Dillon Francis Oberholzer

Dillon Francis Oberholzer



Tel: South Africa (+27) 079 224 0136


Marina & Boatyard Management

Marina Management Experience

I have run and managed three large International marinas.

Each of which were ports of entry, catered to mega-yachts and two had over 500 slips and dry storage rack systems. Each I ran for short periods. These positions I filled in as favours to the relevant marina owners or managers who had been short staffed, or who required reliable and knowledgeable assistance for projects they themselves were unable to fulfill.

In 2002, I started a Catamaran factory in Tacoma Washington, where we built 75 foot charter cats and a 95 foot ferry cat for PMC - (Rudolph Oloefse - Professional Marine Services ). During this time I also ran the marina and boat yard facility in Port Orchard - Washington State - USA.

Thereafter I bought my own dry dock and leased 1000 feet of commercial dock space with a Dry Storage Rack from the Port of Seattle. This was a full service centre which turned over 3 boats a week. Having one facility In Poulsbo and one on Lake Union proved too much to manage due to ferry travel time ( 4:30 am). I sold the Lake Union operation and focused on the Poulsbo & peninsular business. 

Before, between and after I have worked closely with the owners and management of many more marinas, boatyards and marine service facilities. 

1.  Riviera Beach Marina - West Balm Beach - FL - USA      (Click to View)

2.  Aruba Port - Renaissance Marina - Aruba - Caribbean      (Click to View)

3. Minneford Marina - City Island - New York - NY - USA     (Click to View)

4. Marina Paraiso - Isla Mujeres - Cancun - Mexico     (Click to View)

5. Diamond Blue Marine - Dry Dock & Ship Yard - Seattle - WA - USA     (Click to View)

6. Las Brisas Panama Moorings   (Click to View)


In order to run a marina effectively you need a myriad of skills.

These range from the ability to communicate with clients and liaise with government departments to officials in labour relations. This takes you through environmental affairs as well as drafting staff and employment contracts (HR Management). One of the many other aspects of Marina Management are the business and accounting responsibilities which go with the environmental, insurance and personnel, client and worker, liability factors that need to be addressed according to the specific marina, its location and its operations in regard to local legal regulatory compliance.  

This starts getting complicated for example when one needs to dredge or deepen births due to silting and taking appropriate action in the remediation and preventative systems and programs therefore. Or, on the other hand drafting slip leases or sub-contractor agreements.

 I have been involved in and managed both marinas and marine projects that have required many of these insights, designing and management skills in different parts of the USA and in other parts of the world. As such, I am comfortable in this area and am reasonably au fait with the process and management of most maritime regulatory legal correspondence, regulations, registration and licencing for various marina management and related construction projects globally. 

Coast Guard and Immigration

All the marinas I have run or managed have had National Police and Coast Guard vessel births. The relationships with these offices and their public training and volunteer programs along with Fire Department liaison has functioned as a connection to the community at large, including municipal event coordination and planning. This experience extends to the coordination of the voting station at Riviera Beach Marina for the Bush Election.

These relationships normally proffer direct government channel communication for marina projects such as expansion and birth dredging. 

When running a marina the marina office is normally responsible for the communication of national maritime security information regarding foreign vessels entering or leaving a port. 

When operating and managing the Aruba Marina  and in my position in the Riviera Beach Marina in Florida (USA), I was responsible for the initial vessel inspection, crew count and coast guard notification of a foreign vessel arrival.  In South Africa as the Bosun of the Natal University Yacht Club (UNYC), I was responsible for monitoring and recording all vessel sailings off-shore, as well as vessel sea worthiness certification with all required safety equipment.  These marina management duties have often included Yacht Race Course design and coordination, crew counts and sail training for coastal yacht masters licences.  In Durban,  South Africa, (UNYC), all reports were handed in to the port authority prior to and after each event. In Jamaica, I participated in the organization of the “Pineapple Cup” where I met Ted Turner.

Dock Maintenance

  There is a lot to running a marina, haul-out, boatyard and dock system well.  This includes the obvious cleats,  marina deck surfaces, piling inspections storm bracing, electrical, plumbing and TV cable connections and electrical junction boxes to mention a few. 

Please contact me for further information regarding marina maintenance, as having had over 30 years of working experience in and running marinas I have done many varied projects.

Fuel Docks 

Design - Maintenance - Installation - Operation

The first and foremost requirements are licencing and permits. Every country, state, province and town has different ordinances and different authorities that you have to work with. Depending on the location of your marina you may have to deal with the Harbour Master the Army Core of Engineers and the EPA equivalents as well as local Fire, EMT Services, Police and Coast Guard among others. I have done all of this in numerous marinas in various countries of the world. Many follow the USA- EPA guidelines and international maritime law, but the actual application and interpretation is normally up to local authorities. 

The procedure of allocating and leasing or purchasing the aquatic land is the first step once the applications for usage have been accepted and the state or official letters of approval have been received. 

When running a fuel dock there is a mountain of paper work that needs to be managed.  The town, state and federal filings, inspections etc. all have to be coordinated and completed within due dates. Generally when starting up a fuel dock these seem overwhelming but they are just filings and if one communicates with the relevant authorities and works with them, they normally help you through the process.

Often in a busy international marina serving international yachts, commercial boats and accounts as well as passing mega yachts, the payment methods can be tricky.  Experience in POS systems, international banking and transfers is a plus. They can can be a help in the evaluation of a client loading 20,000 liters or more of diesel. Normally foreign vessels pay cash in foreign ports or the funds are pre-paid prior to fueling.

Generally the process of licencing inspection and maintenance schedules is the same everywhere. Regulatory filings and quality samples as well as insurances, liability, worker and client safety plans as well as environmental spill containment are all factors that apply to the storage tanks, pumps and delivery systems, and again there is much involved and one could write a book but the idea here is to show that I am au fait with the regulatory and practical systems and requirements. Fuel polishing is another area affiliated to fuel dock services.  

Travel-Lifts and Haul-Out Systems

The equipment and systems functionality as well as  EPA and OSHA regulatory requirements all have to be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis.

Travel Lift - straps, cables and hydraulics. Their maintenance, schedules and operator licencing as required need to be assessed and monitored carefully. I have seen clients’ boats dropped in other marinas and had my own operators get their hands caught in straps.

Operational protocol design with OSHA or equivalent national guide lines need to be followed with indemnity contracts that are written and designed to tie in to your insurance policies.


I have purchased, maintained and operated many different types of haul-out systems as well as over-head and hydraulic boom crane systems for the removal and transport of motors, transportation of 50 ton tools (boat moulds) in 400 foot long boat factories. Each e systems has required its own unique management system.  


I have designed and built only one Dry-Rack Storage System but have been involved in a few others. 

Systems, locations, design, permitting and weather all have a roll to play in deciding whether, where and when to add this business unit to a marina. Please note that the dry storage - Rack System is a very lucrative business in its own right. However, it needs to be designed and located correctly and the building including the floor - pad reinforcement as well as the cradle frames have to be fabricated correctly.

Allied services, equipment storage and service bays with relevance to the business operation and permits need to be factored into the design when planning a dry storage unit in a marina. Staff training and client management systems need to be in place to operate a business unit of this nature well.

I have operated and worked with well run Dry-Storage facilities as well as incompetently run, badly designed and poorly operated units. There is nothing worse than a client planning a vacation and his boat is either not ready, can't be brought down or is covered in drippings from the boat above. 



In General

Starting out as a Sailing School owner / operator / instructor (Durban RSA), then as a boat Captain / Skipper, Marina Manager in the Caribbean and Florida USA) and  Boat yard owner / operator and floating dry dock owner operator( Seattle USA) - I have worked closely with the EPA Coastal Marine Division and have in depth knowledge of governmental systems and regulations.

This experience led me into Bio Management Engineering in water treatment working in aquaculture where I have closely worked again with the EPA, FDA, (USA)


Riviera Beach Marina & Municipal Complex

During 2000- 2001 Operations and Security Manager / Riviera Beach Marina & Municipal Complex (West Palm Beach

 General Duties included client relations / Fuel dock operations / maintenance scheduling for 500 boats in water + 500 boats on rack + 800 transient boats (P/A) Management and booking of Conference Center / Polling (voting) station for “Bush Election”. Additional duties included security for 2 large Casino boats / 3 tug boats / Offshore fishing charter fleet & 2 Offshore salvage vessels.

 Administrative Duties

Included EH&S Oversight, EPA Marine water management, testing and reporting. USCG relations, USA immigration paperwork submissions for foreign vessels, Import- export paperwork / customs and excise evaluation and general paperwork for all foreign boats and good entering or leaving port.

Liaison with EPA / USCG / Florida municipal entities.  



Beginning of 2002, I was the harbor master for the Aruba yacht basin with 85 births for super yachts 100 foot plus. My duties were to control all operations including Fuel dock cash box ($500k per month) Oversight and responsibility of All Marine Departments including all services / maintenance / chandlery store / equipment purchasing / marina staff management / bookings / website management etc.

The other half of the job was running and managing two, day-charter catamarans “Fun Factory” and” Fuji Films” these vessels sailed 3 times a day with an average of 80 souls on board per trip. I normally captained two sailings daily, average take per day 25k USD

Basic Duties included:

Contract liaison with cruise ship companies, hotel marketing and promotions / Travel agency promotion and marketing, crew management / onboard bar-restaurant supply and management etc.

Administrative duties:

Client invoicing, accounts receivables, and payable / as well as payroll, taxes and insurances.  Additional duties included USCG relations, Aruba immigration paperwork for foreign vessels, Import- export paperwork / customs and excise evaluation and paperwork submissions for all foreign boats, as well as the goods, parts and services required they required, Travel arrangements for subcontractors and crew for visiting vessels.

Owned by Mike Roche



October 2002 through March 2003

Operations-Maintenance and yard manager for 300+ vessels 400 slips while Frank Virgentino was away sailing his boat .

Liaison with EPA / USCG / New York State & municipal entities.

Complex included a dry marina, wet slips and dry storage rack shed as well as new boat sales showroom.  Added to this was the maintenance yard for all service, commissioning and winterization. All  service and repair  work done  was billed in-house  with no outside vendor billing allowed by sub contractors.

I was responsible for employing all sub contractors to work directly for the marina under our insurance and liability, marina management and performance policies.   

20 staff

 Minneford Marina Owned by Frank Virgentino



Marina Paraiso - Isla Mujeres (Mexico)

March 2002 through September 2002 - General Marina Management and Staff supervisor. 

This included the supervision of safety preparation for all vessels (approximately 60) when  Hurricane Isidore  hit the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) in September of that year.

We helped and supported many more boats than Marina Paraiso could  accommodate  and extented the service out into the bay. This led to the incorporation of a dedicated VHF channel and licence to operate in Cancun for general cruising advice and emergency assistance. We assisted over 100 cruising yachts that season to find safe anchorage around the marina and in the nearby mangroves. (Not a single boat was lost or damaged) 

During this time I built a 20 birth extension to existing docks and guided and assisted the owner in the design and construction of the new marina in Progresso.  

Marina Paraiso Owned by Manuel Gutierrez


Diamond Blue Marine - Dry Dock & Boatyard (Lake Union-Seattle)

2004 -2006

In 2004 in order to complement the services of my main business, "Diamond Blue Marine"  (a sail, canvas and general boat repair shop) in Poulsbo, Washington, I bought a floating Dry Dock on Lake Union Seattle.  In order to commission and licence this facility I had to design a waste water system acceptable to the EPA. 

This was not only accepted but was adopted by the EPA as a blue print for all such dry docks throughout the USA.



Las Brisas Moorings - Panama

2009 - 2010

I opened the first first full service Canvas and Sail Loft in Panama for more than 100 years on the Island of Taboga, the first of the Las Perlas Islands on the Pacific side of Panama.

This island is only about 6 nautical miles from the Mainland and from there I was able to reach all cruising and fishing boats on that side of the Canal.

High winds and heavy seas are a curse to many a boat on anchor at Las Brisas Moorings on the city side of the isthmus and almost by default, I became the "to call" man whenever there was a problem.

Using my Grand Banks, Jenny Lynn, with her powerful Ford Lehman engines I was able, to assist stranded or sinking vessels or aid the owners of vessels when their anchors failed in the storms causing them to run into nearby boats on anchor.