A visit with Waterline Up
Hanging out on a yacht takes on a whole new meaning when you work at Waterline Up. Billy Gartside and company are a “motley crew of surfers, artists, captains, nerds and gearheads with local roots,” says manager and 12-year employee Justin Hill. They’ve been brought together by their love of all things water and by Gartside, an owner who they say lives and leads with positive energy.
Waterline Up opened up shop in Savannah in 2003 and specializes in preventative maintenance, surface preservation and protective coating for boats. The crew works on smaller boats from its shop in Thunderbolt, in a complex that houses several other boat-related businesses — fiberglass, metal work and prop work, specifically — and for larger boats they head to marinas near and far.
What started off as a small-scale business Gartside likens to car detailing has grown into a serious finish-work operation. In the last decade, Waterline Up has teamed up with Sea Shield in San Diego for many larger-scale yacht restorations, and they have the Georgia distribution rights for Flexiteek, a synthetic decking that looks just like, you guessed it, teak, only cheaper and more durable. About four years ago, the crew started applying specialized protective coatings like Ceramic Pro, for which they are trained and certified. “It’s like wax times five,” says Gartside. “Really long lasting.”
Here at the Isle of Hope Marina, the crew shows how they keep boats like the Minnow in tip-top shape.