Turning off Highway 56 in Silver Point, Tenn., and following the narrow, winding road, it’s easy to forget you’re just an hour away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville. With vivid foliage, rolling hills and inviting blue water, you’ve stepped into a different world—one without the grind of ordinary daily life, filled with tranquility and ease.
Located on one of central Tennessee’s most popular and easily accessible lakes, Hurricane Marina on Center Hill is truly a boater’s paradise. Built in the 1950s and one of the oldest of the nine docks on the lake, Hurricane Marina underwent extreme renovations in 2005, turning it into a hot spot for visitors and slip rental customers alike.
Dock manager Bill Sloan has witnessed the growth of the marina from its early days to its current popularity.
“I’ve been working at the marina for almost 11 years now,” says Sloan. “The owners came to me and asked if I wanted to run a marina, which I didn’t know anything about. But I knew about boats and water, since I’ve been around it most of my life, and I said, ‘Sure, I’d like to try it.’”
Sloan began working at Hurricane Marina in 2005 when it had 285 slips; currently it has 580.
It Has It All
Today the marina offers houseboat and pontoon rentals, 24-hour fuel stations and security, a full-service store and a complimentary golf cart service that runs from the parking lot to the marina. Another attraction to the dock is Blue Water Grille, voted Best Restaurant on the Water by Nashville Lifestyles magazine, and run by gourmet chef Stephanie Falk. The restaurant and full bar offer daily specials along with menu items ranging from burgers, to salads and steaks. Throughout the year, the marina offers different events such as a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show, shrimp boils, live bands and karaoke.
Employee Joe Moore, who has worked at the marina for roughly six years, considers it much more than just a marina.
“I really enjoy all the people who are there. It’s just like a community—a small town all by itself. We pride ourselves on service to our customers, not just to people who have boats, but to everyone. We tend to like everybody out here,” says Moore.
There are approximately 100 houseboats docked at the marina ranging from smaller, fiberglass Gibson-type boats, to cruisers, to 110-foot-long houseboats. For many of these part-time residents, Hurricane Marina is not just a weekend getaway; it has become a second home.
Tamie Swah, married with one daughter, has rented a houseboat slip at the marina since October 2007. Swah owns a 1980 Gibson Executive and spends a lot of time at the lake.
“We are there pretty much every weekend once the weather gets warm,” says Swah. “All of my non-boating friends know to not invite me to anything from at least May to October on the weekends, because I won't be there.”
Charlie Bob Hughes, 72, who spent five years active in the Navy and 22 years in the Reserves, owns a 1999 Sharpe and has been at the marina since it underwent renovations.
“I’ve been going to Center Hill Lake since I was a little kid. I chose Hurricane Marina to keep my boat at because not only is it in the center of the lake, so it’s easy to get anywhere quicker than the other marinas, but also because it has a lot of amenities,” says Hughes.
Dane Alexander, an entrepreneur in his 40s, owns a 2007 Sharpe that was in the Louisville, Ky. National Houseboat Expo the same year.
“The boat that fell in my lap was located at Hurricane and I went there and loved it,” says Alexander. “I’ve been there five years and have loved it ever since. For the first three years we stayed there probably every weekend, but for the past couple years we go every weekend in the summer and probably once a month in the winter.”
Why They Do It
But what turned these three houseboat owners into houseboat lovers?
Swah, Hughes and Alexander all credit the family and social aspect that Hurricane Marina has to offer.
“When my oldest daughter was about 12, I was looking for something we could all do together and I thought about houseboating,” says Hughes. “I actually bought my first houseboat then and it’s something we all still enjoy today.”
Swah also believes that the activities offered by the marina make the houseboat experience even more fun.
“We enjoy all the events Hurricane has. I always look forward to the Fourth of July fireworks, and we usually bring our boat up to the front to enjoy the bands” says Swah. “Hurricane has a great clientele and we enjoy talking to anyone we meet.”
Within the past 10 years, Hurricane has seen tremendous growth not only in size, but also in popularity and accolades. The marina was awarded with the Green Marina achievement in June of this year and received a green flag from the Corps of Engineers, the award dealing with being environmentally sensitive to the lake. Hurricane and only one other dock on Center Hill have reached this achievement.
Hurricane Marina is in the planning stages of possibly expanding the dock with additional houseboat slips and making it even more fun and enjoyable. No matter what your favorite lake activity is, Hurricane Marina has it and more.