymore.”
Marty said she couldn’t remember the marina’s 1966 purchase price, but Shane remembers his grandfather telling him that at some point back then, he could have bought the remaining bayside property, from the marina south to the end of the town, for $125,000.
Quite a few clients have kept their boats in the marina since the 1960s, said Shane, who is also a Laurel Police Department officer.
Over the years, Shane said, the marina offered pontoon and deck boat rentals, and it held a flounder tournament from 2008-18. All slips are now seasonal, Shane said.
Hurricane Sandy hit the marina hard in 2012, destroying the dock, which the family rebuilt in 2013.
The full-service marina store offers all kinds of boating needs, from gas, bait and tackle to ice cream. Pier Point is a Mercury marine dealer and has certified technicians for repairs.
“I grew up here, and I still have my first boat,” Shane said. “It was sold, and I bought it back. It’s a troller. They don’t make them anymore.”
Blue Water is a family-oriented company, too, Marty said, so it’s a good fit.
“There were a lot of happy times here,” she said. “We were always fishing, crabbing and skiing after work. That was the nightly fun. It’s been fantastic. It was a nice life.”