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Beaucette has a new man at helm

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BEAUCETTE Marina's new owner aims to enhance the site without spoiling it for the boaters.

BEAUCETTE Marina's new owner aims to enhance the site without spoiling it for the boaters. 'At the moment, Beaucette is beautiful, but it's like one of those before or after photos and you wonder if it is the before photo,' said Stephen Haines.

He first came to Guernsey in 1994 on a navigation course and remembers entering the marina through its tricky opening, created in 1968 when a disused quarry was connected with the sea.

'It has unique natural surroundings and you never forget the first time you enter through it,' he said.

Apart from making the entrance more appealing to visitors, Mr Haines is looking to put in some extra touches. This includes possibly revamping the restaurant to make it more suited to yachtsmen, who may prefer something more informal than the current a la carte one.

'It would be nice to have a split-level restaurant with bar snacks upstairs and a la carte downstairs,' he said, adding that many yachtsmen just wanted a baked potato after a day on the sea.

He said he would ensure that the current restaurant leaseholder, Franco Martorella, would be on board.

Mr Martorella said he was positive about any development for the better, but most customers were local rather than from the marina.

'It will be a lot easier to sort things out if the owner is in the marina rather than on the mainland,' he said.

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Apart from the restaurant, Mr Haines will also consider new shower blocks, better night-time lighting and a new office for the current manager, Neil Rhys Evans.

The former superyacht skipper has managed the marina since 1996 and will help Mr Haines with his brainstorming sessions.

'I am not expecting any major changes to the job I love at all,' he said.

Mr Haines was worried that the marina would be redeveloped unless he bought it. 'I certainly think it would have happened ' a new owner coming in and asking, 'how can we maximise profitability?'.

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'We could have ended up with an ugly Travelodge-type thing up on the green and, because I am a boatowner, I know how important privacy is.

'The trouble with marinas is that they tend to feel like caravan parks, but this one can easily turn into your favourite anchorage,' he said.

Mr Haines approached previous marina owner Premier and it decided to sell.

'The timing was right for me and right for them.'

He would not disclose how much the marina cost him, but did say: 'It's too much fun following the speculation. It's gone up from half-a-million this morning to 55million now but, in answer to the question, I would say 'too much'.'

The businessman bought a house in Guernsey in October 2003 and wants to make the island his home. He said that because he was not buying it for business reasons, it was good for the marina, Guernsey and himself.

'How many people would have bought a business like this? It doesn't make a lot of money: it barely holds its head above water.'

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