RFYC Press Release

February 5, 2008


River Forest Yachting Center held a ground breaking ceremony for its new West Coast facility on Monday, with many prominent Floridians in attendance. Joseph Charles, owner and developer of River Forest Yachting Center, gave a welcome speech and overview of the building site and boat basin, located


 on the Caloosahatchee River at 12385 Williams Road, Ortona. 
Charles then recognized many local business and government dignitaries in attendance. Distinguished guests included Kim Hamilton, assistant to State Rep Denise Grimsley; Wendell Taylor, Glades County Manager; Lynn Topel, Executive Director of FHREDI; Joe Flint, Clerk of the Circuit Court; Tracy Whirls, Executive Director of the Glades County Development Council; Tommy Perry, President of the Glades County Economic Development Council; Janice Groves, Executive Director of Hendry County Economic Development Council; and John L. Smith, General Manager of River Forest Yachting Centers. Also in attendance were Economic Development board members and County Commissioners. Lunch was served for guests in the newly constructed office and clubhouse located on the premises. 
groundbreaking2Following the overwhelming success of the first River Forest Yachting Center location opened in 2005 in Stuart, Florida; owner Joseph Charles chose Ortona for his second location. River Forest Yachting Center's West Coast facility will feature Florida's largest (at 200,000 square feet) indoor, climate controlled boat and motorcoach storage space, as well as a 10,000 square foot covered service and maintenance building. All buildings are specially designed to withstand hurricane force winds. When completed this second facility, located on the freshwater Okeechobee Waterway, will serve West Coast boaters with convenient access to Fort Myers, Naples and the Gulf Coast. 
River Forest Yachting Centers are long-term storage facilities notable for both the comfort and safety they provide to area boat owners. Climate-controlled storage buildings, on-site service and repair, Clean Marina certification from the Florida DEP, and an exclusive members only Hurricane Club ® boat storage plan are all hallmarks of the River Forest Yachting Center experience, which has lead to over 98% occupancy at the Stuart site and heavy demand for advanced reservations at the Ortona site.


RFYC Press Release
November 21, 2006


The Clean Marina Certification is the most prestigious and demanding recognition a Florida Marina can achieve. On Friday, November 17, River Forest Yachting Center received the Florida Clean Marina Certification. 

River Forest is only the eighth marina in Martin County, and the 34th in the Southeast District, to win this award..Bill Richards, Environmental Engineer Southeast District, and Tim Rach, Assistant Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) presented the award to Joe Charles, Developer, and John Smith, General Manager, during a catered Open House attended by more than 150 customers, friends, and suppliers. 

In his welcoming comments, Joe Charles drew attention to several photographs on display, showing the site formerly operated as a barge scrap yard by Maritime Tug and Barge. He said, “I have to admit the project, now looking more like a condo building in a park setting, pushed the limits.”

Charles confirmed River Forest’s Clean Marina commitment by explaining the “Eco Wash” system, and the use of water based bottom paint products. Vessels are transported to the “Eco Wash” down pad area where the pressure cleaned boat bottom residue runs down a drain where it is collected in a screen. The remaining water is then pumped through a series of filters and reused. The water based bottom paint used at River Forest carries the same guarantees as solvent based paint, but is environmentally friendly.

The Florida DEP, through the Clean Marina Program, awards grants to qualified marinas, and River Forest received such a grant for the installation of the “Eco Waste System” for black water. 

Bill Richards highlighted the stringent guidelines, which must be followed in order for a marina to qualify for the Clean Marina Certification. The facility has met all Marina Environmental Measures, including environmental emergency training for staff and establishing a hazardous spill protection plan. 

Vera Locke, of the Marine Industries Association, praised River Forest on it’s high standard of cleanliness, not just in environmentally sensitive areas, but also in the overall appearance of the building and grounds.

River Forest is a long-term storage facility, with a Hurricane Club, and offers limited services including bottom painting, running gear maintenance, zinc and battery replacement, and gel coat restoration.


The marina began filling the storage building in April, as boaters prepared to leave for the summer. Most will return for their vessels in October and November.

Among them is Les Frankenthal, who dropped off his 29-foot Tiara before heading to Chicago for the summer. He'll return to his Palm City home in November but said he won't worry about ''Pipsqueak'' while he's away.
''When I come back, it'll be clean, with a new bottom painted and hull waxed,'' said Frankenthal, 77.

Construction on the $5 million project began in February 2005 and took about a year to transform the former salvage yard into a park-like marina peppered with picnic tables. It includes two smaller buildings for storage and maintenance and a one-acre concrete pad for repairs and hurricane storage.

The channel also has about 35 wet slips for seasonal renters, hurricane storage and overnight stays for passing boaters. But the marina's highlight is the main storage building.

The tan facility with green faux shutters resembles a condominium building more than a boat barn.

It has a dozen 6-ton air conditioners, 400 sprinklers and 4 to 6 inches of insulation. It will hold about 50 vessels, depending on their sizes, all lined in rows.


Miami Herald
Lori Becker - Palm Beach Post Columnist
May 23, 2006


Touted as the first of its kind in Florida, the River Forest Yachting Center in Martin County boasts a climate-controlled warehouse for long-term storage of boats.

As South Florida's snowbirds head north for the summer, Joe Charles is offering a place for boaters to leave their vessels in air-conditioned comfort.

Touted as the first of its kind in Florida, the River Forest Yachting Center boasts a 45,000-square-foot, climate-controlled warehouse for long-term storage of boats up to 65 feet long.

It's aimed at ''discriminating boat owners'' who want to protect their vessels from the summer heat, humidity and hurricanes.

''This Florida weather just kills a boat,'' said Charles, 65. ``With our climate control, when you pick up your boat, it'll be just like it was when you dropped it off.''

The nine-acre marina in western Martin County, off the St. Lucie Canal on Pennsylvania Avenue just north of State Road 76A, also bills itself as a hurricane haven.

River Forest officially opens for its first summer season this year and is nearly sold out, drawing customers from across the Treasure Coast, Palm Beach County and even Southwest Florida. It also has 100 members in its Hurricane Club who pay for a guaranteed spot at the inland marina if a storm threatens.


The air-conditioned building protects boats from damage often caused when left in the sun, water or humidity, such as bleaching, cracking and mold.

''It's peace of mind,'' said John Smith, River Forest's general manager. ''Your boat's not outside. It's not subject to hurricanes. The humidity and the UVs don't beat it up.'' River Forest grew out of Charles' hunt for a better place to store his boat.

Chief executive of Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Charles Industries, which makes electronic equipment for the telecommunications and marine industries, Charles splits time between Chicago and Jupiter. He used to leave his 56-foot Neptunus at a boat yard in Fort Lauderdale, only to come back in the fall and find the vessel covered with debris.

''People are fed up with going to a boatyard, storing their boat and then coming back, finding paint spray and all kinds of fiberglass junk all over it,'' he said.

River Forest does not allow boaters to work on their vessels while they're stored in the main building. The marina handles only minor maintenance and repairs for boat owners -- all done outside, Charles said.Rates are about $3 per square foot a month, with a five-month minimum. For example, a 40-foot boat with a 13-foot beam would cost $1,560 a month.

Charles estimates that his rates are about 30 percent higher than storage barns that are not climate-controlled.''All everybody does is worry about their boat,'' Charles said. ``We want you to leave your boat here and forget about it.''

Some marinas in Northern states offer heated warehouses to protect boats from freezing winters. But marina leaders said it's a new concept to protect boats from Florida's summers.

''I've never heard of any long-term storage area being air-conditioned,'' said David Ray, executive director of the Miami-based Marine Industries Association of Florida. ``It certainly would prevent mildew and all kinds of things.''

The popularity of the new marina has prompted Charles to start making plans to build a second facility. He has made an offer on 20 acres west of Lake Okeechobee

Storage Contact

Tracy L. Campbell

Director of Client Services
P: 772-287-4131
F: 772-287-4148

LaBelle Contact

John J. Helfrich

LaBelle Manager
P: 863-612-0003
F: 863-612-9292

Stuart Contact

George F. Wharton

Stuart Manager
P: 772-287-4131
F: 772-287-4148

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