It was an Alabama cotton field. Seven years ago dredges began digging out 1.5 million yards of sand. Today, it’s the luxurious and state-of-the-art Kingfisher Bay Marina in Demopolis.
The farmland was located behind venerable Demopolis Yacht Basin, familiar and a vital hurricane hole to any boater traveling the Tenn-Tom Waterway. It was Fred Hansard, longtime manager of this harbor, who envisioned the new marina. The land was owned by Estelle and Arthur Taylor, retired Demopolis residents who were not boaters, but when Hansard shared his dream, they jumped on board.
“Still,” Fred related, “a new marina wasn’t feasible unless we could sell the sand which covered the 40 acres.” Tests proved the sand perfect for sale to a cement manufacturer. It was then moved full circle into concrete for the marina.
With a laugh Estelle explained, “We turned the best cotton field in Alabama into a marina.”
Meanwhile Fred and Kim Hansard — Kim is the office manager for both marinas — took the Taylors on an extensive marina tour, from worst to best, making plans along the way, including the name. Fred recalled, “We wanted a bird name, and it dawned on us that every day a kingfisher would perch on the dredge to watch the work.”
Kingfisher Bay Marina and Demopolis Yacht Basin are separated only by an enormous, 225-vessel, dry storage area, but in personality they are different. Fred described the Yacht Basin side as “the workhorse, with boatyard and fuel dock, preferred by boaters who like to watch towboats come and go. Kingfisher Bay is the show pony side.” It’s tucked off the Tombigbee River, peaceful, quiet with every comfort any boater could envision.
If You Build, It They Will Come
Kingfisher Bay launched in 2011 with no chance for a grand opening, as live-aboards and transients immediately moved in. Pull into one of the 50 wet slips — 220 are planned — built by Maricorp. They’re vented and two feet higher than normal roofs, so no need to lower antennas. Cleats rest every few feet. All pedestals have 30/50 amp power. There’s water and pump-out at each slip.
After an easy tie-up, maybe do some laundry; it’s close by in a building right on the docks, with four washers, five dryers and a deep laundry sink. Relax in one of the rocking chairs, click on the wall-hung, flat-screen TV. The restrooms are reminiscent of a fine hotel, with handicapped-accessible showers. The spacious area with tables and chairs can evolve into a winter party room.
It’s late afternoon, so carry your wine up the steps of this building to a capacious party patio on top. A long wet bar, decorator tables and chairs with a wide view are soothed by a perpetual breeze. For supper, there’s a barbecue grill on the dock below. Return to your boat for free Wi-Fi and cable TV. Feel secure with surveillance cameras everywhere and access to the laundry/bath only with a magnet key. And unbelievably, there are no spiders thanks to frequent spraying.
“Most marinas were built for the young,” Fred explained. “This one is designed for an older generation.”
“Or old knees,” a visiting boater added. Hop in one of the marina’s golf carts to haul supplies to your boat, down a ramp from the parking lot, across extra-wide docks with even a turn-around area. Or ride next door to the ship store or restaurant at the Yacht Basin.
But don’t be thinking lazy old folks. There’s a 50-foot swimming pool with ramp entry, walking trails through the woods, soon-to-be badminton courts, and an indoor exercise facility and pool.
Fred summed it up, “I took everything I’ve heard boaters say they liked and put it into one place.” The result is a lifestyle. A new standard in marinas.
AT A GLANCE
Hours: Check-in at Yacht Basin fuel dock year round. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.
Fuel: 89-octane non-ethanol; marine-grade diesel
Slips: 50, future 220. Any size boat. Covered up to 70 feet. Dry storage.
Water Depth: 12 feet, 7 feet tie-bar in slips
Amenities: Slips include water, 30/50-amp power, pump-out, free Wi-Fi and cable TV; golf carts; swimming pool; laundry/showers; ship store; full-service boatyard, 70-ton Travelift; restaurant at Yacht Basin, open Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m., open Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.; eight blocks to downtown
Getting There: By water at Tenn-Tom MM 217; by land from downtown Demopolis, follow AL13/US43/S Walnut Ave., cross the bridge and take the second left.