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Boating Slowly through the Lowcountry

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River Dunes

Southern hospitality just got a bit cozier at this North Carolina marina community.

In the town of Oriental, River Dunes’ 28-acre inland basin marina boasts 126 slips with full-length finger piers for vessels up to 150 feet. The protected deep-water harbor along the Pamlico Sound and mouth of the Neuse River offers easy access from the ICW.

When you arrive at River Dunes, not only will you find upscale amenities and friendly customer service, but you also step into a bustling Harbor Village packed with provisions, shopping, activities and luxury accommodations.

Unwind in the 4,000 square-foot wellness and fitness facility overlooking views of Grace Harbor and the Neuse River, or have a spa day in the lounge offering three treatment rooms for massages, facials and relaxation.

Dine on-site at Yawl’s Café in the heart of Harbor Village, grab ice cream, snacks and shop retail at Grace Harbor Provision Company, or explore interior design at The Red Rickshaw home furnishings showroom. Enjoy activities such as biking, exploring beautiful scenery, paddling the backwaters and fishing at the Lakehouse. A fuel dock and concierge boating services are available.

River Dunes is pleased to announce that they were chosen as this year’s 2022 Southern Living Idea House, an annual tribute to home design. Gorgeous wrap-around porches, hardwood floors, hand-painted stairs and more than 4,000 square feet of art, lavish furniture and intricate details make up the design of this home.

“We’re honored that Southern Living chose River Dunes,” says President Ed Mitchell. “Their selected team; architect, interior designer, builder and many others came together to create a magnificent house.” “They’re familiar with River Dunes’ quality of architecture and design, and they wanted to put this year’s house in a community that shares those same standards as their publication,” says Mitchell.

Marina guests and visiting boaters can tour the Idea House Thursday-Sunday until December. Guests can witness the harbor transform into a holiday village as the Southern Living team will return in November to decorate the house with seasonal cheer. Take advantage of the River Dunes Harbor Club and Marina for a uniquely relaxing stopover on the ICW or a longer stay with monthly and annual leases also available.

Marinalife members can enjoy a 10% discount on Idea House Tours at; code: MARINALIFE.

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Crossing the Gulf of Mexico

Our Journey Around the Big Bend Route

For those traveling the Great Loop or cruising from Florida’s panhandle to its west coast, crossing the Gulf of Mexico is often one of the most anticipated stages of the trip.

You can generally choose between two ways to approach the crossing—the Direct Route or Big Bend Route. Both routes typically start in Carrabelle, FL, and end at Anclote Key/Tarpon Springs, FL. The direct route is 150 nautical miles in open water with zero stops. The Big Bend Route covers 224 nautical miles that keeps you closer to the coast and includes several stops.

During our Great Loop, we always had our eyes set on the Big Bend Route. We wanted to see the towns along the coast, and cruising at 7 knots for 20+ hours straight didn’t sound very appealing. The preference for each route depends on the boater, boat (some channels can get skinny) and weather. Because both routes involve cruising in open waters, a good weather window during all of your travel days is highly recommended. We had a great weather window, a 3.5-foot draft and a very fun group of boats to travel with, making the Big Bend Route a perfect choice for us.

Starting Point: Carrabelle, FL

After filling up our fuel and water tanks, we attended the nightly meeting-turned-docktails of cruisers who planned to cross the Gulf the next day. At the meeting, we divided into groups based on preferred routes and boat speeds, so we could find our “pack” to travel with. Some boats can go 20+ mph and can do the direct crossing in a day, others may go a little slower and decide to start at night. We had countless options.

We stayed at The Moorings of Carrabelle and formed our pack with two other boats that had a fun crew, went our speed and chose to take the same route as we did. If looking for something to do while waiting to cross, walk or bike to the Bottle House, a pentagon-shaped structure with an accompanying lighthouse made with more than 6,000 glass bottles built by a retired art professor in his backyard. On your way, take a photo at the world’s smallest police station.

Stop 1: Dog Island

Estimated mileage: 7 NM

Instead of starting our crossing directly from Carrabelle, we decided to spend a night at Dog Island East Anchorage, the farthest protected waters from Carrabelle before entering the Gulf. While some start their Gulf crossing straight from Carrabelle, we wanted to have fun on the beach and dinghy around. Plus, it helped take an hour off the longest and most exposed leg of the journey. When approaching the island, follow the charts and use Google map satellite imaging to see where the shallow sections end.

Stop 2: Steinhatchee, FL

Estimated mileage: 65 NM

Steinhatchee is undoubtedly a sport fishing town. When we pulled up to Sea Hag Marina, we were captivated by the huge fish cleaning stations where fishermen were cleaning their catch from the day. Some restaurants were located about a 1.5 mile walk from the marina, but otherwise we didn’t find much else to see within walking distance. But the marina is protected and a secure place to tie up for the night after accomplishing the longest open water crossing of the Big Bend Route. The four-mile channel for your approach is well marked, but it can get busy with fishing boats.

Stop 3: Cedar Key, FL

Estimated mileage: 52 NM

Home to some of the best clam chowder in the country, Cedar Key has no shortage of things to do. It is almost entirely surrounded by water, tucked away in between islands where the town was originally located in the 1800s. You can find coffee shops, art co-ops, seafood restaurants (clamming is the big industry), a wildlife refuge and a local grocery store that has surprisingly good baby back ribs.

Also be sure to check out the cemetery on Atsena Otie Key Island to discover graves of early residents of Cedar Key from the 1800s. We stayed at Atsena Otie Key Anchorage and noted that a few channels flowed in and out of Cedar Key. We took the southern main shipping channel and didn’t have any issues with depth. The anchorage does not have a lot of protection if weather becomes rough.

Stop 4: Crystal River, FL

Estimated mileage: 36 NM

Manatees can only tolerate water temperatures above 68 degrees, so when the Gulf gets cold in the winter, manatees head up to Crystal River where natural freshwater springs guzzle water at a constant 72 degrees. This means more than 400 manatees come each year to hang in the Crystal River waters and protected areas without being disturbed.

It’s not uncommon to see manatees swim right up to your boat in the anchorage, but the best place to swim with them is a short dinghy, kayak or paddleboard ride up to the entrance of Three Sisters Springs. No boats are allowed in the protected springs, so bring your snorkel set, tie up your boat near the entrance and hop in for the chance to get up close with the manatees. If you’d rather see them by land, grab a shuttle from the Three Sisters Springs Visitors Center downtown to the park.

The town also hosts a selection of fun restaurants and shops, making it worth a stop. Coffee at Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters, lunch at Tea House 650 and seafood at The Crab Plant are some favorites. During this stop, we dropped anchor at Crystal River Anchorage, which is very protected and easy to get into town. Fuel is available nearby, and the pump out boat comes to you. We also noted that the marked channel is about 10 miles long and can be narrow and shallow at parts, so avoid going at low tide.

Stop 5: Tarpon Springs, FL

Estimated mileage: 64 NM

Anclote Key is the start of the intercoastal waterway on the west coast of Florida and where many boaters anchor for the night after their Gulf crossing if they can’t find a slip in Tarpon Springs. We luckily got a slip and were so glad we did, otherwise we would never have experienced Tarpon Spring’s rich Greek history and natural sponge markets. Attracted by the sponge harvesting industry, Greek immigrants came to Tarpon Springs starting in the early 1900s, and now it has the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the entire country. That means no shortage of excellent Greek food, pastries and culture, as well as a robust natural sponge market. We stayed at Belle Harbour Marina, but Tarpon Springs City Marina is also a great spot.

While the two routes provide different experiences, there really is no “right route.” Whichever way you go, the waters guarantee dolphin action, crab-pot dodging (hopefully not snagged like happened to us), and a celebration when you make it into port.

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Newport Beach, CA

Beach Time All The Time

If a West Coast trip is on your list, the largest recreational harbor should be at the top. The complex of Newport Beach, CA, is made up of multiple “villages’’ around the bay and farther south down the coast of Orange County. These smaller areas are Balboa Peninsula, Lido Marina Village, Mariner’s Mile, Balboa Island, Corona del Mar, Newport Center, Newport Coast and The Islands of Newport Harbor.

Balboa Pier | Michael Nyiri

Balboa Peninsula, which separates Newport Bay from the Pacific Ocean, is home to the Wedge, a world-renowned destination for bodysurfing. Thanks to its beautiful weather, water sports are possible year-round. On the other end of Balboa Beach, you’ll find one of two piers on Newport Beach, including Balboa Pier with Balboa Fun Zone just across the street. The Oceanfront Walk on Balboa Peninsula is the quintessential beach trail, ideal for walking, running or biking along the water.

If you’re in the mood for hiking, the Newport area is riddled with trails. For some rugged and stunning views, make the journey to The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve where wildlife and rocky cliffs abound. Nature lovers also have the opportunity at Newport Beach to go whale watching and visit the Environmental Nature Center.

For your shopping pleasure, Fashion Island in Newport Center is a high-end mall serving as a one-stop-shop. Try not to shop until you drop at the mall, as the boutiques, galleries and other shops dispersed throughout the villages, especially at Lido and Balboa Island, are also worth a visit.

Top off your day at the beach with a classic Balboa bar ice cream and find a place to watch the sunset before heading to Corona del Mar as night falls to cozy up at the fire circles.


CRC Marinas
With a total of 455 boat slips, upscale amenities and exclusive beachfront access, the Newport Harbor boasts four locations operated by CRC Marinas. From
west to east along Newport’s main channel, you can find Bayshore Marina, Balboa Marina, Villa Cove Marina and Bayside Marina, all with easy access to dining, local attractions and luxury resorts.


If you’re looking for a dining experience even celebrities would be envious of, reserve a table at the iconic Japanese restaurant for world-class sushi and a stunning view of the Lido Marina.

Tavern House Kitchen & Bar
Two veteran Orange County restaurateurs, David Wilhelm and Gregg Solomon, offer beautiful meals with a view at this waterside location. Tavern House’s menu is dominated by seafood dishes and comfort food.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
With an in-house sommelier, your meal will be a perfectly balanced California experience. Steak and fresh seafood, served with a side of live music, is the name of the game at Eddie V’s.

Beachcomber Cafe
at Crystal Cove
Only steps from the sand this tropical eatery specializes in California fare and has a bar with a thatched roof that compliments cool, summery cocktails.

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Myrtle Beach, SC

The Classic Beach Town

Myrtle Beach has come a long way from its first hotel, Seaside Inn, which opened in 1901. Visitors at Seaside would pay a rate of $2 a night, and that included three meals. Now, Myrtle Beach is home to countless hotels and resorts.

The shifting dunes of Myrtle Beach have been home to Spanish colonists, pirates and U.S. military establishments, almost as transient as the seasonal hurricanes. The first inhabitants of the land, the Waccamaw and Winyah people, established the trail that is now Kings Highway, a local route to Savannah and Charleston. The South Carolina coast, also known as the Grand Strand, briefly hosted a Spanish settlement that was the site of the first rebellion by enslaved Africans in North America. Over the next 200 years, the South Carolina coast became a popular pirate hunting ground, most notably home to Blackbeard and Drunken Jack.

The pirates had the right idea. By land, colonizers found the Myrtle Beach area largely inaccessible, so it wasn’t until almost another 200 years that it became a vacation spot. However, by boat, Myrtle Beach is much more approachable.

For 50 years, beginning in the 1940s, Myrtle Beach was used as a military base, first for the U.S. Army Air Corps, then as the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. The demolition of the base in the 1990s made way for a shopping hub and town center, the current Market Common. There you find restaurants, shopping, a lake with walking paths and recreational fields. If you’re looking for a meal or more shop- ping after visiting the quirky souvenir shops near the shore, this is the place.

The modern developed ocean front is dotted with hotels, amusement parks and minigolf. Regular sized golfing opportunities are also abundant with many courses to choose from. Myrtle Beach doubles as a family friendly vacation spot and a lively destination for an adult getaway. If you’re with the kids, check out the Ripley’s locations. The aquarium is a crowd pleaser no matter your age. Broadway at the Beach is an entertainment center that caters to all ages with a museum, theater and more.

No matter your fancy, you’ll find something at Myrtle Beach. Make sure your itinerary includes a ride on the SkyWheel and a walk along the pier for amazing views of the South Carolina coast.


Grande Dunes Marina
Centrally located on the ICW, this full-service marina offers 126 wet slips accommodating power or sail up to 120’. The facilities are adjacent to Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, offering deluxe suites, vacation packages and easy access to local attractions.

Osprey Marina
This secluded marina situated just off the ICW on a private, deepwater channel offers 135 wet slips and 142 indoor dry slips. The fuel dock accommodates vessels up to 90’, and complimentary pump-out services are available.

Harbourgate Marina Club
This full-service 100-slip marina is located at an upscale resort in North Myrtle Beach. Amenities include a fuel dock, harbor store, plus activities including jetski rentals and dolphin cruises.


Sea Captain’s House
Built in 1930, this iconic eatery is known for its stunning view of he water and delicious seafood, but their brunch menu has also become quite popular.

SeaBlue Restaurant & Wine Bar
Presenting fine dining on the Grand Strand, this upscale restaurant’s menu features contemporary, farm-to-table American dishes, paired with an award-winning wine list.

Fire & Smoke Gastropub
The pub’s new menu features small plates, seafood and entrees, and brings some of the finer things, like handcrafted cocktails, to a family-friendly dining experience.

Dead Dog Saloon
Located in Murrels Inlet just south of Myrtle Beach, this casual spot on a waterfront boardwalk dishes up seafood steam pots, fried local catch and meat dishes ranging from wings to BBQ. Come dance to music or watch goats nibble on marsh grasses nearby.

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Visit the Scenic and Historic Kent Island, MD

When cruising the Chesapeake Bay and reaching the midsection where the Bay Bridge straddles the Eastern and Western shores, many boaters think of Kent Island as just a convenient stop for fuel and provisions. But taking time to explore this island reveals a lovely destination teeming with an array of amenities and attractions.

Historic Stevensville Cray House | Credit Susan Elnicki Wade

As the largest island in the Bay (nearly 32 square miles), its 157 miles of shoreline offer plenty of places to dock. Most of the restaurants, bars, hotels and commercial activity happens along Route 50, especially around Kent Narrows, the passage spanned by a bridge that delivers guests to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The lower part of the island is home to gracious homes, cornfields and coves where watermen harvest their daily catch.

Terrapin Nature Park, on the northwest section of the island, is home to a 3.2-mile walking trail that presents spectacular views of the Bay Bridge and introduces hikers to woodlands, tidal pools and wildlife. Walkers and bikers relish the flat, easy terrain. A few miles south, Matapeake Park offers a clubhouse, picnic area, woods for shade and a beach with a canine section where the entire crew — including Fido — can take a dip.

Along Route 50, the busy highway that leads to the Delaware beaches, stands an historic marker that declares this land in 1631 became the first English settlement in Maryland and the third oldest in America after Jamestown, VA, and Plymouth, MA. For centuries, the island was home to fishing villages and farms. The walking tour of Stevensville showcases the Victorian architecture in restored houses and train station.

Cascia Vineyards | Credit Susan Elnicki Wade

Modern attractions include some unexpected amenities: two small airports located near marinas and two vineyards (Love Point Vineyards and Cascia Vineyards) on gorgeous waterfront properties. Cult Classic Brewery and Oh My Chocolates round out the secret indulgences.

Take a tour of Paul Reed Smith Guitars that designs instruments for celebrity musicians such as Carlos Santana and John Mayer, putt on smooth greens at Blue Heron Golf Course, or enjoy a seagull’s perspective on Delmarva Balloon Rides.

When all this outdoor fun leaves you wanting a bite or a brew, Kent Island’s restaurants accommodate any whim from the casual Big Owl’s Tiki Bar to the upscale Kent Island Resort. Most are clustered around Kent Narrows; all present stellar sunsets.


Bay Bridge Marina
Conveniently located at the base of the Bay Bridge, this marina accommodates vessels from 30 to 50 feet. Resort-level amenities include fuel, full-service yacht yard, two ship stores, bar and restaurant, swimming pool and more.

Kentmorr Marina
This angler’s paradise hosts 20 charter boat captains for excursions to hook rockfish, bluefish and other delicacies. Vessels up to 45 feet are welcome, and guests enjoy amenities such as fuel, two fish-cleaning stations, and a restaurant and tiki bar with a view of the bridge.

Piney Narrows Yacht Haven
The sheltered marina offers 278 open and covered slips for boats up to 67 feet. Pump out is free with fuel purchase, and repair services are on-site. Other amenities: swimming pool, picnic area, boaters’ lounge, nearby restaurants, bars, charter captains and great destinations nearby.


Amalfi Coast
Classic coastal Italian cuisine, from fresh insalate to pasta and pizza, gets rave reviews at this cozy eatery in historic downtown Stevensville.

Libbey’s Coastal Kitchen & Cocktails
Under new management this year, Libbey’s presents spectacular sunsets over the Bay Bridge at its indoor seating and large outdoor deck, while serving a nice sampling of dishes from the land and sea.

Kentmorr Restaurant & Crab House & Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar
Since 1954, this crab house has impeccably prepared Chesapeake cuisine at a charming marina. The thatched roof tiki bar on the beach creates a kick-back summer vibe.

Harris Crab House
Family-owned for five generations, this iconic Bay eatery serves regional seafood year-round, featuring local steamed crabs, oysters and fried rockfish. The seafood processing plant next door guarantees freshness with every bite.

Red Eye’s Dock Bar
This recently expanded hot spot delivers entertainment from the lone acoustic guitarist to six-piece rock bands and the Father’s Day Bikini Contest. Pub food covers the standards with wings, sandwiches, nachos, crab cakes and more.

Fisherman’s Inn & Crab Deck
For decades, this traditional crab deck and seafood house has welcomed visitors to Maryland’s Eastern Shore cooking with a fantastic waterfront view and steamed crabs and oysters from the region.

Bridges’ open and breezy design sets a beautiful stage for dining indoors or on its expansive deck. The chef takes a contemporary spin on fresh seafood, sandwiches, salads and pizza, while guests relish spectacular Kent Narrows views.

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Dock & Dine on Long Island Sound - PART 2

In Marinalife's spring issue we explored the wonderful restaurant offerings along the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound (LIS). Of course, the Sound has correspond-ingly delicious and tempting culinary delights along the New York side as well. In this issue, we will explore them as we make our way from the eastern end of LIS where it joins with The Race and Block Island Sound to its western end approaching New York City. The following destinations offer a sampling of the many fabulous restaurants on Long Island. We also hope they introduce you to the quaint and historic maritime villages that also abound.

East to West on the Long Island, New York Shore

At the Eastern end of Long Island Sound to the south lies Gardiners Bay between the two forks of Eastern Long Island. Many great restaurant options await you here, including Claudio’s in Greenport, Il Capuccino in Sag Harbor, and Inlet Seafood in Montauk.


Wave Seafood Kitchen

Located at Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa, the eatery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can find this charming spot on the waterfront near historic Port Jefferson Village and enjoy the delicious results of its “farm to table” concept.

Joey Z’s

This is where the locals go in Port Jeff Village. The menu is extensive and eclectic, from Mediterranean to Greek and seafood to waffles and even fondue. Come for breakfast, lunch and dinner to enjoy indoor and outdoor dining.

Tommy’s Place

Visit this great family dining spot located just a five-minute walk from the Port Jeff Ferry. Find your favorite among 30+ beers on tap including local craft brews. Guests like the energetic American tavern vibe with some twists on the usual pub fare and seafood.

Gourmet Burger Bistro

This casual dining eatery is known for good upscale burgers and toppings, plus a creative menu that includes mushroom caps on pretzel roll and specialty drinks.

PJ Lobster House

Visit this Port Jeff institution since 1995 that offers fresh and varied dishes. PJ’s supports local commercial fishermen and diggers to provide top quality fish and seafood. Large dining room and sports bar feature plasma TVs with a casual and friendly vibe. It’s very popular; reservations suggested.


Mirabelle Tavern

The historic Three Village Inn’s elegant eatery offers refined French cuisine in a casual and comfortable setting. Savor French bistro classics with American comfort foods, as well as fresh-meets-French, farm-to-table prix fixe.


The Whales Tale

Located at Brittania Yachting Center, The Whales Tale reflects the eclectic nautical vibe of the Northport area. They offer craft beers and local seafood such as fish tacos, soft shell crab and other uniquely prepared dishes. Laid back indoor and outdoor seating available.

The Ritz Cafe

Stroll into this unassuming little bar near the waterfront to discover continental fare and a bargain prix fixe brunch (try the crab benedict and a Bloody Mary). Savor the seafood, steaks and pasta, as well as comfort foods for the kids. Choose indoor or patio dining.

Bistro 44

Treat yourself to New American cuisine with an elegant, modern and chic ambiance. The classy setting with 1850s woodwork and heated patio offers pre-theater dining steps away from Long Island’s only year-round Broadway music hall, The John W Engeman Theater.

Tim’s Shipwreck Diner

Homemade blintzes, pancakes and burgers star at this vintage railroad car diner for breakfast and lunch. Family run for over 50 years, their friendly service and homemade classic food are featured with a nod to updates like cold brew coffee and stuffed crab.


Il Posto di Joey

This classic northern Italian eatery with Tuscan-style decor offers a waterfront view, patio dining and late-night dancing. Run by an Italian family that values old world charm and fine dining that showcases seafood. Great location for lunch and dinner groups.


Spoil yourself at this high-end restaurant with surf, turf and brunch at a place with a refined interior and heated deck overlooking the harbor. Business casual attire. Reservations needed.


Wall’s Wharf

Panoramic views of the sound draw fans to this upscale seafood venue in Bayville with beachfront seating. For years, the historical centerpiece in the town has served seafood from the local catch, sushi, baked stuffed clams, and homemade soups to the locals and visitors. Spectacular views.


La Motta’s Dockside Restaurant

Festive locale on the water with beautiful views of Manhasset Bay Marina and historic Port Washington. The kitchen favors seafood and contemporary American cuisine.
An outdoor tiki bar features food, tropical cocktails, live music and dancing. The new boat-side service sends a waiter to your boat who serves you on board.

Louie’s Grill & Liquors

Have fun at this iconic seafood spot dating to 1905 with deck seating and bay view, plus an oyster bar, large selection of seafood, weekly bands, mahogany bar, and Saturday and Sunday brunch. Plenty of boat parking (cars, too).

Ayhan’s Mediterranean Marketplace

Take a seat at the roomy gourmet deli featuring breakfast, sandwiches and pita pizzas, plus big windows with waterfront views. Sample a unique selection of Mediterranean hot and cold appetizers, salads, dips, entrees and pastries. Freshly prepared sandwiches and wraps are popular.

Bosphorus Cafe Grill

This Mediterranean restaurant specializes in authentic Turkish cuisine and seafood offerings such as Branzino, sea bass served fileted or grilled. Bosphorus is a short walk from Manhasset Bay.

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Spectacular Spans: A Tour of America's Great Bridges

They come in all shapes and sizes, lengths and locations, ages and angles. For boaters, America’s coastal bridges are a fairly common sight, one that often goes unappreciated and undervalued, especially when most of us only get to see them up close from underneath — a unique perspective not often enjoyed by the general public.

Here are the stories of nine of our country’s famous bridges that span America’s frequently traveled waterways, along with fascinating facts that you can share as you sail under or drive over them.

Brooklyn Bridge

Perhaps the world’s most recognized span, this 139-year-old granddaddy of bridges took about 13 years to construct, linking Manhattan to Brooklyn and comprising the East River’s first fixed crossing. As the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1883, its main span measures 1,595 feet and deck rises 127 feet above the river’s surface.

Its building was a true family affair, designed by John Roebling who died unexpectedly after an injury he sustained in the early stages of the bridge’s construction. He was succeeded by his son, Washington who suffered a paralyzing caseof caisson disease. Unable to supervise construction in person, he directed the work from his nearby apartment using a telescope overlooking the site, while his wife Emily delivered handwritten instruction notes to the engineers.

Located between Piers 4 & 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River is the new ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina with 100 slips for vessels up to 300+ feet. Estuary, the marina’s flagship restaurant, features new American cuisine, and the park is home to numerous restaurants, shops and cafes.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge (aka the Bay Bridge)

Soaring above Chesapeake Bay, this dual-span bridge connects Maryland’s densely populated Western Shore with the more rural Eastern Shore, running between Annapolis and Stevensville. The original two-way span opened in 1952; a parallel span was added in 1973 to alleviate congestion. It was only marginally successful.

Especially in summer, the bridge is often referred to as “the world’s tallest traffic jam,” packed bumper-to-bumper nearly 200 feet above the Bay. Because of its height, narrow spans, low guardrails and frequent high winds, the Bay Bridge is cited by some as one of the scariest crossings in America. But to west-bound travels, the sun setting over its tall towers and curved steel girders is a spectacular sight.

Located at the eastern base of the bridge on Kent Island is Bay Bridge Marina, which accommodates boats up to 70 feet. Sandy Point State Park Marina awaits on the westside for day use and fueling. Several other marinas are nearby.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT)

Hailed as one of the great engineering marvels in the world when it opened in 1964, the original CBBT required the construction of four artificial islands, two miles of causeway, nearly six miles of approach roads, two-mile-long tunnels, four high-level bridges and 12 miles of trestle. It crosses the Chesapeake Bay between Cape Charles on the Delmarva Peninsula and Virginia Beach on the mainland.

The CBBT crosses two key East Coast shipping lanes. High-level bridges were initially proposed to span these channels, but the U.S. Navy objected to a bridge over one of the channels, because a collapse could cut off the Norfolk Naval Station from the Atlantic.

Cape Charles Yacht Center and Cape Charles Harbor Marina on the west side of the Delmarva Peninsula put you in the middle of the quaint shoreside town of Cape Charles and its charming shops, restaurants and accommodations.

Florida Keys Seven Mile Bridge

Among the world’s longest bridges when it was built, Seven Mile Bridge connects Knight’s Key in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. Actually two bridges, the newer span is open to vehicular traffic; the older is only for pedestrians and cyclists.

The older bridge was constructed in the early 1900s as part of the Key West Extension of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway. After the Keys section of the railroad was damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Flagler sold it to the U.S. government, which convert edit to automobile use. Unsupported sections were added in 1935 to widen it for vehicular traffic, and the railroad tracks were recycled, painted white and used as guardrails.

Near the center, the bridge rises, providing a 65-foot clearance for boat passage in Moser Channel on the ICW. The remainder of the bridge is considerably closer to the water’s surface. Several marinas are on the Marathon end of the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

Named one of the Wonders of the Modern World by American Society of Civil Engineers, the 1.7-mile bridge was the world’s longest and tallest suspension bridge when it opened in 1937. Originally designed by engineer Joseph Strauss in 1917, the final design was conceived by Leon Moisseiff, engineer of New York City’s Manhattan Bridge.

The relatively unknown residential architect Irving Morrow designed many of the bridge’s Art Deco features, but his most famous contribution was its unique color, international orange. Others preferred that it was painted aluminum, dull gray, and the U.S. Navy suggested black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility by passing ships.

The water under the bridge is often turbulent, given the clash of the silt-heavy Bay waters and the cold Pacific Ocean currents. Consequently, recreational and commercial traffic are carefully monitored and regulated. Looking to dock and dine nearby? Try the north end of the bridge. Le Garage at Schoonmaker Point Marina in Sausalito serves innovative French cuisine, and at the casual eatery, Fish, place an order at the counter and sit at one of the picnic tables overlooking Clipper Yacht Harbor.

Mackinac Bridge

The engineering marvel often called “Mighty Mac” is the longest suspension bridge with two towers between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere, with a shoreline-to-shoreline length of five miles. Opened in 1957, it took three and a half years to build, because Michigan’s harsh winters limited construction to the summer months. Engineers faced daunting challenges. The Great Lakes freeze during the winter, causing large icebergs to place enormous stress on the bridge’s base.

The total length of wire in the main cables is an amazing 42,000 miles, enough to wrap around the Earth nearly twice. Painting the bridge takes seven years; when workers finish, they immediately start again. Locals note that the current in the Straits of Mackinac frequently changes direction, and when combined with wind-blown waves, churn from passing freighters and rebound off the bridge pilings, boating under and near the bridge can be challenging.

St. Ignace on the Upper Peninsula has a full-service public marina with 136 slips and is close to shops, cafes and restaurants, like the Mackinac Grille & Patio Bar.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

One of Florida’s most iconic sights, the current Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened in 1987 and is the second bridge of that name on this site. The striking cable-stayed span connects the St. Petersburg peninsula to Terra Ceia, just north of Bradenton. The original bridge opened in 1954. A similar structure was built parallel and to the west of it in 1969 to make it a four-lane bridge.

In 1980, the freighter MV Summit Venture collided with one of the bridge’s supports during a storm, causing the
southbound span to collapse and sending vehicles into Tampa Bay. After the disaster, the northbound span was converted to carry one lane in either direction until the current bridge opened.

If you’re headed into Tampa Bay, Terra Ceia Preserve State Park is on your starboard side, a 2,000-acre mangrove forest and wetlands offering kayaking, fishing and nine miles of hiking trails. At the St. Pete end of the bridge, check out O’Neill’s Marina near Maximo Park.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The name Tacoma Narrows Bridge has been given to three different incarnations of this span connecting the city of Tacoma with the Kitsap Peninsula to the west. The original bridge opened in 1940 and spectacularly collapsed just four months later due to design flaws that resulted in what was termed “aeroelastic flutter.” It was replaced by the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1950, which is still used for westbound traffic. A third parallel span opened in 2007 to carry eastbound traffic.

The collapse of the original bridge — nicknamed Galloping Gertie — had a major impact on the field of bridge aerodynamics, which influenced the design of all the world’s long-span bridges built since 1940. The newsreel footage of the collapse can still be viewed on
YouTube today.

Just south of the bridge you find Narrows Marina with transient docks that offer 375 linear feet of three-hour complimentary
guest side ties and 13 overnight moorage slips. The Narrows Brewing Company and Boathouse 19 restaurant are steps away.

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

This massive suspension bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island opened in 1964 after decades of on-again off-again planning and five years of construction.
Each tower is made up of more than a million tons of metal, one million bolts and three million rivets. The four main suspension cables are 36 inches in diameter, and each is composed of 26,108 wires totaling 142,520 miles in length. Due to thermal expansion of the steel cables, the upper roadway’s height is 12 feet lower in summer than in winter.

The double-decker bridge carries 13 lanes of traffic, seven on the upper level and six on the lower level. Both the upper and lower roadways are supported by trusses that stiffen the bridge against vertical, torsional and lateral pressure — thanks to lessons learned from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse in 1940.

Fort Wadsworth, at the Staten Island end of the bridge, is one of the oldest military installations in America, built in the early 1800s to protect the Narrows. In 1994, the U.S. Navy turned Fort Wadsworth over to the National Park Service.

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Discover the Charm of Niagara-On-The-Lake

Tucked into the southwest corner of Lake Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is often referred to as the most picturesque little town in Canada. Granted, it may not be as well known as nearby Niagara Falls, but what it lacks in popularity it more than makes up for in beauty and charm.

NOTL, as the locals call it, has a long, distinguished history: first as the site of the indigenous village of Onghiara, then later as a settlement for British Loyalists after the American Revolution. In 1792, Newark, as it was then known, became the first capital of the new colony of Upper Canada, where the legislature met for five sessions until the capital was moved to York (later renamed Toronto).

The thriving town was burned to the ground by Americans during the War of 1812, but locals refused to abandon the strategic location, rebuilding and turning it into a bustling commercial center by the mid-1800s with a busy shipbuilding industry, shops, warehouses and stately brick mansions.

NOTL’s historic charm is what keeps visitors coming back year after year to stroll the quaint streets, enjoy fine hotels and cozy B&Bs, dine in top-flight restaurants and travel back to a leisurely era. Historic stops include the Old Court House Theatre (1847); St. Vincent de Paul (Ontario’s oldest Catholic Church); St. Mark’s Church (Ontario’s second oldest Anglican Church); McFarland House (oldest building in town, now a museum and tea room); and Niagara Golf Club (oldest continuously operating golf course in North America).

Mark on Flickr

Another big draw is the world-famous Shaw Festival, featuring the works of noted playwright George Bernard Shaw, his contemporaries and plays about the era when he lived (1856–1950). The festival is held every year from April to December, using four NOTL theaters (the Festival, Jackie Maxwell Studio, Royal George and Court House Theatre) and offering more than 750 performances each season.

The region’s wineries are also worth a visit, with more than two dozen in the immediate area. The Strewn Winery, located west of Historic Old Town along Four Mile Creek, operates the Wine Country Cooking School, hosts hands-on classes between March and November, and teaches how to prepare recipes with local and seasonal ingredients.


Niagara-on-the-Lake Sailing Club

Located on the Niagara River, it’s steps from NOTL’s Historic Old Town. It offers 191 slips, a clubhouse and fuel dock, and has reciprocal arrangements

Port Dalhousie Pier Marina

Technically in St. Catharines, next door to NOTL, this marina has more than 400 slips equipped with 30-amp shore power and security gates, and accommodates boats up to 100 feet with up to a 14-foot draft. Fees include security, water, Wi-Fi and unlimited pump-out.

St. Catharines Marina

Located near the entrance of the Welland Canal, this 40-year-old marina can host 185 boats up to 70 feet long with a draw of 5 feet. Facilities include fuel dock, full retail store, snack bar and boat repair services, as well as waterfront camping.

Smuggler’s Cove Boat Club

Smuggler’s Cove Boat Club is located 1.5 km upstream from NOTL on the Niagara River. It has 60 slips, two mooring fields, club house, BBQ deck and fuel dock. SCBC has reciprocal agreements with many clubs along Lake Ontario on the Canadian and American sides.


Cannery Restaurant

This romantic spot in the Pillar and Post Hotel uses local ingredients to elevate its menu of steaks, chops and seafood, pairing each dish with wines sourced from regional and international vineyards. Try the squash & Granny Smith apple soup or the New York Cajun striploin.

HobNob at the Charles

Executive Chef Beil Wang showcases his culinary skills at the Charles Hotel’s signature eatery, emphasizing what he calls “laid back, yet exquisite indulgence” in dishes. The setting is a beautifully restored 1832 manor house that overlooks Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club.


The Prince of Wales Hotel houses this French-inspired, fine-dining spot. Entrees like the hand-cut pappardelle pasta with pancetta, cream, chardonnay, parmesan, fried duck egg and black truffle salsa are what make it a four-diamond restaurant year after year.

Olde Angel Inn

The Olde Angel Inn is one of the oldest pubs in Ontario, built in 1789 as the Harmonious Coach House. You can still see the exposed hand-hewn beams and thick plank floors laid down when it was rebuilt in 1815 after a fire. Expect to find hearty, English-style food and drink, and an ample serving of history.

Treadwell Cuisine

Since 2006, Treadwell has focused on local, farm-to-table cuisine, showcasing the region’s top artisan producers. Enjoy inventive dishes such as chilled pea and mint soup and honey and roasted duck breast, along with an extensive list of local wines.

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Chesapeake Bay Calendar of Events

Summer is here, and it’s time to soak up the sun, visit bustling beaches, learn about boating history and relish the small-town charm around the Chesapeake Bay. Read on for hidden gems and tried-and-true events along the Bay, all the way from Havre de Grace to Cape Charles. Whether you’re a fan of watersports, arts and crafts, street festivals, or coastal cuisine, you’ll find something worth docking for a while.


Yorktown Farmer's Market/ Tony Alter on Flcikr

Yorktown Market Days, Fun in the Sun Market

Yorktown, VA

July 16 - Fun in the Sun Market;

August 6 - National Farmers Market Week

Experience a coastal Hampton Roads market on the York River. Check out local produce, meats, seafood, gourmet dog treats, art and more every Saturday this summer, and stop by one of the dates above for a themed, family-friendly extended market.

Where to Dock: Riverwalk Landing

Spirit of America

Havre de Grace, MD

July 2

Enjoy this beautiful town through a mid-century Americana lens at the Independence Day festival. You won’t want to miss the Patriotic Pooch contest, 50s throwback entertainers and best of all, derby races on Pennington Avenue.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

Sea Glass & Beach Crafts Market at Annmarie

Solomons, MD

July 2

Kick off the holiday weekend at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center’s annual beach-themed market. Browse all things crafty and sea glass at over 50 booths!

Where to Dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Kent County Waterman’s Day

Rock Hall, MD

July 3

For the first time since 2019, stop by and celebrate watermen who dedicate their lives to working on the Chesapeake! Enjoy a day of family fun, including anchor tosses and a raffle, culminating in the infamous boat docking.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association’s 49th Annual Show

Easton, MD

July 7-10

Calling all car, truck and train enthusiasts! This multi-day show will be packed with steam and gas engines; antique tractors, trucks and cars; live steam train models; and even a horse pull.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

Chesapeake Stand Up Challenge

Annapolis, MD

July 9 

Sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club, this open water race has something for all levels. Experienced paddlers can fight it out in the seven-mile Challenge, and recreational paddlers will enjoy the 3.5-mile Challenge or one-mile Just for Fun race.

Where to Dock: Eastport Yacht Center

Plein Air Easton Art Festival

Easton, MD

July 17-24

Plein air painters express their craft from life instead of the studio, so you’ll see artists from across the country painting all around town. Also attend lectures and workshops, and buy art and other goods downtown all week. 

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

14th Annual Hampton Heat

Hampton, VA

July 23

Dock at the transient slips in downtown Hampton, then join the landlubbers at Langley Speedway, one of NASCAR’s best weekly tracks, for the annual Hampton Heat races.

Where to Dock: Bluewater Yachting Center

Southern Maryland Boat Club Bash on the Bay

Leonardtown, MD

July 29-31

Since the Calvert Marine Museum opened an exhibit on the golden era of powerboat racing in 2013, this vintage boat club has put on several races a year. Make your way to the historic Leonardtown Wharf to see vintage powerboats in action.

Where to Dock: Combs Creek Marina

2022 Snakehead Summer Slam

July 30

Annapolis, MD

Things are sure to heat up at the fourth of five tournaments in the 2022 Snakehead Championship Series at Anglers Sport Center. Anglers in kayak/shoreline and boating divisions will be up for all kinds of prizes, including one from the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland’s Great Chesapeake Invasive Count.

Where to Dock: Podickory Point Marina

Annapolis Yacht Club Two Bridge Fiasco Race

Annapolis, MD

July 31

Cruise to the southern Chesapeake to witness this pursuit style race starting between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Severn River Bridge. Look out for all types of boats in the competition, and even a foiler or two if you’re lucky.

Where to Dock: Annapolis Yacht Club


Annual Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival

Cordova, MD

August 5-7

Embrace the Eastern Shore summer lifestyle at this family-friendly festival. Feel the adrenaline rush of hot air balloon rides and keep the thrill going on the mechanical bull and bouncy house on land.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

A Day of Celebration & Remembrance of Harriet Tubman

Cambridge, MD

August 6 

Celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life, bicentennial and antislavery activism on the Underground Railroad just miles from where she lived as a child. Join the commemorative parade through the streets of Cambridge and enjoy local vendors and entertainment at the festival.

Where to Dock: Cambridge Yacht Basin

Pirates & Wenches Weekend

Rock Hall, MD

August 12-14

Presented by Main Street Rock Hall, you can dock at a local bayfront marina ready for an immersive, family-friendly weekend. The whole family will love the marketplace on Main Street, pirate and mermaid performers, and costume contests, and there will be no shortage of grub and grog.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Solomons Dragon Boat Festival 2022

Solomons Island

August 13

Cruise to scenic Solomons Island to watch 30 dragon boat teams compete for glory on the Patuxent River and explore the local vendor village. Arrive the week before and you might catch a Dotting of the Eye Ceremony or even a flash mob.

Where to dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Leo Wardrup Memorial Cape Charles Cup Regatta

Cape Charles, VA

August 20-21

Make your way to Virginia’s Eastern Shore for two days of racing on the Chesapeake. While you’re there, lounge on the Cape Charles town beach, stroll around the retail district and check out Victorian homes in the historic district.

Where to Dock: Cape Charles Yacht Center & Marine Services

7th Annual Coastal Craft Beer Festival

Virginia Beach, VA

August 27

Spend your Saturday at the waterfront Neptune’s Park, tasting your way through 60+ beers, ciders and seltzers from 30 breweries. Learn about all Virginia breweries have to offer or branch out with some regional or national craft brews.

Where to Dock: Rudee's Inlet Station Marina


The Waterfront Festival

Havre de Grace, MD

September 9-10

Cruise to the northern Bay to round out your summer with this annual festival, kicking off with a lighted boat parade. Enjoy fun for the whole family with fresh crab and seafood, beer gardens, live music, hot air balloons and a youth fishing derby!

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

2nd Annual Portsmouth Paddle Battle

Portsmouth, VA

September 10 

Whether you kayak or paddleboard as a novice or a pro, or enjoy waterfront live music, food and drink, there’s a place for you in the Paddle Battle on the Elizabeth River. Proceeds will support the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and Lightship Portsmouth Museum.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Yacht Marina

TrawlerFest Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

September 27-October 1

Close out your summer season with Passagemaker’s annual boat show held at Harbor East Marina in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The show hosts impression in-water selections of new and pre-owned long-rang cruisers, coastal cruisers and of course, tons of trawlers. Free seminars and educational demonstrations are held throughout the weekend.

Where to Dock: Harbor East Marina

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