Atlantic Yacht Basin, Inc. is a full service yacht repair and storage facility strategically located on the A&C Canal of the Intracoastal Waterway in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Atlantic Yacht Basin

AYB Summer 2014 Newsletter - Whales, Varnish, Adventure, Oh My! Plus How to Keep Keep Boats in Top Shape During High Season 

The AYB crew does a major summer paint job in the all-weather work shed. Copyright 2013 - Atlantic Yacht Basin.  

Ahhh, summer!  Although weather-wise, it has been a cooler than usual few months, we have seen enough hot, sticky, and stormy days lately to know that this is probably going to be an interesting time of year.   Hurricane season is also underway, so don't forget about AYB's Priority Hurricane Storage Program.

While so many of our customers and friends are busy out on the water as much as they can be this time of year, still others are planning to come in to take advantage of AYB's current major work and storage specials for summer. They do this because they know that the best time to get work done is when most everyone else is not.  

Still others are coming in from a fall-winter spent in warmer waters to spend some time traveling or doing other things while their boat is serviced and stored or both. Last, but not least, there are those who recognize that a few days off the water to take care of smaller upkeep and typical fixes can be the difference between covering routine costs and facing a potential disaster on the water for you and your wallet. 

Every good captain knows that keeping on top of the little stuff is what keeps you from running into big trouble later on - so does making sure you are aware of what is going on with your boat all the time.  That ounce of prevention is worth many, many, many hours and pounds of cure for sure!  AYB's James Taylor has these tips for things you should keep on top of when using your boat heavily, whatever season that may be:

1.  Check your boat list.  Then do it again. -  Have you actually taken care of everything that your boat needs to have done or do you have a plan for when you are going to cover work that is upcoming?  Little stuff can mushroom into a bigger problem very quickly and bigger stuff is only going to be cheaper and easier the sooner you get it done.  Click here to download the AYB checklist to keep on top of what is happening with your boat at all times.

2.  Notice something wrong?  Address it immediately. -  Just like with your body, if you notice something unusual going on with your boat, don't let it get out of hand.  Whether you can handle the job on your own or need professional help to fix the issue(s), don't 
ignore them, do something about them!  It is much better to come off the water for a short time voluntarily than be forced off by breakdown or dangerous situation.

3. Remember Structure, Systems, & Safety at all times. -  Inspect your boat every time you head out for both interior and exterior structural issues.  Confirm your engine and systems are in good working order and do simple things like flushing lines, checking levels of vital fluids, and testing communications and safety equipment throughout the high season. 

4. Keep Plumbing & Climate Control in mind! - Both of these systems get a particularly hard workout during the summer with extra guests and extra use.  The consequences of not checking and servicing them regularly are obvious and potentially very unpleasant!

As always, to find out more about our facility or comprehensive range of marine service and storage options or to get a free quote on work you need to get done, please call AYB toll-free at (800) 992-2489 or local at  (757) 482-2141 or drop us a line at .  As always, we also invite you to discover more about AYB on our website at or like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for interesting updates, tips, and specials going on at the Yard.

Working AND Playing this Summer, 

Your Friends at AYB

The Ocean Path Taken - Meet Captain Mark Mitchell! 

AYB continues this popular  feature -- an interview with the interesting people and their great boats that visit us.   This time we caught up with long-time customer and friend, Mark Mitchell, a professional captain who can literally be found on the water or traveling over 300 days a year.  Whether delivering boats for clients, flying between gigs or checking in on his own vessel at AYB, Mark passes our way a lot.  He is THAT guy so many of us envy for figuring out how to work and live on the water at the same time.

Mark, Thelma and Cheyenne Mitchell enjoying life aboard as a family. Copyright 2010 -
 Courtesy of Mark Mitchell.

How did you come to this life?   I grew up in the DC area so I have my father to thank for introducing me to the boating life as well as to my favorite kind of yachts built by Grand Banks.  Growing up, we had a summer place near Annapolis and were definitely water rats from the start.  After finishing college at George Mason, I started doing some real estate investing and wasn't really looking for a full-time life on the water.  By 1984, I was building a house near Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA and asked my dad if I could live aboard his 38' Grand Banks while the house was being finished.  I never moved into that house, living down at the Yacht Club off of Maine Avenue in DC for over six years instead.  I rented the house out and started as a captain first with a regular gig on a single vessel.  Pretty soon thereafter I graduated to being a freelance captain.  It's been a wild and wonderful ride ever since. 

You and your wife, Thelma, raised your daughter on the water and traveling constantly.  What was that like and what are they up to now?  This kind of lifestyle can be really hard on a marriage and on a family unless you do it together. Now that Cheyenne is in college in Northern Virginia, Thelma is spending more time in one place, while I am out on the watery road.  We home-schooled Cheyenne, knowing that the chance to see the world the way that she did as a kid was a unique opportunity for all of us. Our dog Sugar has also been in the mix.  He is getting longer in the tooth now, but he is a very well-traveled dog.  He's also just the right size to fit under the seat on an airplane, which was my main requirement for any dog we brought into the family.  Fortunately for all of us, he likes to swim!
Cheyenne and Sugar as puppies.  Copyright 2005 - Courtesy of Mark Mitchell.

It's a "rough" life for dogs on the water - a grown up Sugar takes it all in stride.  Copyright 2012 - Courtesy of Mark Mitchell.

Do you get to spend time on your own boat or are you mostly delivering or skippering clients' boats?  There is no question that I am on other people's boats more than I am on my own.  That said, it's really an advantage, because I get to spend time on so many different kinds of boats in a lot of incredible places with interesting people. I am up in Newport right now and just got back from a trip to Cuba. Most years I am up and down the East Coast in Spring or Fall, around Florida and the Tropics in winter and in New England, Canada or the Mediterranean for the summer.  No matter what, I get to spend most seasons on the water on great vessels with clients who have become great friends.  It is pretty incredible that I have been able to get away with it this long.  Ironically, though, Grand Banks are still my favorites. 

Mark gets goofy at the docks with his beloved Grand Banks, HEDONE - Copyright 2014 - Courtesy of Mark Mitchell.

What has changed in your time on the water?  What is your favorite thing about this life? Well, I am 54 now and even though I've been a freelance captain for over two decades, the amazing thing is that it never gets old out here.  Every day is different - weather-wise, boat-wise, people-wise - so I am never bored or complacent about things.  Living by the elements and my wits has really suited me. I am not cut out for a conventional lifestyle and this certainly isn't one!  I keep thinking I am going to have to switch to a calmer, regular gig on one boat at some point, but I am still not ready for that yet!  One thing that is different is that I can't handle as many overnights in a row as I used to -- you definitely don't bounce back the same way over time. I really enjoy working with younger crew and grooming them for this life though.  It feels like I am part of a tradition of passing it down from one generation to another and of living in a way that people have for centuries on the water. 

As a man who can and does go anywhere in the world, what keeps bringing you back to AYB?  What is interesting is that if I really think about it, AYB is the place I have spent the most consistent time over all of these years.  Not only do I keep my own boat at AYB, but I pass through regularly on client vessels too.  Although I prefer to use offshore passage most of the time (for expediency's sake) when I head up and down the East Coast), AYB is really convenient for both ICW and open-ocean trips.  It's really centrally-located, it's easy to get everything I need service-wise, and I can fly and drive in and out as easily as I can arrive by water.  But all of that aside, it's the feeling of the place and the people that make it seem like home.  It is a really unique kind of place and this is a really talented, warm (and eccentric) crew that you can't find anywhere else.  

What is the most amazing thing you have seen out there?  It is nearly impossible to answer this question because I have seen so many amazing things.  I have met compelling people, seen unbelievable sights and had adventures all over.  Most of my favorites, though, have to do with natural phenomena.  Once, making a crossing near Italy, I encountered an incredible ancient mariner of the whale variety.  She was covered in barnacles and we had a good look at one another in the eye as we crossed paths.  Another time i was down in the Bahamas and ran into an enormous pod of well over 500 dolphins.  I see dolphins and whales frequently, but both of those encounters were really memorable.  As far as my own family is concerned, it has been watching our daughter become such a worldly and independent person, while spending time with Thelma and Cheyenne together on the seas.  While Cheyenne is enjoying her life in college, she often complains of feeling pretty landlocked after such a freewheeling upbringing.

Is there any place that is still on your bucket list that you have gotten to yet?  One thing about traveling all over is that it just makes you restless and ready to see even more.  It's doubtful that that thirst will ever be completely satisfied for me.  There are plenty of places I haven't been to yet and waters I haven't piloted.  One place that might be 
surprising that I haven't been to yet is the Pacific Northwest, I really want to see that passage, particularly through the Straits of Juan de Fuca and further into Canada.  Another thing I like doing when coming into a new harbor is to imagine what it was like when its original inhabitants were there or when the first explorers encountered it.  There are places like that all over the world that still blow my mind.  


Meet Our Crew 

Every e-newsletter, we highlight the interesting and highly experienced people who make Atlantic Yacht Basin the unique place that it is.  This time we're talking to Levi Surette, a key member of our finishing and detailing crew.  A relatively late transplant from Maine, Levi has settled on Virginia and AYB as home.  He also has some tips for how to tell the difference between whether you need minor touch ups or a whole new paint or finishing job on your boat.  

Levi takes a well-deserved break from working on a client's boat on a typical day at the Yard.  Copyright 2014 - Atlantic Yacht Basin.  

Where are you from and what brought you to the boat business?   I am originally from the Bar Harbor area in Maine.  Whenever I say that out loud, it is very obvious to Tidewater locals that I am not originally from here.  My pronunciation is very telling and I am pretty sure I will never lose my "Yankee" accent.  I started off at the Hinckley Yard in Maine doing metalwork and other boat-building jobs.  I didn't really have a background in boats, but they're everywhere where I grew up.  I made the transition from other kinds of construction to boat-building up there. 

What brought you to Virginia and to AYB?  My sister has lived down in this area for over 20 years and I decided to move down away
from the harsh winter weather after one of my visits.  I like going up to Maine to see friends and family, but I prefer living down in the mellower Tidewater climate.  Once I had relocated, i dropped by the Yard to take a tour with Jack and after one conversation, I was invited to apply and have been here ever since.  I also live close by which is another thing that makes my life convenient and as traffic-free as possible.   AYB has a tight-knit and friendly boatyard feeling and that long-standing tradition of skill and craftsmanship that i know from up in Maine.  But this is also a bustling place with a lot going on and a great reputation with captains and owners all over the world.  Plus we can work year-round, which is pretty great. 

Levi polishes and details a boat during spring commissioning season. -  Copyright 2012 - Atlantic Yacht Basin.  

When working on a boat, how do you tell whether it needs just needs regular maintenance on the exterior or whether it needs 
a more extensive paint or varnish job from top to bottom?  
Every boat and every client's situation is different.  Some will be putting a lot of wear and tear on their boat in all kinds of weather, while others use their boats more seasonally and less frequently.  Polishing, finishing and detailing can do a lot to bring a boat back from the dead both looks and function-wise, but when the exterior gets that dull, lifeless and splotchy look, particularly in uneven places, it is usually time to go for the bigger paint or varnish job.  Whether you have a fiberglass, wooden or metal boat, obvious signs of damage, rust, or other wear that affects structural integrity cannot be ignored.  While everyone likes having a nice-looking boat, the work our shop does is also about keeping your boat sound.  Sometimes people spend a lot of money on other aspects of their boat and forget how fundamentally important this is to keeping your boat around for a long time.The best thing to do is look at what the whole boat needs and schedule maintenance as well as major upgrades in advance.  

How is working at AYB different from your time in Maine?  To be honest, I prefer working in a full-service marine yard rather than focusing just on boat-building.  There is a lot more variety to the type of vessels and people that are coming through and every day and job is different. While it is fun to deliver someone's boat to them for the first time, there is nothing like getting people ready for the season or making an older boat look new again --- either way, at AYB we frequently blow people's minds with what we have done with an old friend.  I take tremendous pride in my work and there is a lot more personal interaction with the rest of the crew and with customers too.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that we also have four seasons here and aren't hibernating for a chunk of the year either.  You would think I would have been well-prepared for this past winter growing up in Maine, but the truth is that you get soft after a while being away from there.  My sister told me that would happen and it did!

Lifelong beachgoer Levi introduces a brand-new family member to the fun of a typical Maine summer day in the 1980s.  Copyright 2014 - Courtesy of Levi Surette. 

When not at AYB, do you spend a lot of time on boats? Interestingly, I spend a lot more time on land when I am not at AYB, but it is often at the beach or by the water.  The relationship to the water is a lot different in Maine than it is here.  It can be incredibly picturesque up there and lots of people make their money on the water one way or another, but the bays and ocean are so much more unforgiving.  I appreciate that I can hang out at the beach year-round down here and that I am not going to freeze to death (even in the middle of summer) when I dive in!  There is also a much larger and diverse crowd of people down here and a lot going on in general. The Hampton Roads area is a much bigger metropolitan area than where I am from originally. 

What is your dream place to visit and/or live?  I know it sounds corny to say it, but Virginia has been really ideal for me in a lot of ways.  There are lots of places around the country and around the world that I would like to visit, but this is where I prefer to live.  I might not get points for imagination, but I do for satisfaction about where I am.


Calendar of Events

This is just a sampling of all the great events going on this summer in the Tidewater area.  Click through and you might also find something else that interests you too when you do.  In the meantime, we hope you have a great time!
Sandstock - A Tribute to Rock & Roll
June 20-22, 2014
Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Virginia Beach, VA 

Virginia Beach Oceanfront, is a beach inspired variation on "Woodstock."  National and regional tribute artists who cover performers from Elton John to the Allman Brothers to the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin will crank out hit after hit on two beach stages at the Virginia Beach oceanfront!  All performances, which are free to the public, will be held on "dueling" stages on the beach at 24th Street, adjacent to the 24th Street Park.  Merchandise vendors will be featured in the park itself.  

Savage Ancient Seas: Dinosaurs of the Deep 
Now through January 2015
Mariner's Museum

Newport News, VA

This exciting new exhibition features more than 20 large-scale, magnificent skeletons and replicas of ancient marine reptiles, including the 45-foot long Tylosaur and the largest sea turtle ever found.  For more information about the exhibition which runs from May 2014 to January 2015, click here.  

Food Truck Hump Days at the Great Bridge Waterways
1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month, April 16-October 15, 2014

4:00 p.m. 
Battlefield Historical Park, Chesapeake, VA (across the ICW from AYB)

Join Eat the Streets 757 at Battlefield Historic Park on the first and third Wednesday of the month starting April 16 and ending October 15.  A huge variety of food truck gourmet dishes will be offered along with children's activities and live entertainment by the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation, the City of Chesapeake and friends!  All food trucks accept cash and credit although a minimum may apply for using credit.  10% of all sales will benefit the Great Bridge and Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation. 

25th Annual Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Food Festival 
June 20-22, 2014
Friday - Noon to 4 pm (ticketed)
Saturday - Noon to 10 pm (ticketed)
Sunday - Noon to 6pm (ticketed) 
Town Point Park, Downtown Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk's annual "second line" with New Orleans' special spirit and unique culture takes place in Town Point Park on the downtown Norfolk, Virginia waterfront.  The Annual Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival delivers the heart and soul of Louisiana to visitors of Town Point Park in true Cajun style. From New Orleans to Norfolk, two stages featuring national recording artists provide musical entertainment for the weekend.  Also on hand will be many local New Orleans musicians and artists. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

Yorktown Independence Day Celebration 
Friday, July 4, 2014
Yorktown Waterfront, Yorktown, VA 

Come salute America in the place where the British surrendered during the Revolutionary War.  Start your day along the Yorktown waterfront beginning with a 9 am patriotic parade on Water Street.  Evening activities feature: a bell-ringing ceremony at 7 pm, live musical entertainment at 8 pm at Riverwalk Landing, and spectacular fireworks on the York River at 9:15 p.m. Free. (757) 890.3500.

The 32nd Annual 4th of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks
Friday, July 4, 2014
5-10 pm
Downtown Norfolk Waterfront, Town Point Park, Norfolk, VA 

Leave the grilling to someone else this 4th of July and bring your family and friends down to Town Point Park to feast on traditional All-American fare, including hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue, seafood, buttered corn on the cob, juicy watermelon, lemonade.. with all the fixings and so much more.  Relax on the lawn and enjoy patriotic sounds by United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band. Then watch as the sky lights up with the fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.!  Free and open to the public.

Skyrockets in Flight
Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Select dates starting with July 4, 2014 

Let the patriotic pyrotechnics begin with a Virginia Beach firework spectacular.  From the rockets' red glare to the star-spangled sky, our oceanfront makes an awe-inspiring backdrop for summer fireworks - all season long.  The celebration begins on July 4th and continues throughout the summer and into October.  Don't miss the rare chance to wiggle your toes in the sand as the aerial excitement lights the sky - it's a blast.  For more information or to see specific dates, click here

Spirit of America - Fireworks in the Planetarium
Friday, July 4, 2014 at multiple times
Virginia Living Museum
Newport News, VA

Raining outside?  Can't stand the mosquitoes? All the good viewing spots taken? Come enjoy the most amazing Fourth of July laser displays in the Virginia Living Museum's nice cool planetarium! "Spirit of America" is a laser show full of great patriotic music. Shows at 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. $6. See website for playlist.

32nd Annual Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival
July 18-20, 2014
Friday & Saturday, 5pm-11pm
Sunday, 1pm-6pm
Town Point Park, Downtown Norfolk, VA 

Get your tickets for this festival featuring cool Jazz and warm summer nights return once again to Downtown Norfolk at the area's longest running outdoor Jazz Festival!  Friday-Sunday, Jazz enthusiasts will chill to the sounds of smooth jazz in the serene setting of the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront along the Elizabeth River.   

14th Annual Norfolk Latino Music Festival 
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Town Point Park, Downtown Norfolk, VA 

The sun goes down, the stars come out, and the largest outdoor dance floor in Hampton Roads heats up!  Free and open to the public.

East Coast Surfing Championships
August 17-24, 2014
Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Virginia Beach, VA

Celebrating its 51st year, ECSC is North America's Oldest Running Surfing Competition and the second oldest continuously-run surfing contest in the world.  More than 100 of the world's top professional surfers, male and female, and an estimated 300 amateur surfers will travel to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront to compete for combined cash prizes.  Held annually since 1963, it's more than just surfing. Other competitions include skim boarding, volleyball, an oceanfront 5K run, swimsuit and skateboarding events.  Live bands perform for free on an oceanfront stage throughout the weekend.  Costs are involved to participate in competitions, but all activities are free and open to the public. Click here to register and for more info. 
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