Xiphonio Augusta Marina: safely berth your yacht in beautiful Sicily
- June 11, 2019
InMare fenders installed in another state-of-the-art Marina
Xifonio Augusta marina with its 43,150 sqmt of water surface, 800 meters of docks, 370 meters of jetties and 254 berths was born with the ambitious goal of becoming the first, large port reserved for pleasure boats in the Mediterranean. The marina, located near Syracuse among the beauties of Eastern Sicily, is a link with places famous throughout the world: Malta, Greece, the countries of North Africa but also the Aeolian Islands and Egadies. In view of this summer season, InMare, which provided the marina with dock fenders, interviewed the spokesman of the company Porto Xifonio Augusta, Alfio Fazio.
Good morning Dr. Fazio and thank you for being here with InMare. Let's go with our interview. Today in the south-east Sicily marinas can be counted on one hand. Xifonio Augusta is a new port, which opened at berth in May 2018. What was the inspiration, the idea behind this project?
Good morning to you. The project for the construction of Xifonio Augusta marina was born 20 years ago when conditions were totally different. In Eastern Sicily at the time there were no marinas at all: only in Catania there was a small boat station. Nothing to do with a marina equipped for mooring. During this time we have been carrying on our idea with tenacity and determination. After 16 years and 4 months we obtained the authorizations we needed for the construction of the marina, but for bureaucratic issues we had to review the original project. Works began on 13 July 2015, but three storms in two years have actually knocked everything down. At that point it would have been crazy to continue. We stopped, we looked at each other. The project was standing, yes, but in fact, in two seasons, we would not have been able to complete the quay without the breakwaters they previously made us remove. After seven months they gave us permission to proceed and we threw 50,000 cubic meters of rock to build the breakwaters.
In short, many obstacles in your path: destructive events such as great storms, endless bureaucratic quibbles. But you have gone ahead...
Exceptional events have called into question everything we had done. It was the post-Monti period: the government fed the idea that all the evils of Italy were to be found in tax evasion and that this was mainly in marinas, delivering the final bowl to the Italian boating industry. Now the situation is slowly recovering, even if there are many marinas still suffering. Our idea has always been to differentiate ourselves by keeping the level of Xifonio Augusta marina high: our target are super and mega yachts (max 90 mt). The statistics speak for themselves: for boats under 20 metres there are already too many marinas and there is too much competition. For marinas of excellence there is a demand. However, it is essential to provide high level services and take care of everything, even the small things. The reduction of expenses is essential to survive and have a balanced budget, but you can not skimp on quality.
Let's talk about the technical characteristics of Xifonio Augusta. What kind of pontoons do you assemble?
We built them with a Spanish project: a continuous flotation with poles of fixtures, steel reinforcement and high-strength concrete. They are only affected by the sea excursion and not by the horizontal excursion of the waves. To avoid problems with the poseidonia of our seabed, we have put poles as moorings. As you know, when you don't remove carefully the anchors from the coastal seabed you can damage the poseidonia reducing the functions of valuable ecosystem. In our country, we are use to lean on poles. With a system of circular fender the boat does not slam but rotates around the pole. Even simpler for those who are not very practical. We have a respectable seabed: from a minimum of 3 meters up to 6 meters, which allows the mooring of boats of a certain importance.
Always respecting the environment, a point that is very close to your heart...
In fact, the Gulf of Xiphony is rich in poseidonia. After the agreement on the breakwaters, in collaboration with the University of Palermo we have spied more than 3 thousand meters of Poseidonia, replanting them in an area adjacent to the port, circumscribed with buoys. Here there are controls by the ARPA and by us with cameras and divers. For three years, according to the program agreement, we have to monitor it: if it takes root less than 30% we have to replant it up to a control of 5 years. Fortunately, it is taking root well.
With this attention to the environment, you'll be pleased to know that InMare products are non-toxic.
Yes, InMare products are definitely in line with our environmental objectives.
How did you hear about us? Which product were you looking for and with which purpose?
We arrived at your products through internet research, but above all through recommendations. We give great importance to safe mooring: in our port there it's easy to entry and exit and the poles that we installed facilitate the landing. Many shipowners have preferred our marina to others, even if more expensive, precisely for these reasons. We were therefore looking for a product that could amortize well the boats, to avoid the hulls touching and scratching against the concrete. But above all, we were seraching for a particular product that could cover the brackets of the guide poles. We opted for your SISTEMA ZERO fender. Initially we thought of installing a thicker and larger fender to cover the entire pole guide, but we chose you. Your modular profile seemed compact and flexible, but also sturdy.
How did you assemble them?
With double stainless steel self-drilling screws: it was a very simple installation.
Now that you have installed our SISTEMA ZERO, what feedback do you give us?
They have met our needs at 70% so far, but it's an extremely recent installation. Its flexibility makes it suitable to protect the external part of the pole guides, which often represent a hindrance to mooring manoeuvres. Now we are trying to figure out how to put them vertically underneath the steel structure to ensure cushioning for those who have the rear platform. We'll let you know.
Of course, we are always interested in our customers' adivice. It help us to grow and improve. In your experience, what can you tell us about InMare marina fenders?
They are quality boating accessories with an excellent price-performance ratio. Our intention is to keep some of your E.V.A. fenders on display for our yachtsmen. The berth owners have asked me several times to use different types of rubber fenders. But we know the importance of a good mooring: we want to use only one type of protection, which guarantees the same performance over the years. It's a question of safety, but also of aesthetic concordance. And your products are innovative and solid, but also design products.
We have in common the attention to detail for sure. Tell us about the other characteristics of the marina. What does it have to offer?
We are building the docks with the “giuggiulena”, a yellowish and porous stone (sandstone from quarries in the province of Syracuse) mixed with the local white stone, which does not attract heat. In the cracks we have put a special lawn that feeds on sea water. When visitors get off the boat on our quays they fall in love with it: there is no need to put on flip-flops, they can stay barefoot without burning their feet even in the middle of August. The port has a good reflux of water so we have no problems of stagnation. We have a natural lake, a sort of nursery for local fish. And we are gradually taking care of various spots.
As far as the various buildings are concerned, we have set high standards: restaurant and clubhouse are made of green building Wolf Haus class AAA in steel and wood, strictly anti-seismic and anti-damage. In addition, thanks to the thermal properties of the construction system and the insulation of the casings, we have very low values of thermal transmittance, which ensures significant energy savings and a reduction in waste. In addition, if we exclude a small area reserved for large yachts equal to less than 10% of the structure, everything will be open to the city for free, there will be passages through which anyone can enjoy the spaces of the marina. All these small, great attentions have received various appreciations, first of all from realities such as MPN Marinas, an innovative network of companies of best marinas, and Camper & Nicholson, world leader in all activities related to luxury yachts.
In addition we can mention the strategic position of the Port Xifonio Augusta...
We have an enviable, beautiful geographical position: we are 90 miles from the Aeolian Islands and 90 from Malta, 250 miles from Greece. We are in the middle of the Mediterranean. And 15-20 minutes away from Catania airport, thanks to the new motorway.
You live in a wonderful local reality that aspires to become global, like many other marinas. What has changed today in the culture of marina managing, and what should a contemporary marina offer?
In recent years we have witnessed a deep crisis that has affected, of course, also the Italian boating sector. On the one hand, this has let thousands of boats go away from Italy to transnational destinations. At the same time, there were the creation of new important and prestigious marinas: their authorisation procedures, as in our case, date back to a period prior to the appearance of these unpredictable factors. Our port management, therefore, needs to look for new development opportunities: it is not enough to offer a good product, it is also necessary to offer a good service. Today, the boating industry must show itself to the world and potential customers by presenting a new form of hospitality similar to the tourist village one. Xifonio Augusta Marina, in addition to a restaurant and a bar, will offer its yachtsmen a semi-Olympic 900 seats swimming pool, and a series of shops that will be an hubs with the city. A marina must act as an elite tourist spot that invites the customer to enjoy all the beauty of the surrounding area. This year we are waiting for a good traffic of boats above 24 meters, and we are dealing with various requests of foreign tourists who usually spend their summer in Sicily living by boat. But it's important that the Government let us work with continuity and serenity. The Monti decree has caused 40,000 yachtsmen to flee Italy, a damage that has not yet been completely overcome by marinas. Fortunately, the Code reform (editor's note: it established, among other things, the removal of the limits for registration in the International Register that, for yachts, involves significant tax benefits, and the introduction of simplified documents for ships and crews) and the new tax profile have put in place rules more favorable to the our sector. There is finally a breakthrough, now we must keep the route.
Photo Credits/ Interview: Porto Xifonio Augusta