"Working in a brick-and-mortar store [where Annapolis Inflatables is located] is a lot different than racing boats and working on boats and being on the water," Tomkies said inside the showroom at Annapolis Inflatables. "It is one way to way to get back on the water. It's great for the family and kids to grow up around."

Gretchen Tomkies, who met her husband while working for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, agrees that it will be a great place for 4-year-old Willem and 2-year-old Henry to grow up.

"Once they get a little older, their free time will be spent around the water," said Gretchen Tomkies, who despite growing up 20 minutes from Lake Michigan outside Milwaukee never spent much time around boats until she met her husband. "Who knows? They might get their father's passion and one day turn it into a career."

For now, Tomkies is retreading and rewiring the two 120-foot, 20-slip docks — he will charge the boat owners for the actual wattage used rather than split the monthly electrical bill among anyone who rents a slip — and plans to add some luxuries such as a bathroom and washroom after replacing the portable potty the previous owners had for their customers.

The Tomkies are working with the South River Federation to help upgrade the shoreline along what the locals call Gingerville Creek. Boyd Tomkies said he will eventually remove the concrete blocks currently acting as a barrier and have sand, soil and native grasses along a "living shoreline."

"It's a lot better for the environment," he said. "It's a lot better for the creatures that live here."

It also seems better for Tomkies. As he looks at the South River from his future backyard, Tomkies said he has been told that "we have the best sunsets around." He speaks of the new house and marina, though both in need of renovation, as having "good bones."

But something seems to be missing.

Asked whether he has his own boat, Tomkies laughed.

"A shopful," he said. "I'm going to have to cross that bridge and sell my wife on [buying] a boat."


Marine and Maritime Career Fair

Where: Annapolis High, 2700 Riva Road

When: Feb. 25, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Who: For seventh through 12th graders in Anne Arundel County Schools

Admission: No charge

Information: Call Susan Nahmias at 410-295-3022 or email susan.nahmias@nshof.org