Tucked away on the Wilmington River, just three miles southeast of Savannah, Ga., sits Thunderbolt Marine. In the 1860s, Fort Thunderbolt served as one of the inland civil war batteries and in 1895 become home to The Casino at Thunderbolt with amusement park rides. The army also used this site during World War II as a staging area for patrol and rescue vessels. In 1965, w. e. Honey and Latex Construction purchased the property to support its dredging operations, and four year later Thunderbolt Marine began operating as a first-class yacht repair facility with a Syncrolift and rail system that is still in use today. Over the years, the facility built numerous vessels, including three tugs for the Panama canal company. In 1985, Thunderbolt Marine Inc. was incorporated, and since then the 25-acre facility has grown into a well-known yard for full-service yacht refits and repairs.
Today the full-service facility has an array of shops that offer cabinetry, canvas and upholstery, electrical, electronics, fine finish, HVAC, hydraulic, joiner, machine, metal, paint, rigging and varnish services, plus the 1,150-ton hauling capability of its Syncrolift and the 150-ton capacity of its Marine Travelift. Thunderbolt Marine’s skilled craftsmen perform quality work that exceeds customers’ expectations. And for those crew members waiting for work to be completed, there is a new crew lounge.
The 750 feet of transient floating docks in the on-site marina accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. New floating docks will be completed next year. Amenities include on-site diesel and gasoline, clean shower and restroom facilities, a spacious laundry room, ship’s store, pump-out station, guarded security gate and WiFi.
Dockmaster Hal Parsons states, “Boaters arriving at Thunderbolt Marina can expect experienced, professional docking assistance, a clean, full-service marina, a friendly, helpful staff — and a tradition of Southern hospitality. We deliver boxes of delicious krispy kreme doughnuts to the boats each morning.”
Just steps from the Thunderbolt Marine are some favorite local places to dine including Tubby’s Tank House, Tortugas Grille, chiriya’s Thai cuisine and coach’s corner. Book a cab to explore downtown Savannah’s antebellum architecture, historic landmarks, horse- drawn carriages and city squares shaded by Spanish moss-draped oaks. “There is no greater perk than the opportunity to visit historic Savannah,” says Hal Parsons.
If you’re traveling south along the ICW this winter, you should consider tying up at Thunderbolt Marina, where, in true Southern style, dockmaster Hal Parsons and his team will make sure you feel right at home.