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Merrill-Stevens sold; new owners plan upgrade

One of South Florida’s oldest and most prominent marine businesses is changing hands. Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock Co., a fixture on the Miami River since 1923, has been acquired by Miami business and civic leaders Hugh A. Westbrook and Carole Shields Westbrook. The deal was finalized Dec. 2 for an undisclosed sum, according to the Westbrooks, who announced the transaction.

Not only do the Westbrooks plan to keep Merrill-Stevens a boatyard, they say they will upgrade and expand the facility, which occupies both sides of the river near 12th Street in Miami. The boatyard’s future had been clouded in recent months by a control fight among descendants of the founding Merrill family.

“The Merrill family is proud to see its marine business continue its long tradition, and well-regarded name and reputation under the new ownership by the Westbrooks,” the family said in a statement.

Founded as Merrill & Son in Jacksonville in the Florida Territories in 1886, Merrill-Stevens evolved from a blacksmith shop focused on marine services into the World War II era’s largest Atlantic shipyard south of Norfolk, Va. It was incorporated formally in 1885 by James Eugene Merrill, making it Florida’s oldest continuously operating company.

Florida marina may

fall to condos

What is now a collection of 60 boat slips, six rental cabins and four motel rooms on Florida’s St. Johns River could be replaced by a condo-hotel complex and conference facilities.

Property owner Hugh Upton, who paid $3 million for the Astor Bridge Marina near the end of 2004, said his company has “a lot of plans” for the site, according to a report in the Nov. 19 issue of the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

“[The marina] has full facilities for the boater, and the restaurant will be reopening very soon,” Upton was quoted as saying. “We’ll be able to offer a full range of food and beverages for the boater and for people waiting to hold seminars in that kind of setting.”

Upton told the newspaper he’d keep the Astor Bridge name for now, but long-range plans are to rename the facility Port of Call Yacht Club.

Albin, Massey strike

exclusivity deal

Massey Yacht Sales & Service has been named the full-line Albin dealer for Florida’s west coast. One of the oldest full-service yacht dealerships in the South-east, Massey is also a dealer for Catalina, Morgan, Hunter and Caliber sailing yachts.

Albin offers American-made lobster-style powerboats with modern construction, Down-East looks and fuel-

efficient cruising speeds. The Albin power yacht line ranges from 26 to 45 feet — most available in both single- and twin-diesel engines.

Dolphin helped by

marine dealer

Boat retailer MarineMax has donated $2,500 to upgrade the aquarium for a dolphin rescued in the aftermath of Florida’s storms last fall.

The 1-year-old Atlantic spotted dolphin was found beached Sept. 28 on a sandbar just north of Anclote Key. He had third-degree sunburn and could not swim on his own when found.

Marine animal rescue workers brought the dolphin, named Hurricane, to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where he was placed in a temporary stranding pool. CMA rescue facilities were filled to capacity, so the temporary holding pool was the only space available for the dolphin.

“We greatly appreciate MarineMax’s generous donation,” says Gerri Raymond, director of development at CMA. “Their contribution allowed us to upgrade the pump, filter and heating systems in Hurricane’s aquarium, and this has helped enormously in his care.”

Hurricane continues improving daily. He is now swimming on his own and his burns are healing.

Ban on PWC in Biscayne park will stand

The National Park Service has rejected a call for a scientific study to re-evaluate the ban on personal watercraft in the waters of Florida’s Biscayne National Park.

A petition asking for the study had been filed in August with NPS and the Department of the Interior.

Biscayne National Park south of Key Biscayne and north of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, banned PWC use in 2000 by enacting locally a federal NPS rule that allowed individual parks to prohibit PWC use without a local, site-specific scientific review.