li-cheticamp marina

Construction of the $5 million Cheticamp Marina is well on its way. It recently purchased a $1 million marine travel lift, a machine that lifts boats out of the water for repairs. (Courtesy Cheticampmarina.ca)

Construction of a $5 million marina and boatyard is underway in Cheticamp, N.S.

"You know we might not be in a good spot to shop at Wal-Mart but geographically for a sailor and for the ocean, we're in a prime location," said Raymond Devau.

He's the businessman behind the project. He owns a couple of crab boats and a fish plant in Cheticamp.

The new marina will also feature the largest marine travel lift in Atlantic Canada.

It's a large piece of machinery that lifts boats out of the water to be stored or repaired.

Marine travel lift-Cheticamp Marina

The marine travel lift is gradually put in place at the Cheticamp Marina project. The machine lifts boats out the water so they can be repaired and stored. (Cheticamp Marina)

That piece of equipment alone cost $1 million.

"You know this is going to be a big boost to the economy," said Devau.

Fishermen need a place where they can haul out their boats and repair them, he said. 

"We have two vessels ourselves and we have to go to New Brunswick and Quebec to take our boats out of the water and the cost is very steep."

Room for 500 boats

To give fishermen an alternative, Devau has put millions of dollars into turning 26 hectares of land into a boatyard and marina.

There will be room to store 500 boats at the site.

Deveau said he's already getting calls from boat owners looking for space.

"We've got fishermen calling us from Newfoundland, we've got yacht people, you know, recreation people, calling us from Ottawa, Quebec, looking for a home for their yacht in Cape Breton," he said. 

"We've had a couple of people already coming to see us and if we can take care of their vessels, they're going to look for real estate on Cape Breton island."

The centrepiece of the new marina will be the marine travel lift.

It's capable of lifting boats that weigh up to 250 tonnes.

The lift arrived last week from Wisconsin. It was transported to the community on five tractor trailers.

Devau said it was quite a sight. "They came in a convoy. It was like the army's coming."

The new lift is now in place and should be ready to go into operation by Dec. 23.

At least two wharves at the boatyard are expected to be in operation by the summer of 2014.