Remember all the effort and cash spent to make sure the youngsters had a great time on the water? The tow-behinds, Flying Saucers – spinning, bouncing, sick-to-your-stomach thrill rides? Yeah, good times.

But I think it’s time for a romantic getaway for mom and dad.

Dump the little ones off at the grandparents’ and schedule a weekender by boat that will probably cost you less than all those toys. Of course, the kid’s stuff will still be around for scads more fun throughout the summer. But a great date weekend will provide fond memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Let me recommend a trip to Smithfield.

Getting there by boat from Lynnhaven Inlet is a 2-hour ride at most (faster if it’s calm and you own a go-fast). Your trip will take you west past Ocean View and the Navy base, past the Elizabeth River into the James, where you’ll head south on the Pagan River. You’ve got time – so go slow and enjoy the scenery, which will be plentiful.

Smithfield Station ( would be the destination that’d serve as a home port.

The marina has been around since Ron and Tina Pack opened it in 1986. Sons Randy and Brian now run the facility that has undergone lots of changes and upgrades over the years.

“It’s a wonderful destination on the lower bay that provides lots to share,” Randy said.

Smithfield Station still features the original building with 15 rooms, 27 slips, and a large restaurant that features fine dining in a modest setting.

“We get good reviews on the food,” Randy said. “It’s a simple, solid, seafood-focused menu. You know what you’re getting.”

But the facility now has a total of 100 boat slips and 44 rooms that feature some boutique suites and a pair of suites on two floors of a connecting replica Chesapeake Bay lighthouse. If you have a boat with sleeping quarters, you could just stay in your slip and enjoy what the historic downtown has to offer. Folks often do that when all the rooms are booked.

The marina is connected by a walking bridge to Windsor Castle Park and the old Main Street has lots of shops including an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Cocktails on the marina patio as the sun sets are a great way to relax before dinner – watching abundant wildlife that will include bald eagles and otters.

After dinner, head back to your room and enjoy a soak in the hot tub featured in several suites. Brunch at the restaurant mid-day Sunday before heading back east all chilled and relaxed for the coming week.

I’ll be looking for more destinations for boaters in the near future.

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