Port Ludlow scheduled for full dock replacement

Posted 9/20/23

Port Ludlow will be replacing its docks over the next decade. What started as a summer job on the water in 1992 turned into a career for Kori Ward.

“We just got the permit a month ago so …

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Port Ludlow scheduled for full dock replacement


Port Ludlow will be replacing its docks over the next decade. What started as a summer job on the water in 1992 turned into a career for Kori Ward.

“We just got the permit a month ago so we’re going to phase-in replacing the docks over the next five to 10 years and we have a contractor, Marine Floats out of Tacoma, to rebuild them. Now we will secure the financing and begin with the pilings.

“It’s been fun and it is challenging for sure, and that can be a good thing. We lease the water from Department of Natural Resources and they’ve just renewed our lease but we need to replace our docks, this time with materials that allow more light infiltration for the sea life,” she explained.

“I was going to school at Olympic College, playing softball, and my mom said, ‘Kori, they’re hiring at Port Ludlow,’ and I applied and I never really looked back,” Ward told The Leader.

As much as the marina means to Ward it means more to the town.

“We’re a hub. A lot of marinas have a stigma of being parking lots for boats but we’re different. This is

a place where groups of family and friends can gather and share stories. We’re a gateway for people who want to go out onto the Puget Sound,” she said.

The longtime marina manager maintains the kind of enthusiasm one might expect from someone less experienced and for that, she credits her crew.

“It’s the people. I have been so fortunate for the longevity of all my staff members. I’ve seen a lot of them retire but everyone who works here, they just really enjoy coming out. We also have the young ones who love working on the docks and they come back every summer,” Ward said.

In her 31 years she’s seen the crew turn over just three times and pointed to a coworker in the store.

“She’s been in this office for 14 years.” Ward also credits her crew to the outstanding user ratings the marina receives.

“One thing I think is really cool about our marina is that the customer service rating received an excellence rating of 98 percent. Truly, that’s due to my staff and I’m very fortunate they care about the customers. And they work well together. We’re known for having the cleanliest showers and they’re from 1968 so that tells you how well we maintain them – we get five star ratings!”

More than 2,000 boats visited Port Ludlow docks this summer as guests. Some go golfing, some wander the 30 miles of hiking trails, some just come to relax. Ward said that she has noticed the visiting boats have gotten longer and wider since she started but the once popular 30-footers, which gave way to 40s, are beginning to come back.

The marina was once home to large lumber boats but in 2001 Pope Resources sold their Port Ludlow assets to HCV of San Francisco, which operates commercial real estate holdings, hotels and just one marina. Their subsidiary, Port Ludlow Associates manages the Marina Hotel, the Golf Course, Olympic Water and Sewer and West Harbor Homes, a developer.

“We’re building homes, starting on Olympic Terrace,” she said, then added that a few people call their boat in Port Ludlow, “home.”

“We do have live-aboards, 15 currently. I love the live-aboard community. They are our eyes and ears. It’s their home. We had fire a few summers ago and they knew just what to do. We have a great live-aboard community who care about the marina.”

Ward calls Port Ludlow a seamless destination, providing easy access from Seattle to the the San Juan islands.

“We have a lot of rendezvous and yacht club events whose members will come here and use our large pavilion.”

A recent event organized by Signature Yachts brought 48 Bennetau sailboats to the marina and Port Ludlow just celebrated its 25th annual Bob Perry event, which draws boats designed by one of America’s premier marine architects.

“He comes every year. He used to play music and he’s a good singer. We had 29 Bob Perry designs on the docks and another 10 or 15 anchored out on the water.”