Jim Ryhne has four kids, all in their 20s. As students, their brains were pumped full of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra taught in Keys schools to preserve our unique environment. It took hold, though, in their father’s psyche, and took shape at the Coconut Cay RV Park and Marina in Marathon. 

“This might be the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Rhyne said. 

Rhyne bought three used shipping containers and placed them on the property of his new(ish) RV resort in Marathon near the airport. The front container serves as the office, the two behind serve as ensuite bathrooms and a laundry room. 

He said he contacted a mainland container broker and picked them out at the Port of Miami. The shipping, at $1,000, was almost more than the $2,900 cost of the container. New containers, Rhyne said, are not much more expensive than the used ones.

“But I wanted to honor that intent — to reuse,” Rhyme said. 

So was there a cost savings to using old shipping containers rather than stick-built construction?

“There was supposed to be,” he said, laughing. What happened, though, was a bit of trial and error. For example, initially they just cut the holes for the window and used wood blocking to frame it out. But, that didn’t have enough rigidity. So the windows came out and the holes were reinforced with steel. Rhyne said he used all local labor — electricians, plumbers — and relied heavily on the expert advice of contractor Ed Sims. 

There are other reuse aspects of the project such as the siding. The containers were “skinned” using the old dock boards — a task he performed with the help of his son; a great bonding experience. A neighbor brought over some vintage webbed patio chairs to complete the look.

Was it worth it?

“Listen, if I ever do this again, and I will, I know where all the gremlins are!” said Rhyne.
Coconut Cay RV Park and Marina has 25 RV spots and 12 slips. It’s located at 7196 Overseas Hwy., Marathon.

There’s no attempt to be coy about the building’s beginnings. The ends of the shipping containers are left bare to reveal its origins. SARA MATTHIS/Keys Weekly
Coconut Cay RV Park and Marina incorporates shipping containers into its design and function in Marathon. SARA MATTHIS/Keys Weekly

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