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Quad-Citians make use of Mississippi

Dispatch/Argus file photo

Marinas abound in the Quad-Cities, catering to the needs of the area's many boataers.

Only in the St. Louis area are as many marinas concentrated on the Mississippi River as are in the Quad-Cities area, and nowhere are there as many slips.

From LeClaire downstream to Andalusia, seven marinas are available to boaters who don't want to -- or can't -- hassle with a trailer.

They are:

-- Captain's Quarters Dri-Stak Marina -- Behind the lateral dam extending upstream from Lock and Dam 14. The marina lifts boats out of the water with a large forklift and places them in racks.

-- Green Gables Boat Harbor -- A smaller marina, just downstream from the Captain's Quarters near the I-80 bridge. A mobile crane is used to lift boats out of the water for winter storage.

-- Island Marine -- Toward the downstream end of Credit Island, this cozy marina sits just behind Dynamite Island and has a marine hoist to lift boats for repairs or storage.

-- Marquis Harbor -- This 150-slip marina was built by the city of Moline and is leased to a private operator. It also is the home of the Captain's Table restaurant.

-- Lindsay Park Boat Club -- This 200-slip marina is owned by the city of Davenport and leased to the club. The boaters in this first Quad-Cities marina don't have access to a marine hoist, so they hire a crane for a weekend and everybody's boat comes out the same weekend.

-- Sunset Marina -- The largest marina in the Quad-Cities and second largest on the Mississippi River, has nearly 500 slips and a 30-ton marine hoist to lift boats onto dry land.

Marinas aren't used just by owners of larger boats. A rough estimate of marinas would indicate more than half of the slips are for boats smaller than 26 feet with a good portion in the smaller categories.

When Sunset was started, most slips were for boats larger than 26 feet. Owners of smaller boats stored their boats on trailers and took them to a launching ramp when they wanted to use them.

Two developments changed that. More apartments were built in the Quad-Cities, which left potential boaters with no place to store their boats on trailers. The other was the downsizing of cars. In the 1960s and '70s, almost any car, with its heavy weight powered by a V8 engine, could pull a fairly good-sized boat.

With the downsizing of vehicles, most cannot pull any but the smallest of fishing boats or a pair of personal water craft. Thus, much of marinas' space is devoted to 18- and 20-foot runabouts.

Sunset started as a sandpit, much of which was used as fill north of the lake. A group of Rock Island leaders decided the city needed a marina and got permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dig a channel to the river.

Initally, the city's park department ran the marina until it was leased to a private operator. The lease and the physical assets were sold to a series of private operators, some good and some not so good.

Finally, after an operator became embroiled in disputes with many of the boaters, the city took over operation of the marina.

The city cleaned up what had become a pretty sloppy operation and expanded the number of slips, until, for a while, it was the largest marina on the Mississippi.

Best of all for Rock Island taxpayers, the cost of the buyout from the previous operator and the marina's expansion and operating costs have been paid for by slip fees. The marina also has returned more than $100,000 a year to the city in tax replacement and fees.

-- By Jack Tumbleson (January 26, 1998)

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