How Do They Get on the Sailboat?
This ridiculous picture is from Willoughby Harbor Marina in Norfolk. The place has seen better days, having been battered by a few hurricanes and numerous nor’easters over the years. The photo lends new meaning to the term boat slip.
I teach at Willoughby for the American Sailing Association, and their two boats are docked at the front end of D Dock. The outward slips are so bad that many of the pilings have broken off and others are about to, so the slips can’t be leased. The dockmaster, whose name is Dean, said the place has been rundown for years. “Hey, they just replaced all the pilings on Docks A and B, so that’s a good sign.” The problem with the akimbo finger piers appears to be that the airtight plastic boxes that form the ballast have been penetrated and compromised with seawater. Very treacherous.
Willoughby Harbor is a busy place, with Navy attack helicopters taking off and landing during the day. You can see Norfolk Naval Base nearby, with multiple aircraft carriers dominating the horizon.
The highest and best use of the place is as a marina. It’s hard by Willoughby Bay, which is perfect for day sailing. It’s also a perfect launch into the James River and. The Chesapeake Bay is right there at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. A rickety building houses a restaurant and offices overhead. The entire operation is said by Dean to be for sale, but I couldn’t find any listings.

Let’s Go Sail

Check rates and pick a day for a sailboat charter. See reviews on Trip Advisor. 

More from the Captain...