The Clinton Marina in Clinton, Iowa, is a study in growth and change. Following years of consternation, discussion and debate at city hall about what to do with the marina, it finally got a complete, $6.8 million rebuild in 2008.
The list of improvements was long and extensive. The on-water portion included dredging and shore protection, new docks with re-worked slips, and upgraded electrical and water service. On shore, the facility got a new boat ramp, parking for trailer boats and slip renters, a new maintenance building and a new amenities building with showers, laundry, ship’s store and second floor restaurant.
Following that, the city hired an outside firm to manage the marina. Then, last spring, it decided to hire new management once again. Based on the popularity and success of the Candlelight Inn, the restaurant that had moved in on the second floor, the city chose its management to take over the marina on May 1, 2013.
Cindy Brackemeyer, the marina’s new manager, admits to having little boating knowledge and no marina experience, but she, along with marina mechanic Bill Wallace, have pledged to create a new atmosphere. She says she has “a great attitude to learn and grow.” It’s their goal to provide the highest level of customer service possible, to focus on satisfying their customers and to try to put the marina on the map as one of the places to stop on the river.
The marina has a total of 148 slips in three separate but connected locations, including 25 transient slips ranging from 30 to 100 feet. There are 50 slips, including most of the transient ones, directly in front of the office. Upriver past the gas dock, there are some 20 covered and 33 uncovered slips tucked behind Joyce’s Island. Then, after passing through the gates of the floodwall, there are 45 more slips, plus the launch ramp and maintenance building.
The fuel dock has 87-octane gas and diesel fuel, along with a pump-out station. The docks have both 30- and 50-amp electrical service. The marina also has a unique, 60,000-pound capacity Sea Lift that accommodates boats up to 55 feet. There’s some limited winter storage area.
The first floor of the marina building houses the office, with a ship’s store and some snacks and refreshments. Restrooms, shower rooms and a laundry facility make up the rest of the ground floor. Outside, there are both covered and uncovered picnic and observation areas.
Upstairs, which is accessible by stairs or elevator, the Candlelight Inn has a bar and dining room, with expansive glass walls and vistas both up and down the river. It also has an outside patio. The restaurant is family friendly and lists Chicken George as one of its most popular dishes. Other highlights include coconut shrimp and a combination called Porky George that mixes fall-off-the-bone barbeque with its famed chicken dish.
Wallace says the marina can handle a wide variety of mechanical work but, as part of its customer service pledge, promises not to tackle work that it thinks other people could do better. The marina won’t hesitate to refer work to mechanics it knows and trusts when it thinks it’s in the best interest of the customer.
The marina is located on River Drive, which is part of the River View City Park. Included in the park are a city swimming pool and Alliant Energy Field, which is home to the Class A Midwest League Clinton Lumber Kings. Playgrounds, picnic areas and an RV campground are also part of the park.
Just downstream from the marina and moored along shore is the Showboat Theater. Performances are regularly held on this restored paddlewheeler. Further downstream is a lighthouse.
The new management at Clinton Marina is trying to bring in quality people and say they feel they have “a fantastic opportunity to serve.”
Hours: (In season) 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Fuel: 87-octane gas and diesel
Slips: 148 total, 25 transient from 30 to 100 feet; pricing is $1.25 a foot, minimum $37.50, with weekly rates available; call ahead for approach instructions and slip location
Water Depth: 5 feet at gas dock; 6+ feet at transient slips
Amenities: Water, 30/50-amp electrical, pump-out at gas dock, restrooms, showers, laundry room, ship’s store, snack, refreshments, 60,000-pound Sea Lift, general marine mechanical work, specialty in air conditioning and refrigeration
Restaurant: Candlelight Inn Restaurant on second floor of marina building; open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; 563-243-3200; www.candlelightinnrestaurant.com
Getting there by boat: Upper Mississippi River Mile 519, right descending bank, about four miles below Lock and Dam 13 at Fulton, Ill.
Getting there by land: The marina is located in River View City Park, which has signs to it on north and southbound U.S. 67; the marina is upstream from the lighthouse and the Showboat Theater moored along shore