The author finds Belmont Bay Harbor a perfect refuge from the wind-tossed Potomac.
by Jody Argo Schroath
If the date should be the first of April, and if you should have a fanciful turn of mind, you might be excused for believing that you are the only boat in the world. I was certainly guilty on both points early last year as Able Seadog Skipper and I pointed our sailing catamaran Moment of Zen north up the Potomac River out of Colonial Beach, Va. Two days of cold rain had left us with early morning fog and a long lonely stretch of river as we rode a flood tide under the 301 bridge and around the S-turn known as the Horseshoe. Rounding Maryland Point, we left the protection of the northern shore to meet a rising north wind head-on. Suddenly we were in the midst of an agitator washer of sudsy green water. For the next couple of hours, we churned our way north, passing Aquia and then Mattawoman creeks, before straining for a sight of Occoquan Bay. There I hoped we would find some relief while we headed in to our destination, Belmont Bay Marina.
Finally, just opposite Potomac channel markers “51” and “52”, I spotted the first marker to Occoquan’s narrow channel. Belmont Bay Harbor is the first deep-water marina on the way up to the busy little town of Occoquan, Va. While it is well outside of the town itself, it is in the middle of a 300-acre development of homes, apartments and businesses. And best of all, in this case, it is in a well-protected harbor, with fuel and floating docks. As Skip and I followed the well-marked channel, zig-zagging a bit to find the deepest water (we draw only 4 feet, but the depths can be as little as 5 feet at dead low tide) I called dockmaster Jim Brooks to let him know we were on our way in. By the time we had reached the marina entrance, the effects of the wind were greatly diminished, and by the time we had reached our slip and I had tossed Brooks a bow line, the wind had been blocked out altogether. Belmont Harbor’s slips have long finger piers and wide fairways, which make maneuvering and docking a pretty easy proposition.
Once Zen was tied up and I had checked us in at the marina office, which also houses the restrooms and showers (very clean), Skipper and I set out to explore the area. A suburban development, as nice as it can be, didn’t seem to me like the perfect setting for a marina, but by the time Skip and I had spent two hours walking the streets and following the miles-long walking/running paths along the waterfront, I had definitely changed my mind. This is a great place for a marina! It’s well protected, the facilities are well kept and all of it is nicely laid out. There are lovely views and plenty of room to stretch your legs (and paws). there’s even a golf course. In fact, it made an ideal stop between the harbors of the lower and middle Potomac (depending on your speed) and the upper Potomac destinations of Alexandria, Va., National Harbor and Washington D.C. The only caveat is that deeper-draft vessels should transit the approach channel at something other than low tide. A call to Jim Brooks beforehand will give you the best advice on finding deep water.
Belmont Bay Harbor
Fuel: Gas and Diesel
Depth: 7ft MLW
Power: 30/50 amp