Oceanside Harbor provides new services to cater to after-hours, transient boaters

Wireless internet service with cameras that allow two-way communication with boaters, clear signage and a new system to access keys after hours improves customer service.

OCEANSIDE—From Newport Beach to Dana Point, Southern California harbor and marina staffs are all searching to provide better services to visiting guests. Oceanside Harbor, a quaint destination sandwiched between major destinations in Orange County and San Diego County and modeled after an old fisherman’s village, has been working to bring modern amenities to its boaters.

Oceanside Harbor has recently been working on a series of capital improvement projects to upgrade the experience for boaters in the municipally run harbor. New larger storage lockers installed in December 2018 were a hit (there’s already a long waiting list for the second wave of storage units) and the city has also been addressing complaints about restrooms with plans to update three restrooms by summer. In addition to these upgraded amenities, Oceanside Harbor has installed transient dock services and WiFi is now available to transient boaters after-hours.

Harbor Division Manager of Oceanside Harbor, Ted Schiafone, gave The Log some insight into the installation of these new services.

“Oceanside Harbor recently implemented after-hours service for transient boaters,” Schiafone stated in an email. “The Harbor Administrative office closes at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays and Holidays. Providing services to boaters arriving after hours or on Sundays has been a challenge. Knowing that adding additional staff or paying overtime would not be an option, we looked for a simple low cost solution.”

For boaters who were previously sailing into the harbor on a weekend when the offices were closed, that could potentially pose a major problem accessing basic amenities such as the restroom.

“The first issue we faced was how to provide our restroom and amenity keys to someone that has made a reservation, but cannot arrive during our open hours,” said Schiafone.

“We installed 5 combination locks that are located by our front door. The locks are clearly labeled with a number and the transient boater has been provided a one-time combination to retrieve the key inside,” Schiafone continued. “If they plan to leave after business hours or on Sunday, they can return the key to the same lock. The keys we use are actually electronic key fobs, so if the keys are not returned, we simply turn the key fob off.”

Another issue staff faced was catering to customers who pulled into the harbor without a reservation.

“The second issue we faced was providing clear instructions to any transient boater that does not have a reservation, on the appropriate steps to take if they arrive after hours. Since we have several transient docks throughout the harbor, we produced signage that clearly indicates what dock you are currently located at, and then explained the correct dock to go to for the first evening. We also show where the Administrative Office is located and how to pay for the first night stay. Oceanside Harbor stretches out over 100 acres, so it can be confusing to a first time transient boater.”

Oceanside Harbor, which indeed has an ample layout, can be difficult to monitor, according to Schiafone. The newly installed WiFi services, installed by ECCO Wireless, appear to pose an answer to this dilemma, which provided the ability to place high-resolution cameras with two-way to each transient boater sign.

“Due to the expansive layout of the harbor, admin staff can only see one small portion of our transient docks from the office. These two-way communication cameras allow us to monitor activity on our remote transient docks and speak with boaters that may be reading the signs,” stated Schiafone. “While this may not be the perfect solution to the problem of serving after hours customers, it does provide some efficiency and hopefully happier customers.”

Visit visitoceanside.org/Oceanside-harbor for more information about Oceanside Harbor.

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