By Stefanie Jackson – The Cape Charles Yacht Center is now operated by two business professionals from Maine with a plan to expand the shipyard into a superyacht service and refitting facility, adding as many as 130 new jobs in the next two years.
J.B. Turner and Nicole Jacques, partners in the new venture, both head up businesses based in the bay coast town of Belfast, Maine.
Turner is the co-owner, general manager, and president of Front Street Shipyard, a superyacht marina and construction and repair center founded in 2011.
Jacques is the owner of Rhumbline Communications, a marketing agency focusing on marine facilities, specializing in increasing market share for existing businesses and launching new businesses into the global market. She currently manages Front Street Shipyard’s marketing efforts.
According to a Cape Charles Yacht Center press release, the Cape Charles shipyard was established in 2013 by South Port Investors, a company owned by local developer Eyre Baldwin, with the expectation of eventually becoming a superyacht facility. With Turner and Jacques onboard, that expectation is set to become reality.
The deal between Baldwin and the Maine business partners was the result of about three years of talks. According to Jacques’ recollection, she and Turner first met Baldwin in Florida at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, when Baldwin approached Turner for ideas about how to make the yacht center more successful.
“We identified Cape Charles Yacht Center as an ideal location for superyacht service because it’s central for vessels traveling along the East Coast between New England and Florida,” Turner said.
“For years we’ve encouraged our customers at Front Street Shipyard to stop into Cape Charles when traveling south, and their feedback has been very positive about the location, quality of service, and amenities.”
Cape Charles Yacht Center boasts an 18-foot-deep channel, 1,000 feet of face dockage, and a 75-ton boat lift. It can accommodate yachts up to 200 feet long.
Its modern marina has both 30/50-amp single-phase power and 100-amp three-phase power. It offers shower and laundry facilities and a lounge area for ships’ crew members.
In addition to its central location on the East Coast, the Cape Charles Yacht Center is a short distance from downtown Cape Charles and its dining, shopping, and entertainment options, as well as the Bay Creek resort and golf course.
“We intend to maintain Cape Charles Yacht Center’s great reputation for service among their existing customers throughout the Chesapeake,” Jacques said.
“Our first initiative is to grow the yard’s talented workforce and equip them with more modern equipment so we can attract additional international vessels seeking service and major refits.”
The expansion plan includes constructing additional floating docks, acquiring a 600-ton mobile boat lift, and constructing a 30,000-square-foot service building that will accommodate the new lift.
The yacht center will remain in full operation during the expansion and is in development as a full-service shipyard for not just superyachts, but also recreational boats and commercial vessels.
The entire expansion, including construction of the 30,000-square-foot building, is expected to be finished in 2021. Currently, a smaller, four-bay service building is being built across the street from the yacht center’s main entrance on Bayshore Road.
Jacques said she and her business partner live and work in Maine full time, but they will stay deeply involved in the Cape Charles Yacht Center. They visit Cape Charles twice a month, and when they’re not in town they stay connected through video chat, email, and phone calls with the “great group of people” at the yacht center: office manager Renee Rice, dockmaster Rob Maguire, and service manager George Baker.
The yacht center currently has about 10 employees, but there may be as many as 140 by the time the business expansion is completed in 2021. The yacht center will be hiring riggers, mechanics, electricians, and carpenters. All previous experience will be considered – for example, if a mechanic has worked on cars and trucks but not boats.
Turner and Jacques are seeking input on their multi-year expansion plan from yacht owners, captains, crew, and potential employees. Responses should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
This story has been updated with additional information obtained during an Eastern Shore Post interview with Nicole Jacques and J.B. Turner.