Mark Hamrick’s job as harbormaster at the Port of Camas-Washougal marina is one that he enjoys immensely.“What we have is a small city on the water,” he said.
During a recent walk around the 350-slip marina, Hamrick said there is never a typical day.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” he said.
As a harbormaster, he spends approximately 70 percent of his time outside.
Hamrick was hired by the port in 2005, in the role of maintenance assistant. He was promoted two years later to harbormaster.
Hamrick checks the docks and boats, oversees the trailer parking area and responds to tenants’ needs.
Tom Welinski, of Camas, is grateful for his assistance on Aug. 2.
Welinski was on his sailboat when he very severely pulled a muscle in his back.
His friend John Wagoner untied Welinski’s boat from the dock on Government Island.
“I could not get off the boat,” Welinski said. “It was all I could do to sit and steer.”
He motored the boat to the Port of C-W marina.
Wagoner had recommended Welinski call Hamrick after leaving the dock on Government Island.
“I told Mark I was pretty much immobile,” Welinski said. “He offered to meet me at the dock and tie my boat up for me.”
Hamrick brought the work barge and a chair, and he transported Welinski to the launch ramp dock.
Hamrick and Travis Edwards, a longtime port summer employee, put Welinski into a four-wheel drive utility vehicle, to take him to his truck.
“I was walking but just barely,” Welinski said. “Mark grabbed an arm and made sure I did not fall.
“He helped me into my truck, which was way beyond the call of duty for most folks,” he added. “If not for his assistance, I would have had to call 911 and call an ambulance.”
Welinski has been a marina tenant for 23 years.
“Myself, as well as many other folks down here, hold him in very high regard,” Welinski said, regarding Hamrick. “We appreciate his services very much.”
For Hamrick, it was an easy decision to help Welinski.
“He needed assistance,” Hamrick said. “A big part of my job is customer service. I gave him a ride to his vehicle from his boat.
“All the tenants know I’ll help if I can,” he added. “I know they’ll help me if I need. I’m fortunate to have what I have.”
Hamrick is one of four employees who are on call after regular office hours, one week every month.
“It’s a team,” he said.
In addition to the marina, Hamrick works at the port’s industrial park and Grove Field Airport.
His areas of responsibility include Marina Park and Parker’s Landing Historical Park, fuel dock maintenance and operations, the RV station/boat pump-out facility, security issues, customer service and conflict resolution, maintenance and repair of all of the port’s property, and training and supervision of summer, temporary and community service employees.
Hamrick said his job has rewards and challenges.
“Take a look around,” he said. “I work in a park next to the Columbia River. I work with an incredible team, and the majority of the people that come to the marina are happy people looking to have a good time.”
Hamrick said the river itself is a challenge.
“It is relentless,” he said. “The whole marina is constantly moving, flexing and bending. It needs constant care and maintenance.
“It’s a huge job to try to keep everything in working order,” Hamrick added.New additions to the marina this year have included waverunner stalls, a kayak shack with lockers, and the restoration of electricity to the breakwater dock.
Starting in October, Legacy Contracting, Inc., is scheduled to replace the wood upper and lower headwalks with galvanized steel and poly floats with fiberglass grating. All wood pilings will be replaced with steel.
The project will also include reconstruction of the 14 uncovered slips on “H” row, with the addition of electricity and potable water for cooking or drinking.
Before Hamrick started working at the port, he spent 18 years as a machinist.
He attended night classes at Clark College for two years to improve his machining skills.
Eventually, Hamrick decided he would really like to work outdoors and he found his way to the port.
“It was a good choice,” he said.