|Glitz-free and classic, Mears Yacht Haven is quintessentially Oxford.|
by Diana Prentice
Oxford, Md., is like a cosmopolitan woman with boat shoes: classic. Last spring, as my husband Randy and I were on our way to Cambridge and looking forward to a night at anchor, the what's-for-dinner topic came up. Why not stop at Oxford for a good mealand a bike ride down Morris Street? We hailed Mears Yacht Haven--the classic Oxford marina.
Boaters near the Tred Avon River are familiar with the marine radio voice of Mears--its resident manager Tom Gannon.
Gannon could easily step in if the Westminster Kennel Club suddenly needed a replacement announcer. Now his calm directions soon had us pointed to the end of the D pier, where our boat's six-foot draft wouldn't cause problems. He was even at the dock to catch our lines. Gannon has been at the facility's helm for 14 of its 35 years, ever since Coastal Properties Management Corporation bought the marina from the Mears family.
Mears Yacht Haven is the first facility to starboard on entering Town Creek and occupies the very tip of the town's peninsula. With 95 slips and 500 feet of lay-along space on their fixed docks, it welcomes 2,000 transient boats a year. The core of the marina is clustered around a two-story gray building along Town Creek, where a 150-foot, flower-box bedecked fuel dock bustles for much of the year. Nearby is the office-lounge-ship's store, with its wicker chairs arranged sociably next to a book-swap shelf. Its two resident yellow Labs--Ringo and Crockett--act as frequent though inadvertent speed bumps. Additional lounging space is mere steps away, surrounding the pool and at an adjacent creekside covered deck. A large picnic area, nestled in the shade of spreading trees, lies farther along the driveway and features views of both the Tred Avon and Town Creek. With so much water and quiet beauty, you're likely to bump into artists with easels at every turn. A low narrow structure attached to the main marina building holds tall and narrow showers with skylights. Nearby are two new washers and dryers. Bulletin boards announce the activities of the Oxford Yacht Club, which was organized here in 1978.
Randy and I mounted two rental bikes from Mears' well maintained fleet to head off for dinner, but hesitated when we realized they had no locks. "It's Oxford," Tom chided us. "Don't need locks." We glided to the other end of Morris Street toward Pope's Tavern and an excellent dinner with the road almost to ourselves.
Next morning, while untying the dock lines, I surveyed the large houses along Town Creek that have recently usurped the farmland that once stretched to the north and then the village's own shoreline, which I found unchanged and understated--the flashiest things in sight were the flags flying at Mears. I glanced at Tom's business card: "dockage--fuel--friends." Like pearls with boat shoes. It's so Oxford.