Issue: September 2012
BYPOINTS: The Persistence of Memory

Notwithstanding the foregoing title, this has nothing to do with Salvador Dali or droopy clocks, or anything of the sort. It has to do, rather, with yet another stroll down memory lane. Last month I harked back 20-plus years to my first visit to Oxford, Md., comparing it to a much more recent and attentive one, for the purposes of that issue’s story on Oxford. And now I hark back to 1997 and my first visit to Herrington Harbour South, one of a pair of very large marinas on Herring Bay, south of Annapolis. 

Why Herrington Harbour? Because this month we have a feature on the clean marina programs in Maryland and Virginia [see “Keeping it Clean,” page 34], and the Herrington Harbour marinas (North and South) are duly singled out, collectively, as Maryland’s 2012 Clean Marina of the Year. I say duly because owner Steuart Chaney and his staff over the years really have gone to extraordinary lengths to minimize the operation’s impact on the local ecosystem—which of course is precisely what the Clean Marina initiative is about. Most notably, and perhaps making the biggest difference of all, the Herrington Harbour marinas have all but eliminated bulkheads and riprap, replacing them with “soft edges” that are much closer to nature’s own design: marsh grasses and other native wetland plants. They do a lot more than that, of course—everything from using energy efficient lightbulbs to recycling gray water—and you can read about it on page 37.

But, getting back to memory lane, I first saw the place—Herrington Harbour South, that is—in May of 1997, it being one of the overnight stops of the five-day powerboat course I’d enrolled in with Annapolis Sailing School. Then as now, the marina was more than a little impressive—600 slips, pool, beach, restaurant, bar, banquet hall, etc. The only thing that wasn’t impressive, or rather was impressive in the wrong way, was the little motor court hotel near the beach, where we spent the night. The rooms themselves were very nice, but the motor court setting was not. It was a few ranks of low cinder block buildings on a desert of asphalt, and it was . . . well, as I wrote in August 1997 issue, a bit barracks-like. And I was being kind. The phrase that actually came to mind was Stalag 17.

So imagine my delight a few weeks ago when I stopped by there to take some pictures and pick up some material on their Clean Marina efforts, and I found the stalag to be . . . gone! The buildings have been handsomely updated (about three years ago, I’m told), and, more important, the asphalt barrens are gone, replaced by lush courtyards: brick pathways meandering through clusters of native plants, sprinkled just so with trees and benches and big ceramic planters. It’s truly lovely now, and no longer an anomaly at a place that so obviously takes the word “environment” seriously.

My congratulations to the Herrington Harbour folks, one and all. You are, in my opinion, to be admired and imitated.


 

Tim Sayles, Editor