Comparing today’s crystal-clear full colour shots with the sepia toned aerial images of Lymington Yacht Haven in the 1970’s it’s hard to imagine they’re the same marina, separated by half a century.
So much has changed at Lymington Yacht Haven and for the Yacht Havens Group as they celebrate their first 50 years.
A Safe Haven
Derived from the Dutch word “jachthaven” with the same meaning in English “a harbour for yachts”, their first marina, Lymington Yacht Haven opened for business in May 1972. Twelve years after plans were first conceived by a group of local yachtsmen, including Dutch dredging contractor Hems Kalis, with one shared vision: to build a marina.
In the early days, when money was tight, Hems provided a personal guarantee to pay Westminster Dredging Company for the design and build of the marina. Once works started, Lymington Yacht Haven proceeded to sell a number of 20-year berthing contracts, raising capital which paid for marina construction works in full.
The Early Days
There were only a few UK yacht marinas in the 1960’s and most boats were kept afloat on river moorings close to a yacht club with basic facilities. The Yacht Havens Group Managing Director Dylan Kalis explains “boat owners were obliged to park either at or near their local yacht club and row out to their boat on its mooring. The concept of being able to walk down a pontoon and step onto the boat directly was a huge novelty. Cynics said it would never catch on!”
Reflecting on those early days, Yacht Havens Group Chairman Dirk Kalis added “walk-on pontoons extended many customers’ boating activities by a good decade.”
Then and Now
In the early days the 200ft vessel “Medina” served as the temporary marina office and any servicing or maintenance was undertaken in the workshop barge “Actief” until 1977, when construction began on the main office building.
By the late 1980’s, Yacht Havens Group were well established, involved in building and operating a number of marina projects around the UK including Largs, Swansea, Hartlepool, and Pwllheli. Fast forward to 2022 and the group now successfully operates from nine locations in Lymington, Plymouth, North Fambridge, Neyland, Troon and Largs in the UK and Jachthaven Biesbosch in the Netherlands.
People at the heart of Yacht Havens Group
One thing that has remained a constant throughout those 50 years has been the Group’s commitment to providing a first-class service.
To consistently deliver on that commitment across all nine marinas, has meant pin-pointing a winning formula, and that’s their people. In every one of their marinas, you’ll find a friendly, knowledgeable, service-orientated group of individuals, proud to don their Yacht Haven uniform, keen to serve their boating communities; from responding to berth holder’s enquiries to checking and taking in lines.
Expansion of Lymington Yacht Haven has been impressive; now housing over 650 berths (originally 250), parking for 350 cars, ancillary buildings, hard standing for 230 boats, EV charging and the popular Haven Bar and Restaurant.
"With a youngish family we’re relatively new to boating, so we radio ahead when we’re coming into the marina and there’s always someone there to take in our lines."
"Nobody sits on their laurels at the Yacht Haven, they don’t just provide a service, there are always signs of improvement, from upgrading pontoons to the car park entry system, fabulous shower block and furniture in the restaurant. Consistently investing in the latest technology to make life easier for berth holders.”
- Berth Holder, Chris
Run for boating enthusiasts
Home to colourful characters and talented sailors, the marina has celebrated many outstanding sailing achievements over the years, welcoming the late Les Powles and his beloved 34ft Solitaire in 1981, after 47 weeks, 329 days and 28,496 miles at sea. He remained a regular and popular face at the Yacht Haven.
A sense of community has always been as important to the Group as it is to berth holders. Chris explains “It’s more than a place to park my boat, we enjoy family cruising, racing and getting out for local Solent adventures, we’ve made friends with our berth neighbours, and I often go and sit on the boat for coffee, it’s such a lovely place to be.”
We are proud of our association with the yachting fraternity around the UK and will continue to offer our customers a safe and friendly place to keep their boats.
“It is thanks to the vision, drive and persistence of the original Shareholders that Lymington Yacht Haven was built, and we remain indebted to our many loyal customers who have chosen to berth their boats with us since 1972.”
- Dylan Kalis, Managing Director
Happy 50th Lymington Yacht Haven