Boaters love the Bay. They love the look of it, the feel of it, the smell of it, the freedom of it, the generosity of it. All the Bay’s tributaries plus its ocean and fresh waters are part of that big love.
Choosing a Clean Marina as your boat’s home — and your second home — is one of the best ways boaters can, in return, protect the Bay.
If yours is a Clean Marina, it may be more Bay-friendly than your first home. In fact, your Clean Marina is likely to be the Bay-friendliest place you visit in a month of Sundays.
That’s because the standards set by Maryland Department of Natural Resources for the coveted title are high. And because marinas and their staffs willingly go to extraordinary lengths to meet them.
The result is good news for everybody in Chesapeake Country, boaters and landlubbers alike. Clean Marinas make good neighbors. Better neighbors than fences.
Fences won’t stop the dirt and chemicals carried in stormwater runoff from pouring into the Bay. But that’s exactly why Maryland’s Clean Marina Program exists, according to program director Donna Morrow.
In Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, roughly one-quarter of all marinas qualify: 46 of 172 marinas in Anne Arundel are rated Clean, while 10 of Calvert’s 30 marinas are so rated.
“These are large marinas with lots of slips, and they have lots of impact on their property, on helping boaters understand what makes a Clean Marina and on the quality of water all around them,” says Steuart Chaney of Herrington Harbour Marinas, an early advocate of Clean Marinas.
Steep Climb to the Top
Getting the flag that certifies a Clean Marina is hard work.
There are 67 steps to climb, ranged in eight staircases. Every aspect of doing business is counted, from the marina’s design and management, to how it handles water and waste, to how it maintains boats and prepares for emergencies. In all eight areas, a Clean Marina must score 70 to 85 percent.
“It’s a challenge,” says Jeff Truesdale of Clark’s Landing Boat Sales in Shady Side. Clark’s Landing Marine Center in Chester is also a Clean Marina. “The biggest challenge was stormwater runoff,” says Truesdale.
Challenges like that are likely to take earth moving and heavy equipment. At Herrington Harbour North and South, “What we do is start at the water,” explains Chaney. “Since the early 1970s, we’ve been creating or restoring natural shoreline buffer areas to control shoreline erosion first and also to filter stormwater and create a habitat.”
Building over four acres of tidal wetlands was mucky work. At Herrington Harbour North, for example, a graveyard for old boats and equipment was excavated and a tide-pervious barrier built to hold the mud inside. To help the marsh return, workers donned boots and planted Bay grasses. With the tide flowing in and out, the grasses have flourished, providing food and shelter for all sorts of Bay creatures, including terrapins.
On the Clean Marina scale, marsh building earns points under Area 7, Stormwater Management. The five standards in each category include simpler acts as well, like stenciling storm drains.
It’s hard work for no tangible payback.
“You get nothing, and that’s kind of an issue,” Truesdale says. “We get a flag to fly.”
It’s the long run a Clean Marina is working for.
Thus, Truesdale says, “A Clean Marina helps us get and maintain customers because you operate a little better facility than the guy up the street who really doesn’t care.”
Voluntary do-good programs that threaten no sticks and award only a few carrots are notorious for falling short of big goals. But the Clean Marina program works in part because of the industry’s self-interest.
In the long run, “Implementing and maintaining Clean Marina practices is good for the environment and good for business,” saya Chaney. “If the water is not clean, the marina industry does not do well.”
Taking that philosophy to extremes has earned Herrington Harbours extra honors as Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ inaugural Clean Marina of the Year.
Herrington’s land-conservation program helped win the new title. Six hundred acres across from Herrington South in Rose Haven are, Chaney says, in “perpetual preservation. We could have developed 1,200 houses. We didn’t. Keeping the area intact as a forested interior-dwelling bird habitat means these little birds that fly from Brazil can go into that forest. They can’t live on the outside because local birds will eat their eggs. By preserving that land, we protect that habitat, stop stormwater runoff and eliminate development.”
Those Who Climbed
Like Herrington Harbour, 144 Maryland marinas have earned Clean Marina certification since 1998, when Maryland pioneered the nation’s first program. Nearly a quarter of our 600 marinas are Clean Marinas, with about 30 percent of our commercial slips.
Five more marinas — among them Bay Harbor Boatyard in Deale, Combs Creek Marina in Leonardtown, McCready Boatyard in Lusby and Drum Point Marine/Back Creek Boat Yard in Solomons — have pledged to achieve certification within a year.
Sandy Point State Park Marina in Annapolis and Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary’s County are Clean Marinas. More state parks — from Deep Creek Lake to Assateague — are Clean Marina Partners. So are Anchorage Community Marina and Swim Club in Annapolis and Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.
The 146th and newest Clean Marina is Burr Yacht Sales, a 40-year-old high-end yacht dealer in Edgewater.
“Yacht brokers to community boat ramps to public wharfs,” says Morrow, “any marine facility we can go and inspect is eligible to be a Clean Marina or Partner.”
Unless you’re squeaky green and clean yourself, you may not know whether your marina measures up.
Publicizing environmentally responsible actions is one of the standards for a Clean Marina; it falls under Area 6, Marina Management. As well as flying the official flag, Clean Marinas hang plaques and list the honor on their webpages.
But you’re most likely to know a marina is Clean by its actions.
“All our toxic chemicals are labeled, we do yard inspections, we want to make sure our operation is safe and clean,” says Clark’s Landing’s Truesdale. “That’s the first thing you notice: that there’s not debris and blocks and cans of paint all over the place.”
After the mess that’s missing, human comforts are the next thing you’re likely to notice in a Clean Marina.
“I want very clean showers,” says Rill Stover, half of a dedicated boating team from Huntingtown that splits its time between Bay and ocean.
On the Bay, Rill and husband, Dr. David Stover, dock at Solomons or mid-Bay at Herrington Harbour North.
David Stover knew Herrington was a Clean Marina because he was told so. For him that was an advantage but not a deciding factor. General cleanliness, closeness to home, a travel lift, a tackle store and mechanical services on the yard made his decision.
In Ocean City, the Stovers dock at Sunset Marina. A serious deep-sea fisher, Rill Stover praises Sunset because, among other things, “they take out the trash daily, including fish trash.”
She also likes the way fueling and boat fluids are managed.
“When we go to fuel up, they always have those white pads,” she says. “So if there’s a spill, they can clean up on the spot.”