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Monday, August 25, 2008

A Fortunate Place To Be

If you’re on a boat and have to be stuck somewhere, the Atlantic Yacht Basin, in Great Bridge, VA, is the only place to be. Located about a half mile east of VA Route 168, on the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal, the Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) is possibly the finest full-service, marina on the entire eastern coast of the United States.

When approaching AYB from the water, the first thing you notice is the huge dock that lines the south bank of the canal. More than a quarter of a mile in length, the dock can easily accommodate vessels of all lengths and drafts of up to 12 feet. Vessels tying up to this mammoth wooden structure will find a spacious walkway, conveniently spaced water spigots and power outlets of either 30 or 50 amps and pump-out stations for cleaning a boat’s holding tanks. And, it’s located in a section of the canal that’s protected from all but the most severe wind and weather

The next thing you notice, are the countless number of vessels located here. There are sailboats and trawlers tied up along the length of the main dock and many more secured in the half-mile long, private canal that forms the southern border of the marina complex. If that wasn’t enough, there are six, corrugated steel buildings that easily house fifty, large power boats each. Additionally, there are a number of vessels spaced out on dry land (on the hard) that are being worked on by a seemly tireless army of craftsmen. All in all, there must be several hundred million dollars worth of vessels at AYB, at any one time.

No job at AYB is too big or too little. They can pull all sizes of boats from the water using either huge power slings, called Travel-Lifts, for up to 60-ton vessels, or specially constructed cradles that run on a sloped railroad line for vessels up to 300 tons. Cleaning, painting, hull repair, engine work, boat modification and improvement are just a few of the things that are done at AYB and the work, in our experience here, is always done ahead of schedule and at or under budget. Plus, when the job is done, the finished project always exceeds your expectations. Work here is done so efficiently, that there is a constant turnover of the boats on the hard and it’s extremely difficult to keep track of what boat is where, when.

When all is said and done, however, what makes a place tick is its people. Kim and I have remarked on this fact many times, as it seems that everyone here at AYB is like a huge family. You never hear a cross word from anyone, no yelling, no screaming, no negative comments about any of the other people here; just lots of conversation and laughter as the staff goes about its daily routine. And every last person here speaks to you as you go about the yard and would bend over backwards to please their customers.

The person who makes AYB run so smoothly is a quiet, laid back fellow named James Taylor. James is the Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of AYB. He is also the primary point of contact for customers and responsible for AYB’s yard operations. James joined the company in 1968 as a trained mechanic and has held the positions of machine shop foreman and assistant general manager and, after 40 years in the business, knows what it takes to make the customer happy. But don’t let his laid back style fool you because James runs a tight ship and knows the who, what and where of every boat and every project at AYB, at any given moment. You couldn’t put your boat in better hands than his.

In easy walking distance from AYB, boaters will find lots of opportunities to shop and resupply. There are several fast food restaurants and two shopping centers just south of AYB. Therein are a Virginia ABC (liquor) store, a real hardware store, an upscale grocery, a laundromat, an auto parts store and several specialty and gift stores. Certainly, there’s enough variety close to the marina so satisfy most any boater’s need.

So, here we are in Great Bridge, VA, with our boat just about finished and hoping the weather will cooperate after they splash us (put us back in the water) tomorrow. But, were lucky to be here at the Atlantic Yacht Basin because, like I said before, if you have to be stuck somewhere, the Atlantic Yacht Basin, in Great Bridge, VA, is the best possible place to be.

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