ROCKPORT – Almost a year ago, the Cove Harbor Marina and Dry Stacks was in shambles.
After Hurricane Harvey blew across the Coastal Bend, the facility, affectionately known as the “Boat Barn” looked like a total loss.
But on Friday, the Boat Barn officially reopened.
“It is a day long coming,” owner Haythem Dawlett said. “Honestly, if you talked to me a year ago, I would have told you this would have never happened.”
The storm leveled Cove Harbor’s buildings. It also left millions of dollars worth of boats damaged, some beyond repair.
Dawlett admits he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to re-open.
“The day after the hurricane when I arrived, I probably would have said that,” said Dawlett. “It was devastating, but we just hunkered down and bit the bullet.”
Dawlett also had a lot of help. And when first boat went back into storage, it was a sign that work at the Boat Barn is almost done.
“It took a lot of team effort the people out here that have worked tirelessly for hours and hours a day,” he said.
When finished the new barn will hold more boats than ever with 488 in the stacks and another 176 in wet slips.
The repairs cost about $8 million, It was a wise investment, particularly if a new and improved Boat Barn brings tourists back to town.
“It’s such an important structure for us,” said Diane Probst, president/CEO of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce. “480 boats in the facility, stacked, taken care of.”
Not only that, but officials believe Dawlett is an example to others still struggling through recovery.
“This is a true example of a leader taking control of his situation, looking at what areas need to be done, and then getting after it and making it happen,” Probst said.
Over the next three months , an expanded store, lounge, and event center are also expected to open at Cove Harbor. Dawlett also says he plans to add a hotel made of Airstream recreational vehicles.