Marina General Manager Preston Sutter cuts the ribbon for the new Point South Marina. [ Wendy Weitzel | The Star ]
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Hundreds gather for marina grand opening

When Point South Marina’s new general manager Preston Sutter first arrived in Port St. Joe following Hurricane Michael four and a half years ago, he said the site that once housed the marina could only be described as a “yard sale.”

“I mean, there were boats in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot,” he said. “The thing was just flattened.”

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of locals gathered at the newly rebuilt facility to celebrate the progress at the marina and the progress of the community as a whole following the storm.

The new marina features several notable differences from the original Port St. Joe Marina facility – one of the most noticeable being a 63,000 square foot dry dock boat storage facility capable of storing 252 boats up to 43 feet in length.

The marina’s previous boat barn only held 80 vessels.

“It’s been really great to see (the marina) go from bare dirt to something made for the 21st century,” said Sutter.

Wounds from Hurricane Michael are still felt deeply in Gulf County, where insurance claims remain unsettled, and many have been forced to leave their homes and businesses behind. 

The storm claimed the lives of at least 74 people in multiple counties, and the National Center for Environmental Information estimated that Michael caused upwards of $18 billion in damage in Florida. 

The marina, prior to Micahel, had served as a community gathering spot and a landmark for the town. Its reopening, for many local residents, represents one of Port St. Joe’s most visible markers of recovery from the storm.

This sentiment was expressed by U.S. Representative Neal Dunn, who drove out to the marina from Panama City to participate in the festivities.

“We watched this city get blown away on October 10, 2018. There was really a tough amount of devastation here, but from day one, the people here, they stood up and said ‘we’re going to rebuild this town, and it’s going to be better than ever,’” Dunn said. 

“This is a good symbol of that.”

According to Joe Whitmer, the director of the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, along with being enjoyed by locals, the marina is also likely to attract a wider tourist base to the town, which will benefit other businesses in the area.

“It’s always a good day in Gulf County when we can open a new business,” Whitmer said. “And it’s an especially good day when we can open something like this, because tourism is our economy now. It’s what keeps the lights on, and this will certainly contribute significantly to that.”

Sutter said that he was ready to see the marina step back into its historical role, expressing that staff was looking into hosting regular events and eventually expanding the facilities.

“It’s just so great to see dogs, and kids, and families, and boaters and locals here,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, and I am glad to see everyone here enjoying what we’ve created, and I still have plans for the future, but for now, I’m just glad to see the marina up and running.”

For more information, or to discuss setting up an appointment time when the marina can accept your vessel, please reach out to the marina team at or call (850) 797-3489.