By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Lindahl
SAN DIEGO (NNS) –
In the days where sequestration dominates military conversation, there are a few Morale, Welfare and Recreation locations that stand to stay relatively safe; but do you know all of them?
There are the obvious golf courses, bowling alleys and movie theaters that one may assume would generate enough revenue to stay afloat, but what are the other locations that still remain relatively unknown?
Nestled on the shores of California's Silver Strand in San Diego, a seven-mile long thin stretch of land that connects the California cities of Imperial Beach and Coronado, sits a large MWR location that does not expect to be directly affected by the sequestration.
Yet, thousands of Sailors, civilians and other service members drive by it every week, and according to its employees, few even know of its existence.
Fiddler's Cove Marina and RV Park, the largest U.S. Navy marina in the world, according to General Manager Brandon Workman, looks like any other marina on your way to work in Southern California. The truth is that it is an actual MWR off-site location that houses plenty of boating, water recreation and camping opportunities for military members, retirees, family members and civilian employees.
“Our biggest challenge is letting people know we're here,” said Workman. “Once people get down here and they realize that we're MWR, that we're an off-base facility, and we have all this cool stuff, the place tends to sell itself from there.”
Fiddler’s Cove features a variety of marine inspired rental equipment, boat slips for boat storage, a general store and a camping and RV park that is currently under renovation.
The list of rental equipment includes sailboats of varying sizes, 15' motorboats, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes and various bikes.
Fiddler's Cove also offers a refuge to those who are just looking for a nice place to have a picnic, barbeque, or launch their own personal equipment.
“Think of it like a park. Basically, there's no charge for you just coming down, having a picnic, or something like that,” Workman said.
The marina side of Fiddler's Cove holds 260 boat slips available to rent out monthly for those who own boats and would like a slip at a discounted military rate. Approximately 54% of those slips are rented out by active duty military members, with the majority of them among the enlisted ranks, said Workman.
The marina, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy Sailing Center Point Loma, also offers sailing courses, ranging from beginner to advanced, on most non-holiday weekends.
“We don't want to be real stuffy, we want to be open to everybody, we don't want to be an exclusive club,” Workman said. “We want to encourage participation. We know that folks are often only here for a couple of years at a time, so we try to offer experiences that are unique.”
Dock Master Curt Snyder, a retired Master Chief Radioman, said he learned quickly that in marinas there are typically two types of boaters - those that prefer motors and those that prefer sails. However, with Fiddler's Cove, he said it is a different experience.
“They seem to all get along because they have two things in common,” said Snyder. “One, they're military, and two, they like boats.
The RV park at Fiddler's Cove is currently closed for renovations until fall 2013, but will offer renovated RV sites as well as renovated tent camping sites. The tent sites will include household power outlets and plots of sand for those who still like to “rough it.”
“We understand that (tent camping is) the entry level of what we do. At our RV parks and camping in general, we typically start out in tents before we move to RVs,” said Workman. “We felt it was important that, anyplace we couldn't fit a full-size RV pad, we carved out these niches to allow that tent camping to continue.”
Workman said the RV park, by definition, is something people seek out nationally, but they try to target their local population with their marina. He encourages anyone who doesn't necessarily have a lot of money to still come and see the marina to gauge whether they want to start a new hobby.
For more information about Fiddler's Cove Marina and RV Park, visit www.navylifesw.com