July Boat Business Turns Positive
The Cambridge Municipal Yacht Basin, a 246-slip public marina located at Long Wharf, is experiencing a strong summer despite the ongoing pandemic. General Manager Scott Fitzhugh reports that 110 transient boats visited in July – up from 74 during the same time in 2019 – and that August is off to a good start with online reservations on par with last year. And thanks to their competitive rates, fuel sales are up for the year.
“We’re seeing people visit from many locations including Virginia, the Sassafras River and Solomans Island,” he noted.
He explained that one difference they are seeing is more larger boats visiting.
“The super yachts are staying in the Chesapeake this year instead of traveling south to Florida because it’s a COVID hot spot. These larger boats want to cruise places and there aren’t many marinas that can accommodate their draw and size.”
Affordable Rates, Growing Amenities
Fitzhugh, who has worked at the Yacht Basin since 2002, was very busy when we visited Monday. Seven boats had checked in and many more year-round renters were on hand to secure their boats in advance of Hurricane Isaias.
One of the region’s most affordable marinas to keep a boat year-round and visit, the yacht basin’s daily and weekly boat slip rates, annual contracts and fuel costs are some of the lowest on the Chesapeake.
This year, the marina added a new boaters lounge and coffee service in the bath house where the restroom and laundry facilities are located. The renovation was made possible by a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources State Waterways Improvement program. A small store at the fuel dock carries boating essentials and apparel. Other amenities include courtesy bikes, pavilion, picnic area, and wi-fi.
Outstanding Service Makes Cambridge a Boating Destination
Fitzhugh has two full-time assistants who provide docking, maintenance services and fuel to their transient guests and 130 annual slip renters. He is proud of the consistently high – 4½ and 5 stars – reviews the marina receives in response to their boat survey and online at sites like Snag-A-Slip.
“Customer service is our number one priority. If a customer is satisfied, they come back and tell friends how good of an experience it was. Word of mouth is your best ally or worse enemy.”
One Pennsylvania family who tied up in June wrote: “We absolutely LOVED our time here! Using the bikes was so enjoyable – accessibility to Downtown great. So peaceful and incredible views. Thank you Scott, Perry and Mike!
Other 2020 boater surveys compliment the docking process; orientation; friendly and knowledgeable staff; attractive location; and accessibility to restaurants and shops.
One of the biggest challenge the marina faces in light of coronavirus is drawing people to Cambridge given the many event cancellations. This is especially true as Scott looks to next month when Showcase, Summer Send Off and IRONMAN typically make September one of the busiest. In one week alone in past Septembers, the Yacht Basin drew as many as 84 transient boats.
“We have to give people a reason to journey 16 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake here and Downtown events have been a big part of Cambridge’s attraction to boaters.
To help meet COVID-19 challenges, Scott and his team follow all state and federal guidelines for physical distancing and hygiene. He acknowledges that with boaters coming from all over, they take extra precautions which can be more taxing.
For information or to reserve a space, visit cambridgeyachtbasin.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-228-4031.