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Beach Party Necessities
Whether you're playing competitive games or relaxing with friends and family, celebrate spring by throwing a beach party.
HYDRO FORCE TROPICAL BREEZE ISLAND FLOAT
Stay cool, calm and comfortable on this inflatable breeze raft. Up to six people can recline on pillow backrests under a protective sunshade with easy access to cup holders for drinks. Complete with a swim-up platform, this raft lets you while away the day. ($229.99) vminnovations.com
If you're in the mood for an exciting day on the water, Bluefin's inflatable stand-up paddleboard gives the ultimate thrill. Your watersport buddies will love riding the waves on this advanced board. Complete with a kayak conversion kit and carbon rail and paddle, the board is customizable, so you can pick one shaped perfectly for you. ($699) bluefinsupboards.com
TROPICAL PALAPA RAFFIA TIKI HUT HAWAIIAN HULA BEACH UMBRELLA
Create your dream tiki party with this Hawaiian thatch patio umbrella. No need to worry about a windy day, because this umbrella is made of natural, weatherproof material. Grab a towel, a fruity drink and crank the reggae as you kick back under this eco-friendly tiki hut. ($119.77) easygo-products.myshopify.com
ROBOCUP PORTABLE CADDY
This multifunctional utility caddy provides a double cup holder and securely holds various items including fishing poles, tools, phones and keys. The spring-loaded clamps have a durable grip with UV-inhibitors to protect the resilient plastic material against the sun. ($24.99) therobocup.com
Combining deep-freeze capabilities with power consumption, the Dometic cooler keeps items fresh all day long. It's built with fender frames for outdoor durability and has a user-friendly interface for the powered cooler controls. The options may be a bit pricey, but the long-lasting guarantee will not disappoint. ($899.99) dometic.com
Stick your feet in the sand and your face to the sun with this cozy beach lounger. The supportive back and neck rest allows for long-term comfort while sitting around in social gatherings. This beach chair converts to a pillow, so it's easily compactable. ($149.95) helinox.com/collections/beach-chair
Fun & Games
TIPSY TOSS GAME SET
Give your strength and balance the ultimate challenge and bring this classic lawn game to the beach party. The Tipsy Toss full set includes two target poles, two bottles, one flying disc and a portable carrying case. Get extra competitive with this high-energy game and drop the other team's bottle off the pole with the flying disc to score. ($39.99) playgosports.com
This unique game is a fun twist on bocce ball combined with cornhole. You play by digging four-inch holes and trenches on each side to make a sandy court, and throwing an eight-ounce ball into the hole to receive points. What began as a Lowcountry classic game birthed on the sands of Folly Beach, SC, has blossomed into a popular item to bring along for beach parties. ($24.99) tidalball.com
This pretty pink flamingo ring toss is a perfect go-to for a beach or pool party. It's fun for tropical-themed events or just a chill day on the water. Toss a ring around the inflatable flamingo's neck and watch this classic game be a hit with friends. ($49.24) fishpond.com
Spring can be a mixed bag for many of our readers, for those in the northern latitudes who are looking forward to boating again, it's also time to prepare your annual tax returns. Even if you're civic minded, it's easy to ask yourself exactly what do I get from all this money I pay the government? It just so happens boaters get more than the average citizen.
Federal, state and local governments use a portion of the money they collect in taxes each year to support your favorite pastime. Actually, a surprising amount of money is spent annually to make boating safer and more enjoyable.
Keeping You Safely on Course
U.S. Coast Guard | Tidewater Muse[/caption]Let's begin with one of the most important yet least appreciated government agencies: the U. S. Coast Guard. I don't mean just in the comfort we get knowing they're there to save our bacon when we get in over our head. Can you imagine what it would be like to boat without navigation aids? No markers to tell if you're in the channel or about to run aground?
Put a price on the haul-out and repair from tearing up props and rudders, and you can already see tax dollars going back into your pocket. You can thank the men and women of the Coast Guard for being out in all kinds of weather making sure our route is clearly marked.
Keeping the marked channels dredged is a combined effort with funds provided by federal, state and local governments. Boaters regularly navigating the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), may not think enough is spent on dredging and maintaining it, and they might be correct, but we can be thankful the Coast Guard does a good job of keeping the markers moved to identify where deeper water runs through trouble spots.
Watching the Weather for You
Your favorite navigation app or chart plotter couldn't work without the information National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides for embedded charts. If you still use paper charts, you're equally dependent on NOAA for those as well.
NOAA also operates the National Weather Service. Can you imagine going boating without accurate weather forecasts? How about planning a day of fishing and not being able to predict what the wind and waves will be?
Staying safe on the water involves staying in touch with help and services on shore, as well as other boaters around you. The Coast Guard and NOAA made this easier with advanced features in VHF radio like the emergency Digital Selective Calling (DSC) button, wherein boaters with a properly programmed radio can call help to their exact location by pressing a single button.
Knowing what other boats around you are doing with Automated Identification Systems (AIS) has increased boater safety and enhanced the enjoyment of boating more than anything since the invention of VHF radios. The Coast Guard publishes everything you could possibly want to know about AIS, VHF and a host of other important information on the Coast Guard's Navigation Center website. Check out this well-organized site and be amazed at the wealth of information for recreational boaters. The AIS link to frequently asked questions: navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=AISFAQ
Building Nearby Boat Ramps
For many, access to the water is the local boat ramp, and most in this country are public ramps constructed and maintained by state parks and natural resource agencies. Without these publicly funded facilities, we all may have a nice view of the water, but it would be difficult or expensive to get out on it.
The quality of the coastal water these boat ramps give us access to has improved considerably in the last 50 years, thanks to four programs enacted by Congress. NOAA is celebrating its achievements of the last 50 years through "The Ocean Coastal Conservation Campaign" (noaa.gov/50-years-ocean-coastal-conservation)
As reported on NOAA's webpage: "Fifty years ago, in October 1972, the leaders of the nation took action and passed four key laws to help protect, conserve, study and inspire public appreciation for our coasts, Great Lakes and ocean: The Coastal Zone Management Act governs the use of our coastal zones through federal/state partnerships and created the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The Marine Mammal Protection Act protects and recovers marine mammals and their ecosystems. The National Marine Sanctuaries Act created the National Marine Sanctuary System. Lastly, the Clean Water Act regulates the discharge of pollutants into our waters."
Anglers may benefit more than cruising boaters with additional funds going toward maintaining healthy fishing grounds. The National Marine Fisheries Service provides funds for habitat research and protection. They also shell out grants to local communities to plant sea grasses and preserve wetlands, which act as nurseries for many coastal species, and develop artificial reef programs.
If it were up to road builders, boaters would be severely restricted in movement, but thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Bridge Administration, bridges over navigable waterways are not allowed to restrict maritime commerce. The next time an operator opens a bridge to let your boat pass beneath it, thank the Coast Guard for making that possible.
Except for a few public courses, the government doesn't spend much money helping golfers enjoy a round of golf or for skiers to hit the slopes. Hikers and campers make out okay with the National Park Service, but no other recreation receives more money than boating. The reality is much of this funding is allocated to support maritime trade and commerce, but recreational boaters receive a direct benefit as well. So, if you haven't paid your taxes yet, maybe knowing your next day on the water is made more enjoyable by government funds will make it easier to write the check.
Eric Ravenschlag is the Harbourmaster of Legacy Harbour Marina located in Fort Myers, FL.
What or who brought you to this marina?
Haywood Sullivan, founder of Legacy Harbour Marina. I lived across the street from the marina and watched it being built. At the time, I was commercial fishing in Alaska and raising a family in Fort Myers.
Thankfully Haywood hired me, which enabled me to transition from fishing to eventually becoming Harbourmaster.
If you didn't work at a marina, what would be your dream job?
Flying a float plane in the Caribbean. I've always had a passion to fly floatplanes. It is the best of both worlds flying and boating.
If you could spend a day on the water with anyone in the world, whom would you choose?
For ol' times sake, I would like to spend a day on the water with Ron and Wes Kellow, the two brothers who owned the fishing vessel, Winona J, in Kodiak, AK. They believed in a kid from Colorado and taught me a tremendous amount about seamanship and how to be a competent captain, as well as many other life lessons.
Where do you like to send people for an authentic dining experience when they arrive at your marina?
The Veranda, a Fort Myers tradition since 1978. The Veranda's romantic setting in two turn-of-the-century homes, combined with their Southern cuisine is a must-visit while in Fort Myers.
Describe yourself in three words.
Loyal. Dedicated. Persevering.
If you won a trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
My favorite place in the world: the North shore of Kauai in Hanalei Bay.
What is your favorite marine animal?
Orca or killer whales. They are the largest of the dolphins and the world's most powerful predator. It is an unbelievable display of power to watch these very intelligent creatures hunt for their prey in nature.
What's the best safety tip you can give to a new boater?
Marine education, education, education. You can never stop learning while on the water. My best advice is to practice with your crew what could go wrong and have a contingency plan for captain and crew. Some examples: man overboard, fire, sinking, medical emergency, grounding, dragging anchor, helping other vessels in distress, and operating your onboard ditch bag.
What is the one thing that everyone should do or see in Fort Myers?
It would have to be the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. You will explore 20 acres of historic gardens, a museum and a laboratory. It is amazing to think how many inventions these men are responsible for.
MORNINGSTAR MARINAS AT LITTLE CREEK, VA, a great cruising destination, has reached a new level of excellence with major renovations that every boater along the Atlantic Seaboard will want to stop by and see.
After acquiring the marina, Morningstar received permits to not only replace all the wet slips with new Bellingham docks but also adjusted the configuration to better suit coastal boaters. The upgrades included widening the slips, installing full-length fingers, and achieving 100% clear main walks using tri-frames for dock box placement and cantilevered mid-basin power pedestal bump outs. When you consider they also replaced the fuel and electrical systems, Morningstar Marinas Little Creek will become a premiere marina on the East Coast.Morningstar will exceed all boaters' expectations by offering 350 dry storage spaces in its fully enclosed building, 180 wet slips ranging from 25' to 75' and 400' of side tie. Amenities include a bath house, laundry room, and showers. Other upgrades include a new Toyota forklift, Wi-Fi, pump out, and new fueling stations with ValvTect gasoline and diesel.
As a backdrop to all these improvements, the location is a dream for recreational boaters and anglers. "Being nestled in the back of Little Creek gives boaters a protected basin from weather, but they're only minutes to the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean, James River and the entrance to the ICW," says Michael Quinn, General Manager.
Stony's Dockside Waterfront Bar & Grill allows our boaters to enjoy a wonderful meal within minutes of stepping off their vessel. Within walking distance are COVA Brewing Company, Longboards East Beach, and other local favorites. The warm waters at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay create a fishing paradise for anglers, and miles of easily accessible beaches entice visitors to dive in for a swim or just soak up the sun.
"The proximity to Norfolk and Virginia Beach's restaurants, shops and entertainment gives marina guests the conveniences of a big city backed up to an abundance of open water," notes Quinn. Regardless of whether you plan to stay annually or for a couple nights, a visit to Morningstar Marinas, next to Norfolk International Airport in the up-and-coming East Ocean View Section of Norfolk, presents endless opportunities and your gateway to all the Chesapeake Bay has to offer.
MILES OF LUSH FOLIAGE, hiking trails and stunning Cape Cod views make up the tranquil scene at Kingman Yacht Center.
This New England gem is an historic property and community along the northeast corner of Buzzards Bay. The spacious, full-service marina boasts 235 slips in renovated floating docks, as well as 130 moorings. That's room for 365 boats one for every day of the year!With easy access through the seven-mile canal, this destination is ideal for boaters looking for a calm, rural escape. Established in 1932, the site was originally a boat-building center for the U.S. Army, Navy and aircraft rescue boats during military conflicts such as the Korean War.The Kingman family ran this location until they sold it to current owner Scott Zeien in 2000. It became a recreational marina in the â50s. I grew up sailing here, and it really hasn't changed much in terms of the personality and the harbor, says Zeien. Our premier boatyard is a community of boaters enjoying one of the most beautiful natural harbors in New England.This retreat is centrally focused around two brands that make KYC: Kingman Yacht Center and Kingman Yacht Club, a thriving marina, service and sales facility, as well as social club where transients and members can enjoy exclusive benefits. Poised on a hilltop overlooking the marina, Red Brook Harbor Club townhomes span a luxury community alongside aquaculture farming and a water treatment plant that filters pollution out of local waterways.
KYC's on-site service center offers anything a boater could imagine such as repair, repower, electrical and more. Marina amenities include gas and diesel, laundry, yacht valet services, plus dock and dine. Check out Buzzards Bay Yacht Sales boat dealer and yacht brokerage for convenient, top-of-the-line vessels.The marina's famous Chart Room Restaurant serves fresh seafood garnished with beautiful sunsets from spring to fall. Try everything from fresh steamed mussels and seasonal fish to the creamy Chart Room Chowder.From May to October, KYC hosts weekly on-site activities, cruising rendezvous and events such as seminars, live music on the barge, fishing tournaments, lobster boil dinners and much more.
New England and Canada are known as major lobster hubs along the Atlantic, and Maine is one of the most famous regions in the world for these mouth-watering delicacies. For the freshest catch, Maine's top lobster-loving towns include Rockland, Bar Harbor, Belfast, Georgetown, Harpswell, Kennebunk and Ogunquit.
More than 6,000 species of crabs across the world vary in everything from appearance to taste. For example, Maryland crab fans meticulously pick the meat from under the crab's shell, while in Florida, they split open the legs and claws for a tasty treat. To experience the best Maryland blue crabs, visit cities such as Baltimore and Annapolis, as well as Kent Island on the Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore and Solomons Island in southern Maryland.
Although they are mostly ocean creatures, lobsters do frequently appear on land and sea. They are omnivores and sometimes eat their own when confined or stressed. You can find them throughout the world's oceans in freshwater and brackish environments. Some of the most delicious species are caught in the Gulf of Maine and along coastal Nova Scotia.
Typically found in saltwater or brackish water, thousands of different crab species live in all of the world's oceans. Like lobsters, some are land-crawlers. Many solely live in the water and others inhabit the edges along rocks and sandy shores. The best crustacean havens for crabbing include Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. Florida stone crabs are found in southern waters in shallow, rocky locations including knee-deep seagrass beds and reefs.
The sweet taste of lobster pairs well with your taste buds in any variation. Cook it in a gamut of dishes from steaming, grilling or boiling, to chopped-up in a warm soup or cold salad. Some of the most famous classics include a New England lobster boil, baked lobster tail, lobster mac and cheese, creamy bisque and much more.
Pick-and-eat crab feasts are a beloved pastime across the mid-Atlantic region. Catch, steam, season, crack open and scarf down! Use a mallet to break the claws open and get the good thick meat. Two varieties of crab soup creamy or tomato-based are popular along the East Coast, as well as dishes such as crab dip, crab Rangoon, crab pretzels and best of all the world-famous Maryland crab cakes.
Lobsters actually have two stomachs and can detach a limb and grow it back during their molting cycle. Today, lobsters are among the pricier seafood selections and are considered a delicacy, but that wasn't always the case. In early 19th century New England, lobsters were so abundant that their shells were used as fertilizer and their meat was fed to pigs as scraps.
Crabs are typically an aggressive crustacean and often fight with other crabs and aquatic creatures. They can walk in any direction and mostly scurry sideways. Unlike lobsters that can live to age 100, Atlantic crabs only survive for three to four years. Dungeness Crabs from Alaska can live up to 13 years, and the Japanese spider crab has the longest lifespan of all its fellow crustaceans, often reaching 80 to 100 years old.