By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
MANDEVILLE – Every business owner has a story about how they got interested in their profession.
Gerald Sellar, owner of Northshore Marine in Mandeville, tells a good one himself.
“I was 15 years old in Massachusetts and went out on a pond. Somehow my outboard motor fell into the water and I knew I had to get it back. So, I went to a local dive shop, bought some diving equipment and went down to find it,” he said.
Not only did Sellar not retrieve his outboard motor in the risky endeavor to become a diver with no training, but it piqued his interest in the profession. He went on to become a professional diver, doing salvage on the East coast, and came south for oilfield diving work, which brought him ultimately to the North Shore in Mandeville.
He and two partners purchased Northshore Marine Sales & Service over 19 years ago, formerly known as Yacht Works, where they operate from the location on Bayou Castine at the end of Atalin Street.
Sellar said he has always loved the water. And from his early years as a boy growing up in the Northeast to discovering the great waterways of south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast his professional life has been connected to boats, diving and “the ocean,” as he likes to call it.
The decision to become the owner of a shipyard 19 years ago was simply an extension of his 27-year career working as a diver in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as working as a diver with salvage companies.
It was nearing the end of the 1990s that “a doctor friend told me I needed a project and he suggested buying a sailboat, renovating it and selling it. That turned into buying what became Northshore Marine.”
With a lifetime of experience with boats and water crafts, he has created an experienced team of repairmen and mechanics that give him an edge in the industry.
“The reason I know Northshore Marine is a great place to bring your boat is because we have a crew that has been here for nearly 10 years,” he said. “We work on all brands of boats, not just one or two, and we know these different boats and what it takes to put them back in great working shape.”
For those who are boat owners, Sellar said he tries to encourage them to have regular maintenance on their vessels since it becomes more costly in the long run when you don’t have the needed work done.
“The main work on boats is that their bottoms need to be re-painted every two or three years. If you don’t do that you get much more marine growth on them and then when you get it done it will cost a lot more,” he explained.
He added that “running gear” all needs protection from electrolysis. Inexpensive zinc anodes on the propeller shafts protects the bronze propellers. And once again Sellar noted, “When you don’t do it often enough it will be more costly to address since other problems develop when you wait too long.”
Northshore Marine can handle boats up to 45 feet and 15 tons and is experienced to address “all kinds of general engine repairs,” he said.
“Boaters have problems when they hit things, especially crab traps or logs in the water,” he said. “It’s funny how often they say ‘I hit a log’ when some of them are hitting the shore. But usually they say, ‘I hit a log’ and it doesn’t matter to us. We’re here to fix the problems.”
Either way, those problems need addressing before the time in the water makes the repair get worse and Sellar said his experienced crew is ready for anything.
Sellar served with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era, but came out of the service in 1970 and quickly moved to the New Orleans area “when some friends invited me to Mardi Gras.”
Working as a commercial diver for a salvage company led to work on oil rigs and pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico. At one time he was the first diver to go down over 500 feet.
“Things have changed so much since those early years,” he said in discussing the risk that divers face. “Back then you only needed three other divers around to watch out for you, and now they require as many as 12 or 13.”
After purchasing Northshore Marine his company got a boost in business from all the damage to boats in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but after that was over he quickly saw what a huge effect the storm had on the boating world here.
“The South Shore Harbor is still only at about 25 percent occupancy, and the New Orleans Harbor is still not repaired,” he said. “That tells you how many boaters didn’t buy new boats and return to the water. So, it’s affected the business in general. However, many people still have boats and we can do the best work to maintain or repair them.”
For more information, contact Northshore Marine at 985-626-7847.