Abandoned until recently, Queen Anne Marina now offers gourmet food, brilliant sunsets and blessed quiet to boaters escaping the Annapolis hubbub.
by Constance Bond
Tucked into Kent Island's western shore, at the southern tip of a point of land at the mouth of Price Creek, is Queen Anne Marina, an orderly enclave of gray clapboard buildings and docks. Front and center is its elegant restaurant, where diners can feast while watching boats come and go. It's hard to believe that only four years ago, this marina sat empty and abandoned, choked with weeds, many of its windows broken by vandals. That's what current owner Kathleen O'Boyle found after moving from Virginia to Kent Island with her husband Paul and their three kids. "It was almost like walking into a ghost town," says O'Boyle. "The bulkhead was falling in, the dock planks were rotted, the plumbing in the restaurant had frozen and ruptured, causing water damage . . . I was itching to fix the place up, but it would mean starting from scratch."
But O'Boyle didn't let the mess stop her. This small point of land is only about three nautical miles due east of Thomas Point Light. Its small, sandy Bay-side beach offers dynamite sunsets and its creekside docks are well protected from weather. She envisioned not only a comfy down-home island marina, but also a great overnight getaway for boaters. So in July 2001 O'Boyle bought the property at a bank auction.
The first order of business for O'Boyle's team--dockmaster Dale Rocknak, various contractors, and her husband helping out when he could--was simply to get the marina functional. They immediately replaced the bulkhead bordering the fuel tanks, which was a safety hazard. Then they replanked the two main docks; built a large deck just behind the docks, on the foundation of an old crab-sloughing house; and repaired the ship's store (it will sell basket lunches and baked goods in addition to spare parts, hardware, ice, bait, beer and other basics).
Last summer, the slips filled up almost as quickly as they were renovated; 60 are finished so far, about half the total that the marina is shooting for. Most have a depth of five feet and can accommodate vessels up to 45 feet long. At the far end of the docks is the marina's full-service repair yard, anchored by a vintage bright-blue 12-ton lift which was joined by a 30-tonner this spring.
For now, the restrooms are a work in progress--no showers yet, and although there are sinks with running water and flush toilets, they're housed in temporary installations, "sort of the Cadillac of portable johns," says O'Boyle. "We have a narrow piece of land, so we don't have a septic field. Everything has to be trucked out, and until we get the sewer down here, that's our destiny."
The last big job to be tackled was the restaurant, which had to be totally gutted. It occupies the cozy front corner of the main building, its wraparound view of Bay and creek broken only by a fireplace. "We named it the Silver Swan for two reasons," says O'Boyle. "It was an ugly duckling when we bought it, and after we fixed it up it became a beautiful swan. Also, about a thousand swans from Canada spend the winter on our creek." From spring through early fall the restaurant is open daily, with 10 slips for diners (who can reserve them ahead of time). In the winter, it's closed on Mondays. Although O'Boyle describes it as a family-style seafood-and-steak eatery, its menu is sophisticated. The crabcakes, for example, are served "over mizuna greens tossed in honey soy vinaigrette finished with roasted garlic aioli and lemon essence."
They're as good as they sound, too, says longtime boater Bill Webb, who rented a slip early last year for his 28-foot Bayliner. From his cockpit, Webb had a front-row seat as the place was coaxed back from near-oblivion. "I think Queen Anne Marina is the epitome of Chesapeake Bay life," says Webb. "The restaurant is awesome, my two-year-old daughter loves to play on the beach, and it's a full-service marina. Plus it's never crowded here. You can just sit back and relax."
Queen Anne Marina
Fuel: gas and diesel
Power: 30 amp
Depth: 5' approach and dockside
Dockage: $1.25/ft; no charge for electric unless boat is air-conditioned