My wife and I love to sail.
Our journeys have taken us to many special places on the Chesapeake Bay, and we’ve noticed something: The small towns and cities that cater to the sailing and boating community have a few things in common.
They inevitably have some sort of attraction such as a museum or shopping area within walking distance to the boat slips. They have boat slips. Most boaters like to plug in their yachts while in port in order to run the air conditioning and other systems. The price is usually very reasonable and the ability to have electricity really makes a difference. Water, pump-out and fuel availability are nice to have, too, but electrical hookups are a must if you wish to draw the yachting community in to your town.
Almost by definition, boaters have money, and they like to take their boats to destinations, explore, eat and drink and spend that money. Leonardtown has such an opportunity to draw boaters and infuse commerce into the businesses around the town square.
The Potomac River is one of the largest commercial waterways in the world. Hundreds of boats and yachts of all description ply their way right by the mouth of Breton Bay, but there is no real draw to make this a destination for them.
The Leonardtown Wharf is screaming for a wonderful little tavern type establishment with a number of powered slips, a small knickknack store and a trolley running up and down the hill in to town for visitors from the water.
With the rich history we have all around us, the town could open a museum near the wharf in one of the Victorian houses near the bottom of Washington Street.
Volunteers could supply the museum with artifacts from the first landing at St. Clement’s Island, the story of Leonardtown and St. Mary’s City, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. British ships raided this port in the War of 1812, so a couple of scale wooden model ships would be an attraction to any fan of history.
Most boaters like to see historical ships.
If done smartly, the scene at the wharf could be a place where boaters happily tie up, explore our little town and bring much-needed cash into the local business community during our generously long boating season. A welcoming facility with boat friendly infrastructure, an attraction such as a history museum and a restaurant with a relaxing ambiance would be the link in the chain that would tie Leonardtown directly to the incredible opportunity that is sailing right past us every season.
Don’t miss the boat, Leonardtown.