Chestertown, Maryland has revamped its town marina, and it’s not the old Chestertown Marina you may remember.
In fact, that’s not even its name anymore. The newly-renamed Port of Chestertown Marina has undergone extensive renovations in the past year, and the town just hired an experienced Eastern Shore marina leader to run it.
Marina manager Sam Branham previously worked for Great Oak Landing Marina and Tolchester Marina. She credits those long-established marinas with preparing her for the Port of Chestertown role. Branham lives just three blocks from the town’s docks, and says she’s excited to be working on a river she frequents, kayaking with her friends.
Along with a fresh face comes fresh marina facilities. Chestertown mayor Chris Cerino tells Bay Bulletin that slipholders and visitors will see new bulkheads, walkways, floating docks, and a 70-foot dock extension that raises the grade by 18- 24 inches to alleviate tidal flooding. There’s a new fuel dock. A new boat ramp is still under construction.
Says Mayor Cerino, “it’s literally like night and day.”
There is a new bathhouse, with shower and laundry facilities, that Branham calls “stunning.”
“I’ve seen a lot of marina bathhouses, and I am thoroughly impressed” she says.
The restaurant/bar on premises, formerly the Fish Whistle, and before that, the Old Wharf Inn, will open mid-May as 98 Cannon, with an expanded deck for outdoor dining. It will offer the traditional waterfront fare, and also serve wood-fired pizza.
The new marina headquarters houses Branham’s office, and there are future plans to include an interpretive/ welcome center. It’s still in the brainstorming phase, but the center could display live weather and tide conditions for boaters, or even host community art exhibits.
Other plans include getting Port of Chestertown certified as a Maryland Clean Marina by the state Department of Natural Resources.
Mayor Cerino also mentions plans for a future “pocket park” where an old shed used to stand.
The marina has 60 slips for both transient boaters and regular slipholders. The marina’s renovations are expected to wrap up in mid-May, but some slips are already occupied.
“Slipholders are the heartbeat of the community,” Branham explains. One of her top priorities is building up that community. She hopes to appeal to yacht clubs and other groups, encouraging them to come to Chestertown and enjoy the arts, restaurants and shops the small town has to offer.
Branham is optimistic about what Port of Chestertown can do for the town. “The marina is a brand new addition…that we believe will bring people in.”
-Meg Walburn Viviano