Two marine companies in Cape Charles are coming together, and it’ll likely to bring a boost to Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
On October 1, the town-owned Cape Charles Harbor began a three-month transition to management by the neighboring Cape Charles Yacht Center. The town council unanimously approved the three-year contract in September. This public-private partnership offers the potential to grow both businesses. With its prime location just inside the Chesapeake’s mouth, with a protected harbor and 18-foot channel, Cape Charles can become a major stopover for cruising boat traffic from Florida to New England.
The Yacht Center’s leaders plan to expand its capabilities to service large yachts, including acquisition of a 500-metric-ton hoist and construction of a 70-foot-high, 70,000-square-foot service shed. The expansion will bring additional good-paying skilled jobs to the area.
Meanwhile, the Town and its Harbor’s certified clean marina will serve “spillover traffic” and offer facilities and amenities for transient visitors as well as local boaters, working watermen, and anglers. The Yacht Center will share employees with the Harbor, including a full-time dockmaster for both facilities.
The principals behind the Yacht Center, JP Turner and Nicole Jacques, bring significant strengths to both enterprises. Turner is President and a co-owner of Front Street Shipyard, a custom boat builder, service yard and marina that has transformed the waterfront of Belfast, Maine into a major Northeast hub for boats of many sorts, from 20’ center consoles up to and including 200’ mega-yachts. Jacques is the owner of Rhumbline Communications, a strategic marketing and communications firm serving the marine industry also based in Belfast.
Although there is no formal ownership connection between the Cape Charles Yacht Center and Front Street Shipyard, Turner and Jacques anticipate opportunities to collaborate on projects, as Front Street does with several other Maine shipyards. Such teamwork will be especially
appropriate as Turner and Jacques move forward with plans to
Rhumbline Communications will be in position to market the
two operations together broadly along the Atlantic coast.
Front Street Shipyard offers the same kind of synergy with the town wharf in Belfast. However, to make sure the new relationship is truly effective, the Cape Charles Town Council built a one- year review into the contract to allow its members to evaluate all aspects and adjust as appropriate. One major priority is to make sure the Town retains its identity as a working harbor, even as it expands its outreach.
-John Page Williams