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March 21, 2016

Historic Robinhood Marine sells to Derecktor partnership

Courtesy / LandVest Inc. An aerial view of the the Robinhood Marine Center in Georgetown.
Courtesy / LandVest Inc.
Courtesy / LandVest Inc.
Courtesy / LandVest Inc.

A group that ran a ferry line that evacuated people from New York City on 9/11 is part of a partnership that acquired the Robinhood Marine Center in Georgetown.

John Koenig, Paul Derecktor and yacht-builder Derecktor Shipyards make up the Derecktor Maine partnership, which purchased Robinhood from long-time owner Andy Vavolotis.

The deal, worth $4 million, closed on March 7.

The 5.5-acre facility offers marina services, storage, maintenance and repair. It also includes the Osprey Restaurant, Spartan Marine Hardware, Riggs Cove Rentals (which rents houseboats moored in the cove), and a small library and museum.

Vavolotis bought the yard in 1981, but said he was ready to move on.

“Just too old,” Vavolotis said. “I’m going to be 78. I kind of overstayed my welcome. The simple fact was I have at least three of my personal boats at the marina, and I haven’t been able to even use them because I’ve been so busy running the marina. I said, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’”

Koenig and Derecktor are lifelong friends. At the time of 9/11, Koenig, who lives in Millstone, N.J., and Derecktor were partners in a high-speed ferry business called New York Fast Ferry, which transported commuters between Sandy Hook, N.J., and lower Manhattan.

On the day of the disaster, the company’s boats, with Koenig assisting onboard, began ferrying people off Manhattan right after the first strike.

“People started flowing onto the boats,” Koenig said. The company transported some 2,000 people to safety in New Jersey. “It was very emotional. A lot of our customers were Wall Streeters. It was surreal.”

After 9/11, the company ran into new regulatory obstacles that made it too tough to compete, so Koenig and Derecktor sold the ferries to a larger operator. Koenig then owned and operated Marina on the Bay and the Clam Hut Restaurant in Highlands, N.J., for a dozen years. In 2012, his business and home were destroyed by super storm Sandy. He sold that property, but was eager to find another.

“I like the marina business and Paul likes the building-and-repair business,” Koenig said by phone. “So we looked for both. They’re not easy to find. Robinhood Marine turned up and we liked it. It’s a beautiful spot and a good yard.”

The two approached Vavolotis last fall. The parties signed a contract in December, and continued to work out details over the subsequent two months.

“Andy was great,” said Koenig. “He wanted the right buyers. He didn’t want people who were just investors.”

Karen Reiche and John Saint–Amour of LandVest Inc. represented the seller.

“This is a couple of younger guys with a vision,” Vavolotis said.

The boatyard and marina will now be called Derecktor Robinhood. It has 16 year-round employees and adds six to eight dock employees in the summer.

Paul Derecktor’s father, Robert Derecktor, established Derecktor Shipyards in Mamaroneck, N.Y., in 1947. (Derecktor also has a site in Dania Beach, Fla., south of Fort Lauderdale.) The yard may be best known for producing Dennis Conner’s 1987 America’s Cup contender Stars & Stripes 87, which won back the Amerca’s Cup from the Australians.

There will likely be some synergy between Derecktor Shipyards and Derecktor Robinhood, he said.

“We hopefully can share customers and jobs,” Koenig said. “Let’s say, for example, that Derecktor Shipyards has a Florida customer who has a classic wooden boat that he wants to get worked on. Maine is the perfect place for that — the right climate and a lot of good woodworkers. Or there might be a job we can do at Robinhood for a boat that Derecktor Shipyards is building: We can build certain pieces of the boat at Robinhood and send that to the shipyard. So we hope to get synergy from that.”

Koenig, who has a son still in high school in New Jersey, does not plan to move to Maine, although he said he’s been at the yard quite a bit for the deal and plans to be there frequently from now on.

Neil Collins, who spent the 10 years at Maine Yacht Center in Portland, has been hired to manage the site.

The partners plan to promote the marina and its service and storage capabilities, Koenig said, adding that marketing had slacked off the past couple of years.

“We’d like to increase occupancy and promote it, and let people know there’s new energy here,” he said.

Robinhood includes a central building with a service bay, two paint bays and a woodshop; two storage buildings; and a building with three bays that formerly accommodated Vavolotis’ boatbuilding projects and can be converted for service work. Together, the yard currently accommodates up to 100 boats in winter storage. For summer customers, there are 120 slips, some full-service; and 82 deep-water protected moorings.

Riggs Cove Rentals will continue on as it has. The restaurant will continue, and there’s some thought of expanding Spartan Hardware.

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