A Tale of Two Marinas

Further in her new slip at Butler’s Marina

Further was finally on the move last week. An epic journey, as a matter of fact: we moved all the way to the other side of Back Creek. Oh but hey, we did move from the head of the creek to down near the mouth.

More to the point, Further and I moved back to Butler’s Marina, the marina on the town side of Back Creek where we lived for most of 2018-2019. It’s a small, cozy marina and is a stark contrast to where we’ve been since August 2021.

That marina, let’s call it Gigantor Marina, is actually a working boatyard, with pretty much every possible marine industry having a shop on the yard. It’s convenient having those services present but it means there’s so much hustle and bustle, and transient sailors coming and going among the hundreds of slips that there’s very little community on the docks.

Gigantor Marina had its perks, including wonderful peace and quiet at the upper end of Back Creek…

Butler’s, on the other hand, is a marina of about 25 slips or so. It’s nestled into the residential area known as Eastport, just across the street from a wonderful local pub. When I lived aboard there a few years ago, there were half-a-dozen or so other liveaboards and we were our own little neighborhood. There’s only one other permanent liveboard boat nowadays, but it’s home to Dave and Dottie and their ancient, wonderful black Labrador, Scuppers, and it’s great to hear her arthritic “woof” when you step out of your car at the head of the pier. There are also a couple of other folks living aboard for a little while that make the marina a fun place to hang out, especially since this autumn has been pretty wonderful in terms of weather (with one notorious six-day stretch where the remnants of Hurricane Ian made things absolutely miserable).

…but the twilight at Butler’s doesn’t suck. This was the view upon arrival

Sidebar: there’s also one couple heading south in the next couple of weeks who, this past weekend, aided by their devouring a couple of bottles of wine, revealed themselves to be quite possibly the most repulsive people I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter in person. Their racist and homophobic tirades were so offensive that I finally got up and walked back to Further.

But Butler’s has a wonderful little fire pit on shore with some Adirondack chairs around it. There are two grills and a bunch of deck furniture on a wide area at the end of the dock. There’s also a washer and dryer that are free to use — FREE! — and the bathroom/shower is a tasteful tile-and-stone facility that feels like what you’d find in a nice home.

Gigantor, on the other hand, has one bathhouse with industrial toilets and showers (which, it must be admitted, had awesome water pressure). The thing is: it was (no kidding) an honest quarter-mile walk away from where they stuck us liveaboards up on G Dock. There were two (pay) washers and dryers to serve the entire marina and not a single grill or picnic table or seat anywhere on the yard. Other behemoth boatyards have amenities such as multiple laundry rooms, swimming pools, tennis courts and so on. As mentioned, even tiny Butler’s has more than one grill.

The amenities at Butler’s Marina are great and much more conducive to community

I’ve pooh-poohed Gigantor ever since I got there. It’s true that they maintain what they have in impeccable condition but there’s no…soul. No heart. It’s a business and it’s run like one. It never felt like a home.

That’s why it’s been such a delight to have moved back to Butler’s. Just being there has made me happier by a wide margin. And to live that kind of comfort, that kind of peace and joy, has been a treat.

And get this: it’s also a few hundred bucks cheaper a month. Seriously. So there’s that.

So it might not really be a case of the best of marinas versus the worst of marinas, but the stark contrast between Gigantor and Butler’s points up how important it is to be a situation and a place where you’re happy.

I’ll touch more on happy places — and the potential for new happy places in Further‘s future — in the next post…


Addendum: This past weekend has been the antithesis of last Saturday night’s eye-opening debacle. No sign of the repulsive folks (thank goodness). Rather, it’s been several evenings of unseasonably warm weather, a waxing moon and good times with wonderful neighbors such as Kurt and Monica, locals whose boat is still in the slip next to where Further was back in 2018-19. Just wonderful evenings that make boat life so fabulous.


It is with great pride and profound happiness that I report that Further has once again left the dock. Finally! Thanks to help from from a marina mate—who happens to be dealing with the same delays from the same rigging company that screwed my summer—I was able to get out onto Chesapeake Bay and actually, you know, sail. What a concept!

To recap: In the wake of the extensive work being done on Further since, well, the beginning of 2022, some fuel problems had me really wary about running the engine for even a not-too-long period—say, long enough to get out of Back Creek and into the bay. A couple of weeks ago, the electrician who was tackling the controller that enables the alternator to charge up the batteries ran into a problem: the fuel filter alarm was going off. And no surprises, either: when I looked at the primary fuel filter (the first one after the fuel tank) it was full of water and crap. But the alarm is wired to the secondary filter, the one actually ON the engine. So I cleaned both filters and then ran the engine for about 20 minutes, with varying amounts of throttle, and voila! No alarm. No pressure issues. Nothing. Yes, there’s still gunk in the primary filter but it was stable and not causing any problems.

So, after spending the morning hauling the much-lighter Stephan to the top of Further’s mast, where he pulled off the Bluetooth wind instrument and brought it down to the navigation station so it could be paired with the electronics since the aforementioned rigging company hadn’t done so prior to installing the instrument atop the mast and raising said mast, and then hauling Stephan back up to the top of the mast to reinstall said instrument, we went to Davis’ Pub for lunch (on me, as thanks for going up the mast) and then Stephan and I took Further out.

And as you can see, things worked. We headed out of Back Creek and pointed southeast, a bit upwind of a reach, and enjoyed the light but steady breeze. Upon reaching the channel, we turned Further around and headed back, this time a bit before the wind so it was a slower go but still fun.

And yes, as you can see, I’m missing a tooth. It’s an old (33 years ago) hockey injury that came back this summer. But I am in the process of getting it fixed so I’ll soon be as pretty as before.

No matter. Any time Further is cruising along under sail it’s a pretty sight. And there’s more to come.


Look at that SHINY new boom! And the boom vang is back in place, as are the reefing lines, the outhaul, etc. Progress!

Another update only a week after the last?! What the… It’s true: stuff’s a-happenin’. Slower than it should and WAY later than it should have, but better late than never, I guess.

So, it’s Tuesday evening and I’m sitting topside beneath a beautiful summer twilight sky. The humidity is blissfullly low and I have some tunes going and I had dinner earlier (street tacos for Taco Tuesday) with a couple of dear friends so, yeah, it’s been a good evening. And I’ve been out here under similar circumstances for several nights recently. I’m back on board and life is just better. Not easier, not by a long shot. Life on board is, as I’ve said often, not for everyone. But for me? Yeah. These recent evenings alone…all the reason I need.

And on top of that, the riggers are proceeding apace. I was down in the main cabin a little after eight this morning, eating breakfast (yogurt and blueberries) and doing some honest-to-god work (see if there’s any breaking news, check the company’s Twitter feed, etc.) when I heard some feet step on board and felt Further roll a bit. I stuck my head topside and Angus was at the mast. I think I surprised him a bit when I said, “Good morning.”

With him arriving on site I opted to clear out and go work in the office of friends and former employers, S&J Yachts. It’s just down Back Creek a bit and their wifi is better and this way I wasn’t going to be in Angus’ way nor was I going to be distracted wondering what he was doing.

And when I got home at the end of the day en route to the aforementioned Taco Tuesday fun, I found that Angus had done the work seen in the attached photograph: the boom is back on (after being refinished and painted, just like the oh-so-shiny new mast), the boom vang as well, the outhaul and reefing lines that run through the mast are all brand new and in place, the traveler is back in place with some (not all) new components and new line, and the new mainsheet is coiled and hanging from the boom while the new running backstays are coiled and hanging from the mast pulpit.

There’s still no backstay (let alone the insulators on said backstay that are the primary instigator of all this delay), no flag halyards and the wires and cables coming from the mast (for the wind instruments, the radar, the wifi booster, etc.) are still just hanging in the cabin.

But there HAS BEEN progress. So I’m choosing to focus on that aspect of things.

That, and the serenity of spending most evenings watching the stars and listening to tunes (tonight’s selection is Goose). Ahhhhhhh….