Like a slip at the Marina at Marina Shores, in Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven Inlet. 

by Jody Argo Schroath
My first visit to the Marina at Marina Shores on Long Creek in Lynnhaven Inlet didn't get off to a very good start. It was all my fault. Really, I have nothing but good things to say about the marina, its facilities and its people. No, it was just me playing dumb against the tide.

I had entered Lynnhaven Inlet, which lies right outside the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, just as the tide was turning. Not that the Albin 28 I was piloting had any problem with that. I wound through the channel markers, watching carefully for shoaling, the inlet's big bugaboo. No problem there either. I followed the markers left to enter Long Creek. I had been assigned a slip on E dock, the marina's transients dock, but I decided to cruise to the end--I dock--before heading back to E. Then I made my first mistake. Instead of entering the dock against the tide, I backed in with the tide. Dumb! I almost made it. In fact, if I hadn't been single-handing or Skipper the ship's dog had had opposable thumbs, I would have made it. But with no one to snag the upstream piling, I quickly got caught up with the water, which was flowing out in two directions at once--out of Long Creek, and through a flood-control system at the far end of the dock. I'll skip the details, but for the next 10 minutes it was a hefty operation of push-pull, forward-reverse and the liberal application of bow thrusters before I settled nose-first into a slip (I wasn't particular which one).

After that, everything was good. Great, in fact! Skipper and I loved the marina! We walked all over its 16 acres of shady live oaks, sable palms and other indigenous species planted by owner Gale Levine Higgs. We skirted the swimming pool with its inviting pastel recycled-plastic deck chairs. We walked to the nearby grocery store and West Marine. We found the nature trail that leads to First Landing State Park. And that evening, as I sat at a picnic table eating takeout from the Surf Rider Grill--one of the marina's two restaurants--Skipper helped me finish my second delicious crabcake (and a great gulp of French fries when I turned to talk with a fellow boater who was offering a lift into town if I needed it).

In addition to two sets of impeccably clean restrooms/showers, a pool, shops, restaurants, big shady trees, proximity to the beach, trails, parks and more shopping, the marina has great specifically boater-friendly features: a new fuel dock, floating docks, high-and-dry boat storage, full repair facilities, a small beach for slipholders . . . well, just about everything you can think of. Higgs recently spent $2 million on structural and external improvements to the 20-year-old marina that she and her late husband built. Those improvements included making everything eco-friendly (as far as that's possible for a facility that specializes in vessels with internal combustion engines). The marina also sponsors a huge rockfish tournament during Christmas week, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

It's a great marina. Now if I'd just learn to use my head getting in and out of slips. . . .

The Marina at Marina Shores
Virginia Beach, Va.
Fuel: gas and diesel
Power: 30 and 50 amp
Depth: 8'
Pump-Out: Yes