Case Study: Gills Creek Marina Network and Surveillance Upgrade

Gills Creek Marina was in need of a major network overhaul to implement a new security system to protect the property of their long time customers.

 · 5 min read

Gills Creek Marina Sunrise

Project Elements

Client: Gills Creek Marina Location: Wirtz VA

Equipment Used

  • Ubiquiti Network Switches: USW-FLEX, USW Flex Utility, Switch 24 PoE (250W), Switch 16 PoE
  • Ubiquiti Wireless access points: UAP-Lite, AC Mesh
  • Point to Multi-Point wireless bridge: Ubiquiti, UAP-120, Ubiquiti Nano Beam 5G
  • Surveillance Cameras: Camera G4 Bulllet, Camera G4 Bullet Pro, Camera G3 Flex, Network Video Recorder, Western Digital Purple Storage

Services Used

  • Stapel Network Design Services
  • Stapel Configuration Services


Rick Kelley, of RLK Generator, reached out to Stapel for assistance with procuring networking and surveillance equipment for a project he was implementing. Gills Creek Marina, located in Wirtz, Virginia on the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake was looking to upgrade their security camera system and need a network overhaul.

During the initial conversations Rick asked if we could help validate some recommendations that were given by another company. After some discussion around the goals of the project, the recommendation he had received, and some more detail about the Marina, Stapel recommended a slightly different approach to solving the challenge using a combination of wireless bridging, wireless meshing, and wired networking infrastructure. In addition to the network infrastructure, Stapel provided specific recommendations for surveillance equipment based on the unique needs of each element in the environment.

The Challenge

Gills Creek Marina (GCM) resides at the end of a serene finger across from the southern end of the North Shore of Smith Mountain Lake. As you descend into the property from the entrance down to the water, you are greeted with a beautiful view to the East, perfect if you’re in to magnificent sunrises.

GCM had been experiencing some vandalism and their aging surveillance solution was not providing the coverage they needed, nor the quality of video required to effectively monitor and record activity throughout the property. In order to provide better assurance to their customers, deter would-be vandals, and protect the property that resides in and around the area, they needed an upgraded system that provided high quality video feeds, recording capability, and advanced alerting and monitoring so they could know what was happening at all times at the docks and other public areas around the property and inside their Marina Store.

The first challenge at the site, from a technical perspective, is the landscape. Because the property’s structures wrap around the hill that runs through the middle of the finger, we either needed to run fiber optic cable to each of the structures (prohibitively expensive) or leverage a strong enough wireless signal that would allow us to distribute the network to the outlying dock structures, 6 in total. Due to some of the distances between the buildings, we also knew relying solely on wireless meshing technology would be unreliable at best, and not provide the necessary capacity to get the 14 high definition camera feeds back to the main marina building. This is where the Network Video Recorder (NVR) captures the 24X7 activity that occurs at the Marina. With that, they needed to upgrade the Cameras inside the Marina and provide a deterrent for folks with ill-intention by showing anyone that enters the Marina the live camera feeds of the entire property.

The Solution

After reviewing the needs, the landscape, and the layout of the property’s structures, Stapel decided to recommend a hybrid approach to extending GCM’s network using a mix of Ubiquiti equipment, including wireless bridging (which is similar to running an invisible network cable from point A to point B), wireless meshing (this is similar to a wireless bridge, except that it is not directional in nature and can offer client WiFi access), and traditional Ubiquiti wired network components. The project called for installing upgraded wiring, new switching equipment, firewall, 21 high definition cameras, and a Network Video Recorder. The system also had to be securely accessible from anywhere so video feeds could be accessed and monitored, and monitoring of the network to insure up-time of the camera feeds.

The design included redundancy in the network, in case one or more of the property’s structures lost access due to power or some other factor. This was accomplished using a Point to Multi-point wireless bridge where we connected 3 of the 6 outlying dock structures that had line of site to equipment on a pole placed at the peak of the main marina building. The remaining structures connect through a wireless mesh network based on the proximity of the nearest bridge connection. Using network technology that allows for multiple path’s, we were able to make sure there was always at least one available path to get back to the marina building for the cameras at each of the docks.

This design also enabled us to upgrade the WiFi experience for the public and offer enhanced reliability for guests staying at one of the 4 rooms at the lodge on the property. Using Ubiquiti’s cost effective and highly capable hardware and software solutions, GCM now has a reliable, high definition surveillance capability and can offer an upgraded experience for visitors and residents of their year round boat slips.

GCM Network Design

Stapel would like to thank Rick Kelley, who, along with Randy and Manager Jerry Godsey, installed the new cabling, mounted the cameras and wireless equipment and were invaluable in troubleshooting issues and working through some of the unforeseen challenges we face with all projects. Together we created a team that made this entire project a success. I know we’re looking forward to the Spring, when the Marina officially re-opens for the 2022 season!

About Gills Creek Marina

Gills Creek Marina is nestled on the western side of Smith Mountain Lake in Wirtz, VA. When you reach the end of the road at 790 Fox Chase Rd, Wirtz, VA 24184, you are greeted with a beautiful view of the southern part of the North Shore of the lake. There are 75 boat slips for year round rental, a quaint 4 room lodge, gas pumps to keep your boat running, and a fully stocked marina store for that perfect mid-afternoon snack on a hot summer day. They offer boat rentals for the perfect family outing, public restrooms for customers, and a friendly smile to greet you at the door.

We highly recommend visiting if you are in the Smith Mountain Lake area, you will fall in love with this gem, just as we have.


Nate is the Founder and CEO of Stapel, LLC

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