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Pride of Baltimore II Returns Home to the Inner Harbor as Port Aims to Reopen

NEWS
|
April 11, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Pride of Baltimore II | Credit: Acroterion on Wikimedia Commons

The tragic collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26 forced the city to close its major shipping port, but maritime crews are working tirelessly to clear the wreckage and return to business as usual. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a statement announcing a projected timeline to open the 280-foot-wide limited access channel by the end of April and aims to reopen the permanent 700-foot-wide federal navigation channel by the end of May.

The Pride of Baltimore II topsail schooner, a replica of the 19th century clipper ship, received clearance to sail back to Baltimore on Monday after the ship was stuck docked in Annapolis and could not return to her homeport. Locals enthusiastically greeted the vessel, as she offered them a sign of hope.

The original Pride of Baltimore was commissioned in 1977 as the first tall ship to represent a city and state. It was inspired by the Chasseur, a clipper built in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood and honorable merchant ship that played a critical role in the War of 1812. During her time in voyage, the Pride of Baltimore spent nine years sailing internationally and welcomed countless visitors onboard. 

The iconic vessel sank in 1986 when it was struck by a squall north of Puerto Rico, leaving the ship, captain and three crew members lost at sea. An outpouring of support from the Baltimore community led to the commissioning of the Pride of Baltimore II in 1988 to serve as a sailing memorial to the original ship. Pride II was launched from the Inner Harbor and commissioned at Brown’s Wharf in Fells Point, just steps away from the birthplace of the Chasseur

The Pride of Baltimore II has sailed more than 275,000 nautical miles around the world visiting hundreds of ports and continues to serve as a symbol of the city’s strength and resilience.

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Boating Itinerary of Lower Columbia River, Oregon

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Richard
Kern

Risk and reward. People say you don’t achieve one without the other, and that’s certainly true when it comes to cruising the Lower Columbia River, which separates the states of Washington and Oregon in America’s Pacific Northwest.

The risk is short, but daunting. The reward is long, languid and lasting — breathtaking waterfalls, beautiful gorges and canyons, bountiful wineries, beachy isles and peninsulas, and bustling cityscapes.

But first you must “cross the bar,” as they say. Navigating the mouth of the Columbia is a tricky and sometimes dangerous undertaking, requiring equal parts preparation and prowess. The area is rightfully known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, with some 2,000 ships sunk or scuttled trying to traverse this stretch of sand and silt.

The narrowness of the channel and the rushing waters of the Columbia together create a constantly shifting sandbar that pushes about six miles into the ocean. The area’s weather and waves combine to make for treacherous and unpredictable conditions, regardless of whether you’re coming or going. Before departing, do plenty of research to get an idea of what you’re up against.

Having safely crossed the bar and cruised a few miles upriver to Astoria, you’re now looking at roughly 150 NM of relatively smooth sailing all the way to Bonneville Dam. Here’s a sample itinerary of the notable stops along the way.

Astoria-Columbia lightship
Astoria-Columbia lightship courtesy Ian Poellet on Wikimedia Commons

Starting Point: Astoria, OR

Founded in 1811, Astoria has the distinction of being the oldest city in Oregon and the first permanent American settlement west of the Rockies. The fishing, canning and timber industries attracted a host of immigrants beginning in the 1800s, with Scandinavians, Chinese and Indian Sikhs leading the way. Today it’s a favorite cruise ship stop with a burgeoning arts scene.

The Columbia River Maritime Museum and the Astoria Column are worth a visit, and the Marina West Basin is steps from downtown. Hungry? Try Fede’ Trattoria Astoria for Italian dishes, fresh seafood from South Bay Wild Fish House, or for a real off-the-map dining experience, visit Drina Daisy Bosnian Restaurant. All are highly rated.

Stop 1: Astoria to Cathlamet, WA

Estimated Mileage: 20 NM

There’s a lot of commercial traffic on this part of the river, with large vessels relegated to the 40-foot-deep ship channel that crosses from the Oregon side to the Washington side several times between Astoria and Portland. Have your charts close at hand.

A little farther upriver, the small town of Cathlamet lies along the Cathlamet Channel, which separates mainland Washington State from Puget Island. Lewis and Clark found the Kathlamet and Wahkiakum tribes living here on their Northwest Expedition in 1805. Today, Cathlamet celebrates Bald Eagle Days, a two-day festival held the third weekend in July, featuring a parade, street vendors, music and fireworks.

Mt. St. Helens National Monument wildflower season
Mt. St. Helens National Monument wildflower season courtesy Craigdickson1067 on Wikimedia Commons

Stop 2: Cathlamet to St. Helens, OR

Estimated Mileage: 38 NM

Continuing upstream, the river runs east and then turns south toward St. Helens on the Oregon side. The city’s waterfront district offers several full-service marinas, as well as restaurants, pubs, parks and walking trails. Big River Taproom on Strand St. is just steps from the river, serving sandwiches, salads, sides and an array of “Chicago Dogs” for homesick Midwesterners. Dramatic views of snow-capped Mount St. Helens across the river to the northeast are part of the picturesque charm here.

St. Helens is only about 25-30 miles from downtown Portland, so a lot of local residents commute to work by boat from their houseboats along the waterfront. From mid-September through the end of October, St. Helens celebrates Spirit of Halloweentown, a festival of parades, street performers, fun attractions and family activities, including tours of locations featured in the movies Halloweentown and Twilight, which were filmed here.

Stop 3: St. Helens to Portland

Estimated Mileage: 27 NM

A short detour down the Willamette River at Kelley Point brings you to Portland, Oregon’s largest city. The Willamette cuts right through the heart of the Pearl District, Old Town and Downtown, putting you in the middle of the action. Mooring is available at Riverplace Marina’s public dock, if you want to hit downtown hotspots such as the Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon Zoo, Powell’s Books or the Portland Saturday Market in Waterfront Park.

The city’s food scene is also worth checking out, with standouts like Jacqueline, Nodoguro, Tercet and Urdaneta drawing kudos from foodies everywhere. The Willamette also takes you to the doorstep of Oregon’s famed wine country. Consider renting a car and heading out Route 99W into the Willamette Valley, where you can sample some of the best American varietals — world-class pinot noirs, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and rieslings, to name a few.

Stop 4: Portland to Camas/ Washougal

Estimated Mileage: 26 NM

Back on the Columbia River, Parker’s Landing Marina at Washougal Waterfront Park on the Washington side is a great place to refresh and refuel, and the views of Mt. Hood are spectacular. Moorage is on a first come, first served basis, and the marina can accommodate vessels up to 45 feet.

About a mile and a half down SE 6th Avenue on the other side of the Washougal River is neighboring downtown Camas, WA, where you find the Camas Boutique Hotel, about as picturesque a place as you’d ever want to lay your head. But before you call it a night, head down NE 3rd Avenue in Camas to Salud! Wine Bar & Italian Dining and peruse its seven-page wine list, then select from a menu of handmade Italian classics like osso bucco, veal piccata and sausage with peppers.

Washougal is home to dozens of restaurants, and the city hosts several community events throughout the year, including the Washougal Songcraft Festival, Art & Music Festival, Summer Solstice Festival and the 4th of July Concert and Fireworks.

Portland, Oregon Waterfront
Portland, Oregon Waterfront courtesy Another Believer on Wikimedia Commons

Stop 5: Camas/Washougal to Bonneville Dam

Estimated Mileage: 22 NM

The final leg of your upriver journey takes you to Bonneville Dam, passing spectacular scenery along the way, including Vista House at Crown Point, Bridal Veil Falls, Multnomah Falls and Beacon Rock. The marina at Beacon Rock State Park features a boat launch, dock and pump-out station.

Bonneville Dam is a good place to make the turn and head back downriver. The dam is a National Historic Landmark and was the largest water impoundment project of its type in the United States when it was constructed in the 1930s. Visitors can tour the two hydroelectric powerhouses and watch migrating salmon, sturgeon and shad traveling upstream at the underwater viewing rooms next to the fish ladders. The best time to see migrating fish is late April through early November, with peak time being the first two weeks of September.

Recommended reading: The Oregon State Marine Board publishes its Boating Guide to the Lower Columbia & Willamette Rivers at oregon.gov

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A Weekend on the Upper Chesapeake Bay

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Ellen
Honey

The Waters of the Upper Chesapeake may be calmer and less crowded than areas to the south, but the small history-rich communities dotting the shoreline are enjoyable stopovers during a weekend aboard.

Day 1: Havre de Grace

Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace
Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace courtesy Chanilim714 on Wikimedia Commons

Havre de Grace would be an excellent location for a Hallmark movie. A mix of historic and charming, contemporary and quirky, the town provides an authentic Chesapeake Bay experience. Elegant inns, prime restaurants, cozy cafés, overflowing antique shops, specialty boutiques and an eclectic arts community keep the downtown vibrant with nearly non-stop activity.

Havre de Grace has several excellent museums. Waterfowl carving is at the heart of the Bay’s culture, and the Decoy Museum houses one of the finest collections of decorative and working decoys ever assembled. Explore African American history through the Havre de Grace Colored School and Cultural Center’s exhibits and displays. Open by appointment only, admission is free.

Multiple self-guided and group tours take you around town including Havre de Haunts “The Phantom Footsteps of Lafayette” tour and a seasonal tour via kayak.

Havre de Grace has an active schedule of popular annual events such as the holiday Candlelight Tour, The Ice Festival, with over 50 artistically lit ice sculptures, and the Decoy & Wildlife Art Festival featuring both vintage and modern waterfowl decoys of all types and makers. Many events, concerts and festivals are held in the 900-seat STAR Centre, the renovated Havre de Grace High School. The restored Cultural Center at the historic Opera House offers local and professional theater, concerts, films and art exhibits.

Popular with locals and visitors alike, First Fridays is a vibrant street festival held May through December. The town center is blocked off for sidewalk sales, al fresco dining, beer gardens and a live band on each of the eight blocks.

Located on the banks of the fish and fowl laden Susquehanna River, Havre de Grace has an abundance of independently owned eateries. Three coffee shops await on Washington Street, and the Vintage Café, serving breakfast and lunch, sports an old-fashioned soda fountain.

Well-known waterside restaurants such as MacGregor’s is housed in a circa 1924 bank building and Tidewater Grille offers open seating and expansive glass windows that make for spectacular sunset views. Coakley’s Pub is a casual family hang out with an extensive menu including an award- winning cream of crab soup.

Two newer entries to the dining scene are Water Street Seafood, a classy pub with a menu that includes hot steamed crabs and plump oysters, and The Vineyard Wine Bar & Bistro, which has received The Wine Spectator award for “one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world.”

For suds lovers, nano-brewers Market Street Brewery and Battery Island Brewing Company are worth a visit for the view as well as the brew.

As a Maryland-designated Arts & Entertainment District, Havre de Grace has lived up to its promise of history, culture, and outstanding food and drink.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

Day 2: Havre de Grace to Chesapeake City

18 NM

A famous canal town dating back to the early 1800s, Chesapeake City is on both the National and Maryland Historic Registries and the Maryland Crab & Oyster Trail. Easily walkable streets meander around restored homes, quaint shops, waterfront eateries and charming B&Bs.

Chesapeake City Waterfront
Chesapeake City waterfront courtesy Wayne Camlin on Flickr

Begin your day at the Bayard House for weekend brunch, then stroll through the various boutiques or explore the C&D Canal Museum. Relax over a cold craft beer at Bayheads Brewing Company while deciding which of the excellent dinner options suits your taste.

The Bayard House has a lovely canal-side sunroom for dining or an umbrella strewn Hole in the Wall deck bar for a warm evening option. Its newer sister restaurant, Prime 225, serves steak and seafood in a charming room gently lit by gas lamps.

The Chesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina offers fine dining inside or dockside delivery along with energetic live music on the deck. Guests enjoy top- notch entertainment ranging from comedy to dance parties in the ballroom.

On the northern shore, Schaefers Canal House has convenient dockage moving in or out of the C&D Canal. A parade of yachts, ships, tugs and an occasional pirate ship pass by the multideck Lighthouse Bar where local bands liven up the evening.

Where to Dock: Chesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina

Day 3: Chesapeake City to Delaware City

11 NM

Delaware City Fort
Delaware City Fort courtesy Michael Romagnoli on Wikimedia Commons

A quaint, historic seaport located at the confluence of the Delaware River and the original eastern end of the C&D Canal, Delaware City with its colorful, rich history blends easily with the spirited waterfront community.

Locals and visitors mingle at Crabby Dick’s, winner of Best of Delaware crabcakes, for crabs and a brew and a story or two. The town gets a bit crowded during the annual September Canal Fest mixing bass-heavy blues music, art in the park and an assortment of well-known artisans.

Fort Delaware, a Union fortress built in 1859 to protect Wilmington and Philadelphia ports, is accessible only by a half-mile ferry ride to Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. Costumed interpreters enact the summer of 1864 when the fort housed prisoners of the Civil War. Well-known for being haunted, the fort has been featured on Ghost Hunters and other shows. Get in the spirit on one of the fall paranormal tours along the Prison Camp Trail.

During its entire history, Fort Delaware has never fired a shot in anger and now shares the island with The Pea Patch Heronry, one of the largest mixed species nest colonies for herons, egrets and ibis in the eastern states.

Where to Dock: Delaware City Marina is a full-service marina and boatyard with slips, fuel and ship’s store.

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Boating Destination: New Shoreham, Block Island, RI

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Claire
Ruppert
Aerial view of Block Island
Aerial view of Block Island courtesy of Flickr

New Shoreham is the heart of Block Island at the mouth of Long Island Sound between the coast of Rhode Island and Montauk. Only a half-hour ferry ride from the mainland, this tiny island boasts over 17 miles of coastal beach and 30 miles of walking trails.

The ferry docks in Old Harbor at the popular Ballards Beach, just steps away from Water Street, the retail strip with harbor views. Old Harbor is a National Register Historic Site, preserving the homes of many shops and hotels in lovely Victorian buildings.

Bikes and mopeds are available for rent to explore the rest of the island. A 16-mile, 12-stop self-guided bike tour showcases many of the island’s charms. Almost half of Block Island is preserved land, making it a recognized destination for rare flora and fauna and a nature lover’s paradise. The bike tour takes riders to some of the most beautiful places on the island such as the vast Rodman’s Hollow and the dizzying Mohegan Bluffs.

Walking and hiking trails of varying difficulty and terrain crisscross the island. Check out the north of the island on the other side of the beaches for some mindful walks. Clay Head Nature Trail, or the Maze, is a cliff-top network of interconnected trails perfect for leisurely wandering and birdwatching. The Sacred Labyrinth is a walking meditation near Great Salt Pond with beautiful views at the center of the spiral. The Nature Conservancy also offers guided nature walks free of charge.

As you make your way around the island, be sure to keep an eye out for glass floats, decorative glass spheres made by local artist, Eben Horton, as part of the scavenger hunt-like Glass Float Project. Block Island is a whimsical and accessible vacation destination. Let this be your invitation to explore New Shoreham and the outdoors.

WHERE TO DOCK

Champlin’s Marina & Resort

401-466-7777

In New Harbor, on the west side of the island, awaits one of New England’s largest resort marinas. Boaters enjoy more than 4,700 feet of linear dockage that accommodates vessels up to 250 feet long. Enjoy all onshore amenities including restaurants, a boutique hotel, heated pool, water sports and Mudslides at the famous Traders Dock Bar.

Payne's Dock

401-466-5572

Located in New Harbor, Payne’s is a family-owned marina that offers fuel, bathrooms, water, electric and trash disposal. On site they have restaurants, a bar and an ice cream shack.

New Harbor Boat Basin

401-480-1429

Situated in between Champlin’s and Payne’s Dock, this seasonal marina offers 100 slips with 85 reserved for transients. Amenities include fuel, shower facilities and maintenance services from Brewer Street Boatworks and Oldport Marine.

WHERE TO DINE

Mealtime
Mealtime courtesy of Visit RI

Dead Eye Dick’s

401-466-2654

With both indoor and outdoor seating, Dead Eye Dick’s is a crowd pleaser that serves fresh seafood and beautiful sunsets over New Harbor. The restaurant and bar offer casual lunch and dinner service next to the public boat launch.

Winfield’s

401-466-5856

One of the island’s classier eateries, Winfield’s has a small, specialized menu featuring local produce and farm-raised meat. The restaurant’s ambience in the dining room and lounge is comfortably elegant.

Spring House Hotel

401-466-5844

Have a meal in the oldest hotel on Block Island. Enjoy the classic New England architecture while eating outdoors or in the formal dining room. With an on-site farm, the menu is sure to bring only the freshest ingredients to your plate.

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Mysterious Creatures and Their Powerful Impact on Habitats

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Teri
Miller

Seeing dolphins at the bow, colorful corals, soaring sea birds and lively fish never gets old. Yet, new encounters with unique species are also a wonderful part of boat life. As boaters who frequent marinas, beaches and waterways, we have all either heard or uttered out loud, “What IS that?”

While a lot of marine life could illicit this response, a brief look at some of the usual suspects — the sea hare, sea cucumber, sea pork and horseshoe crab — can help us appreciate and protect the marvelous mysteries of our marine ecosystems.

Not Batman

Sea Cucumber
Sea Cucumber courtesy plovets

We were at a marina in Key West when a dark, undulating creature was swimming at the surface of the clear blue water. A small crowd gathered, none of whom had ever seen anything like it. The soft-bodied creature had two small horn-like structures and “wings” spread out like a Batman cape. Before long, imaginative guesses were replaced with researched confirmation that we’d encountered a sea hare.

Sea hares are mollusks named for the large tentacles on their head that remind some of the ears of a hare. Their small interior skeleton is covered by a soft mantel with external wing-like extensions the length of their body. Their color, ranging from dark maroon to browns and greens, is dependent on the color of the algae they eat.

As an important food source for many marine predators, they are also valuable in neuro research. Sea hares do not have an abundance of neurons, but they do have some of the largest neurons in the animal kingdom. This distinct anatomy makes it easy for researchers to isolate individual nerve cells and identify which are responsible for specific behaviors. The sea hare is an important contributor to the study of memory, behavior and learning in human neurology.

Not a Vegetable

Nature has no shortage of marine specimens whose names do little to help us understand them. A fitting example is the sea cucumber. This species may have the general shape of a cucumber, but that is where the resemblance ends and the question, “What IS that?” begins. While swimming or snorkeling in shallow waters, you may happen upon what appears more like an ugly potato.

Though harmless to humans, disturbing them is not recommended as they have a startling method of defense. When concerned for their life, they expel their internal organs. Known as evisceration, the tubular organs are unappealing, sticky and toxic to predators.

Living on the sea floor, usually near grass beds and coral reefs, sea cucumbers tend to burrow or be covered in sand, much like earthworms. Like worms, they provide nutrient cycling as they take in sediment, absorb food particulates and expel clean sand. This process releases nitrogen and calcium carbonate, key components for healthy coral reefs. One study showed a sea cucumber population produced over 70,000 tons of this valuable excrement a year.

Surprisingly, these unsung heroes of our coral reefs are overharvested. They might not taste like their namesake, but they are a luxury food item, prominently featured on menus for festive and formal dinners in many Asian countries. Fortunately, like their namesake, sea cucumbers are relatively easy to farm, and aquaculture farms may play a pivotal role in their conservation.

Not a Brain

As odd as the sea cucumber may seem, it is far from the most queried. That honor probably goes to the equally poorly named sea pork. Beachgoers who happen upon sea pork washed ashore inundate local fish and wildlife organizations, aquariums, police and even television stations with calls asking, “What IS that?”

The inquiries are understandable. When found on beaches or in seagrass beds after storms, the rubbery sea pork can resemble brains, chicken cutlets, waterlogged organs or petroleum byproducts. When alive, sea pork, the common name for tunicates, are stationary filter feeders. Spending their lives siphoning water and feeding off bacteria, they are considered our oceans’ best purifiers.

Horseshoe Crab
Horseshoe crab courtesy aimintang

Not a Crab

Gliding along in shallow water or creeping along the shore, the prehistoric-looking horseshoe crab is a frequent recipient of “What IS that?” proclamations. More closely related to spiders than crabs, the armor-domed, spike-tailed horseshoe crab is falsely intimidating. This harmless bottom feeder’s carapace is its primary defense, and its tail is used as a rudder or to help right itself if it gets turned on its back.

Horseshoe crabs and their eggs are a primary food source for many coastal predators and migrating shore birds. The horseshoe crab’s blue blood has made a significant impact on the biomedical industry. Its copper-based blood contains a substance that will clot in the presence of toxic bacteria. This agent is used to test for bacteria in injectables and to verify the sterility of medical devices.

Encounters that pique our curiosity and inspire us to ask, “What IS that?” are part of what makes boating a mighty adventure. Witnessing strange yet beautiful, weirdly impactful, and small but powerful marine life helps to remind us that our aquatic environment is vast, valuable and worthy of protection.

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Boating Destination: Stonington Borough, CT

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Claire
Rupert
Stonington Commons Stonington, CT Credit Pi.1415926535 on Wikimedia Commons

Midway between New York City and Boston, Stonington Borough offers the perfect small-town escape from busy urban life. In what locals call “The Borough,” life seems to move at a more relaxed pace amidst quiet, tree-lined residential streets and a scenic waterfront.

As the oldest borough in the state, Stonington is a great place to learn about and experience Connecticut’s maritime history. The Stonington Harbor Light and Lighthouse Museum stand at the end of Water Street, overlooking the award- winning duBois Beach and East Lawn.

Take Water Street in the other direction, and you will find antique shops, boutiques, consignment stores, cafés and galleries. You will also pass Connecticut’s last commercial lobstering and fishing fleet. The beautiful Stonington Free Library, built in 1900, is worth a visit. The surrounding lawns on Water Street make an idyllic spot to read a good book and sip a fresh-brewed cup from Indulge Coffee across the street.

Guests discover plenty to do in Stonington — shopping, enjoying the growing craft beer and wine scene, exploring walking trails through the salt marsh, and visiting creative spaces. La Grua Center presents cultural exhibits, speakers and musical performances on Water Street. The Velvet Mill, a repurposed mill building, now home to studio and gallery spaces and small businesses, is a short walk from the center of town.

If you’d like to investigate the surrounding area, the more crowded but ever popular Mystic, CT, makes a great day trip. Pequot Golf Club and Saltwater Farm Vineyard, located in a World War II airplane hangar, are a couple of the many fun half-day activities in the area. Stonington Borough perfectly captures the quaint coastal New England experience, complete with friendly locals.

WHERE TO DOCK

Sailboat approaching Stonington Harbor Credit Pi.1415926535 on Wikimedia Commons

Don’s Dock

860-535-0077

Located just north of the shopping district on Water Street, this family-run business offers 200 slips along with repair and maintenance services. Moorings in Stonington Harbor accommodate large boats.

Coveside Marina

860-536-6207

Part of Connecticut and Rhode Island’s marina group, Lockwood Marinas, this facility offers full-service boat maintenance, off-season storage and seasonal dockage for vessels up to 46 feet. Check out the beachfront cottages and watersport rentals.

Dodson Boatyard

860-535-1507

Offering transient moorings and dockage, Dodson’s is a full-service marina with 110 moorings. They employ 35 technicians and have a yacht broker on hand.

WHERE TO DINE

Dog Watch Café

860-415-4510

Dog Watch Café is a casual eatery with a canine theme and indoor and outdoor seaside dining, as well as lawn games and live music. The menu presents locally sourced dishes ranging from a raw bar and pizzas to sandwiches and seafood-centric entrees. Dogs are welcome at both restaurant locations.

Breakwater

860-415-8123

A waterfront seafood restaurant, Breakwater also has a vegetarian/vegan menu. The prime location offers stunning sunset views indoors and outdoors. Its spacious bar serves craft cocktails with an upscale vibe on Water Street.

Water Street Café

860-535-2122

Guests enjoy just-caught seafood that features fresh oysters and local organic produce in a warm eclectic environment. The menu is diverse, with French and Asian inspired specials. Opened 25 years ago, a meal here is not just dinner but a true Stonington experience.

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Boating from Rockport to Belfast, Maine

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Heather
Burke
Rockland Maine Lighthouse
Rockland Maine Lighthouse | Greg Burke

After boating in Maine for more than 20 years, my husband Greg and I often tell fellow yachters that the Mid-Coast is the beating heart of Maine. Miles of shoreline stretch to dramatic peninsulas and tuck up into pretty harbor towns like Rockland, Rockport, Camden and Belfast. The Pine Tree State has more coastline than California, and this section is special.

Most visitors to this vacationland, also known as the Land of Lobster, bypass this beautiful region on a mad dash for Mount Desert Island’s Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. As boaters, we treasure the many quieter, quintessential seaside towns and islands to explore.

As you head “Downeast,” which is northeast of Portland, you are soon cruising by the interesting waterways of Muscongus Bay and Muscle Ridge, passing the promontory of Port Clyde and famous Marshall Point Lighthouse. Then you enter the legendary boating territory of Penobscot Bay.

As you round Owls Head Light, you know Rockland is ahead. Soon to starboard, the impressive Breakwater Lighthouse comes into view to greet you on a shimmery granite spit. Safe Harbor Rockland is perfectly situated at the head of the bay to dock your boat, a full-service marina, next to Archer’s on the Pier restaurant, and steps to town.

Rockland feels both irresistibly authentic and scenic. It’s a true working waterfront. Rockland was a quarry for massive granite stones shipped to create landmark buildings in New York City and Washington, DC — hence the name. And the town remains a hub for fishing and shipping, with an active cement factory.

On a beautiful stroll from the docks along Rockland’s waterfront Harbor Trail, we discovered this seaside town has blossomed into Maine’s art capital with plentiful galleries, as well as a lighthouse and art museums — most notably the famous Farnsworth Art Museum that features generations of Wyeth paintings. Just strolling Rockland’s old brick streets is a treat, with intriguing shops and dining spots.

After browsing boutiques, we found the happy humble diner, Rockland Café, on Main Street. Greg said his eggs benedict were among the best ever. My fish cakes were better than my father made (sorry Dad). Since 1992, this café rocks with an unchanged kitschy décor, salty waitresses and super deals on everything from egg dishes to seafood and of course, lobster.

Splurging with a night off the boat, we checked into the grand oceanfront Samoset Resort. It’s THE place to stay in Rockland and Rockport (it actually borders both towns). They offer a free shuttle to town in season. Our ocean view room overlooked Samoset’s seaside golf course and the lighthouse from the immense hotel’s third floor.

The property was recently renovated and is quite chic. We had choices of resort golf, tennis, pool and hot tub, or lawn games like disc golf. We opted to walk out the gleaming stacked granite boulders to the lighthouse; the path starts on the edge of Samoset’s expansive grounds.

Rockland Maine Samoset
Rockland Maine Samoset | Greg Burke

Stepping across massive rock monoliths that tower two stories high above the water at high tide, we made it out the 4,000 feet length to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. The assembly of these huge heavy Maine stones almost 150 years ago is mind-boggling, and views of Rockland Harbor and out to sea are impressive from the old Light Station.

That evening, our return to downtown Rockport coincided with a hometown Solstice Parade down Main Street. We ducked off the bustling sidewalks lined with local families into a pub. In Good Company is an upscale bistro where we grabbed a seat at the cozy bar. We sipped cocktails over local banter while savoring delicious “nibbles” served with warm crusty fresh-made bread.

Rockland is a boater’s treat — a festive hamlet with an annual North Atlantic Blues Fest, Lobster Fest, weekly art walks, farmers markets and more.

Boating farther, we cruised by Rockport’s tiny harbor, as we had visited this tight little bayfront before to see Andre the Seal’s statue when our kids were little. Our son and daughter had been enamored by the tale of this friendly flippered Maine mammal who became famous in 1962.

Next Stop, Camden

In the heart of Maine’s midcoast was our next port, Camden, a delightful harbor surrounded by mountains. Aptly “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” is its moniker, as Camden Hills and Mount Battie stretch down toward the busy waterfront where this 1769 New England village sits like a postcard scene.

Cellardoor Winery in Camden
Cellardoor Winery Camden Maine | Greg Burke

Docking at the Public Town Landing is quite convenient as Camden is super foot-traffic friendly. Harbor Park and the beautiful brick public library grace the top of the bay. Just steps from the waterfront, attractive sidewalks lead to refined boutiques and local craft stores like The Smiling Cow and Once a Tree, plus art galleries and clothiers.

A hearty meal at Marriner’s Restaurant satisfied our craving for classic Downeast fare in a cheap and cheerful setting. The buttered grilled blueberry muffin is out-of-this-world, even better with an outdoor deck table. For dinner, the more bourgeoise menu was recommended at Peter Ott’s on the Water.

Cellardoor Winery was a fun afternoon food and wine adventure, with a hired ride from Sterling Elite to nearby Lincolnville. This neat winery is like Napa comes to Maine. Overlooking a lush vineyard, we sat in their sophisticated renovated barn and enjoyed sips and course-after-course of the chef ’s delicious food and wine pairing lunch from Cellardoor’s sparkling tasting kitchen.

More strolling along Camden’s beautiful waterfront was a perfect way to wile away the remains of the day. Or we could have hiked Camden Hills State Park lookout trails with spectacular views of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay below.

Boating northward from Camden along West Penobscot Bay, we passed Seven Hundred Acre Isle. Then, Islesboro also to starboard offered entertaining scenery. We were tempted to explore the many beautiful Penobscot Bay islands, but we headed to Belfast Harbor and the Passagassawakeag River.

Onward to Belfast

Belfast isn’t on every boater’s treasure map, which makes it more of a gem. Docking via Snag-A-Slip along the calm waterfront at Front Street Shipyard, we immediately found the lovely mile-long Harbor Walk. This mariners’ village offers visitors a self-guided “Museum in the Streets” heritage-discovery tour.

Port Clyde Marshall Point Light
Port Clyde Marshall Point Light | Greg Burke

Following signage throughout town, we learned the chronicle of Belfast’s evolution, beginning with Native American settlers who fished in canoes carved from native birch and pine trees. This explains the Passagassawakeag River name, which is indigenous for “a place for spearing sturgeon by torchlight.”

Along our Main Street stroll up a gentle hill by the harbor, we poked in Colburn’s, the oldest shoe store in America. Among other accolades, Belfast was a well-heeled shoemaking capital. The 250-year-old town is resplendent with well-preserved Italianate and Federal brick homes that now host art galleries and shops. Belfast is self-dubbed “Maine’s biggest little city” with a dozen cafés and a chockfull farmers market with vendors selling Maine food, crafts, jewelry and furniture.

We loved our lunch on Belfast’s waterfront at Nautilus with fantastic river views. Sitting at the bar, our fun bartender Mary gave us the local scoop. She recommended the rich and delicious lobster stew, followed by a decadent haddock Reuben that was cheesy and full of fresh flakey fish. Yum!

Needing to walk it off, we crossed the beautiful Armistice Bridge pedestrian boardwalk for more great views of the bayfront shipyards and pleasant summer cottages that dot the quiet shoreline.

Signs to the Belfast Rail Trail, also nicknamed the Passy Rail Trail, lured us on a 2.9-mile path. Belfast’s old Central Railroad tracks now serve as a nice public walkway along the river for pedestrians, pets and bikers. It is scenic, often shaded and peaceful. Belfast is also famed for its 157,000 daffodils on display in spring.

We’d heard the Penobscot Marine Museum was not to be missed. This is Maine’s oldest museum dedicated to preservation and education about Maine’s shipbuilding and fishing heritage, but we missed it, as it was closed on our visit. Next trip for sure. Back on our boat for sunset, we reflected on our magnificent Maine Mid-Coast exploration and plotted our next adventure into the Downeast region.

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Great Lakes Camps for Kids

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Ellen
Honey
National Museum of the Great Lakes Photo courtesy of National Museum of the Great Lakes

When the days grow long and the sibling squabbles reach fever pitch, summer camp offers a welcome respite for parents and children, along with the opportunity to create life-changing memories and lifelong friendships. They present the opportunity to get kids off the couch, put down the electronics and head off for camp to participate in boating, swimming, theater, science, watersports, the environment and more.

If you’re looking for summer activities to engage your children or the entire family, check out the following sampler of camps and programs around the Great Lakes.

LAKE ONTARIO

YMCA CAMP KENAN

Barker, NY

Camp Kenan boasts more than 50 acres of beautiful land filled with adventures for campers to explore. From taking aim on the archery range, scaling the climbing tower, swimming, mastering the rope courses, hiking wooded trails or singing by the fire, summers here provide an unforgettable experience. With overnight, day and first experience options, the program helps kids experience camp life, develop essential skills and make new friends. A two-week Leader-In- Training program for teens 14-15 develops leadership, communication, team building, problem solving and conflict resolution skills.  

LAKE ERIE

GREAT LAKES SCIENCE CENTER

Cleveland, OH

Head down to the center’s Camp Curiosity Summer Day Camp and see its new 2024 themes that focus on nature, the arts, space, sports, LEGOs, tech and more. Camp sessions by grade level include Ride the Brainwave to explore thoughts, moves and decisions; Science of Sound to march to the beat of your own drum while learning how sound works and music affects the brain; GREAT Lakes to dive into preserving ecosystems and learn how to help save the Great Lakes; and Science of Art to discover how creative science can be when mixed with art.  

Courtesy of Great Lakes Theater Camp

GREAT LAKES THEATER CAMP

Cleveland, OH

This group offers a summer drama camp with musical theater elements that immerse students in interactive and educational theater-based activities. It’s a unique opportunity for students to work with and learn from the theater’s professional teaching artists in a facility equipped with a full auditorium and state of the art classroom. The program is designed for students 6-17 with of all levels of experience and ability with no audition required. Divided by age, Theater Camp features classes in acting, Shakespeare, movement, improvisation, stage combat, mask making and musical theater.  

LAKE ERIE ISLANDS NATURE & WILDLIFE CENTER

Put-In-Bay, OH

The center strives to be an educational resource for communities with new free programs often added to the schedules. Resources are available to help families with fun activities for kids (and adults!) to do at home. New interactive digital displays for the taxidermy collection provide in-depth info about the species on display. The camp’s mission is to encourage children’s natural curiosity of the outdoors by engaging them in fun and educational activities.  

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE GREAT LAKES

Toledo, OH, off Lake Erie

Located on the Maumee River, the museum offers educational programs for children of all ages. The Great Lakes are not only an important natural resource, but they have dramatically impacted North America’s social, economic and political history. The NMGL tells stories through photography, over 300 artifacts, and 40 hands-on interactive exhibits including the 617-foot iron ore freighter Col. James M. Schoonmaker museum ship and the historic museum tug Ohio. The tales span hundreds of years, from the fur traders in the 1600s to the Underground Railroad in the 1800s, the rum runners in the 1900s, to the present.  

LAKE HURON

BAYSAIL

Bay City, MI, off Lake Huron

BaySail provides Science Under Sail, a hands-on, environmental science program on the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. In the summer, BaySail offers Windward Bound youth sail training programs with voyages to Great Lakes ports. Windward Bound is a liveaboard experience for teens 14 to 17. During voyages aboard the 85’ schooner Appledore IV and the 65’ schooner Appledore V, the focus is on seamanship and freshwater science, which means learning the art of traditional sailing and studying the lakes’ ecology. As the ships sail between ports, participants stand watch while learning every aspect of running the ship from navigation to meal prep. Each voyage takes the crew on a unique experience partly determined by the destination and time aboard.  

Courtesy of National Museum of the Great Lakes

LAKE MICHIGAN GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC MUSEUM

Grand Rapids, MI

A history and science center with three floors of exhibits plus a 1928 carrousel, theater and planetarium, the museum on the Grand River has lots to offer. From mid-June to mid-August, kids pre-K through high school can explore the wonders of science, history, culture and more at Camp Curious through a variety of camp offerings. Different options are presented for each age group, divided by school grades. Past camps have included Slimy Science, Fossil Hunters, Dream It, Build It with LEGO® Bricks and Young Wizards Academy.

CAMP WALDEN

Cheboygan, MI

When campers are ready for an overnight trek, this up-north waterfront destination between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan is waiting. Campers ages seven to 16 go water skiing, tubing, sailing and paddleboarding on spring-fed Long Lake. Horseback riding and other athletics are also featured. Since 1959, campers on the shores of Long Lake have explored more than 150 acres of virgin forest, open meadows, and rolling hills and trails.  

NORTHWESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY

Traverse City, MI

NMC’s College for Kids provides enrichment courses for ages four to 17 including ACT test preparation, art, cooking, martial arts and youth flute choir. The popular summer program features more than 150 week-long courses where kids can build on core school subject skills or explore a brand-new hobby. At NMC’s main campus or at an offside partner facility, instructors develop their curriculum making each class unique for students. Young learners are introduced to adventures in art, science, technology, engineering, art, theater, dance and more.  

LAKE SUPERIOR

GREAT LAKES AQUARIUM

Duluth, MN

Summer day camps use the aquarium as home base while learning about the natural world: caring for animals, celebrating Lake Superior, SCUBA diving, and more. Campers learn about the geology, ecology and significance of this immense lake. Older campers explore the water’s depths and heights and feed creatures from lake sturgeon to bald eagles. They learn about special features that help animals survive in land or water habitats. Campers prepare meals, clean exhibits, test water quality and more. Teaching, Restoring and Observing our Watershed with Teens (TROWT), a service-oriented program, teaches youth about exploring local conservation issues that impact our daily lives.  

LAKE SUPERIOR STATE UNIVERSITY

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

LSSU Kids Camp is a day camp for children ages five through 12 years old. Located off Georgian Bay between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, LSSU is the perfect setting for swimming, sports, crafts, outdoor adventures, climbing wall, ice skating, kayaking and canoeing, team-building initiatives and more.

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West Michigan Harbor Towns

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Mark
Reid
Saugatuck chainlink ferry

Where can you find turquoise blue and emerald green waters, and seemingly endless sandy beaches with spectacular sunsets projecting a kaleidoscope of colors almost every evening? It sounds like the Gulf Coast or California, but Michigan is the place to go. Boating here promises to deliver boundless shorelines, historic ports and a string of lighthouses that dot its western coast from the bottom of Lake Michigan in Chicago to the top off Mackinac Island.

The “inland seas” have a rich maritime heritage from Niagara to International Falls that ranges from recreational boating and ship building to fishing, sailing and jet skis. Long before the auto industry gained a foothold here, lumber and mining endured boom and bust times in many of these towns, making for a rich tapestry of history and a treasure trove of memories. Now, ambitious marina development projects are emerging as old power plants and factories are torn down, making way for bustling new waterfronts.

A multitude of attractions and festivals — such as Grand Haven Musical Fountain, the Coast Guard Festival, Silver Lake’s dune buggy rides or floating down the Pere Marquette or Platte Rivers on a lazy summer afternoon — are just a few of the reasons to visit. In addition, many marina and port facilities offer stopover opportunities, because Michigan is known not only for its recent College Football National Championship, but also for local blueberries, apples, cherries and grapes grown in sandy soil during warm days and cool summer nights.

When you explore this coastline, remember to keep up to date on the latest charts and harbor information. Lake bottoms are primarily sand and silt that are constantly shifting, even as water levels rise and fall. Plus, when you reach the northern islands, mosquitos and black flies can intercept your boat, covering it in the middle of the lake. The rewards far outweigh the challenges as you explore the following harbor towns.

South Haven

South_Haven Credit bogdanstepniak on Wikimedia Commons

Highlighted by its state park beach and a very walkable lighthouse pier, downtown is just a quick pop away to check out Harbor Light Brewery. The beer, local music and hospitality are second to none. Insider tip: Try the peach cider. The Black River Tavern is right up the street, too. Michigan Maritime Museum welcomes young and old alike, shows what it was like to book passage on a 19th century passenger steamer, tells about Lake Michigan’s “Bermuda Triangle” and examines the wonders of the region with artifacts, displays and boating experiences.

The $3.7 million dollar Heritage Center sits on the banks of the Black River across the Dykman Drawbridge and across the street from Gull Lake Marine Storage. The Marialyce Canonie Great Lakes Research Library is in the historic Lightkeeper’s House and focuses on the maritime history in the Great Lakes and Michigan from the prehistoric period to the present.

Where to Dock: South Haven Municipal Marina North and Woodland Harbor Marina

Holland

On your way north take a quick pit stop in Saugatuck, especially if you’re antique shopping. As you enter Holland, the big red lighthouse hovers like a monolith over the channel entrance into Lake Macatawa, or “black water,” according to indigenous Ottawa legend.

Choosing between the local beaches along the shore comes down to the critical choice of ice cream, music or your favorite brew pub. New Holland Brewing Co. on Eighth Street is known for its famous Dragon’s Milk Stout, which is brewed in bourbon barrels, and their addictive pizza pinwheels. And you can’t go wrong with a stop at the Boatwerks Restaurant.

Holland’s waterfront could soon be home to a hotel, marina, cruise ship docks, restaurants, and additional homes with private and visitor slips in a unique land swap. “The Marina project here is about community vision, public involvement and engagement on work projects. It is about developing a world class downtown that didn’t have a connection to the waterfront,” said City Manager Keith Van Beek. Chris-Craft built beautiful boats here for years, and now Tiara Yachts has continued the boat-building tradition in Holland.

Where to Dock: Yacht Basin Marina and Ottawa Beach Marina

Muskegon

Looking for waves? Keep heading north to Pere Marquette State Park in Muskegon where the surf rolls in untethered, and always a crowd and good music convene at the deck. If rollercoasters are your speed, Michigan’s Great Adventure is a few minutes away, and though it isn’t quite like Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, you find enough thrills to get your adrenaline flowing and heart pumping.

Lake Michigan Express ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee has replaced the old Milwaukee Clipper, which is still parked on Lake Muskegon waiting for restoration papers to breathe life back into its historic decks.

This region is about the future as well as major marina developments that are either in the works or on their way, such as Adelaide Pointe on Lake Muskegon. Local food and fun happen at The Deck at Pere Marquette Beach plus Ghezzi’s Deli & Market.

Just north is Ludington and the coal-fired SS Badger boat that takes you across the lake in Titanic style! It has a fresh coat of paint, making the legendary car ferry freighter look as new as it was when launched in 1953. It makes daily round trips to Manitowoc, WI, and on the four-hour voyage, be sure to play Badger Bingo.

Where to Dock: Safe Habor Great Lakes and Hartshorn Marina

Traverse_City sunrise Credit Bryan Casteel on Wikimedia Commons

Traverse City

The base of Grand Traverse Bay is “traversed” by Mission Point Peninsula, which separates the East and West Bays. Its rolling hills and cherry orchards lend credentials that it is the Cherry Capital of the World.

The Cherry Festival anchors the start of July with an array of international musical groups and bands, with the highlight being the Blue Angels flying in and out of town at supersonic speeds.

Traverse City has an idyllic shopping and restaurant district just footsteps from local marinas. Foodie favorites include the Apache Trout Grill and Blue Tractor Barbeque.

Where to Dock: Elmwood Marina and Duncan L. Clinch Marina

Leland

Take a stroll through “Fishtown” and walk along docks lined with weathered fishing shanties, smokehouses, racks of drying fishing nets, and fish tugs on the Leland (Carp) River. It’s easy to imagine what it was like in the early 1900s to live and work in this small fishing village. Back then, many of the boats were small, built of oak and carried primitive gas power.

Today, Fishtown still operates as one of the only working commercial fishing villages in Michigan. Many shanties now house delightful gift and clothing boutiques, art galleries, and specialty food shops. Summer bustles with activity, and during colder seasons, the docks become quiet and tranquil.

For restaurants, try Bluebird or The Cove. Wineries are expanding rapidly in Leelanau County offering the character, landscape and charm of the best that Napa and Sonoma Counties offer. The whole region is embraced by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park & Lakeshore with North and South Manitou Islands just over the horizon.

The park covers a 35-mile-long stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline with Point Betsie Lighthouse on Sleeping Bear’s “front door” and located at the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage where the Race to Mackinac sailing fleet cuts through on their way north.

Where to Dock: Leland Township Marina

Harbor Springs/Petoskey

Just past the dunes lies the twin port towns of Petoskey and Harbor Springs on Little Traverse Bay. Petoskey features its famous stone (a combo of rock and a fossil, often pebble-shaped and composed of a fossilized rugose coral) that you can still find on the beach! And the Gaslight Village downtown shopping district is full of fun and fudge.

Stafford’s Perry Hotel is a must, as is near Bayview and its historic summer residences that once included the home of Ernest Hemingway. Harbor Springs is the closest copy of Bar Harbor you’ll discover on the Great Lakes. Many of its cottages seem transported in time from East Coast counterparts. Highlights include the annual Ugotta Regatta, Stafford’s Pier Restaurant and Legs Inn, known for its Polish cuisine and totem poles up the “tunnel of trees” on Highway 22.

Where to Dock: Harbor Springs Municipal Marina and Irish Boat Shop

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Spring Fishing in Erie & Ontario

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Micah
Angel

For angler Mike Elnicki, who’s fished the Niagara region of the Great Lakes for more than 20 years, “Spring on the lakes is the best fishing.” When he’s not busy as a doctor of internal medicine, he’s an active outdoorsman and expert fisherman who knows what’s biting and where. He also happens to be our editor-in-chief ’s big brother. Fishing on the Great Lakes hasn’t always been fantastic, Elnicki explains. “Growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Great Lakes were horribly polluted. Fish were dying. You’d go to the beach and see dead fish everywhere.” Folks then would’ve laughed at the idea of the lakes being a great fishery. “We would ask our uncles what it was like in the old days, and it was phenomenal. They talked about going out — two guys in a boat — and filling the boat with fish in a day.”

Mike fishing on Lake Erie and caught a Lake Trout

The Great Lakes Revival

Fortunately, the Clean Water Act of 1972 helped the Great Lakes begin to recover from decades of industrial waste, agricultural runoff and sewage being dumped into the water. The program mitigated pollution in the Great Lakes, and the water improved substantially. Fish populations started to rise, and a recreational fishing scene reemerged, boosting economies in coastal communities.

As a medical resident living in Rochester in the 1980s, Elnicki observed fishing’s resurgence in Lake Ontario firsthand. “People were afraid to eat them,” he noted, but fishing tournaments began cropping up and fishermen were reeling in coho salmon off the wharfs. He fondly recalled catching a 30-inch, 10-pound lake trout during his residency.

Since he began fishing the lakes, Elnicki attests the water is “noticeably cleaner.” And with more cities taking pride in their waterfronts, he believes the Great Lakes will only continue to improve.

Fish are thriving once again — and Great Lakes mean great fish. Because of the lakes’ magnitude and abundance of food available, fish here can grow up to two feet long in a couple of years. Having fished worldwide, Elnicki commented how fish in the lakes grow “crazy fast” compared to elsewhere. So, what's biting this spring?

Lake Erie’s Bountiful Catch

Perhaps the best Great Lakes comeback story, Lake Erie was declared dead in the 1960s due to unchecked pollution. Now encircled by celebrated parks, beaches and nature preserves, it supports one of the world’s best walleye fisheries and provides fun for the whole family.

Mike Elnicki with a Brown Trout from Lake Erie

The lake comprises a western and eastern basin with the town of Erie, PA, in the middle. The western basin is best known for its massive walleye run each spring, drawing tens of thousands of anglers from all over the country. As early as late March, millions of walleye migrate to the western shores of Lake Erie to spawn and feed on bountiful schools of bait fish and billions of hatching mayflies.

Although sometimes tricky to find since they’re always on the move, walleye swim in schools and consecutive catches are common. Most walleye caught during this time range from 19 to 25 inches long, but catching a 30-inch, 14-pound fish is possible. As the weather warms, the fish migrate west to east and are found from Toledo, OH, to Erie, PA.

Typically enjoyed battered and fried, “The walleye are phenomenal to eat, and there are tons of them,” Elnicki affirms. Also found near walleye schools are perch, a cousin of walleye with similar behavior.

The eastern basin of Lake Erie in spring is all about the steelhead. A subspecies of rainbow trout that typically migrates from the Pacific Northwest out to the ocean, the steelhead in the Great Lakes have adapted to utilize the lakes as they would an ocean. In springtime, they travel from rivers and tributaries that flow in and out of Lake Erie to congregate in the lake’s east basin.

The main put-in locations for fishing eastern Lake Erie are the town of Erie and Presque Isle, PA, or Fredonia and Buffalo, NY. Finding spring steelhead can be a challenge and professional guides can help track them down. Early spring conditions can be frigid so it’s best to plan for “Montana-cold weather,” Elnicki advises.

Later in the spring, the Buffalo-Niagara area hosts a world- class smallmouth bass fishing scene. “It’s on outdoor TV, which shows that it’s good,” Elnicki notes. People come from all around to take part in the action and six-pound fish aren’t uncommon. The bass are catch-and-release only during their spring spawn.

Reel in Whoppers from Lake Ontario

Northward from Lake Erie, the 36-mile-long Niagara River runs over and through the renowned Niagara Escarpment — descending 326 feet at Niagara Falls — then continues downstream and empties into Lake Ontario. Anglers prize the lower Niagara River as well as the shallow west end of Lake Ontario near the mouth of the Niagara River, known as the Niagara Bar.

Mike Elnicki with a Steelhead

As for what’s biting in early spring, Elnicki asserts, “Ginormous steelhead — can you imagine getting a rainbow trout that’s 30 inches long and weighs ten pounds? It’s a hoot! And there’s a bunch of ‘em!” Exquisite cooked on the grill, these massive 10-pound steelhead are joined by similar-sized brown trout and even bigger lake trout that reach up to 15 pounds.

Helping to feed these gargantuan fish are schools of tiny smelt that spawn nightly in the mouth of the Niagara River. Smelt are also delicious to eat — often featured in Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinners and loaded with heart-healthy omega-3s.

Elnicki describes fisherman during a typical smelt-catching episode. “They only do it at night, usually while drinking considerably. They net these little fish and fill buckets full. You have to gut them and cut the heads off, but then you eat pretty much the whole fish.” Smelt are best when eaten fresh (sometimes after a nap) and are typically pan-fried, paired with beer and a basketball game.

Later in the spring, coho salmon begin to appear en masse in the Niagara Bar. Having just fished there for coho last April, Elnicki boasts, “We caught nine salmon in three hours, and they’re phenomenal to eat — the best salmon you ever had in your life when you’re eating them fresh.”

For fishing both the lower Niagara as well as near-shore waters of Lake Ontario, a popular put-in site is the town of Lewiston, NY. Famous for being one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad, Lewiston welcomes visitors with small-town charm, eye-catching storefronts and mouthwatering eats. Downriver from Lewiston sits Fort Niagara, a restored British colonial military outpost dating back to 1726, known for its well-preserved architecture and captivating early American history.

The eastern basin of Lake Ontario toward the St. Lawrence River in the famed Thousand Islands region offers a different fishery with world-class spring muskie and pike fishing. Reaching upwards of 40 pounds, the muskies caught in eastern Ontario are “ridiculously big” as Elnicki puts it. Short for muskellunge, these larger-than-life fish swim alongside humongous pike that can register in the 25- to 30-inch range.

Whether you plan on hitting Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, the fish will be biting this spring. Just be sure to plan for brisk weather and consult with local experts for tips on maximizing your catch.

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Great Lakes Natural Wonders

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Micah
Angel

Roughly 100 years ago, mile-thick glaciers gradually melted away to unveil massive bodies of water carved into the ground beneath them, known today as North America’s Great Lakes. Sometimes referred to as inland seas, these colossal bodies make up more than a fifth of the world’s unfrozen surface freshwater and provide livelihood and recreation for tens of millions of North Americans. Boaters typically hit the lakes from late May through mid-September, with July and August providing ideal conditions on the water.

Because of the exceptional way they were formed, the Great Lakes offer a swath of natural wonders to explore, from mind-boggling rock formations to dramatic waterfalls. A diverse range of ecosystems are explored throughout the lakes from thousand-year-old forests to marshes, wetlands and Sahara-like dunes. These combined environments support more than 3,500 plant and animal species.

If you plan to cruise the Great Lakes anytime soon, check out these eight natural waterfront wonders.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Apostle Island kayaking Credit Tim Wilson on Flickr

This Lake Superior archipelago off the coast of Wisconsin’s picturesque Bayfield Peninsula bestows 22 unique islands to explore. Known for gorgeous red rock formations stacked like layer cakes, the Apostle Islands are composed of sandstone deposits left during the Precambrian era — from almost a billion years ago until about 660 million years ago.

Cemented over millions of years, the resulting coves and caves can be explored by kayak and afoot. Captivating rock formations are complemented by pristine beaches and ancient old-growth forests, while lighthouses peppered throughout the islands add a historic charm. A must- see on your excursion to the Apostle Islands, Devils Island offers majestic sea caves, crimson cliffs and dramatic arches jutting from crystal-clear waters, all overlooked by its historic lighthouse. Dockage options for visiting boaters are plentiful as many marinas line the Bayfield Peninsula.

Bruce Peninsula National Park Beach Credit Mhsheikholeslami on Wikimedia Commons

Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

In the remote, unspoiled waters of Lake Huron, Bruce Peninsula National Park sits at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Georgian Bay. Gray cliffs frame pale turquoise waters to give the bay an almost Mediterranean feel. Nearby hiking routes such as Bruce Lake, Marr Lake and Cyprus Lake trails immerse visitors in the vibrant native ecosystem and provide gorgeous panoramas of the bay. Bask on sandy beaches, kayak through mysterious coves, or take a dip in Indian Head Cove, an idyllic swimming hole. A visit to the iconic Grotto, where the aquamarine water appears to glow from reflected sunlight, is essential.

For you daredevils out there, it’s also a prime location for cliff-jumping! After sunset, gaze upward for spectacular views of the Milky Way and countless stars. Designated by the Royal Astronomical Society as a Dark Sky Preserve, Bruce Peninsula National Park offers clear skies and waters. The nearest place to dock is Living Water Marina in Collingwood, Ontario, offering slips from May to October and accommodating boats up to 80 feet.

Isle Royale Park bull moose Credit Ray Dumas on Flickr

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Situated in Lake Superior north of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, this rugged island group is home to grand forests, abundant wildlife and fascinating shipwrecks. Although it’s one of America's least-visited national parks, low attendance does not reflect the park's natural beauty. Only accessible by boat or seaplane, Isle Royale is only open from mid-April through late October. The park is best enjoyed by water, and boaters can discover stunning cliffs, secluded coves, tucked-away beaches and postcard-worthy vistas — all while reveling in pristine, transparent waters.

The park’s Rock Harbor Marina, found on the northeastern end of the main island, has more than 450 feet of dockage and accommodates vessels up to 65 feet. Isle Royale is considered a prime location for spotting wildlife including moose, wolves and foxes. At night the park serves as a prime location for Northern Lights viewing.

Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan

Found in the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Kitch-iti- kipi means “big cold spring” in Ojibwe, and the site is sometimes referred to as The Big Spring or Mirror of Heaven. After catching a glimpse of the natural spring’s glass-still, clear turquoise water, you’ll see why. Not just a wonder for the eyes, Kitch-iti-kipi boasts the largest freshwater spring in Michigan, gushing 10,000 gallons of water per minute through fissures in its limestone floor. The overflow from the spring rushes downstream, winding its way through the surrounding Manistique Forest before emptying into Indian Lake.

For an up-close look at Kitch-iti-kipi’s waters and aquatic life, take the crank-propelled observation raft and glide across the spring’s surface. The water is so clear you can see right through to the spring’s 40-foot-deep floor as trout race past. Open from mid-May through mid-October, Northern Escape Marina offers daily slip rates for visiting boaters.

Mackinac Island Arch Rock Credit Corey Seeman on Flickr

Mackinac Island State Park, Michigan

This extraordinary island in the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Michigan to Lake Huron, offers legendary limestone formations, stunning panoramas, mysterious caves and lush forests. Amid the park’s 70 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, visitors discover a plethora of natural spectacles. Gaze through Arch Rock, an immense natural archway more than 50 feet wide and towering 146 feet above the water, or marvel at Sugar Loaf, a 75-foot-high rock formation that juts out from the ground like a natural obelisk.

Complimenting the park’s natural wonders, Mackinac Island’s charming town transports guests to a bygone era with French Rustic, Colonial, Gothic, Victorian, Tudor and other architectural styles on display. Wander car-free streets to the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages as you try world- famous Mackinac Island fudge, then check out the 26,372- foot Mackinac Bridge, the third longest suspension bridge in the world. Mackinac Island State Harbor offers daily dockage from mid-May to mid-October.

Niagara Falls State Park, New York

One of the most recognized natural phenomena in North America, Niagara Falls is also the oldest state park in the United States. Composed of three separate falls — American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls — Niagara Falls delivers an awe-inspiring presentation. While the Canadian side provides a more comprehensive view of all three falls at once, the American side allows visitors to get up close and personal with the water. Witness firsthand the power of 6 million cubic feet of water cascading over with each passing minute, the ground beneath you rumbling as a cool mist brushes your skin.

For a more intimate experience, hop aboard the Maid of the Mist (American side) or Hornblower (Canadian side) boat tours, which take you right up to the falls. The American side offers the best hiking trails, and the falls can be enjoyed from the comfort of a nearby patio or rooftop. Skylon Tower in Canada makes for a breathtaking bird’s-eye view. Visiting boaters can dock at Chute Marine, a family-owned marina offering 26 slips, or check out private memberships at local yacht clubs.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Colorful cliffs and enchanting arches line the blue-green waters of Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The result of unforgiving wind, water, ice and extreme weather for millennia, vivid sandstone walls display vertical stripes in a mesmerizing palette of mineral-stained reds, greens and blues — hence the name Pictured Rocks. The best way to see the park’s natural features is by kayak. Paddle through Rainbow Cave, the largest cave along the park’s shoreline, or glide through the legendary Kissing Rock, a slender crevice formed by two gigantic boulders.

And you can’t miss Lovers Leap Arch, the most photographed feature of Pictured Rocks. For those who love exploring nooks and crannies, this park’s got you covered. Along with geological formations that inspire the imagination, serene beaches, adventurous hiking trails, cascading falls and an active lighthouse provide endless discovery within the park’s 15+ miles of shoreline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Dock at the 101-slip Cinder Pond Marina in Marquette, located east of the park.

Sleeping Bear Dunes north end Credit JIm on Flickr

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Encompassing a 35-mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands, this park draws almost 2 million visitors a year. After seeing the sheer size and grandeur of the dunes, it’s no wonder why. Sleeping Bear’s most mountainous dune towers 450 feet above Lake Michigan, providing enough altitude for hang gliders to take flight. Hike the dunes and bravely amble down to get your juices flowing or take a leisurely approach and stroll along the beaches. For a comprehensive experience, scope out the park’s wildlife, old-growth cedar forests, and spectacular views of the lake while cruising the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Sleeping Bear Dunes also offers a historic lighthouse, coastal villages and quaint farmsteads to explore.

Learn about the park’s rich seafaring history at the Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum. Leland Harbor provides the closest dockage to the park, a full-service marina with slips for vessels up to 45 feet.

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Spring 2024 Great Lakes Calendar of Events

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

As flowers bloom and temperatures rise in the north, spring becomes the perfect time for a Great Lakes escape. More than 9,000 miles of picturesque shorelines present historic ports packed with attractions. From Lake Superior to Lake Ontario, the region hosts a multitude of events to get seafarers excited for the spring boating season. From April to June, catch everything from boat shows and birdwatching to lakeside arts and music festivals.

APRIL

Detroit Bourbon Fest selection | Courtesy of Detroit Bourbon Fest

Detroit Bourbon Fest

Detroit, MI, April 6

This indoor festival hosted at Royal Oak Farmers Market takes place a few miles north of downtown Detroit. Explore 200+ whiskeys and bourbons, a high-end bottle section and staff selections, while sampling classic and specialty cocktails. Enjoy vendors, food trucks and live music.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Detroit River

Total Eclipse Fest 2024

Cleveland, OH, April 6-8

The Great Lakes Science Center partners with NASA Glenn Research to host this celestial celebration at downtown Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor. The city is located along the path of totality, meaning it will experience several minutes of darkness during this solar eclipse. Join family-friendly science activities, performances, food vendors and free eclipse-viewing glasses.

Where to Dock: Oasis Marinas at North Coast Harbor

Great Lakes Poetry Festival

Marquette, MI, April 22-27

As April celebrates National Poetry Month, the Peter White Public Library near Lake Superior hosts a week-long event honoring the art of writing. Catch readings, live performances, open mics, workshops and contests. Be sure to check out the three-day International Chapbook Competition.

Where to Dock: Cinder Pond Marina

Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth | Courtesy of DECC

Homegrown Music Festival

Duluth, MN, April 28-May 5

What began as just 10 acts performing in 1999 has grown into an annual community-wide event hosting hundreds of bands and art showcases. Venture to various venues throughout the city such as the waterfront Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, as well as local breweries, distilleries and restaurants to see everything from poetry to visual arts.

Where to Dock: Lakehead Boat Basin

Yellow warbler | Credit: SteveByland

MAY

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Oak Harbor, OH, May 3-12

Head to the “Warbler Capital of the World” this spring and witness amazing species at this 10-day birding event. Attend photography and art workshops, presentations, and evening socials, and catch all things bird lover-themed from the Birder’s Marketplace to Bird Trivia Night.

Where to Dock: Maumee Bay Lodge & Conference Center

Chicago Mayfest

Chicago, IL, May 17-19

Support the local neighborhood, celebrate the arts scene and enjoy music, artwork and delicious food at this annual festival. Located in the Historic District of Lincoln Park at Armitage & Sheffield, two stages will showcase some of Chicago’s most acclaimed musicians. Vendors display throughout the district presenting tons of artwork to buy.

Where to Dock: Chicago Harbors

Great Lakes Boating Festival

Grosse Pointe Shores, MI, May 18-19

Join the Grosse Point Yacht Club in celebrating the 35th annual Great Lakes Boating Festival. Sip, shop and stroll along the docks to browse various tenders, bow riders and center consoles on display at the marina, plus exhibitors. Peruse the Art Show, catch in-water demos and groove to steel drums.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Jefferson Beach

Bayfield in Bloom

Bayfield, WI, May 31-June 8

Gaze across gardens filled with 50,000+ daffodils and orchards of apple blossoms at this annual springtime celebration. The week-long event features gorgeous garden tours, a special live broadcast of Garden Talk with Larry Meiller at Bayfield Lakeside Pavilion and the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony at Bayfield City Harbor on June 2.

Where to Dock: Apostle Islands Marina

JUNE

Chicago Blues Festival

Chicago, IL, June 6-9

Known as the largest blues festival in the world, catch some of the industry’s best acts at this four-day event. Concerts are hosted daily in the heart of downtown Chicago at Millennium Park. Transients can choose from one of the many Chicago Harbors marinas located along the coast such as DuSable, Monroe or Burnham Harbors.

Where to Dock: Chicago Harbors

Riverside Arts Festival

Bay City, MI, June 8-9

This festival celebrates its 50th year showcasing local entertainment, vendors and Great Lakes artistry along the Saginaw Riverfront. Artists from across the nation showcase a variety of works including handmade pottery, jewelry, sculptures, intricate woodwork, home and garden items, and more.

Where to Dock: Bay Harbor Marina

Credit: Bay Harbor Lake Marina

Bay Harbor In-Water Boat Show

Bay Harbor, MI, June 14-16

Head to Bay Harbor Lake Marina to see exhibitors and cruisers on display at this annual spring boat show. The Village at Bay Harbor is a lovely destination boasting world-class amenities, waterfront dining, charming vacation homes and a boutique-style hotel. The show supports Great Lakes marinas and local businesses.

Where to Dock: Bay Harbor Lake Marina

Adelaide Pointe Powerboat Weekend

Muskegon, MI, June 21-22

Formerly known as Muskegon Powerboat Weekend, the opening event of the West Michigan offshore season is changing its name and location and moving to Adelaide Pointe. Located on Muskegon Lake, the two-day cruisers event hosts boating activities, a dock party and poker run.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Great Lakes

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Top Long Island Boating Destinations

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Micah
Angel
The Hamptons credit Jupiterimages

Home to New York's most sought-after waterfront destinations, Long Island provides everything a boater could desire. White-sand beaches and tranquil bays complement charming town centers and ritzy restaurants perfectly. Famous for its high-profile seaside havens like the Hamptons, Long Island is best appreciated by boat. There’s a bounty to discover while cruising the island’s 1,600- mile coastline — teeming with fish and dotted with inviting marinas, fetching beach towns, flavorsome vineyards and exclusive shopping.

Framed by the Long Island Sound to the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the South, Long Island extends west-to-east from Manhattan’s East River to Montauk Point. It’s the largest island in the contiguous United States, extending over 118 miles long and up to 23 miles wide. Elegant architecture, world-class dining and luxurious accommodations have drawn vacationers here for more than a century. The following nine Long Island destinations belong on every boater’s must-visit list:

Port Washington

Tree-lined streets with alluring gift shops, stately historic homes and a lively restaurant scene define this oceanfront hamlet on Long Island’s North Shore. Port Washington’s beaches, parks and wellness retreats make this charismatic village an excellent place for some quality R&R. Relish a spa day or enjoy a leisurely lunch while gazing upon the harbor dotted with yachts and sailboats. This coastal community was originally founded as a sand-mining town in the late 19th century and later became a hub for boats out of New York City. Many of the historic buildings remain today, such as the Sands Point Preserve on the original Guggenheim Estate. Located about 20 miles from New York City, Port Washington presents an ideal entry or exit point for boating city-goers.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Capri or North Hempstead Town Dock

Huntington Bay

This mile-long bay and welcoming waterfront village on the North Shore of Long Island was first settled in 1653, its neighboring harbors serving as access points to Long Island’s interior farmlands. Huntington Bay’s architectural uniqueness is thanks in part to August Heckscher, a German-born philanthropist who financed many of Huntington’s homes and built the Heckscher Museum of Art and Heckscher Park. A section of Long Island’s “Gold Coast,” a nickname earned by the affluent communities on its northern shores, Huntington Bay offers exquisite mansions to ogle over, paired with idyllic streets lined with boutique eateries and shops.

Where to Dock: West Shore Marina

Port Jefferson credit dszc

Port Jefferson

Friendly parks and beaches on Long Island’s northern shore along with stunning views of the Long Island Sound can be found in Port Jefferson. Cultural attractions like the Historical Society and Long Island Explorium, a nautical- themed museum with hands-on activities for kids, make this former ship-building town fun for the whole family. Boat enthusiasts can check out Bayles Boat Shop, where visitors learn about building and restoring wooden boats. One of just two ports on Long Island with access from Connecticut, Port Jefferson has become a top boating destination with fantastic restaurants, festivals and year-round live theater.

Where to Dock: Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa

Riverhead

Along the Peconic River in the lush greenery of Long Island’s East End, Riverhead bestows ample ways to adventure. Kayak the river, attend a local event such as the annual cardboard boat race (early August) or catch the thrill of a car race at Riverhead Raceway. Riverhead’s Long Island Aquarium boasts one of the largest coral reefs in the world, and Jamesport Brewery invites visitors to taste freshly brewed beer made with homegrown hops and barley. In addition to photogenic farms, vineyards and beaches, delectable eateries abound in Riverhead’s historic downtown area.

Where to Dock: Treasure Cove Resort Marina

East Hampton

Opulent estates, endless beaches and a provocative art scene describe this hamlet on Long Island’s southeastern shore. Noted today for its relaxed surfy vibe among Hamptons hot spots, the village of East Hampton was originally settled by Puritan farmers in the 17th century. Between taking long beach walks and eating world-class food, get inspired at the Pollock-Krasner House, an art museum and the former residence of artists Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner. Catch an exhibit or show at Guild Hall, a museum, performing arts and education center founded in 1931. Also worth a visit while in East Hampton, the stunning gardens and outdoor sculpture gallery at LongHouse Reserve are sure to leave the whole family breathless.

Where to Dock: Halsey’s Marina or Three Mile Harbor Marina

Shelter Island

Between the North and South Forks, the two peninsulas Long Island tapers into at its East End, lies Shelter Island — home to century-old inns, a nature preserve, bikeable roads and exhilarating hikes. The 29-square-mile island is only accessible by boat or ferry, creating a secluded feel for visitors who come to paddleboard, golf the island’s nine-hole course, peruse organic markets, yacht-watch while dining alfresco, savor wine at local vineyards or sun themselves on tranquil beaches. Step back in time at the Shelter Island Historical Society or traverse within the 2,100-acre Mashomack Preserve.

Where to Dock: Piccozzi’s Dering Harbor Marina or Coecles Harbor Marina & Boatyard

Greenport

Greenport credit DenisTangney Jr

This amiable North Fork seaport village is renowned for vintage shopping, spectacular golf courses, hip restaurants, boutique hotels and award-winning vineyards. At this former whaling and railroad town, visitors can discover Long Island’s seafaring and shipbuilding past at the East End Seaport Maritime Museum or bone up on train lore at the Railroad Museum of Long Island. Encircled by the picturesque Greenport and Stirling Harbors, the waterfront town center spotlights an iconic 100-year-old antique carousel in the heart of Mitchell Park. Just a short drive or boat ride from Greenport, at the tip of the North Fork, lies Orient Point. Its coffee-pot-shaped lighthouse adorns panoramic views of the Long Island Sound and Gardiners Bay.

Where to Dock: Mitchell Park Marina, Townsend Manor Inn and Marina, or Safe Harbor Stirling

Sag Harbor

Split between the towns of East Hampton and Southampton, the village of Sag Harbor bridges the two in incredible fashion. Known for small-town cuteness, choice shopping, delightful restaurants and blissful beaches, Sag Harbor blends its 18th century whaling history with a contemporary low-key feel. After catching your morning buzz at Grindstone Coffee and Donuts, treat yourself to gifts on historic Main Street, trek around Elizabeth Alexandra Morton National Wildlife Refuge or sunbathe at Havens Beach on Sag Harbor Bay. Thanks to the protected bay, Sag Harbor’s beaches tend to have much calmer waters than others in the Hamptons.

Where to Dock: Sag Harbor Yacht Club or Sag Harbor Cove Yacht Club

Montauk

At the tip of Long Island’s South Fork, Montauk offers surf-friendly beaches, stellar views and a lively downtown. Known as the “end of the world,” New York’s easternmost point started as a fishing village before it became a summer destination for warm- weather beachgoers. Central to Montauk and hosting the Montauk Music Festival each May is the picture- perfect Montauk Point Lighthouse, commissioned by President George Washington in 1792. Behold other panoramas while cruising along the Montauk Highway or climbing the bluffs of Shadmoor State Park, then wash it all down with a beer at Montauk Brewing Company. For a more rustic excursion, saddle up and ride horses along the beach at Deep Hollow Ranch, the oldest working ranch in the United States.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Montauk Yacht Club or Montauk Anglers Club & Marina

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Boating in the San Juan Islands

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Carol
Bareuther
Courtesy San Juan Islands Fishing Charters

Take a week to cruise the San Juan Islands. It’s well worth it; you’ll have a whale of a time (pun intended). This Pacific Northwest archipelago is located some 70 nautical miles north of Seattle and nearly 60 miles south of Vancouver, Canada.

Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is the most popular first stop. This small town offers a soup-to-nuts of attractions to see plus a 500-slip full-service marina. Nine miles to the northeast is Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juans at 57 square miles. Less than five miles to the southeast is Lopez Island, half the size of Orcas.

Among these three, you can enjoy everything from a life-sized art scene to seafood dining and wineries, history, and nature. The Travel Channel named the San Juan Islands one of the top 10 places in North America for whale watching. Orcas love it here. You will too, especially if you visit these must-see places on the islands.

Courtesy San Juan Islands Sculpture Park

Take a Walk in the Art

Put on comfortable shoes, pack a picnic and visit the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park. Located next to the Roche Harbor Resort on the north side of the island, this 20-acre walking wonderland is landscaped with more than 150 pieces of art. See these on five short trails, ranging from a 10- to 30-minute walk, that meander through woodlands, meadows and the seaside.

The sculptures, fashioned by both famous and fledging sculptors, all reflect nature. There’s Large Marge, a 13-foot-tall mama grizzly bear made of bronze, while I’ve Been Kissed is a cute 2 1⁄2-foot-tall frog figure. Carving your name in the 30-foot- tall Friendship Totem is not only allowed but encouraged. Another interactive area is the starfish-shaped sandbox where kids can build sculptures with nearby materials like driftwood and shells.

In July and August on Saturdays and Sundays, the park offers free art activities for kids and adults. “There are covered tables and chairs, or bring a blanket and sit on one of the grassy hills to enjoy a leisurely picnic surrounded by artworks,” invites Marita Holdaway, curatorial director. Entry is free, but a $5 donation is welcome.  

Slurp Local Oysters

Sit at a table overlooking Westcott Bay on San Juan Island and eat freshly harvested shellfish at the Westcott Bay Shellfish Co’s Tide Tables restaurant. How fresh? You can watch crews farming the hand-raised Pacific and Olympia oysters, Manila clams, and Mediterranean mussels on the tidelands below while you eat at this family-owned and operated aquaculture farm.

“We have converted many a non-oyster eater to an oyster lover with our grilled oysters. These are grilled on our outside barbecue with a variety of compound butters like chipotle bourbon, lime cilantro and sriracha, and herb lemon and garlic,” says Andrea Anderson, owner. In addition to grilled oysters, try oysters on the half-shell, steamed clams or mussels, artisan salads, charcuterie boards, soups, and paninis. Be sure to make a reservation in advance during the Memorial Day to Labor Day season.

Wine the Time Away

A real find is Orcas Island Winery, the only one of its kind on the island. Opened in 2011, the vineyard now pours up to 10 locally produced and crafted reds, whites, roses and naturally sparkling wines. Set at the base of majestic Turtleback Mountain, sip wine outside in the ambiance of rolling green hills. Picnic baskets are available, packed with cheeses, crackers, other charcuterie and picnic blankets. Or soak in the view indoors through the farmhouse tasting room’s windows where wine flight experiences, glass pours and bottles are available.

In the summer, “We host events for the community and visitors alike such as welcoming chefs, winemakers, artists and musicians for concerts,” says Tera Andaya, who with her husband Wesley Landman, has owned the boutique family winery since 2019.  

Courtesy Village Cycles - Lopez Island

Bike Ride on the Wild Side

Lopez Island is flatter and more rural than the Orcas and San Juan Islands. This makes it ideal to rent a bike and pedal through forests, farmlands and along beach fronts. “As you pedal, be prepared for enchanting views of pristine blue water surrounding the island and the majestic Olympic Mountain Range in the distance. Cycling the entire island is not only possible but can be accomplished in just a few hours, making it a memorable journey of discovery,” says Aubrey Mai, owner of Village Cycles, with husband Kenny.

Key attractions to cycle to include the Fishermans Bay Spit Preserve and Shark Reef Sanctuary. Islanders wave at each passing car or bike, so don’t be surprised at a one-finger-wiggle or whole-hand- howdy. The company rents hybrid, drop bar performance and electric bikes by the day and offers bike delivery services with a day’s notice.  

Courtesy Lopez Island Historical Museum

Travel Back in Time

The Lopez Island Historical Museum, a mile north of the Lopez Islander Resort & Marina, is a small museum with a big museum attitude. “Covering archaeology, Coast Salish and settler history, birds of prey, plant communities, and children’s corner, we’ve got something to interest everyone. Outdoor exhibits include a historic gill netter fishing boat, Coast Salish racing canoe, farm equipment, photo murals and native plant gardens,” says Amy Frost, executive director of the Lopez Island Historical Society.

“If you are a real history buff, plan for an hour to 90-minute visit.” Afterward, stroll around the village, then head to the Lopez Island Creamery. Buy a pint of ice cream — try local Bow Hill Blueberry, Wild Blackberry or Skagit Strawberry — then walk down to watch seals and boats come in and out of Fisherman Bay.  

Go Fish

Courtesy San Juan Islands Fishing Charters Capt Andy Derksema

Dock your yacht and cast off on a salmon, light tackle or bottom fishing trip with San Juan Islands Fishing Charters. The outfit, headed by Capt. Andy Derksema, is based at the Spring Street Landing in Friday Harbor. “There are a variety of species (seasonably) available from halibut, salmon and lingcod to shellfish such as spot prawns and crab, as well as some of our smaller species, kelp greenling, sanddabs and flounder,” says Derksema.

“Our unique location surrounded by islands and mountains cuts down the swell, so seasickness doesn’t happen very often.” Trips range from three to five hours. Tackle and fishing licenses are provided onboard, so just pack snacks, sunscreen and ID.  

Watch for Whales

Tails Friday Harbor in San Juan Island is a gateway to the underwater world of Puget Sound and the wildlife that lives there, like whales. “We focus on seeing Bigg’s Killer Whales (orca whales), humpback whales, minke whales, grey whales, harbor porpoises, Dall’s porpoise, river otters, Pacific white-sided dolphins, seals, sea lions, mink, bald eagles, and sea birds,” says Angie Krieger, manager at San Juan Excursions Whale Watch and Wildlife Cruises.

May through September offers the best odds to encounter orca whales, Krieger adds. “If guests don’t see orca whales, they will get a free pass to come back again.” The company’s 85’ former Navy search and rescue vessel, Odyssey, boasts creature comforts such as a heated cabin, restrooms, snack bar and large wraparound outdoor decks for the best views during the three-to-four-hour tour.

Where to Dock

Friday Harbor Marina

San Juan Island  

The marina offers 500 slips/100 transient slips for vessels up to 70’ and amenities include power, water, fuel pier, fish-cleaning station, ice, showers, laundry and Wi-Fi.

Deer Harbor Marina

Orcas Island  

Boaters can expect to find 110 slips for vessels up to 100’ as well as power, water, fuel, restrooms, swimming pool access, grocery store and Wi-Fi.

Lopez Islander Resort & Marina

Lopez Island

This marina runs 64 slips for vessels up to 50’. Guests are welcome to power, water, fuel, dockside store, fish-cleaning station, crab boiling area, plus showers, laundry and a swimming pool.

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Boating Destination: Atlantic City, NJ

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Atlantic City, NJ | Credit: Pixabay

Mix an historic Jersey Shore town with a touch of Las Vegas and you get the vibrant Atlantic City. Originally occupied by the Lenni-Lenape Indians, the eight-mile-long Absecon Island was once lined with thick woods and dunes before becoming the high rise-filled resort town that it is today.

Established in 1870, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is the oldest in the United States lined with casinos, hotels, dining and amusements. Each summer, vacationers flock from along the coast to soak up the sun and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.

The city introduced its first casino in 1978 with the premiere of the oceanfront Resorts Casino Hotel where people waited outside for hours for a chance to play table games and slots. Today the hotel boasts everything from live entertainment, comedy shows and musical acts to beachfront dining, including the lively Landshark Bar & Grill Restaurant on the sandy side of the boardwalk.

Just off the boardwalk’s main strip, the Atlantic City Marina District is one of the best activity hubs in town. Nestled within a sheltered harbor off the Absecon Inlet, Golden Nugget Hotel, Casino & Marina is an ideal boater destination to dock, dine, stay and play all in one. Catch shows at The Grand or The Showroom entertainment venues, relax in the Spa & Salon at Golden Nugget and dine at one of the many on-site restaurants.

Absecon Lighthouse | Credit: CWLawrence

Other notable casino resorts offering upscale venues, dining, amenities and a lively nightlife scene include Harrah’s Resort and MGM’s Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa. The district also provides dock and dine options including Wonder Bar, a tiki bar-style deck with live bands, and Gilchrist Restaurant in historic Gardiner’s Basin where you can boat to breakfast along the back bays and feast on famous hotcakes.

Aside from casinos and nightclubs, the town is also home to attractions from scenic boat tours to arts and culture. Catch stunning views and watch dolphins aboard Atlantic City Cruises or climb the Absecon Lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse and one of the oldest in the country. Check out cultural exhibits at the Atlantic City Free Public Library and events at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall or the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The town comes alive during the summer hosting annual events such as boardwalk entertainment, the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation jazz concert series and the Atlantic City Airshow. Cruisers especially love Jimmy Johnson’s Atlantic City “Quest for the Ring” Championship Fishing Week in July and Golden Nugget’s In-Water Boat Show in September.

WHERE TO DOCK

Frank S. Farley State Marina at Golden Nugget Atlantic City
609-441-8662

Golden Nugget | Credit: Alexa Zizzi

Golden Nugget Hotel, Casino & Marina’s luxury resort presents everything from stunning waterfront suites to on-site attractions and entertainment. Situated in a sheltered harbor adjacent to the resort, Farley State Marina offers 630 spacious slips for vessels up to 300 feet. Amenities include a fuel dock, 100-AMP electric and exclusive access to the rooftop H20 Pool.

Kammerman’s Marina
609-348-8418

Established in 1961, this family-owned marina is located on Clam Creek between Snug Harbor and Gardiner’s Basin. The full-service facility offers transient slips, on-call marine mechanics, showers, laundry, pump out and a well-stocked ship’s store.

WHERE TO DINE

Dock’s Oyster House
609-345-0092

Since 1897, generations of the Dougherty family have served the community in this cozy, maritime-inspired atmosphere. The restaurant blends a classic oyster bar with upscale dining offering specialty dishes such as crab meat au gratin, pecan crusted salmon and Dock’s Seafood Fry.

Knife & Fork Inn
609-344-1133

Established in 1912 and dotted with Prohibition-era décor, this steak and seafood restaurant is housed in a gorgeous building full of history. Enjoy a wide menu selection including king salmon, lobster thermidor and prime-cut steaks and chops.

Chef Vola’s
609-345-2022

Feast on fresh seafood, pasta and home- made desserts from chilled limoncello cream pie to warm ricotta cheesecake at this private home-turned-restaurant. The quaint family-style dining room has limited seating so be sure to reserve ahead.

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Marina Updates: What's Up Dock?

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

From small ports to luxury resorts, marinas are buzzing with news and exciting announcements. Constantly working to accommodate boaters’ needs from upgraded amenities to new fuel docks, properties continue to enhance facilities and make guests feel at home. Check out the latest happenings at the following marinas from the Great Lakes to Florida.

Adelaide Pointe Marina

Muskegon, MI

Celebrating Michigan’s newest marina, Adelaide Pointe recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation along Muskegon Lake. The marina features 33 transient slips with full dockside power hookups, fuel, pump out, laundry, showers, private captain’s lounge and pool. The facility also offers a service dock and a 277-dry slip marina accommodating vessels up to 40 feet.

Courtesy of Nantucket Boat Basin

Nantucket Boat Basin

Nantucket, MA

This premier New England resort recently renovated its 29 luxury cottages with fresh styles inspired by classic maritime designs. Guests can enjoy spacious living rooms, full kitchens, private outdoor seating and complimentary bicycles. Dine on the patio overlooking stunning waterfront views and take advantage of upscale amenities such as pre-arrival concierge services. This full-service marina offers 240 slips. Bring along your furry family members and stay in the Woof Cottages for pet-friendly lodging.

Lighthouse Point Marina

Baltimore, MD

Operated by Oasis Marinas management company, this destination recently introduced a multimillion-dollar waterfront revitalization along the Baltimore harbor. Located in the lively Canton neighborhood, the reconstructed 400-slip marina offers non-skid floating docks accommodating slips from 33 to 300 feet. The marina also acquired and revamped the on-site restaurant, premiering the new Drift Bar, a floating dock bar with fruity cocktails, shareable bites and spectacular sunset views.

The Wharf

Washington, DC

The Wharf recently announced the end of its Phase 2 construction, expanding the development’s footprint to 24 acres of land along the Potomac River. New amenities range from a fuel dock, the Dock Shop marina store and The Clubhouse boater’s lounge to new security gates, on-site restaurants and retail. The latest fine dining to grace the waterfront district is Limani, a high-end Mediterranean seafood restaurant that focuses on traditional Greek specialties and overlooks the marina. The next restaurant set to open at The Wharf is Kinfolk Southern Kitchen, serving American bourbon and BBQ.

Dewey Beach Yacht Club

Dewey Beach, DE

Boat rentals | Courtesy of Dewey Beach Yacht Club

This first-class marina recently completed a total renovation and expansion, adding a full-service boatyard and 102 new dry storage racks for vessels up to 31 feet. Amenity upgrades include a new boaters’ lounge, ship store, fuel, laundry and bathroom facilities. The yacht club offers exclusive member benefits including complimentary paddleboards and 20% discount on boat and jet-ski rentals on-site through Sea Rocket Water Adventures. Additional transient dockage is available throughout the season.

Isle of Palms Marina

Isle of Palms, SC

Last summer, this Lowcountry marina celebrated the opening of its newly renovated marina market, The Outpost. The shop is a boutique, deli and ship store all in one stop — revamped to better serve guests and the community. The marina offers annual and transient slips, fuel, laundry facilities, boat rentals and a newly renovated parking lot.

Happy Landings Marina

Key West, FL

This new boutique marina, located in the heart of Key West, premiered its grand opening in 2023. Designed as a fishermen haven, the destination is an ideal spot for divers and boasts the area’s first public boat lifts. The marina offers 75 wet slips, concierge services, a fish-cleaning station, plus more upscale amenities to come this year including a boater’s lounge and apartment rentals.

Do you have news to share about upgrades or renovations at your marina? Send them to azizzi@marinalife.com, and we’ll help spread the word to our boaters.

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Cooking Class while Cruising

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Carol
Bareuther

If you’re looking for a unique and useful dock and dine, consider small group culinary schools for home cooks run by the chefs or owners themselves along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. These hands-on, highly social experiences offer a variety of menus, a delicious meal at the end, and new culinary skills to take back to the galley.

Most classes are dinners, but brunches and lunches are also available, as are private classes curated for a group of friends looking for that “something different” in a shoreside excursion. Here’s a sampling:

Salt Water Farm Cooking School

Saltwater Farm Credit Kristin Teig

Near Camden, ME

In this family farmhouse overlooking Penobscot Bay, learn to cook New England coastal classics such as local oysters with mignonette, lobster stew and halibut steaks. Hands-on classes set in a converted cedar-beam barn from May to October focus on farm-to-table, regional and international fare. The founder and instructor, Annemarie Ahearn, worked at Saveur magazine, cooked with Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame, and teaches classes in France and Mexico in the early spring and fall. “Classes are three hours, hands-on, and we enjoy the meal outside in the garden,” says Ahearn, whose cookbook, Modern Country Cooking: Kitchen Skills and Seasonal Recipes from Salt Water Farm, is for sale as a nice take-home keepsake.

Cooking with Abby

Norwell, MA

Handmade egg pasta, clam chowder, seafood paella, and warm and cold lobster rolls, plus desserts like panna cotta, flourless chocolate cake, and mini carrot cakes are on class menus with Abby Gray. Once a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill for a political magazine, Gray followed her passion, graduated from Boston University Culinary School, and cooked with famous Master Chef Jacques Pepin. “I love to teach and always encourage lots of interaction, from answering questions to guiding each technique,” says Gray, whose cooking studio is in her home, 25 minutes south of Boston and 5 miles west of Scituate Harbor. Knife skills, Indian cuisine, Mediterranean meals, gluten-free, and kid’s classes are among the offerings.

The Fig Cooking School

Courtesy The Fig Cooking School

Milford, CT

Prepare a French bistro-style dinner: steak au poivre, roasted caramelized tomatoes with stilton, haricot verts with caramelized shallots, and lavender crème brulé. This is one of many cuisines Heide Lang, founder and culinary director, teaches to classes of 15 to 20 participants at a time. Trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York, Lang’s school is the namesake for her three daughters — Francesca, Isabella and Gabrielle. It’s housed in a quaint storefront on Naugatuck Avenue. “Bringing strangers together through food! The experience is truly one of a kind,” says Lang. Italian Family Dinner, When in Rome, Dinner in Normandy and a Night in Marrakech are a few of the international cuisine themes.

Schola Cooking Classes

Baltimore, MD

The Art of Making Pasta is one of the most popular classes of over 200 menus offered by chef/owner, Amy von Lange, who trained at New York City’s International Culinary Center and spent six months in Italy cooking at fine dining restaurants in Parma and Sicily. “You learn it’s easy to make pasta like agnolotti and orecchiette from scratch. We introduce different sauces like a mushroom ragout and sausage with arugula pesto.” Several classes feature Maryland seafood, with participants learning how to shuck oysters, make a mignonette, and fry and roast oysters with different toppings.  

No Thyme to Cook

Solomons Island, MD

John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman and Robert Mitchum ate in this spot when it was the Bowen Inn. Chef Gwyn Novak’s great-grandfather founded the inn in 1918, and her family rebuilt on the same spot after a tragic fire destroyed the inn in 2006. Today, class participants, working in four groups of four people each, prepare three-course meals with a panoramic view of the water. Mediterranean, a Murder Mystery Dinner, 30-Minute Meals, and Chesapeake Bay Classic Oysters are among the themes. “Farm to table, where every ingredient down to the salt is sourced locally, and regional classics like Smith Island Cake and St. Mary’s Stuffed Ham, are favorites,” says Novak, a Baltimore International College culinary graduate, and author of cookbooks, How to Cook for Beginners and One Pot Supreme. Guest chef instructors include Michelin-star restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier, who took participants step-by- step to prepare foie gras ravioli and crispy Long Island duck.

In the Kitchen with Chef Bob Waggoner

Charleston, SC

Dinner party meets cooking class is the best way to describe Waggoner’s three-hour, meat-fish-dessert, participant-prepared meals with no more than two to a pan. Classes take place in his historic district showcase kitchen and are limited to 12 people. As much entertainer as chef (he won an Emmy for his Off the Menu TV show with Turner South), Waggoner regals students with culinary stories from his days helping to define Charleston’s cuisine in the 1990s to working at Michelin-star restaurants in France. He shares his culinary secrets, too. “I have one big square table where we all eat together. There are gold leaf plates, paired wines and a player piano for music in the background,” says Waggoner.

Chef Darin’s Kitchen Table

Savannah, GA

Learn to make southern-style pralines and Lowcountry favorites such as shrimp and grits and country captain chicken from Chef Darin Sehnert, a Johnson & Wales University culinary graduate, whose cooking school is in the city’s picturesque Victorian district. Participants don aprons and follow along as Sehnert teaches everything from the basics like knife skills to multi-course meals. Latin, Thai, Italian, Spanish and Asian are among the cuisines he covers. Yet it’s a taste of place that draws students. “A popular class is the fried chicken social. It includes shrimp deviled eggs, quick braised collards, Savannah red rice and buttermilk pie,” says Sehnert.  

Don’t Burn It!

Courtesy Dont Burn It

West Palm Beach, FL

If you ever wondered what it was like to dine on the Titanic, here’s your chance. David Cole, celebrity chef and author of cookbooks, Don’t Burn It and Take It or Leave It, offers immersive culinary experiences. These include The Great Gatsby, Arabian Nights and Love in Paris. “Menus change monthly, with each three-course meal having its own unique theme, music and décor,” says Cole. On the Titanic First Class Night, you make cognac shrimp to start, a potato lyonnaise and imperial chicken entrée with a parfait de eclair for dessert.  

Hands-On Cooking with Giuliano Hazan

Sarasota, FL

The only son of Marcella Hazan, whose cookbooks introduced Americans to traditional Italian cooking techniques, Giuliano is a celebrity chef and cookbook author. His Classic Pasta Cookbook has been translated into 12 languages. “Everybody has their own workstation. I demonstrate techniques like chopping onions and peeling tomatoes, and then we all do the same and everybody helps,” says Chef Giuliano, whose four-hour classes are held in his and his wife’s home on the Phillippi Creek about 4 miles from Safe Harbor Siesta Key marina. Examples of a four-course menu include risotto with asparagus, marinated green beans, baked salmon in a pouch and strawberry gelato, all with Italian wine.  

Mardi Gras School of Cooking

Courtesy Mardi Gras School of Cooking - class

New Orleans, LA

Learn to combine European, Native American, African and South American ingredients to make authentic New Orleans gumbo, shrimp etouffee and bananas foster. “Our proven recipes have been handed down through the generations of our culinary team’s families. The most popular class is the Cajun/Creole roux class,” says Chef Liam Doran, operations manager, who previously worked for NOLA restaurants in the Windsor Court Hotel and Ritz-Carlton New Orleans on Canal Street. “Our jumbo shrimp and crabs are caught daily by local fishermen from the Gulf of Mexico. We use the finest smoked andouille sausage and tasso ham made for us by Poche Deli in Lafayette, and our vegetables come from local farms on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.”

Take a Cooking Class on your Boat

Chefs such as Kristin Alpine, owner of Wildflowers & Fresh Food, in Fairhope, AL, on Mobile Bay, will arrive with the ingredients and teach easy yet flavorful recipes including black bean and mango chili, chickpeas and roasted garlic soup, grapefruit and kale salad with cashews. “I’ve done classes over a burner at a campsite, so a galley is easy,” says Alpine, who is also a registered nurse. If you catch a fish while cruising, she can teach you how to make several 10-minute toppers that can also jazz up chicken. Citrus salsa verde, Thai pickled shallots, and carrot ginger dressing, to name a few. Brunch, picnics, build a charcuterie board, dinner party, cooking with kids, and sips and party fare are some of Alpine’s themed classes. “Or tell me what you want. I’ll put together five menus, and you select the one you’d like me to teach.”

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Jason deCaires Taylor Underwater Sculptures

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Susan Elnicki
Wade
Coral Carnival - JasonCaires Taylor
Coral Carnival - JasonCaires Taylor

To resurrect barren areas of the ocean floor, environmentalists around the globe have erected artificial reefs made of everything from scuttled ships and oil rigs to abandoned cars and construction rubble. Their goal: To restore marine habitats and coax aquatic life back to damaged areas under the waves.

In May 2006, an innovative British artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, took a unique approach to man-made reefs by submerging works of art to create the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park off the west coast of Grenada. The area had sustained serious damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and Taylor’s 75 statues became the foundation for coral and microscopic organisms to attach, colonize and rebuild the marine ecosystem. For the past 17 years, the 800 square meter park has been rejuvenated with aquatic life that includes coral, sponges, sea urchins, sharks, turtles and schools of fish.

Coral Carnival-JasondeCaires Talyor
Coral Carnival-JasondeCaires Talyor

Taylor’s new installation of sculptures, called Coral Carnival, promises to not only expand the ecological recovery efforts at the park, but also celebrate Grenada’s rich traditions and history. In 2023, Taylor and four local artists crafted and submerged 25 new human sculptures inspired by Grenada’s annual festival of Spicemas.

Since colonial times, Spicemas has blended French-Catholic Carnival and African cultural traditions into festivities that feature dazzling attire, dance performances and parades to the rhythms of Calypso and Soca music. When slaves were emancipated in 1834, freed Africans joined in the activities, folding their customs into the mix.

Coral Carnival - JasondeCaires Taylor
Coral Carnival - JasondeCaires Taylor

Taylor’s new Spicemas statues are dressed in colorful costumes that represent the cultural heritage of the island. Some satirize the thoughts and actions of slave masters from the past; others wear wire mesh masks that symbolize the loss of identity through slavery, and many are clad in circular mirrors and dusted with white talcum powder to warn away enemies.

The life-sized sculptures are cast from Grenada residents, made of high-grade stainless steel and pH-neutral marine cement, and designed with surfaces that encourage algae and coral to attach and grow. Their bases look like rock formations with holes and shelters for marina life to inhabit, such as octopuses and lobster.

The new pieces are only 3 meters from the surface, making them easy for snorkelers and scuba divers to see. To visit them, you can take a guided tour on a glass-bottom boat or tie up your own boat at a mooring ball. By the time you arrive, tiny aquatic creatures will be clinging to the statues and beginning to build a new marine ecosystem.

Taylor’s photographs will take you on a journey from creating the statues, painting their Spicemas regalia, installing them into the water and anchoring them on the ocean floor to welcome new life forms at the underwater park. To learn more about Jason deCaires Taylor and his art and conservation projects, go to underwatersculpture.com

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Authentic New England Dishes

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Max
Wade

The culinary landscape of New England is usually associated with tried-and- true classics: Maine lobster rolls, Vermont maple syrup and, of course, clam chowder. But nestled among these gustatory superstars is a host of hyperlocal dishes preserved by working-class and immigrant communities throughout the region.

From the unique steamed hamburgers of Meriden, CT, to the Rhode Island lunchroom staple, coffee milk, New England is full of delicious surprises for the adventurous and curious foodie. The next time you come to shore, treat your hungry crew to three dishes from eastern New England and savor the flavors of eating like a local.

North Shore Roast Beef - Hot Box, Somerville
North Shore Roast Beef - Hot Box, Somerville

NORTH SHORE ROAST BEEF

Massachusetts’ North Shore covers the state’s coast between Boston and the New Hampshire border, including the historic seaports of Salem and Gloucester. A part of the state known for its rocky coastlines and early pioneers in American fishing and manufacturing, it developed a strong deli sandwich culture among its working class that persists to this day. North Shore residents are often fiercely loyal to their preferred luncheon, with heated debates breaking out over which local eatery provides the most authentic, affordable or delicious sandwich experience.

The North Shore roast beef — often affectionately referred to by locals as a “three-way” — is a deceptively simple sandwich. The star of the show is the juicy roast beef, accompanied by the “three-way” combination of American cheese, mayonnaise and barbecue sauce piled high between a bulkie roll.

The bulkie, similar to a hamburger bun but larger and firmer, likely originated from Eastern European Jewish immigrants and is a distinctive feature of the region’s delis and working-class restaurants. The other ingredients can vary — such as substituting American cheese for other varieties — but a true-to-form “three-way” will always be served warm, gooey and shockingly delicious.

Bar Pizza - Hot Box, Somerville
Bar Pizza - Hot Box, Somerville

SOUTH SHORE BAR PIZZA

Moving south of Boston, we enter the South Shore of Massachusetts. Known by some as the “Irish Riviera,” it is home to six of the United States’ 10 most Irish towns and stretches from Quincy to Plymouth. Featuring lots of beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and historic lighthouses, the South Shore is in many ways a quieter alternative to Provincetown and other Cape Cod beach towns.

Within this distinct geographical region emerged a unique American pizza style known as South Shore bar pizza. Almost always served as small, personal-sized pizzas, the bar pizza is characterized by a crispy, thin crust heavily topped with sauce, cheese and other ingredients.

The bar pizza is always baked in a round, lipped steel pan — many shops using the same baking pans for decades — with cheese piled all the way to the edge of the pan. In the oven, the cheese and sauce flow down toward the bottom of the pan, transforming the crust into a chewy, savory mixture similar to Detroit-style pizza.

Toppings can range from the standard — pepperoni, sausage and so on — to the truly bizarre and not for the faint of heart. Seafood options, such as sardines, are common and often paired with bacon and other meats. Some bar pizza joints even offer a baked bean pizza (don’t knock it ‘till you try it!), making a culinary concoction so quintessentially Boston that you’ll never think of lobstah and chowdah again.

Malasadas
Malasadas courtesy Joy on Flickr

PORTUGUESE MALASADAS

While most people associate New England with old British Puritans and waves of Irish and Italian immigration, the story of the region’s South Coast is often overlooked. Eastern Rhode Island and the southern counties of Massachusetts boast some of the largest Portuguese ancestry of anywhere in the United States, with almost half of the population of Fall River and New Bedford tracing their lineage back to Iberian roots.

The story begins in the 19th century. The whaling industry, originally operating out of the island of Nantucket, relocated to the deep water and railroad accessible port of New Bedford, MA. Portuguese seamen — especially those from the islands of the Azores, Madeira and Cabo Verde — had generations of experience developed out of their whaling traditions. Sensing opportunity, many immigrated to this part of New England, also bringing along their distinct culinary heritage that survive to this day.

In many parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts today, you can find Portuguese butchers selling traditional meats like linguiça and chouriço, as well as many bakeries selling pastries and malasadas, a cross between fairground fried dough and a classic American doughnut. Tracing its roots back to the

Azorean island of São Miguel, malasadas were originally made in convents for carnival celebrations inaugurating the Lenten fast, but have long since entered the mainstream of Luso-American cuisine and are sold in stores and at Portuguese festivals throughout the year.

The basic malasada starts as a simple yeasted flour dough that is rolled or tossed in sugar before being fried. Other standard flavorings include lemon zest and cinnamon, and it is common to find them served with molasses as a dipping sauce. More new-school takes on the malasada innovate on old styles by filling the pastry with flavors ranging from sweet jams and fruit sauces to savory chocolate or cream spreads.

WHERE TO SCORE THESE NEW ENGLAND SPECIALTIES

While many shops lay claim to the authentic origin story of the North Shore roast beef, many consider Kelly’s in Revere Beach to make one of the oldest and best sandwiches in the traditional style. Other top-rated eateries include Zeno’s in Ipswich, which hues close to the sandwich’s working-class roots, and Jamie’s in Peabody, which rethinks the humble “three-way” in a modern, upscale fashion. For those who want deli meat options beyond just roast beef, Destino’s Subs in Gloucester serves a range of choices that please even the pickiest eaters.

Good bar pizza is cooked in bars and cafés across the South Shore. Lynwood Café in Randolph has dished out beer and pizza since 1949 and is considered by locals to be the standard to beat. Poopsie’s in Pembroke specializes in an even thinner crust than normal bar pizza, and for those who prefer a more traditional pizza experience, Harbor House of Pizza in Scituate offers pizzas and subs in various styles.

For foodies who want a taste of both shores all in one place, Hot Box in Somerville’s Union Square serves North Shore roast beef and South Shore bar pizza—and nothing else! It’s an attempt to bring these two regional specialties to a location within walking distance of a new extension to the Boston subway’s Green Line.

If you want to try malasadas, keep your eyes peeled for the many Portuguese bakeries of eastern Rhode Island. Many locals swear by Ma’s Donuts in Middletown and Blue Tile Bakery in Warren. If you’re in Providence, Silver Star Bakery & Café is often recommended, as well as Morning Star Bakery in East Providence.

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The Longitude Act of 1714

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Rich
Barnett
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell-courtesy Michael Dahl via Wikimedia Commons

On a gray and stormy day in October 1707, British Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell lead his fleet through the Strait of Gibraltar and back to England after a series of victorious skirmishes with the French Navy in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the rough Atlantic weather, his navigators were confident the British ships were far enough west to avoid the notoriously treacherous Scilly Isles off the coast of Brittany in northern France. Legend has it a young crew member tried to warn senior officers that the admiral’s navigation was faulty, and for this mutinous presumption he was hanged.

As night fell and dense fog rolled in, four of the six warships crashed onto the island’s reefs and rocks and quickly sank. About 2,000 thousand sailors died, and for several days drowned men and ship wreckage washed ashore.

As one of the worst maritime disasters in British history, this helped focus attention to the age-old challenge of plotting a ship’s longitude at sea. Latitude was rather easy to discern. A navigator could figure out his ship’s position north or south of the equator by observing the sun’s position. An east-to-west longitude bearing, however, was problematic.

To calculate longitude at sea, a navigator needed to reliably compare the time on the ship to the time at a port where longitude was known. It was almost impossible to keep accurate time at sea, because motion and temperature tended to negatively affect clocks and time pieces of the day. Travel at sea was very dangerous when you didn’t know exactly where you were going.

Cash for Creativity

To solve this navigational dilemma, the British Parliament passed the Longitude Act of 1714 under advisement of the esteemed scientist Sir Isaac Newton. Queen Anne appointed a blue-ribbon panel of astronomers, mathematicians and navigators to oversee prize rewards (totaling several million pounds by today’s value) for solving the age-old problem of finding longitude at sea.

News of the prize spread quickly in the seafaring nation. As you might expect, the prize money attracted all sorts of solutions from both learned men and quacks. Most of the early proposals were inadequate or so off the mark that the Prize Panel didn’t bother to meet to consider a proposal until 1736.

An Unlikely Competitor

Most scientists looking to solve the longitude problem focused on charting location at sea via the movement of the moon among the stars. Given their expertise, most of the blue-ribbon panel believed the “clock of the heavens” held the eventual answer. Some had pondered a celestial remedy for decades.

John Harrison, in contrast, was a carpenter of humble means who began designing clocks in 1713 when he was just shy of his 20th birthday. Harrison’s clocks were mostly made of wood, which leads historians to believe he was self-taught. Harrison designed his clock gears from oak, a tough hardwood that didn’t wear down. He carved other clock parts that were traditionally made of metals and needed oil lubrication from lignum vitae, a dense tropical hardwood that exudes its own oil.

His wooden clock designs seem to indicate he was thinking about the unique technological problems of keeping accurate time at sea without metal that rusted in damp conditions and oil that got thicker or thinner depending on the temperature.

Mr. Harrison Goes to London

John Harrison carpenter and clockmaker
John Harrison, carpenter and clockmaker courtesy Thomas King via Wikimedia Commons

Harrison took his first trip to London in 1730 to meet with Dr. Edmond Halley, England’s royal astronomer. Halley was considered one of the more open-minded members of the longitude panel and was impressed by Harrison’s ideas and drawings for a sea clock.

He knew, however, the Prize Board favored an astronomical solution, so he put Harrison in touch with England’s preeminent watchmaker George Graham to obtain an honest assessment of the concept. Graham quickly agreed to become Harrison’s patron and provided funding for a prototype that took five years to perfect.

Harrison presented his clock to the Board in London in 1736. He called it the H-1. In an unexpected move, he spent most of his time before the Board talking about plans to improve it and make it smaller. Impressed, the Board offered Harrison some money to support his next iteration.

Five years later, Harrison returned with the H-2 and again petitioned successfully for additional funds to create an even better clock and then disappeared for nearly 20 years. The Board granted him extensions and additional payments during this time.

The Lunar Solution

While Harrison tinkered, other men aggressively pursued the prize money. In 1731, Englishman John Hadley and American Thomas Godfrey independently designed prototype inventions to measure longitude via the moon and stars. These inventions became known as the quadrant, which quickly evolved into a second-generation instrument called a sextant. With its mirrors and artificial horizon, a navigator could measure distances at night using the light of the moon. Then he would consult detailed lunar charts to compare distances between the moon and stars for various hours of the night in different geographies. It was time consuming, very complicated and relied upon charts that at the time weren’t fully completed.

Delays, Delays, Delays

John Harrison presented his third sea clock to the Board in 1755. Named H-3, this version measured 2’ high x 1’ wide and weighed 60 pounds. The big innovation in H-3 was a bi-metallic (brass and steel) strip mounted inside near the clock balances to keep it more immune to temperature changes. The Board couldn’t arrange a test at sea, however, because England was at war with France.

By the time a sea trial could be scheduled four years later, the never- satisfied Harrison had re-appeared with yet another clock. This one, the H-4, was radically different than its predecessors. It was a pocket watch. At five inches in diameter and a weight of three pounds, it contained all the parts and innovations from his clocks but replicated in miniature and constructed of silver, rubies and diamonds instead of wood. It dazzled some but not all the Board members.

The Board requested two sea trials of the longitude pocket watch – one successful and one questionable but conducted by a known skeptic – and still refused to declare Harrison the winner of the prize. Some historians believe the Board still disapproved of the clock and kept delaying an award so proponents of the lunar method would have more time to prove their method.

In 1772, the Prize Board begrudgingly recognized two longitude solutions but claimed neither were practical – a single pocket watch was insufficient for a whole nation, and the lunar method required many hours of complex calculations. Again, the Board delayed giving any prize awards.

Midshipmen and naval cadets learning to use a sextant in the 1890s
Midshipmen and naval cadets learning to use a sextant in the 1890s courtesy duncan1890

Reward and Legacy

It took pressure from England’s King George III on behalf of Harrison before the Longitude Board finally awarded him half of the £20,000 first prize in 1773, recognizing his long-term commitment to the challenge. He received more award money than any other competitor.

John Harrison died in 1776 at about the age of 83, but his longitude watch lived on, inspiring other inventors to create the next generation of marine clocks that came to be called chronometers. Even so, it took technology decades to catch up with demand. The British Navy finally began to supply its ships with chronometers in 1820, a development that helped the nation achieve hegemony at sea. American companies began mass producing chronometers in the 20th century to meet military needs in World War II.

Though eventually replaced by GPS, chronometers are still around today, produced mainly by watchmakers as expensive status items. And Harrison’s magnificent clocks? They’re housed behind glass in the Time & Longitude Gallery of the Royal Museums in Greenwich, England. You can, however, purchase a working replica of Harrison’s H-4 pocket watch at the museum shop should you wish to own a bit of maritime history.

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North Point Marina, Winthrop Harbor, IL

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

JUST A FEW MILES OUTSIDE of North Chicago near the Wisconsin state line, North Point Marina is a premier destination along the shores of Lake Michigan.

North Point Marina | Courtesy of Suntex Marinas

The full-service marina is the largest on the Great Lakes, boasting 1,454 spacious slips and JetPorts for personal watercrafts. Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, transients can enjoy amenities including free Wi-Fi, laundry, a marine store, swimming pool, fish-cleaning station, picnic area with grills, and private restrooms and showers.

Boaters love the easy access of dockside electricity, four pump-out stations and a fueling facility. Skipper Bud’s Boatyard offers on-site dry storage and a service yard with everything from electronic installations to woodworking. Get active on the lake and take advantage of the marina’s boat, waverunner paddleboard and kayak rentals. On-site bike rentals and shuttle services are also available.

Conveniently located between Chicago and Milwaukee, the Village of Winthrop Harbor is a peaceful escape. The property is just minutes from North Point Beach and surrounded by the stunning Spring Bluff Forest Preserve where visitors can explore hiking and biking trails along the wetlands.

Sip local craft brews and catch live music at the Lakefront Biergarten or feast on burgers and seafood baskets at The Tropics Restaurant’s outdoor patio overlooking the marina. Less than a mile away, check out Linda’s Family Restaurant for Mexican food, Timeout Sports Pub & Grill for wings and gyros, and Roma Pizza & Pasta for Italian specialties.

The village offers nearby upscale lodging such as The Inn on Sheridan boutique hotel and the historic Stella Hotel & Ballroom. Just south of North Point Marina, the local state park offers 241 campsites with RV and trailer spots from April to December.

“Upon arriving at the marina, whether by land or water, you find yourself immersed in the serenity of nature. It serves as a true getaway, offering respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city and the routine of everyday life,” says General Manager Dave Pirages.

The marina’s annual must-see events include the lighted boat parade and fireworks show at Venetian Night, the Red, White & Blue Dock Party, and the Dinghy Poker Run.

“This unique environment allows you the opportunity to relax, unwind and engage in something truly significant: creating cherished memories with your friends and family,” says Pirages.

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River Dunes, Oriental, NC

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

SECLUDED IN A PROTECTED BASIN off Pamlico Sound, River Dunes is an ideal cruising destination within one of North Carolina’s top coastal communities.

Courtesy of River Dunes

Easily accessible from the ICW, this 28-acre inland basin boasts a full-service marina offering 126 slips with full-length finger piers for vessels up to 150 feet. Guests can enjoy the intimate marina community with resort-style dining, shopping and luxury accommodations onsite at Harbor Village. Boater amenities include laundry facilities, a 500-foot fuel dock and concierge services with a touch of southern hospitality.

Peruse through Harbor Village and stop for breakfast or lunch at Yawl’s Café or grab gourmet groceries, snacks and ice cream at Grace Harbor Provision Co. This one-stop shop is also an information center and retail hub where guests can browse marine gear and essentials. Located in the Harbor Exchange Building, The Red Rickshaw’s showroom displays beautiful furnishings from Southern Living interior designers.

For a true retreat experience, head to the relaxing Natural Elements Spa overlooking Grace Harbor. Additional guest accommodations include a pool, hot tubs and a cabana bar. Enjoy biking nearby trails or kayaking and paddling the scenic backwaters.

Harbor Village | Courtesy of River Dunes

Stay at one of the on-site rentals such as Harborside Cottages overlooking the marina or Harborview suites in the heart of Harbor Village. For boaters looking for a permanent home on the coast, River Dunes offers big water views and award-winning coastal architecture. Move-in ready homes are available at the marina, village homesites and large estate riverfront lots.

The River Dunes Harbor Club offers a private yacht club located in the heart of the marina community with annual leases, member benefits and exclusive access to clubhouse facilities. Transients are also invited to dine at the Harbor Club during their stay.

As Oriental is coined the “Sailing Capital of North Carolina,” the local area is known for prime cruising along the Neuse River. Head to Broad Street just 15 minutes south of the marina to explore attractions and historic walking tours. Check out maritime and war artifacts at Oriental’s History Museum or catch a show at The Old Theater.

Don’t miss the annual Oriental In-Water Boat Show in the spring and the Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival in fall.

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Boating in Lake George, NY

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Aimee
Stern
Lake George waterfront credit DenisTangney Jr

I dive off the dock at dawn and swim rapidly through the cool May waters of Lake George. Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, the lake is a paradise for all creatures. The loons that serenaded us last night have yielded to a lone great blue heron patrolling for his breakfast. As I swim, I take small sips of water, free from worry of what might be in it. The heron and I are alone as a brightening sky offers hints of blue.

Roughly 10,00-12,000 years ago, receding glaciers formed what is now called Lake George. The ice sheet paused at its southern end just north of Glens Falls, NY. Fed by underground springs, the lake is 32 miles long with 109 miles of shoreline wrapping around 170 islands, many of which are available for camping.

The lake flows south to north and at its tip, feeds into Ticonderoga Lake in New York and Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT. The lake is the cleanest in the United States, and you can drink its water without a filter.

Dubbed the “Birthplace of American’s Original Vacation,” Lake George (named for the English King George II) was immortalized by author James Fenimore Cooper in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans. He writes about the Battle of Lake George, which was fought in the fall of 1755, when outnumbered British soldiers and Mohawk Indians defeated a larger French and Indian force.

Cooper’s popular novel still draws tourists to the Lake George area to view Fort William Henry, which was built in 1755 and used as a staging area for attacks against the French, who destroyed it a few years later. The fort was left in ruins until the mid-1950s when it was rebuilt using the original plans. Visitors today can take the Living History Tour, and kids may join the King’s Army and march to the fife and drum.

When you come to visit, take the three-mile Lake George walking tour that pauses at historic and natural sites along the way. Points of interest include the Lake George Steamboat Company, the ruins of Fort George, Battlefield Park and much more. The French & Indian War Society is also an excellent source of information on the early colonial times.

Lake George Area Tourism

Spring offers cool temps & outdoor fun

“America’s First Vacation Place” is packed with activities to do year-round. But, Adirondack spring, with temperatures ranging from the 30s to 50s in March and April, and 40s to 70s in May, is a wonderful time to visit Lake George. Minus the crowds, here are some of the historic, quirky and spooky attractions.

Opening Day Fishing Season

Residents claim, “The happiest fish in America live in Lake George,” and they are probably right. Open waters season begins in April and runs through November when ice becomes a problem. The lake is home to trout, Atlantic salmon, small and largemouth bass, perch and 30 other species of fish.

The Lake George Mystery

On a small pavilion behind the visitors’ center is a mystery that scientists have tried but failed to solve. Inside Mayor Blais Park facing the lake, people start shouting and hear their own voice echo back as though from another dimension. Legend has it that this very spot is where a Native American god shouted his wisdom to the mountains, lake and landscape.

Hike or Ride the Trails

It’s all about the vistas of the Adirondacks and the best spot to view the lake. A network of Lake George hiking trails ranges from easy strolls to climbing Prospect Mountain. This three-mile climb is steep but worth it for the views. Less strenuous options are the Blue and Red Pinnacle trails in Bolton, which also deliver beautiful scenery.

Channel Bob Marley on a Tiki Tour

Picture yourself on a thatch-covered tiki barge with your beverage of choice and the best of reggae playing as you tour the lake. The boat rides are about 45 minutes long and span Lake George and Saratoga Lake against a stunning mountainous backdrop.

Empire State Tribute Festival

A reimagined version of the area’s well-known Elvis Festival is scheduled for May 2–5 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY. The festival offers tribute bands and one of the world’s largest Elvis tribute artist contests.

Lake George Area Tourism

Summer revolves around water & festivities

Summer in the city can be sweltering, and Lake George offers cool days for urban dwellers and other heat-weary guests. The Adirondack summer around its jewel of a lake is loaded with activities, and here is a hint of what you can find.

Spectacular boating in the peak season

This place loves its boaters and welcomes them with clear water for exceptional fishing and water sports. For guidance, lots of information is available. Boaters’ maps and lake map apps share fishing spots, along with a Lake George depth chart. You also find plenty of tips for the best places for water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding and more. The town of Lake George has public docks and other mooring options as well.

Festivals celebrate the local talent

Adirondack Wine & Food Festival presents more than 120 of New York’s best distilleries, wineries, breweries and artisan food vendors ( June 29-30). At Lake George Arts & Craft Festival, 100+ local artists display their craft skills with basket weaving, painting, wood carving and farm fresh food (August 2-4). Lake George Music Festival gathers together young musicians to deliver a series of classical and chamber music at the historic Carriage House at the Fort William Henry Hotel (August 11-22).

Eat, drink and be merry

Local restaurants span many types of cuisine. Some of the most popular are the French Bistrot LeRoux, the Chateau on the Lake where the views are just as lovely as the food, and La Bella Vita at the much-renowned Sagamore Resort, which draws families from all over to its endless stream of kid-friendly activities.

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Half Moon Marina - Lani LoCoco

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

LANI LOCOCO

Marina Manager
Humphreys Half Moon Marina
San Diego, CA

What in life prepared you for this job?

Lani LoCoco | Courtesy of Half Moon Marina

Between my father in the Navy and my husband who has been a boat builder for over 40 years, I have been around boats and real estate my entire life. I also worked in boat yards and marinas for many years. I never get seasick!

If you could walk in anyone’s shoes for a day, who would it be?

I’d choose any of these women: Admiral Linda Fagan, Coast Guard Commandant, General Jacqueline Van Ovost, Commander of U.S. Transportation Command (Air Force), General Laura Richardson, Commander of U.S. Southern Command (Army), or Admiral Lisa Franchetti, Vice Chief of Naval Operations (Navy).

Where do you send people for an authentic dining experience when they arrive at your marina?

Head to El Agave for Mexican food, Baci Restaurant for Italian or Blue Water for local seafood.

What are some of your best boating memories?

Fishing with my grandfather as a child, river cruising in Europe and christening a 100-foot custom motor yacht.

What are you most excited about this time of year at the marina?

San Diego is beautiful this season and very quiet in the marina! Spring offers a welcome break from the hectic pace at the marina the rest of the year.

Where is your favorite spot to anchor and relax?

The waters of Glorietta Bay in Coronado.

What are the advantages or challenges to being a woman in the marina business?

The benefit of being a woman in a male-dominated industry is that we are breaking ground and changing the norm. And other women in this industry are very supportive of one another. The disadvantage is that many people still challenge me as if I need to confirm my decisions and actions with a man.

If you could take a trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Monte Carlo, Monaco. I would love to see all those gorgeous superyachts!

What do you recommend for new visitors to your area?

I suggest exploring Shelter Island and the surrounding San Diego area and visiting the San Diego Zoo!

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Spring Boating Repairs

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Scott
Miller

A friend of mine traveled up from Florida this past spring to have the boatyard take care of a few maintenance items and then planned to cruise the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River for the summer before returning to Florida in the fall. It’s a great plan for Florida boaters who want to vacate Florida during hurricane season, and the Chesapeake offers a wide range of cruising destinations to explore.

Shipyard work | credit: mady70

What my friend didn’t expect was the extra number of issues the boatyard found during normal routine maintenance that were NOT planned. One thing led to another, and with scheduling with the yard, delivering parts and discovering deferred maintenance issues, my friend spent most of his summer in the boatyard. The question I asked was on his mind as well: What could I have done differently to avoid these major expenses and not miss the summer cruising time?

Smart boaters can’t anticipate every single thing that will go wrong with their boat, but with more in-depth planning and a strategy to look at the annual and bi-annual maintenance items, you can avoid a situation like my friend had.

Most boaters pay attention to maintenance items such as oil and filter changes, bottom painting and items that are inspected monthly or while doing the annual commissioning. But how often should you inspect things like shafts and shaft seals, rudders and their seals, stabilizer seals, batteries and their manufacturer installation dates, aftercoolers, heat exchangers, and a list that goes on and on.

The easy answer: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations and do not stray from this unless you have notice from the manufacturer to do so. Manufacturers know their products and have studied their failure rates, which is why they publish inspection and replacement recommendations. But how do you remember all these tasks, which ones you have done, and what needs to be checked? Smart boaters will not try to remember all this in their head, as there are too many items to keep track of on a boat.

Most boat manufacturers are invested in their customers and want their boats to represent their brand well, so they provide detailed maintenance schedules for many engine components and systems. In the simplest form, boaters should use these schedules to create a checklist each year and either inspect every item on the list based on its maintenance schedule or have their boatyard help with these tasks.

Easy DIY Maintenance Reminders

To automate reminders and schedules, some boaters create their own spreadsheets and checklists. Starting with daily, weekly and monthly tasks that may include checking oil, strainers, filters, anodes, bilges, pumps, hoses, etc. Most boaters have these items at the top of mind, because they are frequently inspected, replaced or repaired.

Boat maintenance | credit: HABY

Next, create tabs with semi-annual, annual and bi-annual tasks. These are the items that kept my friend at the boatyard longer than expected. It’s impossible to remember when everything on your boat was last replaced or inspected and when it needs to be looked at again. Your owner’s manual likely has a comprehensive list of items to add to these tabs, including shafts and seals for rudders, propellers and stabilizers. Bonding systems, sanitation systems, cutlass bearings, steering and hydraulics, as well as inspections for leaks, loose fittings, and loose or corroded clamps, etc. can save your boating season.

Manufacturers of the many components on your boat also offer advice on inspection and replacement timelines. For example, dripless (maintenance- free) shaft seals are great and provide many hours of safe,

reliable cruising. However, they must be inspected, kept free of corrosion and replaced at the recommended end of life. Ignoring these types of items can cut into your summer cruising time by waiting for costly repairs, or even worse, you could face significant damage or loss of the boat due to seal or bellows failures.

If you are not a checklist kind of person, good tools are on the market today that can be customized to match your boat and automate maintenance reminders, ensure proper spares are ordered and on board, and can be shared with your boatyard. Products like Vessel Vanguard offer a fee-based service with an extensive set of modules for task scheduling, maintenance management, spares inventory tracking and safety. The service also helps boat owners get set up and then keeps the boat on schedule with all maintenance and logging.

Regardless of what method you use, once you plan tasks for this coming season, schedule the work with the boatyard if you aren’t doing the work yourself. They will appreciate knowing what your list looks like and can pre-order parts that have taken longer to arrive over the past couple years. With boatyards scheduling spring work months in advance, it will ensure you get a spot early in the season and avoid interrupting your summer cruising.

Do you have boat maintenance questions or problems? Send them to swade@marinalife.com, and we’ll see if our Smart Boater team can help.

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Nauti Shopper: Safety & Emergency Products

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

SAFETY FIRST

WINSLOW LIFE RAFT
Winslow LifeRaft Company

Courtesy of Winslow LifeRaft Company

When the popular sailing YouTuber SV Raindancer hit a whale and sank in the middle of the Pacific Ocean last year, the captain praised his Winslow Life Raft for aiding in the rescue. This leader in marine life rafts handcrafts high-grade, custom offshore and coastal models. Choose from easily stowable packs including the Ultra Light Offshore, Super Light Rescue Raft or Law Enforcement Emergency Pac. (Prices vary)

PERSONAL LOCATOR BEACON
Ocean Signal

This company makes one of the smallest personal locator beacons with reliable signals on land and sea. It’s portable, waterproof, free from subscription charges, offers a 24-hour operational life and easily fits into a lifejacket. Features include a monitoring clip and optional floating pouch. (Prices vary)

MARINE SERIES MEDICAL KITS
Adventure Medical Kits

These U.S. Coast Guard-approved, marine-grade medical kits are crucial for boaters to stow onboard. The waterproof and dustproof dry box provides enough supplies for a large crew on any size ship. Check out the Adventure Dog Medical Kit series for your furry friends. (Prices vary)

WEATHERPROOF WARRIOR

KESTREL 5500 WEATHER METER
Kestrel Meters

Measure and monitor environmental conditions, wind direction and reliable real-time readings on this all-in-one, compact weather station. The Kestrel LINK app displays a customizable dashboard with a remote display functioning up to 100 feet away. Weighing less than 11 ounces, the lightweight tool is ideal for easy storage. ($359)

WIRELESS WIND PACK
B&G

This revolutionary new wireless wind sensor is designed for cruising clubs, racing sailors and yachts with masts up to 80 feet. The high-performance sensor is lightweight, aerodynamic, eliminates pestering wires, and is easy to install. ($699-$799)

WS-2000 HOME WEATHER STATION
Ambient Weather

For extensive weather exploration, this personal station comes equipped with Wi-Fi remote monitoring, alerts and a thermo-hygrometer. Connect to the Ambient Weather Network to join the interactive community and share weather data. Top features include a customizable dashboard, calibration for all measured parameters, historical graphs and data, and real-time updates. ($299.99)

SB-3L Safety & Emergency SOS Dry Bag Kit | Courtesy of Sirius Signal

SEA TOW PARTNERS

Sea Tow is a trusted safety resource and Marinalife Cruising Club partner. If you are a Sea Tow® member check out exclusive Sea Tow Savings Club discounts on the following products and more.

SB-3L SAFETY & EMERGENCY SOS DRY BAG KIT
Sirius Signal

This all-in-one safety kit is packed with essentials for a safe offshore adventure. Rid your vessel of old-school flares and use Coast Guard-approved electronic visual distress and infrared signals. The set features a waterproof flashlight, first-aid kit, liquid-filled hand compass and water-resistant pouch with strap and carabiner. ($199.95)

ACR GLOBALFIX V5 AIS EPIRB SURVIVAL KIT WITH DITCHBAG AND SIGNALING
ACR Electronics

The new neon green, all-encompassing survival kit for boats is durable and tailored to sailors’ needs. The set comes with a signal mirror, whistle, C-strobe lights, HemiLight3 flashing light for life jackets and a buoyant ditch bag designed to float up to 15 lbs. ($879)

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Preparing for Emergencies on the Water

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Scott
Miller

Many of us watched the course of events in early November as the 92-foot Viking Pastime lost power to both engines and the generator and ended up grounding at Delray Beach, FL. According to Viking, the boat’s manufacturer, Pastime lost all power and the crew attempted to drop anchor by releasing the manual brake on the windlass. Unfortunately, the anchor’s devil claw got jammed in the deployment chute and rendered the anchor useless.

Author Scott Miller and Charlie

The fire suppression system seemed to shut down the engines falsely and make the boat think a fire started, so all engines and power shut down, alleges Viking. No fire was onboard, and an active investigation is still running about why this happened.

In another incident, a 51-foot sailing sloop ran aground off Ocracoke Inlet after experiencing electrical and mechanical failures. The boat was fully covered in sand and water within 24 hours.

If you’re like me, I started to think “what if ” something similar happened aboard my boat or if I were captain of a vessel when this happened? I wonder how I’d react and if I’d know what to do. What would you do? Should captains know how to react in similar situations and prepare themselves and the crew? Absolutely!

Whether you’re cruising a few miles off the coast or down the Intracoastal Waterway and your boat loses all propulsion and everything shuts down (engines, generator, electrical), as the captain, what is your first step?

It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback or captain in those situations but understanding what to do is more complex than it may appear, especially if no preparation for these types of events was considered. The only way to be ready is to run these types of “what if ” scenarios and make a plan. As a captain, it’s worth the time and safety of the vessel and crew to map out the steps and practices to make sure they are effective.

Step 1: Stay calm and don’t panic.

Having a pre-planned routine for “vessel with no power” or similar emergency will reduce your anxiety regardless of traffic, weather or other factors.

Step 2: Pull out your pre-planned checklist for these situations. Common items on the list should include:

• Assess the vessel’s current state with respect to propulsion, AC/DC power and function of relevant systems.

• Check all breakers and switches that affect the propulsion and generator systems. Remember to check safety or man overboard (MOB) switches and/or fire suppression systems integrated into engine shutdown controls. Assuming this is done while in port and tested, you won’t have to try and remember everything you need to check.

• Check relevant electrical connections such as generator and start batteries to ensure they are all tight.

• Check fuel system valves and filters for proper position and that they are free from debris.

• Reset all systems and switches to start-up positions to restart the vessel.

• Turn off any systems that are not needed for propulsion and safe operations (air conditioning, microwave, coffee maker, etc.).

• Attempt to restart the generator and engines in the proper order for your vessel.

Step 3: If the vessel starts back up, head to safe harbor and troubleshoot the issue.

If not, continue following your plan for securing the vessel with no power.

• Call for help appropriate for the situation. Coast Guard, Sea Tow, the boat manufacturer or mechanic are good to have on speed dial or know how to reach by VHF. Turn on navigation lights and alert the U.S.C.G. station closest to your location and keep them apprised of your current condition.

Sea Tow rescue | Courtesy of Sea Tow

• Assess whether troubleshooting can continue prior to deploying an anchor or getting a tow to protect the vessel from grounding.

• If deploying the anchor is the correct next step, it’s important to not only know how to manually deploy the anchor with the power out on the boat, but also to practice this with your crew. Deploying the anchor allows you to keep the vessel’s bow into the wind and hopefully into the waves and swell.

• Run your checklist for manually deploying the anchor.

• Once all safety devices are removed, release the manual brake and let the anchor deploy to the desired length based on depth and weather conditions. Once the desired amount of chain or rode is released, tighten the brake and secure the chain/rode with the proper safety devices or claws to take pressure off the windlass, if possible.

Step 4: Troubleshoot or wait for help to arrive. It’s wise to first make sure the vessel is safe from grounding or drifting into heavy traffic or other objects. Weather or sea state may impact the order of your emergency procedures.

It’s easy to practice and plan things out while sitting at the dock or cruising along in flat seas. But as many captains know, most situations don’t happen while the wind is calm or the sea is flat.

This is not just Murphy’s law at work (which can easily be blamed), but rough seas and weather can cause electrical connections to fail or loosen, mechanical components to break, or fuel tank debris to clog filters and shut down engines. 

While the list of steps is by no means comprehensive or applies to every boat, the main steps apply to all captains. Staying calm and having pre-defined emergency procedures are key. Knowing whom to call and when, as well as practicing emergency procedures will allow every boater to be prepared.

Do you have boating questions or problems? Send them to swade@marinalife.com, and we’ll see if Marinalife’s captain can help.

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Show Us Your Best Boat Drink!

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Susan Elnicki
Wade

Show Us Your Best Boat Drink!

As we celebrate our 25th year, Marinalife and our sponsor Tito's Handmade Vodka want to see how you toast to good times on the water!

Send us the recipe for your favorite boat beverage made with Tito's Handmade Vodka and share a photo of you raising a glass for a chance to be featured in Marinalife.

Who's Eligible?

We welcome recipes from readers aged 21 and up!

What's the deadline?

October 1, 2024.

Who picks the winners?

Our staff will select our favorites, whose recipe and photos will appear on Marinalife.

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Marinalife 2024 Photography Contest

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Marinalife
Female photographer Credit Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Marinalife is pleased to announce this year’s photography contest that celebrates the boating lifestyle and good times on the water.

We invite you to submit your favorite snapshots that capture moments of maritime merriment — the excitement of getting back on the water in the spring, an unforgettable nautical adventure with family and friends, a special seaside vacation, the thrill of water sports, an epic fishing trip where you reeled in a whopper, or the face of a pet who’s too cute for words. Whatever floats your boat, we’d like to see it.

Contest Details

Who’s Eligible?

From amateur shutterbugs to seasoned photographers, everybody is welcome to send the best shots of what you love about the cruising lifestyle and journeys to waterfront destinations. No entry fees are required.

What’s the Deadline?

By Friday, July 19, 2024, submit your photos. Limit of up to 3 entries per person that are high resolution (300 dpi, 2 mb or 600 kb). Please include a brief description of the photo’s location, the photographer’s credit, and your contact info, email and phone.

Who Picks the Winners?

Our staff will select the first, second and third place winners and runners up, whose photographs will appear on our website and in the fall 2024 issue of Marinalife. Prizes will be announced soon.

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Marina Industry Updates Spring 2024

NEWS
|
April 12, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

Industry Updates

Raymarine Launches New Waterway Guide Data

Marine electronics company, Raymarine, and trusted resource, Waterway Guide, team up to provide boaters with top-notch navigation tools and data. Raymarine’s LightHouse Chart Premium subscription now includes Waterway Guide data covering regions from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean. Stay up to date with the latest nautical charts, premium points of interest, fishing hotspots and high-resolution satellite imagery. For more info, visit chartstore.raymarine.com

Sunstream Acquires Sarasota Boating World

Hydraulic, solar and remote-controlled boat lifts and automatic boat cover systems manufacturer, Sunstream Boat Lifts, recently acquired Sarasota Boating World to help expand its product line. As Sarasota Boating World primarily sells boat covers, lifts and docks, the acquisition will help Sunstream expand its SwiftShield automatic boat cover line and grow in the U.S. Learn more at sunstreamboatlifts.com

Marina Updates

Fore Points Marina in Portland, ME | Courtesy of Ocean Havens

Ocean Havens Welcomes New Maine Marina

Marina operations and owner company, Ocean Havens, recently announced the latest addition to its growing New England portfolio: Fore Points Marina in Portland, ME. Situated within Casco Bay, this state-of-the-art facility is a 15-acre megayacht marina open year-round. The property is complete with 150 slips and 14 megayacht berths recently expanded to accommodate vessels up to 630 feet. Amenities include a fuel dock with in-slip megayacht fueling, 3-phase 100 AMP power, and laundry facilities. Visit oceanhavens.com

Navy Pier in Chicago | Courtesy of Navy Pier

Chicago’s Navy Pier Set to Build Transient Marina

The iconic Navy Pier has reached an agreement to construct the long- anticipated Navy Pier Marina. The Harbor Permit granted construction along 6,400 linear feet of broadside moorings for vessels up to 130 feet. Amenities will include pump-out service, ships store and a boater’s service facility. Stay tuned for updates at navypiermarina.com

Photo Contest Is Open for Submissions!

Marinalife is pleased to announce its 2024 Photography Contest where we ask our creative seafarers to send their best shots of life on the water. This year, our fifth-annual competition welcomes snapshots that capture maritime moments from photographers of all skill levels. For details, see page 14 of the spring issue or submit your photos here.

Show Us Your Best Boat Drink!

Marinalife and our sponsor Tito’s Hand-made Vodka want to see how you toast to good times on the water. Send us the recipe for your favorite boat beverage made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka and share a photo of you raising a glass for a chance to be featured in Marinalife. Submit here!

‍Upcoming Boat Shows

Bay Bridge Boat Show

Stevensville, MD, April 12 - 14

Suncoast Boat Show

Sarasota, FL, April 19 - 21

Connecticut Spring Boat Show

Essex, CT, April 26 - 28

Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show

Annapolis, MD, April 26 - 28‍

Trawlerfest Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show

Anacortes, WA, May 14 - 18

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News

Solar Eclipse Events & Viewpoints in New England & The Great Lakes

NEWS
|
April 3, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Safely Viewing the Solar Eclipse | Credit Leo Patrizi

A total solar eclipse will cast shadows across the sky this Monday, April 8 — a rare moment that only occurs in certain regions about once every 375 years. Cities across the United States will fall within the eclipse’s path of totality, meaning they will experience several minutes of complete darkness during the phenomenon, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 

The path stretches from New England, across the Great Lakes, through the Midwest and all the way down south to Texas. Watch from a state park, pier, your boat, or catch one of the following celestial activities across New England and the Great Lakes to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event. 

Follow the eclipse path with NASA’s interactive map!

NEW ENGLAND

MAINE

Maine Eclipse Festival Weekend

Houlton, April 5 – 8

Located directly on the path of totality, this Victorian town is hosting weekend-long eclipse events from concerts to craft fairs. Stay at local hotels or camp along the eclipse path at waterside sites such as Greenland Cove Cabins on East Grand Lake in Danforth.

Where to View: 

Designated “Star Parks” throughout Aroostook County, ME: 

Presque Isle:

  • Northern Maine Fairgrounds
  • University of Maine Presque Isle
  • Aroostook Centre Mall
  • Riverside Pavilion

Carribou:

  • Carribou Recreation & Wellness Center

Additional viewing areas:

  • Mars Hill 
  • Island Falls
  • Limestone

VERMONT/NEW YORK

Total Solar Eclipse | Credit titoOnz from Getty Images

Solar Eclipse Festival at ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain 

Burlington, VT, April 5

Heading down the eclipse path just southwest of Maine, catch festivities across this waterfront city. ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain’s festival features telescope projections and pop-up exhibits. The Illuminate Vermont arts festival is also happening in South Burlington this weekend with live music, food trucks and an indoor/outdoor market.

Essex Eclipse 2024 Festival

Essex, NY, April 8

Just across the water on the New York side of Lake Champlain, catch some of the best eclipse views from the Adirondacks. Essex is hosting a North Boquet Mountain hike, art galleries and activities at participating bars. 

Where to View:

Vermont:

  • Waterfront Park and Battery Park – North Burlington
  • Oakledge Park – South Burlington

New York:

  • Whitcomb’s Backyard – Essex
  • Ticonderoga Recreational Fields 
  • Crown Point State Historic Site 
  • Niagara Falls State Park

GREAT LAKES

OHIO

Total Eclipse Fest 2024

Cleveland, April 6 – 8 

The Great Lakes Science Center partners with NASA Glenn Research to host this celestial celebration at downtown Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor. Enjoy family-friendly science activities, performances, food vendors and free eclipse-viewing glasses.

Great Lakes Science Center Courtesy of GordonMakryllos via Wikimedia Commons

Where to View:

  • Great Lakes Science Center – Cleveland 
  • Oasis Marinas at North Coast Harbor – Cleveland 
  • Holden Arboretum – Kirtland 
  • Headlands Beach State Park – Mentor 

Total Eclipse Woof Watch Party

Geneva-on-the-Lake, April 8

Ruff Life on the Lake’s pet-friendly restaurant and gift shop lets your furry friends join the fun at this dog-friendly viewing party. Enjoy eclipse-themed food, giveaways and free eclipse glasses for the first 100 guests. 

Where to View:

  • Ruff Life on the Lake
  • Geneva-on-the-Lake State Park
  • Geneva Marina

“A Monumental Eclipse” at Put-In-Bay 

Put-In-Bay, April 8

Head to Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island for unobstructed views of the eclipse. The memorial commemorating the history of Lake Erie provides a fitting backdrop.

Where to View:

  • Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial – Put-In-Bay
  • Kelleys Island State Park – Kelleys Island
  • Catawba Island State Park – Catawba Island
  • East Harbor State Park – Lakeside Marblehead 
  • Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Visitor Center – Oak Harbor 

Total Eclipse of Sundusky Festival

Sandusky, April 5 – 8 

Witness Sandusky transform into “Sundusky” with week-long celestial events. Check out Cosmic Education with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s senior astronomer (April 3), Jeepclipse (April 4), plus movie screenings and a weekend-long music festival. The grand finale features an eclipse viewing party and NASA livestream on the Jackson Street Pier. 

Where to View:

  • Jackson Street Pier
  • Safe Harbor Sandusky
  • Crystal Rock Campground
  • Camp Sandusky

ILLINOIS

Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium

Carbondale, April 8

Southern Illinois University teams up with Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, NASA and more for a guided, fun-filled day of eclipse activities. Head to the college’s Saluki Stadium for an amazing view and experience. 

Eclipse Encounter ’24

Chicago, April 8

Though Chicago is not on the direct path of totality, it is close enough to experience a partial eclipse along the water. The Adler Planetarium hosts this free outdoor event featuring telescope viewing, giveaways and family-friendly activities. 

Where to View:

  • Navy Pier and Adler Planetarium – Chicago
  • Pere Marquette State Park – Grafton
  • Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park– Utica/Oglesby 
  • Garden of the Gods – Herod
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Women’s Fishing Events through Spring & Summer

NEWS
|
March 21, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

In honor of Women’s History Month, Marinalife celebrates the rise of ladies stepping into leadership roles in the marine industry, from women superyacht captains to avid female anglers. This spring and summer season is the perfect time to catch women’s fishing tournaments, networking events and educational programs along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Whether they support a charitable cause or educate all levels of boaters, the following events encourage women to get out on the water and show off their skills. 

Kellie Magyari and Joyce Davis Fishing | Courtesy of Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!

Women’s Sailing Conference 

Narragansett Sailing School

Warwick, RI, April 13

Meet fellow female anglers and dive into educational topics and classes at this New England event. Learn about boat systems, navigation, sailboat racing and even sew upholstery for your boat.

Women on the Water

Downtown Sailing Center

Baltimore, MD, begins April 15 (held first and third Mondays, May – September) 

This sailing school aims to create an inclusive environment for women boaters of all skill levels. Learn to sail, brush up on your skills, or get competitive and join a race clinic. The program offers two levels: beginner and racing. 

South Florida Saltwater Weekend Seminar

Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!

Fort Lauderdale, FL, April 19 – 21 

Known as the “No-Yelling School of Fishing,” this organization hosts seminars, tournaments and immersion-based educational programs for lady anglers. The Saltwater Seminar provides classes, one-on-one sessions with pro instructors and a great opportunity to network.

Keys Fishing Screamin’ Reels Learning on the Water

Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!

South Tavernier, FL, May 17 – 19 

This fun, “non-intimidating” tournament hosts two days of Florida Keys fishing for prizes. Catch mahi, king mackerel and tuna along the waters of Islamorada on your own boat or grab a spot on one of the reserved charters. Kickoff begins at Tavernier Florida Elks Lodge. 

Women fishing | Courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic

2024 National Women’s Sailing Association Conference 

National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA)

New Orleans, LA, June 8

In 1990, a group of women sailors and enthusiasts created this nonprofit to provide hands-on workshops and educational programs for lady mariners of all levels. This year marks the 25th anniversary of producing a conference held for women sailors, by women sailors. Hosted at the Southern Yacht Club along Lake Pontchartrain, join this wonderful opportunity to explore workshops, help support all-girls sailing scholarship programs and meet industry experts.

2024 Ladies Teal Carpet Fishing Tournament

Old Salt Fishing Foundation

St. Petersburg, FL, June 20 & 22 

For the past 35 years, this tournament has not only gathered gals from all over for a fun-filled day of competing, but it has also raised awareness and funds to support women’s health. The event kicks off with a dinner on Thursday, then weigh-in at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille at St. Pete Pier on Saturday. Proceeds support work by Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Foundation. 

18th Annual Ladies Fishing Tournament

Saltwater Sweeties

Aransas Pass, TX, July 12 – 13

Over 250 ladies come together for a chance to reel in a whopper along the southern shores of Texas at this annual event. The tournament is a fundraiser for the Coastal Bend Guides Association supporting Driscoll Children’s Hospital Chemo Kids and local communities. 

Courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic

16th Annual OCMC Ladies Tournament: Heels & Reels

Ocean City Marlin Club

Ocean City, MD, August 2 – 3 

Just days before hosting the White Marlin Open, one of the world’s largest billfish tournaments, this beach town celebrates fisherwomen with their own exclusive Atlantic tournament. Join fellow female anglers for a chance to win prizes and benefit the OCMC Auxiliary Scholarship Fund.  

Ladies-Only Charity Billfish Tournament

Wine, Women & Fishing 

Virginia Beach, VA, August 17 – 18 

Have you ever seen an all-women fleet of ladies in pink reeling in a big one? Well, this is your chance! The Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation has raised more than $1 million for breast cancer research at Eastern Virginia Medical School. This tournament is open to all levels and encourages decorated boats and colorful ensembles. 

For more on ladies-only fishing programs, check out our recent article on women and fishing.

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3 Reasons to Invest in Ice Vending for Your Marina

NEWS
|
March 20, 2024
|
By
Marinalife &
Everest Ice & Water Systems
Courtesy of Everest Ice & Water Systems

Boaters have a few simple needs when arriving at a marina: a safe place to dock, restroom facilities, fuel and easy access to fresh ice and water. When it comes to managing a marina, it’s critical to select top-notch amenities carefully to guarantee the best guest experience. 

Everest Ice & Water Systems offers energy-efficient, high-end vending services that eliminate stock and delivery issues at the dock and provide guests with on-demand, self-service ice and water conveniently.

Ice vending machines are important business investments, because you can place them just about anywhere and turn a profit. While most vending locations seem obvious, a lucrative option many people overlook is a marina. If you aren’t sure your marina is a good fit, the following list shows the benefits of buying an ice vending machine.

Necessary for most Anglers & Boaters

People enjoy boating so they can get out in the open water and go fishing. With long trips at sea, having fresh ice at the marina is like music to a fisherman’s ears. Of course, anglers aren’t the only ones who’d benefit from an ice machine. Easy-access ice vending is the ultimate perk for cruisers who often bring food and drinks along.

While guests might bring their own coolers, it’s much more convenient to purchase ice at the marina when they need to restock and refill. That means if you offer an ice vending machine, you’d have a built-in customer base right away. Running out of ice is a common occurrence on sweltering hot days. Your marina’s vending machine could be quite the lifesaver!

Courtesy of Everest Ice & Water Systems

Eco-Friendly & Reliable

Just think about the journey bagged ice makes from the ice plant to the cooler. It’s distributed by a machine, bagged, loaded onto a truck, handled by a delivery person, rearranged by convenience store clerks then eventually handled by customers. 

An all-in-one vending machine like Everest reduces the carbon footprint of the ice factory model by at least 85%. In addition, the bulk dispensing feature encourages customers to use coolers and water jugs to save plastic and protect the environment. 

Convenient for nearby Restaurants

The last benefit of buying an ice vending machine isn’t as common, but it’s worth noting if you have a restaurant on-site at your marina. Restaurants go through tons of ice, meaning they may need quick access to restock if they run low on busy days. The proximity of your ice vending machine will come in handy, saving both you and your staff inconvenient trips to stores. 

Not to mention, local dining and provisions may be scarce in some locations. Boaters will need to stock up on ice especially when buying groceries or ordering carry-out.

How Do Investors Feel about the Product?

Courtesy of Everest Ice & Water Systems

Owner of marina properties in Ohio, Lyndon Yoder, purchased an Everest machine about two years ago and says how impactful it has been to his guests. 

“I would dare to say that 95% of the people in this area have never seen a water and ice machine like this, and people have stated over and over how grateful they are that I took the plunge and invested in this for the community,” says Yoder. “My hope is in the next few years to have five or six Everest machines in the area. I have requests to put these machines in different locations up to 20 miles from here.”

Fill out this form to get in touch with an equipment specialist today or visit everesticeandwater.com for more info.

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Raise a Glass to St. Patrick with Festive Cocktails

NEWS
|
March 6, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

Leprechaun Rum Punch

What do you get when you combine a buccaneer’s favorite liquor with sea-colored cordials? A perfect nautical cocktail to celebrate the luck of the Irish! You’ll find many variations of the shamrock-colored punch recipe, but this version is our favorite to kick off the spring season.

Leprechaun Rum Punch | Credit Alice in Otherland

Ingredients:

1 oz Malibu coconut rum 

1 oz Captain Morgan spiced rum

1 oz Midori melon liqueur

1 oz Blue Curaçao liqueur

½ oz pineapple juice

Splash of sweet and sour mix

Fresh lime and pineapple wedge for garnish

Instructions:

Fill a tall glass with ice. In a separate cocktail shaker, add all ingredients and shake well. Strain into glass and garnish with lime and pineapple wedge.

Green with Envy

A lime green cocktail in a rocks glass, garnished with lemon and basil on a dark countertop.
Green with Envy cocktail in rocks glass | Credit antalexstudio

It only feels right to drink Irish whiskey on St. Patty’s Day and this cocktail is the perfect green concoction for the occasion.

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz Jameson Irish Whiskey

1 ½ oz Prosecco sparkling wine

1 oz simple syrup

½ oz lemon juice

Basil leaves

Instructions:

Fill a tall glass with ice. In a separate cocktail shaker, lightly muddle basil leaves and add the Irish whiskey, simple syrup and lemon juice. Fill halfway with ice and shake well. Strain mix into a tall glass with ice, leaving room at the top. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a basil leaf. 

*Recipe courtesy of jamesonwhiskey.com

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Spring Fishing Tournaments to Catch in the Caribbean & Bahamas

NEWS
|
February 22, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Fishing for Marlin | credit: Lunamarina

With thousands of marine species in its warm waters, the Caribbean is known for year-round big game sportfishing. From the Bahamian archipelago to the Caribbean islands, boaters can join annual tournaments that celebrate anglers’ passion for a prize-winning catch. 

The region’s open waters are home to an abundance of Spanish mackerel, yellowfin, tuna, billfish and tarpon — and fishing enthusiasts flock to the Caribbean for its world-renowned white and blue marlin. With no off-season, the sky’s the limit on what you pull aboard. Check out the following tournaments that run from March through June.

3rd Annual Chub Cay Classic 

Bahamas, March 7 – 9

Kick off The Bahamas billfish tournament season at Chub Cay Resort & Marina located at the southern tip of the Berry Islands. Last year’s event attracted 17 boats competing for prizes. 

The Sir Charles Williams International Fishing Tournament

Barbados, April 9 – 13 

The Barbados Game Fishing Association hosts this annual competition at Port St. Charles Marina in St. Peter. Go after prizes and record-breaking blue marlin in the five-day event.

Chub Cay Marina | Courtesy of George Damianos

4th Annual Chub Cay Invitational

Bahamas, April 11 – 13 

Chub Cay Resort & Marina and Fly Zone Fishing hold another fishing competition at this gorgeous venue following the March tournament. 

Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament

Cayman Islands, April 23 – 30 

Hosted by the Cayman Islands Angling Club, this has been the island’s premier sportfishing tournament for more than 25 years. Eligible species include wahoo, yellowfin, tuna, dolphin and billfish. 

Antigua and Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament

Antigua, May 16 – 19

This 56th annual event invites regional and international sportfishing fans to compete for prizes. The tournament takes place at Falmouth Harbour Marina on the south shores of the island. 

Courtesy of Abaco Beach Resort

The Shootout: Production vs. Custom

Abaco, Bahamas, May 1 – 4

Head to Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour Marina to catch this annual competition that challenges the skills of production line boats vs. custom-designed vessels. The event hosts 50 inboard teams of boats 33-feet or larger. The marina also hosts the exclusive Custom Shootout tournament May 15 – 18, featuring teams by invitation only. 

Baker’s Bay Invitational

Bahamas, May 8 – 11

The Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club hosts two days of offshore fishing and a one-day golf tournament at this exclusive event. This competition is limited to the first 30 boats to register.

Walker’s Cay Blue Marlin Invitational

Bahamas, May 22 – 25

Carl & Gigi Allen, owners of this northernmost Bahamian island, are hosting their 4th annual fishing tournament at Walker’s Cay Marina. The event is open to 50 boats and offers jackpots for marlin, dolphin, wahoo and tuna. 

Elbow Reef Classic Fishing Tournament

Abaco, Bahamas, May 29 – June 1

Hope Town Inn & Marina hosts this community-driven event on the island of Elbow Cay. All proceeds go to preserve and protect the Elbow Reef Lighthouse.

Battleground Bahamas Yellowfin Tuna Fishing Tournament

Freeport, Grand Bahama, June 13 – 15

Founded in 2020 by native Bahamian fishermen, this family-friendly tournament donates to the Rotary of Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Committee. Reel in the heaviest tuna, mahi, blackfin or wahoo to win prizes.

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18th Annual Business of Boating Conference Recap

NEWS
|
February 7, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Business of Boating Conference | Courtesy of MMTA

As the maritime industry grows and evolves, organizations like the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA) work to bolster the safety and success of recreational boating. 

Based out of Foxboro, MA, MMTA recently hosted the 18th annual Business of Boating Conference with a lineup of educational sessions at Foxboro’s Lakeview Pavilion. Industry experts addressed topics on technology, employment law, government relations, workforce funding, national sales updates, national codes and compliance, and more. 

Key takeaways for boaters, marinas and maritime businesses from the conference include the following information and resources:

Marina Electrical Systems — design and code compliance updates:

  • Critical changes recently occurred in the National Electrical Code, specifically Article 555, “Marinas, Boatyards, Floating Buildings, and Commercial and Noncommercial Dock Facilities.” Review the NFPA 70, National Electrical Code 2023 latest edition. 
  • Routine maintenance and inspections should be performed at least annually per NFPA 5.20 “Maintenance of Electrical Wiring and Equipment” requirements. 
  • Boat owners should have all electrical work completed by American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC)-certified electricians.

Local Massachusetts regulatory, legal and government relations updates:

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll | Courtesy of MMTA

Local Massachusetts Resources that help market your business:

  • The Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR) plays a critical role in the local economy, adding $11.8 billion to the GDP and directly supporting 102,687 jobs. In December 2023, MOOR launched a small grants program aimed at supporting inclusive and accessible outdoor recreation events. Learn about the MOOR Events Grants Programs.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game recently launched the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program to provide financial assistance for private and municipal owners of conserved land and improve wildlife habitats, steward biodiversity and offer public recreational opportunities. Learn more about the program here.
  • The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is hosting the 2024 Governor’s Conference on April 2 to discuss the tourism industry with Governor Maura Healey. This is a great opportunity for industry members to network and collaborate.

Regional Workforce Training:

  • Check out MMTA’s Schools & Training Program Database for a list of marine training providers throughout New England.
  • The MMTA Job Bulletin provides frequent posts for employment opportunities across New England announcing positions from mechanics and engineers to boatyard crew workers and sales reps. 

MMTA presented Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll with the 2023 MMTA Elected Official of the Year award, and Warren Kelly received the MMTA Frank Farrell Award honoring industry leadership. 

“Workforce is always a big topic. It was nice to hear from students and instructors this year, considering many of our member businesses struggle to find employees, and that causes a critical impact in the industry," says Randall Lyons, executive director of MMTA. "Legislative topics are also key this year, because our members need to be aware of several action items.”

MMTA focuses on public advocacy and provides resources, education and professional development to people employed in the marine industry. The association provides essential resources and stays up to date with the latest trends, changes and innovations. Check out MMTA’s workforce training videos, boating safety resources and services at boatma.com

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Destination: Palm Beach, FL

NEWS
|
January 24, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

Dazzling shorelines, alfresco dining, and a vibrant arts and culture scene are just a few reasons to plan your Palm Beach getaway this winter. 

This resort town is lined with 47 miles of unspoiled beaches, world-class golf courses, and more than 80 parks and natural areas to explore. Browse palm-tree lined streets packed with designer boutiques, vintage shops and art galleries. 

The Breakers | Credit The Breakers Palm Beach

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach recently underwent a $100 million renovation bringing guests a myriad of exhibits and curated selections. Check out the new exhibition, Ellen Graham: Unscripted, a photography collection that runs March 2 – June 16. The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum is another historic site to see, showcasing an exclusive winter art exhibition until mid-April titled Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau.

For a five-star experience, stay at one of the many plush resorts such as White Elephant Palm Beach, a luxury boutique hotel with waterfront suites, upscale amenities and a museum-worthy collection of 120 contemporary art pieces. Another favorite is The Breakers Palm Beach historic hotel and golf course. 

The area welcomes new restaurants such as the Mediterranean at Tutto Mare at The Royal Poinciana Plaza, and Maman, a French café and bakery coming soon to The Square in West Palm Beach.

The town’s calendar of events is filled with festivals and attractions to enjoy throughout the winter cruising season. Check out the Palm Beach Jewel & Antique Show from February 15 – 21, and one of Florida’s most popular boating events, the Palm Beach International Boat Show running March 21 – 24. 

WHERE TO DOCK

Palm Harbor Marina

561-655-4757

Located in the heart of West Palm Beach, this marina boasts 200 slips accommodating yachts up to 300 feet. Upscale amenities include a clubhouse, fitness center, complimentary Wi-Fi and the Epicurean Center offering gourmet food, wine and beer.

Town of Palm Beach Marina

561-838-5463

In 2021, this marina completed a $40 million renovation of the old Town Docks revamping the facility with concrete floating docks and upgraded shore power. The yacht center offers 84 slips with a facility expansion accommodating superyachts up to 294 feet.

Sailfish Marina Resort - Courtesy of Sailfish Marina Resort

Sailfish Marina Resort

561-844-1724

This tropical resort offers transient slips at one of four docks available to visitors or annuals. The marina is home to a world-famous fleet of sport fishing yachts and offers amenities including a ship store, gift shop and water taxi that takes guests cruising around the beautiful beaches.  

WHERE TO DINE

Café Boulud 

561-655-6060

This award-winning restaurant is a contemporary French American brasserie located in the Brazilian Court Hotel. Sample homemade potato gnocchi, lobster mezzaluna and a selection of fine-cut meats. 

Food and Shopping Street in West Palm Beach, FL | Credit mTaira on Shutterstock

Būccan

561-833-3450

Located in walking distance from the beach, this cozy bistro is a perfect stop for a bite. The inventive American restaurant offers tasty dishes from short rib empanadas to Florida grouper scaloppine.

Sassafras

651-323-7007

Just across the water in West Palm Beach, this traditional restaurant embodies an old French bayou southern feel with classic dishes such as fried green tomatoes and chicken and dumplings. Guest favorites include the Smashed-Patty Double Cheeseburger.

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MARINALIFE ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF ITS ANNUAL BEST MARINA CONTEST

NEWS
|
January 16, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Alexa Zizzi
Phone: 410-752-0505
Email: azizzi@marinalife.com

MARINALIFE ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF ITS ANNUAL BEST MARINA CONTEST

(BALTIMORE, MD, January 16, 2024) Marinalife is pleased to announce the winners of its 14th annual Best Marina Contest. Boaters, marinas and members of the maritime industry in North America and the Caribbean cast their votes, and the results are as follows:

BEST LARGE MARINA

First Place: Brunswick Landing Marina – Brunswick, GA
Second Place: Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina – Hilton Head Island, SC
Third Place: Morningstar Marinas Golden Isles – St. Simons Island, GA

BEST SMALL MARINA

First Place: Chicks Marina – Kennebunkport, ME
Second Place: Jekyll Harbor Marina – Jekyll Island, GA
Third Place: Dowry Creek Marina – Belhaven, NC

Brunswick Landing Marina returns as a back-to-back first place winner in this year’s Best Large Marina category. Located in the heart of downtown Brunswick, the destination boasts well-maintained floating concrete docks in a waterway that is historically safe from hurricanes. The 101-acre marina offers dockside parking, 445+ dry and wet slips, a full-service boatyard, and social events. Over the years, the marina has evolved into a must-see for cruisers by welcoming liveaboards without additional fees. 

“Winning the Best Large Marina award two years in a row is an honor. As we strive to provide a world class experience, we are humbled that our customers appreciate our hard work and vision,” said Dock Master Kyle Schieferdecker. “We would like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who voted for us. Without your support, none of this would be possible.” 

The marina team is currently working with the Army Corp of Engineers and Department of Natural Resources on permit applications to construct coastal Georgia's first permitted mooring ball field adjacent to the docks to provide a lower-cost option for visitors.

Chicks Marina in Kennebunkport, ME, returns as the reigning first place champ for the Best Small Marina award. Tucked away in the southern coast of Maine, this cozy 50-slip marina offers seasonal and transient dockage, heated winter storage and custom boat services. Amenities include laundry, showers, shuttle services, a ships store, and gas and diesel fuel dock. The marina celebrates more than 50 years of top-notch customer service. 

“It is such an honor to be recognized for the fourth year as Best Small Marina. We appreciate being noticed for our efforts and the pride that we take in making the stay at Chicks memorable,” said Amy Gaynor, operations manager of Chicks Marina.

As we celebrate 24 years of Marinalife, we send a special thanks to the marinas and boaters nationwide for participating in this year’s contest. Keep an eye out for announcements this summer for our 2024 Best Marina Contest.

###

About Marinalife

Founded by lifelong boaters, Marinalife delivers tools and resources to allow the boating community to fully embrace life on the water. Marinalife joined with Snag-A-Slip in 2017 and together, we create tech-enabled solutions, allowing boaters and marinas to easily connect and transact. Headquartered in Baltimore, MD, our crew is passionate about two things: boating and delivering exceptional service to our customers. For information, visit marinalife.com, call 410-752-0505 or email info@marinalife.com

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Winter Boat Camping in Florida

NEWS
|
January 10, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
camping | credit: welcomia

As snowbirds cruise south this season, some will join a growing nautical trend and try winter boat camping in Florida state parks. It’s the perfect getaway with benefits beyond escaping the cold northern weather. Winter in the Sunshine State means only a few pestering bugs, cooler temperatures, open slips, small crowds, and lower costs than hotels or resorts. What’s not to love? 

Bring your own boat or rent a vessel, then pitch a tent at one of the following boat camping parks that provide dockage, water, electricity, access to amenities and miles of gorgeous nature preserves. 

Hontoon Island State Park

DeLand

Only accessible by private boat or ferry, this hidden gem is located about 30 miles inland on the St. Johns River. The park offers fishing, paddling, kayaking, canoeing, bike rentals, rustic cabins and 12 tent sites with picnic areas and grills. The boat camping area has shore power and 42 boat slips accommodating vessels up to 60 feet. 

Caladesi Island State Park

Dunedin

Another island only accessible by boat, this state park boasts unspoiled beaches, lush mangroves and hiking trails through historic ruins. The park’s bayside marina offers two dock areas for overnight slips with 30 AMP electric, provisions, grills, a covered pavilion, kayak/canoe launch, a marina gift shop and fishing in permitted areas.  

John Pennekamp State Park | credit: Global_Pics

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Key Largo

This unique destination is the country’s first underwater park where snorkelers and scuba divers explore colorful coral reefs. Home of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, guests can enjoy year-round warm waters and camping. Guests can choose from 47 full-facility campsites for tents and RV campers throughout the park. The marina offers a deepwater boat ramp for vessels up to 36 feet, overnight slips with water, electric and shower facilities, dinghy dockage and mooring buoys located in Largo Sound. The park also offers powerboat rentals featuring 21-foot center consoles. 

Bahia Honda State Park | credit: Lunamarina

Bahia Honda State Park

Florida Keys

Head south through the Keys to this palm tree-lined beachfront park known for camping. Enjoy amenities at Buttonwood Campground, accommodating everything from large RVs to small tents and providing electricity, water, picnic areas and bathhouses, or venture into the secluded Bayside Campground non-electric sites for a rustic camping experience. The park’s marina includes 19 slips in a protected basin and offers overnight rentals with water, electricity and access to facilities.  

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park | credit: VISIT FLORIDA

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Key Biscayne

Located just outside of Miami, escape to this tropical paradise full of activities and natural wonders. You won’t find traditional tent campsites here, but guests can cozy up in the boat cabin and anchor overnight at No Name Harbor with complimentary pump-out and access to park amenities. Launch canoes and kayaks off the harbor’s sea wall and take advantage of bike rentals, fishing and on-site restaurants. Visitors not anchoring overnight can enjoy a day trip for an $8 entrance fee.

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Bitter End Yacht Club - Nick Putman

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By

Nick Putman

Marina Manager, Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Nick Putman | Courtesy of Bitter End Yacht Club

How long have you been at the marina, and what brought you here?

I initially came to work for Bitter End in 2013 as a sailing/windsurf instructor within the watersports team. In 2016, the marina manager asked me to be her assistant, and I jumped at the opportunity.

What in life prepared you for this job?

My parents always hosted parties and get-togethers with family or friends. They were my first great examples of what hospitality looks like. I then worked eight summers as a sailing instructor, where I put my own hospitality and customer service skills to the test. I found out through the summer seasons that I enjoyed working in the industry, which made me pursue opportunities in the warmer Caribbean climate. I knew the marine industry in Michigan would only support me for half of the year!

If you could walk in anyone’s shoes for a day, who would it be?

John Frusciante shredding guitar for a sold-out Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. To be clear — I am no good, but I would love to know what it feels like to play like that in front of thousands of people!

You work in paradise. Where do you go on vacation?

I love to travel, so I take vacations to new places as much as possible. This summer, I visited Costa Rica, Hawaii and Thailand. Because I live far from my home in Michigan, I also go back to see family and friends for part of my annual vacation.

Name the top three favorite boating songs on your playlist.

“Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass, “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash and “Set Sail” by The Movement.

Describe the perfect meal. What would you eat, and where would you go?

Marinated flank steak, rice pilaf and asparagus made by my mom and dad, enjoyed together on our back porch.

What is the most important item to always keep on a boat?

Rum!

What is the one thing everyone should do or see at your marina?

Tie off in the marina and hop in your dinghy to cruise the entire North Sound/ Eustatia Sound for snorkeling, bars, restaurants and secluded beaches. I’ve been here for 10 years and am still exploring and discovering. There is so much to see and do for a relatively small area.

Describe yourself in three words.

Living The Dream.

What makes your marina special or different than other destinations?

It’s naturally protected by land and reef with no break walls to take away from the view, so you can see crystal clear water all the way to the bottom. Plus, we have the friendliest and most fun marina staff on the planet.

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Boating Charter Companies in the Bahamas

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Ellen
Honey
Courtesy of Cruise Abaco

Beyond the touristy cruise ship ports and the glitzy resorts of the Bahamas, sleepy seaside towns and secluded harbors await discovery. A great way to experience this chain of more than 700 islands and cays is aboard a Bahamas yacht charter.

Many charters are in the off-the-beaten-path “Out Islands.” The Abacos has been the Bahamian boating capital since colonial times, and its nautical ambience continues to lure voyagers from across the sea to picturesque villages and dazzling ocean sunsets.

The flawless coastline of the Exumas, a 120-mile-long archipelago, is an unspoiled strip of islands and cays known for friendly locals, secluded beaches and underwater caves designed for snorkeling. On Big Major Cay, also known as Pig Beach, you can even take a dip with the residents, the famous swimming pigs.

The Bahamas is one of the world’s leading charter destinations, and it’s no surprise that you will find a variety of vessels along with some of the world’s most impressive superyachts cruising its waters. Charter companies offer multiple options, and a little research will lead you to the most suitable for your dream vacation aboard.

Navigare Yachting Bahamas Ltd.

703-401-3161

A Swedish bareboat charter company, Navigare is the world’s third largest charter operation. Their Bahamas fleet consists of yachts custom- made for the market: sailing catamarans to 50’ from Bali and Lagoon and power cats to 48’ from Aquila, Navigare’s own brand. New yachts are always being added; two 51’ Lagoons are on order. The minimum charter is four days, with no set check-in/checkout days. Weather permitting, sailing grounds in the Abacos are limited to the Sea of Abaco, including Great Abaco and numerous cays to the east. A 10- to-14-day charter can be extended into the Exumas.

Additional end-of-charter expenses are avoided through the Navigare Carefree package, which includes full coverage damage waiver insurance, a welcome pack, linens, dinghy, outboard engine and fuel, propane, full water tanks, snorkeling equipment, and a final cleaning. The fuel tank is full when your charter begins; you top off the tank at the end.

Courtesy of Cruise Abaco

Cruise Abaco

321-830-9412

Located at Great Abaco Beach Resort in Marsh Harbour, Cruise Abaco was the first charter company in the Abacos. A small niche operation, they offer charters with their “Captained by Day, Bareboat by Night” program. A captain guides you through the day with snorkel and beach stops, and then leaves you safely moored in a different seaside settlement or secluded cove each evening. As support boats transfer the crew, they can also bring any essentials needed. Day sails with stops at the underwater parks to snorkel, island hop and sightsee are available.

Tip: Take advantage of your time aboard by learning the ropes. Sign up for American Sailing courses with your charter and gain certifications as you go! Classes will have you learning and living hands-on with a licensed captain and ASC certified sailing instructors. Throughout a typical week, charter guests can complete up to three courses with American Sailing certifications.

Bluebnc

786-369-6008

Bluebnc caters to its clientele by offering a wide selection of yachts ranging from 15 to 45 meters and accommodates various preferences by offering week-long, day, or weekend charters departing from the lively port of Nassau or the serene Marsh Harbour Marina. Bluebnc combines the convenience and accessibility of online services with a personal touch. From browsing to booking, its digital platform provides a seamless user-friendly experience with experts available to answer questions. Bluebnc supports a sustainable business model while also preserving marine life by working with its yachts to create long-term environmental health and well-being.

Ritzy Charters

954-228-5562

Since Ritzy Charters brokers primarily crewed yachts in The Bahamas, it’s a top pick for finding crewed yacht options. The Florida- based company represents a variety of vessels across several categories including luxury yacht charter, motorboats, monohulls and catamarans. Recommended Ritzy itineraries include many activities and schedules with island-hopping maps and more, all custom tailored to vessel type and average cruising speeds to maximize your vacation time. A favorite recommendation is the Exumas (with a six-night minimum) to see the beautiful parts of The Bahamas.

Exumas, Bahamas | Courtesy of Dream Yacht Worldwide

Dream Yacht Worldwide

855-650-8902

With more destinations than any other yacht charter company, Dream Yacht offers choices in both the Exumas and Abacos. From bareboat and skippered to the exclusivity of fully crewed yachts, the fleet includes options for seasoned sailors or those with no experience at all. They introduced electric sailing in the Mediterranean and plan to expand to The Bahamas soon. For the lone traveler wanting to experience time aboard, they offer by-the-cabin charters for social sailing at its best. The yacht is usually a Lagoon 620 cat with a guaranteed departure date from the Exumas.

Courtesy of Penny Jo Sailing Charters

Penny Jo Sailing Charters

302-754-0242

Penny Jo is a new 2022 Bali 4.4 sailing catamaran designed for personal comfort and performance. As is part of a co-op of self-managed boats, she’s usually crewed by a live-aboard owner/ captain. Penny Jo’s Capt. Bart is a South African native with fascinating life stories to share. Canadian First Mate/Chef Katie is widely traveled graduate of an exclusive French culinary school.

Penny Jo trips are all-inclusive luxury charters with an experienced crew ready to cater to your interests, diet preferences and comfort, much like a floating condo. Instead of paying per item, these charters include linens, alcohol, kayaks, paddleboards, underwater scooter, wakeboard and more.

If you are an experienced sailor or have never stepped aboard a boat, a luxury crewed charter is a vacation with no details to worry about. Penny Jo charters begin from her home port in New Providence (Nassau) and follow a custom itinerary through the Exumas.

Yacht Collective

954-947-5311

In the predominantly male-owned charter industry, Yacht Collective is a majority woman-owned luxury yacht charter company specializing in crewed charters in the Exumas and Abacos.

Yacht Collective is a fast-growing central agency and brokerage that specializes in yacht management, sales, consulting, crew placement network and more. They are known for the owner-support program, which is customized to fit the owner and the vessel. Each boat in the fleet is represented by a single agent for marketing and booking. Yacht Collective will even consult with new owners before a purchase to help them make the best selection.

The Moorings

888-952-8420

Whether it’s your first time chartering a yacht or you’re a seasoned professional, the Moorings has a range of options for you to choose from bareboat to skippered and crewed. Challenge yourself by taking the helm on a bareboat charter and revel in the freedom and privacy of sailing as master of your own yacht. Hire a skipper for all or part of the journey and enjoy a combination of relaxing on deck and guiding yourself around the Abacos or Exumas. Want to be the life and soul of the party? Choose a crewed charter and get treated like royalty by a captain and chef team. The Moorings offers private charter flights from Fort Lauderdale or Miami that take you directly to your yacht.

Sunsail

888 350 3568

A sister company to the Moorings, Sunsail offers a build-your-own pricing structure, which is appealing to visitors looking for the basic charter experience. All cats in the Sunsail fleet are Leopard Catamarans, which is synonymous with spacious, performance-driven, blue water cruising that offers exceptional seaworthiness combined with comfort and an extensive equipment list. Sail choices include the Leopard 42, 45, and 50 and two Powercats — the 53 PC and the new Leopard 46 PC.

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Gifts for Boaters: Floatable and Waterproof Products

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Waterproof Chartbooks | Courtesy of Maptech

WATERPROOF CHARTBOOKS

Maptech

These sturdy guides are printed on tough, tear-resistant, waterproof pages and feature 12 x 17” full-size, full-color charts in a conveniently compact book. The high-resolution chartbooks include pre-plotted courses, GPS waypoints and hundreds of marina locations at popular boating destinations on the east and west coasts. ($69.95-$79.95)  

Geo Collection | Courtesy of ugo wear

PHONE 2.0 DRY BAG

ugo wear

This waterproof dry bag not only functions as a phone case, but also leaves space for money, cards, keys, medication and more. Most importantly, the fully floatable bag will never sink to the bottom of the sea! The bright and flashy seafoam green, blue and orange colors stand out when hitting the water. The clear case allows for texting, talking and taking photos without removing your phone from the bag. It even takes great underwater shots! ($74.99-$129)

FLOATING KEYCHAIN

Chums

What’s worse than misplacing your keys? Accidentally dropping them in the water! For more than 40 years, Chums has produced top-notch floatable products to prevent just that. This waterproof keychain fits over your wrist and comes in bright yellow, neon and tie-dye colors, so it’s easy to spot on the water’s surface. ($7.99)  

PREMIUM FLOATING DRINKHOLDER

Diveblast

If you’re tired of saltwater in your chips or beverages, this is the right item for you. Float drinks and snacks across the waves in the durable, water-resistant serving tray with built-in holders that accommodate cans, bottles, food and ice. Plus it’s got slim slots for phones, books, sunglasses and whatever else you can fit! ($22.97)  

Oakley 22L Dry Bag | Courtesy of thecustomcaptain.com

OAKLEY 22L DRY BAG

Custom Captain

This bag is perfect for boating excursions as the heavy-duty nylon is wind resistant and waterproof with lightweight, machine washable material. Customize the bag with your own photos and artwork or let the Custom Captain team enhance your bag with unique graphic designs. Get creative and have a ball customizing! (Prices vary)

200 LUMEN LED FLOATING FLASHLIGHT

Dorcy

Every captain needs a trusty light to guide the way at sea. Small yet powerful, this flashlight floats on the water’s surface, and the rubber coating gives a slip-free grip. The light blasts 200 lumens of power and lasts for up to 17 hours on three AA batteries. ($14.99)

WATERPROOF COOLER SETS

Junedays

Keep your dinner and drinks dry with these sets that outsmart Mother Nature. The multipurpose, cube-shaped coolers are designed to keep provisions separated with space for fresh food, dry goods and more. The foldable shape is soft-sided and collapsible for easy storage no matter how small the space. ($38-$110)  

WATERPROOF FIRST AID KIT

Adventure Medical Kits

Cover all the bases for a worst-case scenario and keep a waterproof first aid kit on deck. The Marine 600 Medical Kit is made with an impact-resistant dry box containing everything needed for emergencies. ($199.99)

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Marina Updates: What's Up Dock?

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

In this new feature, Marinalife highlights recent upgrades, renovations or additions to our Snag-A-Slip partner marinas and other popular ports. This issue focuses on destinations from the mid-Atlantic to The Bahamas that have enhanced their facilities, added amenities, rebounded after stormy weather, built new docks, established a new restaurant or ship store, or found innovative ways to make visits to their marinas more enjoyable.

CBQ restaurant | Courtesy of Rod 'N' Reel

Rod ‘N’ Reel Resort

Chesapeake Beach, MD

In 2021, this Chesapeake Bay marina resort launched a three-phase remodeling project, including a parking garage addition and removal of Smokey Joe’s Grill. Last year, the marina completed Phase 2, opening CBQ, a barbeque restaurant offering dishes from smoked brisket to baby back ribs, two floors of gaming areas and The Overlook event space. Phase 3 is currently in progress with plans to reconstruct the original Rod ‘N’ Reel building and add a new beachfront atrium for weddings and events.

Dowry Creek Marina

Belhaven, NC

This family-owned facility placed as a winner in this year’s Best Small Marina category of our Best Marina Contest — and its exceptional customer service shows why. Just three miles north of Belhaven along the Pungo River, this destination offers deep-water slips and amenities such as a saltwater swimming pool. The marina opened a new seafood restaurant, The Salty Crab, hosting live music, fishing tournament specials and deals on meals.

Courtesy of Belle Bluff Island Campground

Belle Bluff Island Campground & Dock

Townsend, GA

Just off the ICW on the White Chimney River, this southern escape offers cozy campsites, fishing piers and a dock accommodating vessels up to 60 feet. The facility recently added new waterlines and power along 567 feet of floating docks. The marina is located 10 minutes from Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge and the Georgia Peach World market.

Courtesy of Bradford Marine

Bradford Marine

Fort Lauderdale, FL

In the heart of Fort Lauderdale, this full-service marina is expanding its top-of-the-line facilities. In October, Bradford Marine acquired Roscioli Yachting Center located adjacent to the property, and it plans to expand services. The facility is also expanding lift capacity, in-water dockage and dry storage.  

PORT 32 Palm Beach Gardens

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Leading marina owner and operator PORT 32 Marinas is adding new properties to its portfolio left and right. Centrally located between Jupiter and Palm Beach Inlets, this facility has big plans for a multimillion-dollar redevelopment to add 57 slips and modernize the marina. The 50-year-old infrastructure currently offers indoor dry storage, repair services, on-site boat sales and a waterfront tiki bar. Stay tuned for updates.

Atlantis Paradise Island

Paradise Island, Bahamas

The luxurious resort Atlantis offers five-star accommodations, dining and attractions in a tropical setting. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the property recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation to the Royal Towers. Two new restaurants also opened including the Bahamas’ first Shake Shack and the high-end Paranza restaurant.

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Boating in Delray Beach, FL

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Susan Elnicki
Wade
Delray Beach credit Louri Dovnarovich

Nestled between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale along Florida’s eastern seaboard lies Delray Beach, a sweet getaway spot with a charming vibe that has earned the nickname of the “Village by the Sea.”

In 1911, when the coastal town was incorporated, its population only numbered 250, and pineapples were grown nearby for canning at the factory in town. It was located along the Florida East Coast Railroad, and by 1927, the town stretched east across the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean.

Today, Delray Beach has grown to more than 67,000 residents, and its two distinct communities are divided by the ICW — downtown and the beach. In fact, Delray Beach is governed by the rhythms of the ICW drawbridge. Traffic stops along the main thoroughfare 15 minutes before and after every hour to let the bridge lift.

The well-groomed, two-mile beach is dotted with umbrellas and wood chaises, backed by low sand dunes covered in native vegetation. While relaxing on the beach is a favorite local pastime, the downtown area has put Delray Beach on the map. The main drag, Atlantic Avenue, is lined with palm trees, eclectic shops, lively bars and good restaurants. At night, the area comes alive with music and beachy entertainment.

In the 1920s, when an artist and writers’ colony was established here, the groundwork was laid for a vibrant cultural scene. The Pineapple Grove Arts District is home to Artists Alley, where painters and sculptors maintain studios and galleries. Adding to the creative environment are Old School Square Center for the Arts, Cornell Art Museum and Crest Theatre. Local parks, gardens, athletic fields, tennis courts and more round out the options for a unique and fun Atlantic vacation.

WHERE TO DOCK

Delray Beach credit Jodi Jacobson

City Marina

561-243-7250

Also known as the City of Delray Beach Municipal Marina, this facility along the ICW provides 24 rental slips for boats up to 55 feet. Amenities include showers, laundry, coin- operated pumpout and liveaboard accommodations.

The Seagate Yacht Club

561-665-4800

This hotel and full-service marina offers 44 slips accommodating boats up to 120 feet for daily, monthly or annual rentals. Upscale amenities include a sun pool, lounge and ship store, plus the hotel operates a spa, restaurants and golf club.

WHERE TO DINE

Caffe Luna Rosa

561-274-9404

Enjoy oceanfront, alfresco dining at this local dining staple that blends fresh Italian flavors with meat and seafood dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Deck 84

561-665-8484

Stop by this casual and dog-friendly dock and dine to watch boats cruise by on the ICW while you take a fork to classic American cuisine meals and daily seafood specials.

Dada

561-330-3232

Revolving artwork matches the creative cooking at a 1924 historic house flanked by a tree-filled patio. Live music plays while patrons peruse an eclectic menu of fresh fish, sandwiches, meatloaf and vegetarian dishes.

Brulé Bistro

561-274-2046

This casual chic café in the Pineapple Grove neighborhood mixes local beer and craft cocktails with sustainable foods ranging from shrimp tacos and jumbo lump crab cakes to grilled lamb chops and chicken meatballs.

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Top 10 Caribbean Beaches

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Carol
Bareuther

Beautiful beaches are picture postcard slices of paradise. You’ll find hundreds in the nearly 1,600-mile stretch of islands from The Bahamas to the Caribbean. Choosing the best to visit may seem like trying to pick a winning lottery number. But the list narrows down if you consider another element — a personality. Below are 10 Caribbean and Bahamas beaches that are selfie-worthy with a bucket-list experience, too. After all, you want something to write home about on that “wish you were here” postcard.

Pig Beach Bahamas - Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Pig Beach

The Bahamas

Swim with the pigs at this namesake beach on Big Major Cay. This uninhabited island, except for its porcine population, is a mile long and ripe for a ramble as well as paddling around with the porkers. A dozen or two of these big hairy feral critters are descendants of colonial times. They are comfortable in company due to the crowds they attract, so snap away with selfies. Reach this beach by taking a day tour from Nassau or The Exumas, or renting a boat, sailing or power boating on your own.

Where to Dock: Staniel Cay Yacht Club

Luquillo Beach

Puerto Rico

Culture is everything at this world-famous beach. These 12 miles of toe-snuggling sand are a half-hour drive from the island’s capital of San Juan, and only 6.5 miles from the east coast boater-friendly town of Fajardo. Before you reach the beach, stop at the 60-some ramshackle food kiosks along Route 3. They may not look like much, but the real taste of Puerto Rico here is perfect for a picnic. Try bacalaítos (codfish fritters), alcapurrias (meat-stuffed green banana fritter) or pastelillos (meat turnovers), to name a few. Picnic tables, parking and lifeguards line the beach. Be sure to snap a picture next to one of the iconic sloped palms that separate sea from shore.

Where to Dock: Marina Puerto Del Rey

Buck Island

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Tourists and sea turtles flock to the west side strip of white sand on this island managed by the U.S. National Park Service. The only way to get to Buck’s main beach, called Turtle Beach, is by boat. Several operators offer day sails from the town of Christiansted on St. Croix’s mainland. The trip takes a little over an hour. Upon arrival, it’s literally splash down or jump off an anchored boat in waist-deep water and wade ashore. True to its name, the beach is a fertile nesting ground for Hawksbill turtles from July to October. An underwater snorkel trail on the other side of Buck Island offers self-guiding plaques on the sea bottom describing marine life. It’s a great way to cool off after a beach walk.

Where to Dock: Green Cay Marina at Tamarind Reef Resort

The Baths

The Baths Courtesy BVI National Parks Trust 1

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

If you like your sand mixed with the natural gym of giant boulders to climb up, over and under, then take a 10-minute taxi trip from Spanish Town to the trailhead. Pay a $3 entrance fee at the kiosk. A short trek downhill along a dirt path leads to a carpet of white sand with huge rocks left and right. Straight ahead, swim or snorkel off the beach and around the rocks. Afterward, follow the trail signs to Devil’s Bay, another breathtaking beach to the east. The money shot happens along the way in the “Cathedral Room,” a secret pool hidden under the A-frame of these super-sized stones. Victoria’s Secret models posed for a catalog shoot here a few years ago.

Where to Dock: Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor

Orient Beach

St. Martin

Nude beaches aren’t the norm in the Caribbean. However, if sunning your birthday suit is at the top of your to-do list, then go to this 1.5-mile-long powdery soft stretch of white sand. It’s the southernmost end where you can ditch your trunks or bikini and frolic au natural in the surf. You’ll find a lot to do here if you want to keep your clothes on, too. Often dubbed the “St. Tropez of the Caribbean,” more than half of the rest of the beach is lined with bars, bistros and beach clubs. Try fine French fare or fly high kiteboarding. Kites, boards and instruction are all available. The colorful kites and acrobatic riders over the bay are spectator- friendly eye candy.

Where to Dock: Anse Marcel Marina

Nikki Beach

St. Barths

See and be seen at the beach at St. Jean, this French West Indies island's poshest piece of paradise. Known as Nikki Beach for the restaurant and beach club here, a parade of celebrities usually convenes where the sea meets sand owing to the clubs cosmopolitan draw and the location of the famed Eden Rock resort only steps away. Gwen Stefani, Bono, and Jay Z and Beyoncé have all strolled here. You can rent plush sun loungers and umbrellas that are phenomenal for people watching. Or grab lunch in the breeze-cooled dining room, also a perfect perch.

Where to Dock: Port De Gustavia

No Name Beach

Klein Bonaire

If snorkeling beats sunbathing in your book, the serene plateau of this beach is the ideal spot to dive in. The 2.3-square-mile, uninhabited islet is located half a mile from the Bonaire mainland and the capital city of Kralendijk. Reach here by water taxi, private boat, or even kayak or paddleboard if you’re up for a challenge. Two rustic shelters offer shade, but other than that it’s all nature. Pack plenty of water, a snack, and snorkel or scuba equipment. The fish-filled coral reef that runs parallel to the beach’s east shore is relatively shallow, spanning from 12- to 20-feet deep at the drop-offs.

Where to Dock: Harbour Village Marina

Pink Sand Beach

Pink Sand Beach - Credit the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

Barbuda

Think pink when you visit this flat coral island located 30 miles north of its national sibling of Antigua. That’s because this eight-mile beach is blushed with tiny shells that give its flushed feature. It’s definitely a world wonder. The rosy hue ebbs and flows with the weather, with storm surges depositing a full-bodied glow. Getting to Barbuda can be an adventure. BYOB (bring your own boat) and anchor in the bay off the beach, although an Atlantic swell can make it rocky. Or leave your boat at the Jolly Harbour Marina in Antigua and board the Barbuda Express Ferry for the 90-minute one-way trip. Pink Sand Beach is right off the ferry dock, but nothing much else is here, so pack a picnic.

Where to Dock: Jolly Harbour Marina & Boatyard

New Beach

Montserrat

Talk about off the beaten track. The 2023 United Nations World Tourism Organization report lists this Leeward Island 32 miles southwest of Antigua among the top 10 least visited countries in the world. Add the flavor of a strip of jet-black sand formed only two decades ago from volcanic activity. Formerly called Bottomless Ghaut Beach, nature is unfiltered here. See seabirds, lizards and the occasional wild donkey as you walk the longest beach on the island. The surf can be rough, so instead of a swim, you can climb rock formations that extend out into the sea.

Where to Dock: There are no marinas in Montserrat, but bays on the west coast at Old Road Bay and Rendezvous Bay are good day anchorages.

Pigeon Point

Tobago - Pigeon Point - Courtesy Caribbean Tourism Organisation

Tobago

You won’t find many pigeons here anymore, but you will discover a piece of paradise. Actually three beaches comprise what is formally called the Pigeon Point Heritage Park, a 125-acre nature reserve on the island’s southwestern coast. The Main Beach, the most popular, is where the iconic thatch-roof jetty of postcard fame is located. Dive in! The swimming is great and so is snorkeling. Buccoo Reef, just offshore, is a protected marine park and was rated a thumbs up for its magnificent bounty of marine life by the late oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Dine out! A couple of casual open-air restaurants serve everything from burgers to lobster, pork ribs and BBQ pigtails.

Where to Dock: 100-plus miles to the west on the sister island of Trinidad. Best nearby anchoring is at Store Bay or west of Buccoo Reef.

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Diving for Shipwrecks in the Caribbean

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Micah
Angel

A treasure trove of coral-coated shipwrecks awaits divers in the Caribbean’s aquamarine waters, captivating history buffs and nature lovers alike. Whether sunken intentionally or under more fateful circumstances, each of these submerged time capsules offers a thought-provoking glimpse into the past.

Sapona wreck site - The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investment and Aviation

SS SAPONA

Bimini, The Bahamas

Run aground during a 1926 hurricane, the Sapona was infamous for smuggling hooch during Prohibition. Originally built during World War I as a cargo ship, she eventually made her claim to fame as a rum-running vessel in the 1920s, transporting contraband liquor between The Bahamas and United States. While en route to Florida — and loaded to the gills with booze — Sapona met her demise in the shallow reefs along the coast of South Bimini just a few miles off Bennett’s Harbour. Regrettably, most of the ship’s potent potables were lost when its stern was ripped off in the storm. A popular destination for beginner scuba divers and snorkelers, she rests in just 15 feet of water and towers 40 feet above sea level. Years of relentless weathering have stripped Sapona down to an easy-to-explore skeletal form packed with marine life.

USS KITTIWAKE

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

One of the best-known wreck sites in the Caribbean, the Kittiwake was an iconic Navy rescue ship that toured the globe for 50 years. She was scuttled in 2011 to create an artificial reef just off Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman and has since become one of the Caribbean’s best-known wreck dives. Easily accessible for divers and snorkelers of all levels, the Kittiwake offers clear visibility under typically calm conditions. The top of the sunken vessel can be viewed at just 16 feet deep, while the bottom rests on a 60-foot-deep seafloor. Divers can explore Kittiwake’s exterior and interior to get a fascinating look into naval history. She’s adorned with colorful marine life, including a goliath grouper known to hang around the propellor.

MV BIANCA C.

Grenada

Known as the “Titanic of the Caribbean,” Bianca C. is a 600-foot-long Italian luxury cruise ship that met her fate in 1961. One of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean and one of Grenada’s most famous dives, the cruise liner tragically caught fire while anchored in the harbor of St. George’s. After roughly 700 passengers and crew scrambled to abandon ship, she was towed out to sea and sunk about a mile off scenic Grand Anse Beach. Exploring Bianca C. is for experienced divers only, as she sits upright in 160 feet of water with her topmost section at 90 feet deep. From her fully intact bow down to her massive on-deck swimming pool, divers enjoy awe-inspiring views of the ship’s elegant past, encrusted with vibrant corals and sponges from over half a century of slumber on the sea floor. The nearby Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park (also a worthwhile diving adventure) was installed in 2006 to mark the 50th anniversary of Bianca C.’s sinking.

Pablo Escobar's sunken plane in Exumas, The Bahamas - Sail Cloudy Bay

PABLO ESCOBAR’S SUNKEN PLANE

Exuma, The Bahamas

Although not technically a shipwreck, notorious Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s sunken plane provides an intimate glimpse into a clandestine narco-trafficking ring and makes for an unforgettable offbeat diving experience. Located just off Norman’s Cay in the turquoise Bahamian waters of Exuma, the plane can be found jutting above water atop a picturesque sandbar in roughly 10-foot-deep water, depending on the tides. Although in a remote section of The Bahamas, Escobar’s sunken plane is also one of the most accessible underwater plane wrecks in the world — easily viewed from the deck of a ship or enjoyed while snorkeling or free diving amid schools of tropical fish. And no, there’s no threat of foul play here. The site is perfectly safe for tourists.

USS BERWYN

Barbados

One of Barbados’ oldest wrecks, the Berwyn was a World War I French tugboat whose crew took shelter in placid Carlisle Bay shortly after the war ended in 1919. Legend has it that the crew enjoyed their time in Barbados so much that they no longer wished to return to post-war Europe, but the skipper refused their request. So, after tying one on with Barbadian rum, the crew intentionally foundered the ship onto the bay’s shallow seabed. Having rested in seven to 10 feet of extremely calm water for over a century, she is now blanketed in brilliant coral, brimming with sponges and swirling with prismatic fish. Due to its tame waters and ease of access, the Berwyn wreck site is often used for dive training by local scuba operators and resorts.

KODIAK QUEEN

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

One of just five ships to survive the Pearl Harbor attack, the Kodiak Queen was a World War II Navy barge later converted into a commercial fishing trawler out of Kodiak, Alaska. After gathering countless crab and salmon for decades, she was ultimately abandoned in the British Virgin Islands. Historian Mike Cochran, not wanting to see the emblematic vessel stripped apart for scrap metal, collaborated with Owen Buggy, photographer and friend of Sir Richard Branson, to convert the ship into an artificial reef and art exhibit. A giant mesh sculpture of a Kraken was built atop her deck before the Kodiak Queen was sunk just offshore of Long Bay on Virgin Gorda in 2017. Although her onboard art gallery endured two major hurricanes with no damage, a massive battery of swells in 2018 damaged the head of the Kraken sculpture. Still an extraordinary dive, the Queen is your best opportunity to see a WWII wreck underwater (scuba-diving in Pearl Harbor is prohibited), and a few Kraken tentacles remain jutting off the ship.

ENCHANTING BLUE HOLES OF THE BAHAMAS

The Bahamas are home to the world’s highest concentration of blue holes — colossal underwater sinkholes believed to have formed during the last ice age roughly 20,000 years ago. From above, blue holes appear as large dark blue circles punched into the land and seascape, contrasting sharply with the surrounding turquoise water. They serve as diverse ecosystems teeming with marine life. Stunning geological formations such as stalagmites, sheer limestone walls and mineral formations make blue holes an absolute delight for divers. The Bahamas claims more of these natural wonders than anywhere else in the world, with more than 200 found off the island of Andros alone. But not all blue holes are safe to explore. For those cruising in and about the Bahamian archipelago, consider these three established diving and snorkeling hot spots.

Dean's Blue Hole - The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investment and Aviation

Dean’s Blue Hole

Long Island

One of the deepest blue holes on earth, Dean’s Blue Hole plunges 663 feet beneath the water’s surface. Located in the bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island, the blue hole is framed by cliffs on one side and the Atlantic on the other. This natural alcove prevents prevailing winds from penetrating the hole’s perimeter, keeping the water inside calm and ideal for exploring.

The Crater

Andros

Found off Small Hope Bay on the largest Bahamian island of Andros, the Crater is renowned as a refuge for local sea life. Moray eels and rays regularly make their way along its coral walls, and turtles are spotted frequently. Less experienced divers should stick to the Crater’s shallow outer rim. It’s recommended that only expert divers venture down past the blue hole’s outer rim to spelunk its dark and mysterious cave system below.

Lost Blue Hole

New Providence

Located just a few miles from Nassau, the Lost Blue Hole sports a 100-foot diameter and a depth of 200 feet. Its sheltered walls shield the hole from waves and outside currents, providing crystal-clear visibility and a stable habitat for fish such as amberjacks, angelfish, snappers and yellowtails. Nurse sharks, reef sharks, rays, eels and sea turtles are also known to inhabit this tranquil pool.

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History of Boat Building in the Abacos

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Micah
Angel
Port of Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas credit U.S. Coast Guard District 7 via Wikimedia Commons

It began with a shipwreck and a love story. In 1820, a marooned 16-year-old sailor named Benjamin Albury washed ashore on Man-O- War Cay, an outlying barrier cay in The Bahamas’ Abaco archipelago. He and his crew had run their ship aground in the reef along the tiny island’s Atlantic coast.

Man-O-War at the time was only inhabited by the Archer family, who settled there to farm in 1798. Hearing unfamiliar voices beyond the brush, 13-year-old Eleanor Archer soon discovered Benjamin Albury and his shipwrecked crew. According to Albury family lore, when Benjamin’s gaze caught Eleanor’s, it was love at first sight.

Benjamin’s crewmates sailed back home to the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, but he stuck around and married Eleanor the following year. As a wedding gift, Eleanor’s father gave the newlyweds his entire 60-acre plot on Man-O-War Cay, and the island began to take shape.

Benjamin was a descendant of the Eleutheran Adventurers — English Puritans who arrived in The Bahamas in the 17th century after refusing to swear allegiance to the Crown. Eleanor’s family was among the original settlers of Abaco, American colonists loyal to Britain who sought refuge after the American Revolution.

Eleanor, proving to be an urban planner ahead of her time, thoughtfully laid out the town’s every detail, including roads, a cemetery, church and school. Her foresight and her husband’s seagoing expertise set the groundwork for what blossomed into a well-knit community and thriving boat-building hub.

Mammy Nellie and Pappy Ben, as they were lovingly known, had 13 children and helped populate Man-O-War Cay. Their substantial family worked in seafaring and sail-making trades, but above all, Alburys were known for designing and building boats.

A nautical dynasty takes shape in the Abacos

By the 1880s, about 70% of boat builders on Man-O-War Cay had the last name Albury. They specialized in making smacks, sloops, schooners and Abaco dinghies, all crucial to Bahamian fishing and commercial enterprises. Other locals made their living fishing and wrecking — salvaging assets from the bounty of ships foundered along the reefs and sandbanks within the necklace of cays. As the lucrative wrecking business expanded, demand grew for Albury-built boats.

Man-O-War Cay quickly emerged as The Bahamas’ boat- building epicenter. An abundance of timber and an influx of laborers fueled a profitable shipbuilding industry on Man-O-War, and by the 1950s numerous shipyards lined its harbor. Boat- making prodigy William H. Albury, or “Uncle Will,” who built his first schooner at age 14, constructed some of the largest shipyards on the cay. The last big vessel he completed on Man-O- War was the 56-foot-long, two-masted schooner Esperanto, later renamed the William H. Albury in his honor.

Boat building on Man-O-War in the modern era

The schooner William H. Albury, built on Man-O-War Cay - CC By 2.0 DEED - Florida Keys History Center

In the generation that followed, the now late brothers Willard and Benny Albury started Albury Brothers Boats with their father Maurice in 1952. Their outboard runabouts and skiffs gained a reputation for strength, simplicity and seaworthiness, broadening demand for Albury Brothers’ boats. Originally built of Abaco pine, most Man-O-War-built boats eventually adopted a fiberglass design as lumber became increasingly scarce. Albury Brothers made the official switch from wood to fiberglass in 1985.

Demand for their boats got so high that in 2003, most of Albury Brothers’ production moved to Riviera Beach, FL. Now headed by Willard’s sons Don and Jamie, the company still builds its 18.5 and 23-foot-long models exclusively on Man-O-War Cay.

While some manufacturers crank out 30 boats a month, the Albury Brothers’ Man-O-War facility builds just six to eight per year. But that’s not just because things move a little more slowly here in the Abacos. After a 200-year reputation for superb craftsmanship, the Alburys have no intention of sacrificing quality for speed.

If you come to Man-O-War, be sure to visit Joe’s Studio, one of the best souvenir shops for locally produced gifts, nautical antiques and handcrafted boat models by Joe Albury. At 78, Joe represents the seventh generation of Albury to craft classic wooden Abaco dinghies from his studio on Man-O-War. Completing just two vessels per year, he employs time-honored techniques using simple hand and power tools.

Another keeper of tradition, Andy Albury of Albury’s Designs builds wooden boat models, half hulls, rocking chairs and other wooden products custom-made to order. And no trip to Man-O-War would be complete without a visit to Albury’s Sail Shop, where you’ll find Annie Albury weaving pastel-colored handbags and other fashionable items from sailcloth — another family tradition. A legend in The Bahamas, Annie has been sewing hats and bags since the late 1980s. Her warm smile can light up a room.

An inspiring recovery effort after Hurricane Dorian

On September 1, 2019, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian made landfall in The Bahamas and took direct aim at the Abacos. First devastating Elbow Cay, the storm next ravaged Marsh Harbour with up to 12 feet of storm surge. Dorian then churned north, decimating Man-O-War Cay, Great Guana Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Treasure Cay and Coopers Town before finally stalling over Grand Bahama Island. The most powerful storm ever to hit The Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian left unforeseen destruction in its wake.

But Abaconians, known for their fortitude, courage, and love of community have staged a tenacious comeback. Evidence of Dorian’s destruction can still be seen everywhere, but docks are being built, construction projects are underway, businesses are reopening, and a spirit of renewal buzzes throughout the islands. Man-O-War Cay still holds its title as Boat Building Capital of The Bahamas, and the Alburys remain ubiquitous there.

Endless adventures await boaters

Wooden ship building credit Monique Shaw

The Abaco Islands lie just 165 nautical miles east of the Florida coast among a pristine paradise of turquoise waters. Two long slender islands, Little Abaco and Great Abaco, are complemented by dozens of small, largely uninhabited cays, islets and mangrove forests to explore, making the perfect setting for a boater’s adventure.

It’s no wonder that the Abacos are known as the Boating Capital of The Bahamas, with lots to do on land as well. Whether cruising in a golf cart through charming 18th- century English villages, perusing enchanting museums, reading on a white sand beach or birdwatching, Abaco offers something for everyone.

While island-hopping through the Abacos, keep in mind that although you’ll find exclusive collectables on Man-O-War Cay, one thing you won’t find there is alcohol. Due to its devotion to religious values, the entire island is dry. But the rest of the islands more than make up for it with a multitude of laid-back beach bars serving fruity rum drinks. After all, The Bahamas’ most famous cocktail, the Goombay Smash (see p. 51 for recipe), was first created here in Abaco.

WHERE TO DOCK IN THE ABACOS

Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour Marina

Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island

877-533-4799

Centrally located in the heart of Marsh Harbour, this classic Bahamian marina offers boating provisions and resort amenities including restaurants, a fitness center and a private beach. Load up on foodstuffs at nearby stores like Maxwell’s and the Abaco Asian Market.

Conch Inn & Marina

Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island

242-577-7000 Known for outstanding service, this marina offers waterfront suites and is home to Snappas Bar & Grill, a celebrated hangout for Caribbean cuisine and libations.

Hope Town Inn & Marina

Elbow Cay

850-588-4855 With dockage for boats up to 125 feet, Hope Town Marina affords stunning views of the New England-style village and access to the candy-striped Elbow Reef Lighthouse — the world’s last remaining lighthouse that’s hand-wound by a keeper and fueled by kerosene.

Lighthouse Marina

Elbow Cay

242-366-0154

Located at the base of the iconic Elbow Reef Light- house, this small but charismatic marina offers six protected slips for vessels up to 60 feet.

Man-O-War Marina Village

Man-O-War Cay

Still undergoing extensive repairs, Man-O-War Marina Village has a limited number of slips for docking as well as water, fuel and ice. Electricity should be available in early 2024. Be sure to visit the historic Man-O-War Heritage Museum & Coffee Shop.

Orchid Bay Marina & Yacht Club

Great Guana Cay

242-365-5175

This full-service marina comes with a 217-acre resort and plant nursery along Guana Cay’s most beautiful beach, with dazzling views of the Sea of Abaco.

Bluff House Beach Resort & Marina

Green Turtle Cay

242-365-4200

The oldest resort in the Bahamian Out Islands, Bluff House is the only marina on Green Turtle Cay to offer catamaran-specific slips.

Walker’s Cay

833-869-2553

Just 53 miles northeast of Grand Bahama Island, Walker’s Cay is renowned for world-class sport fishing and recently underwent a massive restoration led by philanthropist Carl Allen.

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Caribbean Calendar of Events Winter 2024

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

From traditional parades to music festivals and sailing regattas, the Caribbean boasts an array of events showcasing the cultural diversity within each country. To escape the cold, head south this season to feast on homemade regional dishes, watch watercraft race across tropical waters, dance to culture-infused music and enjoy all the islands have to offer. Check out the following events hosted from January to March.

JANUARY

Island Exodus

Runaway Bay, Jamaica, January 14 – 18

Kick off the new year with an intimate concert experience at the coastal town of Runaway Bay. Taking place at Jewel Paradise Cove Resort Jamaica, guests can purchase all- inclusive resort packages and enjoy four days of live music on the beach. The stellar lineup announces the return of rock band Gov’t Mule, plus a solo act from Warren Haynes.

Rebel Salute | Credit: rebelsalutejamaica.com

Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián (San Sebastián Street Festival)

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, January 18 – 21

This annual tradition honoring Puerto Rican heritage is the country’s largest celebration. Enjoy a day-long festival with vendors, live music, authentic cuisine and parades showcasing captivating performances and intricate costume designs.

Where to Dock: San Juan Bay Marina

Rebel Salute

Priory, St. Ann, Jamaica, January 19 – 20

For more than two decades, this festival has honored traditions celebrating healthy living and the preservation of authentic roots reggae. The venue is located on the north coast of Jamaica overlooking the Caribbean Sea and hosts various artists and vendors selling indigenous jewelry, clothes and crafts. For the full experience, stay overnight at the campground onsite.

FEBRUARY

Hope Town Music & Rum Festival

Abaco, Bahamas, February 6 – 11

Situated along the gorgeous shores of Elbow Cay, this decade-long tradition hosts beachfront concerts and vendors to honor the Hope Town community and its resilience from past hurricane damage. Catch events hosted at local resorts with a variety of tastings from local and international rum distillers.

Where to Dock: Hope Town Inn & Marina

Dominican Republic Carnival | Credit: Larry Penaloza from Pexels

Union Island Conch Festival

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, February 23 – 25

Celebrate the significance of Union Island’s conch industry at this traditional food competition and fun fest. Feast on conch water, stew, salads, curry, chowder and pasta as chefs create delicious masterpieces. Competitions include conch and dumpling eating, conch shell blowing, conch chopping and kayaking.

Where to Dock: Anchorage Yacht Club

Dominican Republic Independence Day

Dominican Republic, February 27

This month is an exciting time to be in the DR as both Carnival season and the country’s Independence Day take place in February. Since its liberation from Haiti in 1844, this has been honored as one of the country’s most important cultural holidays. Enjoy parades, music, delicious food and festive traditions.

Where to Dock: Ocean World Marina

MARCH

Virgin Islands Jam Fest

St. John, USVI, March 7 – 9

Overlooking waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands, kick back, relax and watch grassroots music concerts at this quaint and cozy venue that usually hosts about 350 people. The 2024 lineup includes Blac Rabbit, Kyle Smith and Patsy & The Heavy Set, to name a few.

Where to Dock: St. John Marina

SXM Festival

Atlantis Paradise Island Resort | Credit: Astro Aerials

Saint Martin, March 11 – 18

This plush event hosts a seven-day electronic music festival throughout unique venues across the island. Dance from sunrise to sunset in beach clubs, lush rainforests, stunning villas, secluded beaches and aboard luxury yachts. Embark on watersports, ziplines and catamaran charters.

Where to Dock: Marina Fort-Louis

Atlantis Wine & Food Festival

Nassau, Paradise Island, Bahamas, March 13 – 17

Set your tastebuds on spectacular cuisine this season at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort. Renowned chefs and culinary personalities will showcase their best dishes, wines and spirits at this five-day festival. Events kick off with Wine Down Wednesday presenting stunning views of Nassau Harbor and the exclusive Swirl Party offering unlimited food and wine at the Golf Course Club House.

Where to Dock: Atlantis Marina

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You Gotta Regatta in the Caribbean

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Carol
Bareuther
Race Charter on Spirit of Juno Courtesy Ondeck 6

Charles Cornett crewed on a sailing yacht one summer several decades ago in the Chesapeake Bay. He loved it. Then, work and family took priority in his life, and he set sailing aside for way too long. “I had known of the Antigua Sailing Week (ASW) regatta, and it being one of the largest such events in the world, and had long harbored a desire to participate in it,” says Cornett, who lives in Winter Park, FL.

He completed several American Sailing School (ASA) courses in 2021 and became a U.S. Sailing certified instructor in 2022. After that, Cornett vowed to be more intentional about getting out on the water.

“While visiting the Annapolis Boat Show in 2022, I came across the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority booth and asked them about ASW. The representative quickly dialed Peter Anthony at Ondeck Sailing, and he explained how I could participate as a crew member. I remember thinking ‘Wow, this can really happen!’ I live in Florida, so a regatta in the Caribbean offers a relatively nearby destination and is easy to get to. That, and the beautiful landscape, crystal blue waters, and reliable wind meant that the experience would be amazing — and it was,” says Cornett, who was one of the crew aboard Ondeck Sailing’s Farr 65, Spirit of Juno, in the 2023 ASW.

The Caribbean: A Yacht-Racing Paradise

The ideal place to participate in a sailing regatta is the Caribbean, says Ian Pedersen, senior marketing manager for Clearwater, FL- headquartered The Moorings & Sunsail, which sponsors yacht charters for several Caribbean regattas. “It offers all the excitement and thrills of racing competitively while allowing you to leave the foul-weather gear at home. Incredible weather, consistent trade winds and lively beach parties to end each day are just part of what makes a Caribbean regatta so appealing.”

Competitive racing at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta ©LaurensMorel

A big help for sailors to plan which regattas to compete in is the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) five-year Caribbean Regatta Calendar. Creating the calendar helped CSA work with each island’s regatta organizers to ensure no overlap in dates.

“Each island adds its flavor to their regatta, which is unique to sailing events. You have the champagne, high-end experience at Les Voiles de St. Barths, the down-to-earth, community feeling at BVI Spring Regatta, lots of one-design racing in St. Thomas, and the Serious Fun in St. Maarten. The islands themselves add to the mix. There’s around the rocks racing with lots of beautiful vistas. Plus, each island has its local culinary delights, cocktail specials, accommodations and much more. You see teams pick a new regatta each year simply because they fell in love with the Caribbean and want more,” says Michele Korteweg, CSA president and director of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

A typical day at ASW gives a good idea of what race days are like at Caribbean regattas.

“You get up early to get the boat prepped, pick up or make breakfasts and lunches, and get out on the water by 9:00 a.m. and ready for first warning signals,” says Alison Sly- Adams, CSA past president and ASW director. “Racing starts promptly at 10:00 a.m. and usually finishes by 2:00 p.m. ensuring boats are back on the dock at 3:00 p.m. ready for wash down and repairs. There’s an afternoon prize giving, with time for plenty of healthy banter by competitors about the racing and hobnobbing with sailing celebrities, before heading out to one of the restaurants and party venues in the harbor for a big crew night out. So, there are equal parts competitive racing and a lot of fun off the water.”

The racing itself is a combination of round-the-islands and round-the-buoy courses, both short and long depending on the type of boats in each class.

“We start with our slower paced yet competitive Sailing Festival where we feature longer course racing,” says Cayley Smit Pile, director of the BVI Spring Regatta. “For example, there’s the Nanny Cay Cup that sails around the island of Tortola. Then the traditional three-day regatta is faster paced with two-to-four or more races per day, depending on class. The beauty is that even if you’ve raced with us for years, every year is different. That’s because our professional race committee decides each morning which course they will run for each class, and where they will run it — in a protected channel or offshore and based on the conditions.”

Classes range from grand prix style with sleek sailing machines manned by a professional crew to talented weekend warriors and island racers on smaller boats, and even beginners as crew to sit on the rail for weight, affectionately called “rail meat.”

Five Ways to Join the Fun

These five ways to participate in a regatta mean there is something for everyone.

BYOB (bring your own boat)

Cruisers who come to the region for the winter can sail their “home” in cruising or jib and main classes. Professional teams piggyback their racing machine on transport vessels that sail from the eastern United States or western Europe. Global yacht transport companies include Dockwise, Sevenstar, and Peters & May. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua and Le Marin, Martinique are destinations for yacht arrivals in the Caribbean.

Charter a boat

Chartering is likely the most popular way to race for those who don’t BYOB. The Moorings & Sunsail offer monohulls to race.

“The process is much like chartering a yacht for a normal sailing vacation; however, there is an additional cost for the regatta entry fee. We coordinate with the regatta organizers to ensure your vessel is properly entered into the regatta. Usually, there is a separate charter race class, so don’t worry, you aren’t going to be up against a professional racer in a carbon-fiber hull! The charter yacht race class is always fun, and very competitive since each yacht is outfitted similarly,” says Pedersen.

St. Thomas Sailing Center (STSC), the racing arm of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, owns a fleet of one-design IC24s it charters for the island’s annual St. Thomas International Regatta, which celebrates 50 years in 2024.

“Our IC24 charter program involves a race ready IC24 (a converted J24 with Melges24 style deck, small jib with a symmetrical spinnaker). You and your crew show up and head out sailing within a 15-minute turnaround. No launching, dealing with wind, setting up the boat, sail selection for the day, etc. Just hop on the boat and sail from the mooring field to the racecourse a quarter mile away,” says Bobby Brooks, STSC’s executive director. “This year we are also offering our Race with a Pro program. Come down with three of your crew or just as an individual and sail in a day-and-a-half clinic before the regatta. The clinic will have morning lectures, on-the-water drills, practice races, and video debriefs using the latest coaching software. Then sail in the regatta with a professional coach and racer on your boat.”

The crew spots are less expensive than chartering an entire yacht, but no less thrilling. “Race novices want to ensure they will learn, and we get people involved,” says Anthony, of Ondeck Sailing, which offers its Spirit of Juno for charter in eight Caribbean regattas. “Learn a position like helming and calling tactics, and then rotate. We have two to three of our Pro crew onboard for safety and instruction.”

Look for boats that need crew

“Crewing on a boat isn’t easy as most teams are made up in advance. So, it’s an opportunity that most of the time doesn’t become available until the last minute,” says the CSA’s Korteweg.

Yachtscoring.com, the online scoring system used by most Caribbean regattas, has a crew/boat/charter button on each regatta’s page. Crews in search of a boat can post their skills and experience here, as well as boats that need crew.

Spectating at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta ©LaurensMorel

Spectate

“ASW is known for its ‘Chase the Race’ spectator opportunities,” says Sly-Adams. “We charter 60- to 80-foot catamarans and sell spots on board daily to go out and watch the racing. This year, we are expanding to helicopter tours and VIP charters.”

Both The Moorings & Sunsail offer a range of catamarans perfect to use as spectator yachts, which allow you to follow the races and festivities but still participate in the event at your own pace.

Join regatta celebration parties

“Whether it’s a nightly affair, or a grand closing party, in the Caribbean we do like to dance with our feet in the sand to soca music! Of course, it varies from the world-renowned shows at St. Maarten Heineken Regatta to Reggae in the Park in Antigua to more intimate, local shows at the other islands,” says the CSA’s Korteweg.

Finally, you don’t have to be a sailor to attend and enjoy a Caribbean regatta. “Several of the crew on our boat brought along their spouses,” says Cornett. “There are always plenty of sightseeing opportunities on land for the non-sailors to enjoy.”

2024 International Caribbean Regatta Calendar

Grenada Sailing Week 2023 Credit Arthur Daniel

Barbados Sailing Week

January 15-22

Grenada Sailing Week

January 28-February 2

Caribbean Multihull Challenge, St. Maarten

February 1-4

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

February 29-March 3

St. Barths Bucket Regatta

March 21-24

St. Thomas International Regatta, U.S. Virgin Islands

March 28-31

BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival, British Virgin Islands

April 1-7

Les Voiles de St. Barths

April 14-20

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, Antigua & Barbuda

April 17-22

Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua & Barbuda

April 27-May 3

Regattas in the Abacos (RiTA)

June 23-30

Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas

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Best Coastal Florida State Parks: West Coast

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

Henderson Beach State Park

Destin

Snow-white sand dunes and warm Gulf waters shine at this Emerald Coast gem. The park offers six pavilions, 60 campsites and fishing along a beautiful beachside. Lay out a picnic to take in the foliage or walk trails that showcase the last remaining coastal scrub area in Destin. Campsite renovations are planned for this summer.

What to Do: Biking, fishing, camping, swimming

Where to Dock: HarborWalk Marina

Grayton Beach State Park credit Martin Haeusler via Wikimedia Commons

Grayton Beach State Park

Santa Rosa Beach

Paddle the backwaters of Western Lake or hike four miles of forest trails at this beachside park. Pitch a tent at a campsite or stay at one of the cozy cabins complete with screened-in porches and outdoor grills.

What to Do: Boating, paddling, camping, hiking, fishing

Where to Dock: Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park

St. George Island

This island offers crystal white sands on the Gulf side and saltwater marshes on the Apalachicola Bay side for the best of both worlds. Canoe, kayak or swim through barrier island waterways and take advantage of the abundant shelling and beachcombing opportunities.

What to Do: Hiking, biking, beachcombing, boating, camping, fishing

Where to Dock: On-site; $8-$10 boat entry fee

7-Mile Loop at Crystal River Preserve-credit-Courtesy of Citrus County Visitors Bureau

Crystal River Preserve State Park

Crystal River

More than 20 miles of protected islands, marshes and forest span this ecologically diverse preserve. Take a clear kayak tour or snorkel cruise to swim with manatees in their natural habitat. To arrive by water, visitors can dock at Twin Rivers Marina on the other side of the river and paddle over to the park’s kayak launches. A short car ride to the park allows for access to a boat ramp at the end of Ft. Island Trail, as well as dockage at Pete’s Pier marina on Kings Bay.

What to Do: Hiking, biking, birdwatching, boating, camping, fishing

Where to Dock: Twin Rivers Marina or Pete’s Pier

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa

Get an up-close look at this park’s captive wildlife from wolves and black bears to alligators and flamingos. You can meet Lu, the oldest hippo in captivity. Jacks, snapper, and fresh and saltwater fish flourish in this park’s natural spring. The unique Underwater Observatory structure allows guests to walk beneath the spring’s surface to witness fish and manatees.

What to Do: Hiking, birdwatching and boat tours

Where to Dock: Homosassa Springs Marina (moorings and dry storage only)

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park credit Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Spring Hill

You may spot wildlife at these Florida locations, but Weeki Wachee is the only park where you can see mermaids. Witness a live-action version of The Little Mermaid like you’ve never seen it before as the performers grace an underwater amphitheater with a spectacular show. The park also offers kayaking, exotic riverboat cruises and wildlife shows. Kids love splashing around on giant waterslides at Buccaneer Bay waterpark.

What to Do: Mermaid and wildlife shows, boat tours, water slides, kayaking

Where to Dock: Hernando Beach Marina

Honeymoon Island State Park

Dunedin

Feel like you’re on a honeymoon and fall in love with this serene island. Four miles of shoreline offer swimming, surfing, fishing and combing pristine beaches where sea turtles nest from March through October. Check out Wheel Fun Rentals for a variety of bikes to cruise around the island, kayak along Pelican Cove, or hike the 2.5-mile Osprey Trail for peaceful birdwatching.

What to Do: Hiking, biking, fishing, paddling, swimming

Where to Dock: Marker 1 Marina

Caladesi Island State Park

Dunedin

Just a few nautical miles south of Honeymoon Island and only accessible by boat, this hidden gem is a gorgeous getaway. Dock at the 108-slip bayside marina offering amenities such as 30 AMP electric, canoe/kayak launch, a covered pavilion, grills for picnicking, plus a snack bar and gift shop at the marina. Paddle stunning mangroves, hike sandy trails on the Beach Loop and enjoy fishing in permitted areas.

What to Do: Boating, camping, paddling, fishing, swimming

Where to Dock: Caladesi Island State Park Marina

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Women & Fishing

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Ellen
Honey

Historically, fishing has been regarded as a manly pastime, but recently the tides are changing — now one in three anglers is a female! Currently, up to 14 million American women throw a hook or two in the water. The lady anglers are discovering that beside the many lifetime benefits such as stress reduction, increased confidence and elevated mood, fishing is just plain fun!

Several female-oriented organizations have recognized the trend and are helping women to fully appreciate the sport, not only for their own benefit, but also for a healthy future on our waterways.

Find Your Best Self on the Water

RBFF | Courtesy of Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation

Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to boost participation in this field thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. Take Me Fishing brand has increased awareness about the benefits of water-oriented activities with interactive state-by-state fishing information on its website.

RBFF has put extensive effort and resources into researching consumer trends as well as the motivations and barriers to the sport. The data show that despite record levels of “fisherwomen,” the activity is still not overly welcoming to women: 43% of female anglers do not feel respected by the fishing community while one in four think that widespread negative stereotypes undercut their ability to fish. Interesting that data reveal that more moms than dads take their kids fishing!

The RBFF’s newest campaign, “Find Your Best Self on the Water,” aims to spread awareness among diverse new audiences and motivate women, youth, and people of color to discover the life-changing benefits of fishing and boating. Created by a women-led team, their series of ads depicts female anglers of various ages experiencing the joys of fishing and boating first-hand. The website has excellent how-to segments for beginners.

Research highlights that fishing promotes wellness, fosters a bond with family and friends, and forges a deep connection with nature that many Americans seek. It is also beneficial to the fishing industry to nurture a new generation of enthusiasts and guarantee a healthy future for our waterways.

Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!

LLGF, I. Sun Eric Scoble | Courtesy of Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!

Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! (LLGF) is a national organization dedicated to attracting more women to sportfishing while promoting conservation through responsible angling. Founder Betty Bauman, a marketing and PR professional who once held positions in some of the industry’s largest boat companies, is committed to enabling and empowering women to enter fishing with the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy the sport with family and friends. As Betty says, “Women need a helping hand to simplify that which seems complicated.”

Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! University does exactly that through a series of weekends that provide hands-on training and experience for participants. With more than 9,000 graduates of women from their teens to their 90s, the “No Yelling!” school of fishing has become a raging success.

The weekends encompass all the elements of a hands-on angling experience from where to find fish and how to catch them to specific terminology. Also included are a wide variety of exercises depending on the locale: casting, knot tying, boat maneuvering, landing and releasing, net casting, gaffing, trailer backing, electronics usage, and more. They even teach participants how to fillet their catch. Venues vary by location, facility and styles of local fishing such as bluewater or bottom fishing, flats or inshore fishing, and fly fishing. Space is limited to an average of 100 women (and a few invited men).  

Wine, Women & Fishing (WWF)

Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation (CBWCF) strives to make higher education a reality for all through fund-raising events and partnerships with organizations such as the Access College Foundation. Their vision is to create a brighter future for the next generation in South Hampton Roads by inspiring generosity and support from the community. Over the past 30 years, CBWCF has raised and distributed $14 million for charity. Their November Grand Auction is the largest and most successful wine auction on the eastern seaboard.

An increasingly popular CBWCF annual event is Wine, Women & Fishing (WWF), a catch and release tournament and silent online auction that has raised more than $1 million for breast cancer research at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Open to women of all levels of fishing expertise, WWF emphasizes having a great time while raising awareness and seeking a cure for breast cancer.

The 22nd annual WWF event is scheduled for August 18, 2024, at Southside Marina, Virginia Beach, VA. Catch it if you can!

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Exploring Galápagos Island

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Jay Fleming,
Susan Elnicki Wade
Photo by Jay Fleming Photography

Since the 1500s, visitors ranging from pirates and European explorers to tourists and renowned scientists (such as Charles Darwin) have sailed to the Galápagos Islands. Located about 600 miles west of Ecuador, this Pacific archipelago delights guests with a menagerie of unique and exotic creatures that live on rocky land forged from volcanic eruptions.

Among last year’s nearly 300,000 island sightseers was photographer, Jay Fleming, best known for his books and photos that chronicle the Chesapeake Bay. In January 2023, Fleming embarked upon a five-day Galápagos tour with Holbrook Travel, along with a dozen expert birders, travel professionals, fishery scientists and a college professor as his cruising companions.

After a couple nights in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, they flew to San Cristóbal Island to board the Galápagos Legend, a 301-foot steel hull vessel that served as a hospital ship in the Vietnam War and passenger ship in the Baltic Sea before transforming into a luxury cruise ship in 2002. Fleming and his crew were slated for a southern Galápagos island-hopping excursion to four destinations: San Cristóbal, Española, Floreana and Santa Cruz.

Photo by Jay Fleming Photography

After departing from San Cristobal, the first stop was Española, an island uninhabited by humans but bustling with wildlife and nesting colonies of Nazca boobies and albatross. A two-mile hike around the western side of the island introduced them to other feathered residents such as Galápagos hawks and swallow tail gulls.

Next on their itinerary: Floreana, a small, inhabited island about 30 miles west of Española. The morning’s snorkeling expedition took place on a protected beach along Post Office Bay, where Pacific green sea turtles, white tip reef sharks, Mexican hogfish, parrotfish and other species put on a dazzling aquatic display. The afternoon excursion entailed a deepwater snorkel at Devil’s Crown, a rock offshore of Floreana, and a hike to meet nesting sea turtles at Punta Cormorant.

Photo by Jay Fleming Photography

The island of Santa Cruz presented a new destination to observe up close more amazing flora and fauna. The crew hiked around a beach and lagoon in an area called Dragon Hill, which was home to American flamingos and oystercatchers, black-necked stilts, and the endemic lava heron. Land iguanas fed on fallen fruit from a cactus, while finches and Galápagos flycatchers posed for Fleming’s camera. The afternoon trip brought them to a beach at Punta Bowditch, south of Dragon Hill landing. The waters shimmered with schools of parrotfish, Mexican hogfish and black-striped salema.

For the final voyage, the group packed up their luggage and gear and headed to the Itabaca Channel, a small passage between Santa Cruz and Baltra.

After disembarking, they loaded into a small bus that transported them to El Chato Ranch in the interior highlands of Santa Cruz Island where dozens of Galápagos tortoises roamed the property. After returning to the United States, Fleming began building a portfolio of his work from the Galápagos journey and preparing photography workshops for others to explore the islands. Marinalife is honored to present a sampling of his images from the trip.

To learn more about Jay Fleming Photography and his workshops, go to jayflemingphotography.com

To view the entire photo spread, check out the full story on pages 30-35 of our Winter 2024 issue.

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Pineapple Farming in Eleuthera

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Micah
Angel
Lady Di tending to her field - Sabrina Thompson

Better known to locals as Lady Di, Dianna Thompson has been farming pineapples on the slender Bahamian island of Eleuthera for over 45 years — a particular variety called “sugar loaf.” After biting into a slice of her sunny nectarous fruit, you’ll agree with Lady Di that “There’s no other pineapple as sweet.”

“You work hard until you know what to do,” she claims in her cheerful Caribbean accent. Now a central figure of Bahamian pineapple farming, Lady Di started learning to cultivate the spiky fruits when she moved to Eleuthera in 1974 from Long Island (Bahamas). She worked alongside her brothers who were well-established farmers, and they taught her to cultivate fruits and vegetables including melons, mangos, avocados, key limes, peppers, cabbage, greens and herbs. But most of all, Lady Di adored growing pineapples.

She eventually wanted to farm her own plot of land and asked her brother Lyn to help clear “a little piece ‘a pine” for herself. He helped Lady Di prepare a dedicated field to farm, and she was officially on her own. Her first few years proved difficult, and pineapples’ 18-month harvesting cycle requires a special kind of patience. “You can’t force the pine,” she explains. After a successful but small initial yield, she started expanding. Little by little, her pineapple farm grew, and more land was cleared for future pineapple fields. She learned as she went and kept an open attitude.

What makes her pineapples so sweet? “We plant them in the red clay soil,” she explains. Eleuthera’s red soil actually originates in Africa’s Sahara Desert, where it is swept up in powerful dust storms and then blown across the Atlantic. This colorful dirt is high in iron and raises the acidity of the alkaline Bahamian soil, making the land better suited for farming.

Lady Di remains a keen source of farming knowledge throughout the islands and fellow Bahamians frequently seek her agricultural expertise. Her reputation as a master cultivator of fruits and vegetables has drawn the attention of both backyard and commercial farmers.

And business on her farm is booming. She recently started doing business with rum maker Bacardí and regularly ships massive quantities of pineapples to use in their spirits. In fact, if you’re sipping Bacardí’s Pineapple Fusion Rum, Pineapple Mai Tai, Rum Punch or Tropical Rum, you’re likely tasting Lady Di’s sugar loaf pineapples.

As for favorite family recipes using pineapples, Lady Di’s daughter Sabrina Thompson says they make pineapple jam, pineapple pepper jelly and piña coladas using fresh pineapple juice. On special occasions, Sabrina and her brother make “Mr. Cool Pineapple Wine” in honor of their late father. The recipe remains a secret.

A REVIVAL IN PINEAPPLE FARMING ON ELEUTHERA

Before their home became a travel destination for beachgoers, sport fishermen and pleasure boaters, most Eleutheran locals made their living farming crops. As early as 1845, Eleuthera was known as the premier pineapple-growing island in The Bahamas and supplied the United States and England with thousands of succulent fruits each year. By the late 19th century, The Bahamas dominated the commercial pineapple market — with Eleuthera notorious for yielding the sweetest crop.

Ultimately, overproduction led to soil exhaustion and plant disease on Eleuthera, and the booming pineapple industry started to falter in the early 20th century. Meanwhile, Hawaiian-grown pineapples started hitting the market and posed significant competition.

The Eleutheran pineapple business was on the brink of collapse by the late 1900s, and only a handful of aging farmers remained. The next generation of would-be farmers, preferring a steady paycheck to a life tending the fields, chose to work in hotels and other tourism-related trades. It was only a matter of time before pineapple farming on Eleuthera died out altogether.

But recently Eleuthera has enjoyed a resurgence of pineapple farming, thanks in part to the wisdom of Lady Di. Young farmers, frustrated with high-priced, pesticide-ridden imported fruits and vegetables, have started farming on Eleuthera again. As produce prices continue to rise and the farm-to-table movement gains popularity, more folks consider farming as a legitimate profession. And Lady Di supports them in their efforts, offering planting tips and tricks to newcomers.

“This isn’t the ‘90s anymore. You can make money in farming,” Sabrina Thompson asserts. Growers are launching farms on Eleuthera, sparking a substantial resurgence of agriculture on the island. In the last five years alone, Eleuthera has welcomed roughly 20 new farmers. Many work normal day jobs until they can get their small farms off the ground.

This past September, Lady Di was awarded the Minister’s Choice Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture. At 69 years young, she continues to serve as a beacon of light for her fellow Bahamian farmers. If you visit Eleuthera, be sure to call Lady Di for a tour of her farm at 242-335-5006.

THE SWEETEST FESTIVAL IN THE BAHAMAS

Eleuthera entices travelers from across the globe with its charming fishing villages, untouched beaches and swimming pigs. Locals and visitors celebrate their pineapple-growing heritage every June at Pineapple Fest, a celebration with food, games and music held in Gregory Town, Eleuthera’s agricultural center.

Referred to as “the sweetest festival in The Islands of The Bahamas,” the multi- day event features culinary competitions for dishes including Pineapple Rum Cake, Pineapple Custard and Pineapple Coconut Cookie Cups. You might be fortunate enough to witness Lady Di herself cooking her mouthwatering pineapple jams.

Goombay Smash credit mcrosno

GOOMBAY SMASH

A classic Bahamian cocktail, the Goombay Smash is found on the drink menu at nearly every bar in the archipelago. Although no two recipes are alike, this concoction is best known for packing an island-flavor punch. Mix up a pitcher at your next boat party and whisk your guests off to the tropics.

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces coconut rum
2 ounces apricot brandy
3 1⁄2 ounces dark rum
1 1⁄2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh orange and pineapple slices for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Fill a pitcher 2⁄3 with ice. Combine all ingredients and stir. Serve over ice. Garnish with orange and pineapple slices. Serves four guests.

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The History of the U.S. Coast Guard

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
James R.
Barnett

If I told you the Coast Guard was America’s original maritime defense force, would you believe me? And what if I said it was the brainchild of a man born in poverty in the West Indies and memorialized after his death with his face on the $10 bill? As improbable as this all sounds, it’s a true albeit mostly forgotten story.

The Founding Father

Alexander Hamilton portrait by John Trumbull, 1804 | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 1789, the first Congress of the newly independent United States of America appointed Alexander Hamilton to manage the government’s finances. Hamilton, you likely know, had fought in the Revolutionary War with George Washington and helped draft the Constitution. As the first Secretary of the Treasury, he is credited with creating the American financial system.

Hamilton didn’t have an easy job, for the young nation had hit rough seas, financially speaking. The American Revolution had created millions in debt, mostly to France. With no income tax to raise money back then, the government was forced to rely on tariffs on luxury goods brought into the country via boat. And we all know that American colonists had gotten pretty good at avoiding paying tariff fees. Smuggling was considered patriotic.

As part of his plan to reduce the nation’s debt, Hamilton in 1790 convinced Congress to provide 10 ships known as “revenue cutters” to stop and check out the cargo on ships heading to major U.S. East Coast ports and make sure the goods they declared matched up with the items on board. Hamilton wisely hired ex-smugglers to man the cutters. He set up customs agents at the ports to collect tariff revenue for the federal government.

Back then, tariffs, also known as customs duties, provided as much as 90% of federal revenue. That’s why Hamilton originally called this service branch the Revenue Marine. In addition to their tariff enforcement role, the fleet of cutters rendered aid and assistance as needed for the protection of lives and property at sea.

Wars and Quasi-Wars

The Revenue Marine’s first major test came during the undeclared war with France at the end of the 18th century. The French were angry that America wasn’t paying its debts back fast enough and was trading with the British, with which it was at war. So, French privateers began to capture American merchant ships to recoup their losses. In response, Congress passed the Naval Armament Act of 1794 to officially create a navy.

Arrival of the Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane at the Battery | Credit: Mike Goad on Flickr

Most of the ships, however, were still in various stages of construction and outfitting. To meet the interim need, merchant ships, privateers and revenue cutters joined forces to take on the French. America did not end up going to war with France, but the expanded non-revenue role of the Revenue Marine service stuck.

When the United States declared war on Great Britain in June of 1812, its Navy was still small. The British Royal Navy, on the other hand was the most powerful in the world. Once again, the nation called upon the Revenue Marine Service and American privateers.

Despite being out manned and out gunned, the Revenue Service had some success winning battles in the Great Lakes in the early months of the war. Eventually, though, British naval power succeeded in blockading American port cities. On land, the Americans prevailed, leading to a stalemate in the war and the Treaty of Ghent, which ended U.S.-British antagonism for good.

When the Civil War broke out, revenue cutter captains had to choose between supporting the Union or the Confederacy. Some sided with the South so cutters from the Great Lakes were repositioned on the East Coast. The Revenue Service battled smugglers, guarded northern ports and helped enforce the wartime blockade of the South. The revenue cutter Harriet Lane, for example, fired the war’s first naval shot in 1861 while attempting to relieve federal force at Fort Sumter, SC.

The Civil War had a transformative effect on this country’s military services. It changed the Revenue Service fleet from a collection of obsolete sailing vessels to a new steam-driven fleet of cutters. The vital operations supported by cutters also cemented the role of the service in such missions as convoy duty, blockade operations, port security and coastal patrol. The Revenue Marine was renamed the Revenue Cutter Service in 1862. It participated in the Spanish American War in 1898.

1915: Toward a More Modern Force

U.S. Coast Guard | Credit: Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons

As national defense became a prominent issue in the early 20th century, a movement on Capitol Hill emerged to combine the U.S Life-Saving Service with the Revenue Cutter Service, because both shared a lifesaving mission. The merger occurred in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Coast Guard Act creating the United States Coast Guard Service. Although placed under the U.S. Treasury Department, the Coast Guard was temporarily transferred to the Navy Department during World War I and again during World War II.

This modernization paid off. During Prohibition, the Coast Guard became the lead agency fighting booze smugglers, all while increasing its size and technological sophistication. During World War II, the Coast Guard played a critical role manning Navy ships and Army amphibious-type assault craft to get men to the beaches. Only experienced men could successfully maneuver landing craft through strong currents, reefs, sand bars and heavy surf, making Coast Guard contributions to amphibious operations immeasurable. Coast Guard intelligence also helped to break the enemy’s codes.

The Coast Guard’s national defense responsibilities remain one of its most important functions today. In 2003, it was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, where today it serves as the nation’s front-line agency for enforcing the nation’s laws at sea, protecting the marine environment and the nation’s vast coastline and ports, and saving lives.

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Solar Accessories for Boats

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Teri
Miller
GoSun Grill Beach | Courtesy of GoSun

Lagniappe. This French Cajun word, pronounced (lan-yap), means “a little something extra.” When it comes to making eco-friendly adjustments to our boating lifestyle, the little extra things can have a big impact. Solar-powered accessories are lagniappes for boaters looking for a little eco-friendly independence from standard power sources.

Whether you are looking to increase your visibility, supplement dinghy lights, create ambiance or shed light in out-of-the-way spaces, solar-powered options can be cost effective and eco-smart.

For example, solar-powered Kandle Rail Lights are a perfect addition for most boat models. Designed to clamp onto 1.25” to 1.0” rails or stanchions, these small lights are easily added to dark spaces around the vessel. With 360 degrees of rotation, these lights can illuminate your deck, dinghy boarding area or even the dockside of your boat when in port. A full day of sunlight can yield up to eight hours of light.

Originally designed to meet the need for lighting in places without electricity, remote countries or in the aftermath of catastrophes, collapsible solar lanterns are finding new purpose for boaters. The Luci Light, LuminAID and Solight are notable examples of small items with big benefits. Designed to pack flat to be cost-effectively distributed after disasters, these lanterns are perfect for space- conscious boaters.

The LuminAID and Luci Lights are inflatable solar-powered LED lanterns easily stored when not in use. Solight’s design is origami inspired and does not require inflation by mouth. Instead, you simply tug the sides apart to puff up the cube-shaped lantern. All three solar lantern products can emit over 60-300 lumens for 24 hours (depending on the model) after only a day of direct sunlight. These lightweight lanterns are waterproof and have straps making it easy to hang them in a variety of situations.

Boaters report using them as a backup for navigating dinghies, creating ambiance on the deck for late-night dinners or cocktails, illuminating work areas, and serving as part of emergency gear. Diverse sizes, models and even color options are available. If you have ever struggled to locate your boat in a crowded anchorage when returning by dinghy after dark, you can appreciate the benefit of a unique-colored light on the back deck. Several available models include the ability to function as a phone charger.

Charged batteries give peace of mind

Keeping our devices charged is more than just practical, it is often a point of safety for boaters. A common tension-building scene in movies these days involves some sort of emergency/crisis, a character trying to call for help/warn others, and a close-up image of the cell phone battery life indicator about to go dead. This works because we all understand that feeling.

For boaters, an uncharged device can be a problem. While the VHF radio is a primary communication source, cell phones and tablets are key support devices for tracking weather, planning courses, contacting marinas/services, and sharing navigation updates.

The ability to recharge without electricity is eco-friendly and convenient. Solar-powered charging units are a great option for making sure you always have connectivity. Most models are compact and easy to include in your safety gear or toss in a bag when out on the dinghy or prolonged excursions.

The BigBlue 28W solar charger is consistently rated highly for its efficiency and compatibility. This flat panel power plant can charge multiple devices and fold up small enough to store in a backpack. Another portable option is the 4Patriots Power Cell. This handheld power bank is rugged and water-resistant and can be recharged by solar or micro-USB connections.

GoSun Breeze Power Options

Beat the heat with ease

Anyone who has experienced the bliss of air flowing through boat windows and hatches has also known the dread of stuffiness when the air ceases to move. Adding USB-chargeable or solar powered fans to your space can help keep things comfortable.

From tiny table fans to units designed to cool small greenhouses, air-moving options are plentiful. Solar power-focused company, GoSun, offers accessories to cool things down or heat them up. The Breeze, a powerful and portable fan, can be powered by a USB or foldable solar charger.

When you are looking to heat things up, check out GoSun’s Sport Marine solar oven. Designed for attachment to boat railings, this solar oven can bake, roast or steam your fresh catch in minutes on a sunny day.

Harnessing the sun’s energy is not limited to large panel installations or repowering propulsion. Taking advantage of this abundant resource while reducing your carbon footprint can take place in small ways. Solar-powered accessories are the little something extra, lagniappes, that can enhance our boating experience while supporting a healthy environment.

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Boating Itinerary of Southern California

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Richard
Kern

The California coast between Los Angeles and San Diego is all about sand, surf and year-round sunshine. It’s the place that spawned beach culture, car culture, surf culture, amusement parks, sun-worshipping and drive-ins, all set to a Beach Boys soundtrack.

If you’re looking for an easy jaunt with plenty to see and do, this 36 NM cruise from Long Beach to San Clemente is a perfect way to spend a few days soaking up SoCal sunshine with good tunes playing on your boat.

Starting Point: Long Beach, CA

Long Beach skyline | Credit Pxhere.com

Located about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach is the second busiest container port in the United States and one of the biggest shipping ports in the world. It’s also the permanent home of the RMS Queen Mary, the Art Deco ocean liner that was the fastest in the world from its christening in 1936 until 1952.

The city was officially incorporated in 1897, first gaining recognition as a seaside resort. Later, the oil industry, a U.S. Navy shipyard and the port facilities grew to dominate. In addition to touring the Queen Mary, visitors can also check out the local vibrant art scene, which includes the Long Beach Museum of Art, Museum of Latin American Art, and downtown’s East Village Arts District, where galleries host openings and exhibits on the second Saturday of each month.

Adjacent to the Convention Center and Queen Mary, visitors tour the massive Aquarium of the Pacific on Rainbow Harbor, which houses a collection of more than 11,000 animals. And don’t forget the canals of the Naples neighborhood on a group of islands in Alamitos Bay, where you can take a gondola trip complete with a singing gondolier. The Naples Island Christmas Parade has been held every December since 1946, passing through the canals and around the bay.

Springtime brings the Long Beach Grand Prix for racing enthusiasts and the Congressional Cup — the only Grade 1 Match Race Regatta held in the United States — both in April. During the summer months, you can enjoy the Long Beach Sea Festivals, a string of events held at various places along the shoreline, three beaches, several city parks and Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Highlights include the Pirate Invasion, 4th of July, the Love Long Beach Festival, Crawfish Festival and Tiki Beach Festival, among numerous others.

For an unforgettable pre-departure dinner, try Heritage on East 7th Street in the city’s Rose Park neighborhood, where Chef Philip Pretty serves up seasonal delicacies such as wild striped bass, Iberico pork shoulder and toasted sunchoke ice cream.

Stop 1: Newport Beach

Estimated Mileage: 16 NM

Newport Beach houses from Balboa Island | Credit Joseph Plotz on Wikimedia Commons

Beachcombers love Newport Beach, the storied seaside enclave with a 10-mile stretch of unsurpassed sand and sun. Surfers prefer The Wedge, located at the southeast end of the Balboa Peninsula, known for its large waves, some reaching 30 feet. More than a dozen area beaches have been awarded a five-star rating from the Natural Resources Defense Council, with the city’s Municipal Beach taking top honors.

Newport Harbor is home to about 9,000 boats, making it one of the largest recreational boat harbors on the west coast. Popular pursuits include fishing, kayaking, rowing, paddleboarding and canoeing. Every spring since 1948, the Newport to Ensenada (N2E) International Yacht Race has drawn experienced sailors to Newport Beach. Billed as the largest sailboat race in the world, N2E offers more than 20 competitive classes, ranging from large ultra-light and maxi-yachts to smaller yachts in non-spinnaker categories.

As you might expect, Newport Bay is also home to numerous marinas and restaurants. Standout eateries include The Dock (seriously upscale waterside), The Winery (check out their nightly wild game specials), Gulfstream (classic seafood-house ambiance), and Bluewater Grill (copious portions of fish and shellfish in a casual dockside locale).

Upper Newport Bay (known locally as the Back Bay) offers myriad recreational opportunities. A network of trails and paths through coastal wetlands attracts walkers, joggers and bicyclists, and birdwatchers flock to the 1,000-acre Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, as do hikers and mountain bikers.

Side trip: Catalina Island is just 28 NM west of Newport Beach. Watersports and activities are centered around Descanso Beach just north of Avalon Harbor. Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and other nautical conveyances are available here, providing the perfect way to see seals, sea lions, flying fish and dolphins. With more than 700 moorings, Catalina is a yachtsman’s paradise in summer.

Stop 2: San Clemente

Estimate Mileage: 20 NM

San Clemente Beach Pier | Credit Don Graham on Flickr

San Clemente is known by most people for two things: 1) surfing and 2) President Richard Nixon’s home (La Casa Pacifica). Often referred to as the Western White House, it’s still viewable on a beautiful stretch of California coast just north of San Mateo Point and San Mateo Creek.

From its inception as a 2,000-acre oceanside enclave in 1925, San Clemente was dubbed the “Spanish Village by the Sea,” and it’s still famous for its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. Downtown San Clemente’s structures are replete with red tile roofs, stucco walls and dark wood doors, as are most of the area’s oldest homes north and south of downtown.

The San Clemente Pier and Beach Trail are popular spots for fishing, jogging and hiking, but the main attraction here is farther south at Trestles, a series of five breaks at San Onofre State Beach that draws surfers from all over the world and hosts major professional surfing events.

If you’re not quite ready to tackle the big waves, you can visit the Surfing Heritage & Culture Center at 110 Calle Iglesia, with its huge collection of exhibits, archives and oral histories. The city also has a large concentration of surfboard shapers and manufacturers, and world- famous surfers call San Clemente home.

After an invigorating day at the beach, you can wind down at any number of restaurants on Avenida Del Mar, whether your tastes run to French, Belgian, Italian, Mexican, American or vegetarian. At the foot of San Clemente Pier, The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar serves up nearly 20 daily seafood specials, in addition to bountiful breakfast and luscious lunch menus.

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A Weekend in St. Augustine, FL

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Heather
Burke

The oldest city in America is a must-visit for boaters. St. Augustine is old meets new, loaded with Spanish revival architecture and a fun festive coastal vibe. This northeastern Florida destination offers historic charm, plus beautiful waterways and beaches, trendy cuisine, and a lively music scene.

St. Augustine was first flagged by Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de León who proclaimed he’d found the fountain of youth here in 1565. You’ll find plenty of “youthful” entertainment in this very walkable town, with an ancient city skyline of towering terracotta rooftop spires, an imposing 1600s fortress and marble lions guarding a beautiful bridge.

Day 1: Intracoastal Waterway to St. Augustine Municipal Marina

Just a mile from the Atlantic inlet, follow the ICW south, under the bascule Bridge of Lions, to St. Augustine Municipal Marina, MM 779, on the western shore. This well-staffed marina has stunning views of St. Augustine, overlooking Matanzas Bay, in the shadow of the 1924 Lions drawbridge. You know you are in “nauti” company when you spy the pirate ship and mega-yachts.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument | Credit Greg Burke

The marina is just steps to the Spanish moss-draped Plaza de la Constitución. Passing the Governor’s House, head up St. George Street to experience the half-mile brick pedestrian zone. This colonial-era avenue is lined with coquina walls, cafés, shops, a serene Greek shrine and America’s oldest wooden schoolhouse. Stroll all the way to the 1808 City Gates.

Enjoy lunch with river views at Sainte-George Restaurant on the balcony, or at River & Fort on the top deck. Pop into City Gate Spirits for a free distillery tasting tour of their clever boozy concoctions — Apple Pie Moonshine, Salted Carmel Whiskey, Limoncello.

Tour the 1672 Castillo de San Marcos fort, a U.S. national monument along the waterfront with a fascinating legacy of occupations and preservation due to its unique coquina construction. Your visit may coincide with cannons firing. Afterward, stroll back along Avenida Menendez riverfront promenade watching boats ply the Matanzas (ICW) and occasional dolphins bobbing and blowing.

For dinner, stop at O.C. White’s Seafood & Spirits in the arbored courtyard near the marina. This was St. Augustine’s first hotel, established in 1790. Today, O.C. White’s serves delicious daily catch, crab, shrimp and Key lime pie, with a side of spirited stories (yes, it’s haunted!). An easy walk from the marina are Collage and Catch 27 that feature more upscale global cuisine.

After dinner, live music may draw you into A1A Ale Works taproom, Tradewinds (a local crowd), or back to St. George Street to Prohibition Kitchen, Pierre’s Pub, Milltop Tavern or Colonial Oak Music Park.

Day 2: St. Augustine

With so much to see and do in St. Augustine, you might want to stay two nights at the municipal marina in the heart of everything.

After coffee at Kookaburra in the grand 1920s Treasury on the Plaza, board the Old Town Trolley open-air narrated tour to explore St. Augustine’s highlights. Ride the circuit to learn how St. Augustine was founded, fought over by the Spanish and British, and how Henry Flagler made this a Gatsby-style winter retreat at the turn of the century.

Hotel Alcazar Lightner Museum | Credit Greg Burke

The Flagler College tour presents a perfect opportunity to go inside Henry Flagler’s lavish 1887 Ponce De Leon, Florida’s first luxury hotel. Now turned into a college, it was state-of-the-art back in the day with stained glass crafted by Louis Comfort Tiffany and electricity installed by Thomas Edison. Flagler had all the right friends including Roosevelts and the well-to-do from Newport, Philly and New York, who came to his vacation haven for the season.

Across King Street is Flagler’s second masterpiece: the 1888 Alcazar Hotel, now called the Lightner Museum. The world’s largest indoor swimming pool is the impressive centerpiece. You can no longer swim here, but you can have an elegant lunch in the pool’s deep end at Café Alcazar, where a pianist fills the magnificent space with incredible acoustics. Or dine at a cozy café, Gaufre’s & Goods on historic Charlotte Street, where they dish up authentic Greek and Polish dishes such as hunter stew, gyros, pierogies and buttery baklava.

Stroll Lincolnville, St. Augustine’s post-Civil War African American neighborhood, a charming district established by freed men. Shaded by moss-draped trees, colorful Victorian homes are listed on the National Historic Register. Signposts depict legendary spots including the home where Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech. Here you’ll learn how St. Augustine played a pivotal role during the Civil Rights movement.

Your wandering brings you to St. Augustine Distillery, North America’s #1 whiskey tour, and it’s free! Visit the distillery in a renovated Ice Plant and taste hand-crafted spirits and the award- winning barrel-finished gin. Visit San Sebastian Winery, just a block north, for another free tasting tour, don’t miss the rooftop Cellar Upstairs for fabulous city views. Nearby on King Street is Whetstone Chocolates, this tour will cure any sweet cravings.

Aviles Street, just off King Street by the marina, is the oldest street in the oldest city in America. The cobble and brick alley is lined with art galleries and local jewelers’ shops. Dine here at Forgotten Tonic, grab a seat at the bar or out on the lovely sidewalk. Discover live music happening around town or simply head back to the docks to watch the sunset light up the Bridge of Lions and the picturesque city skyline.

Day 3: St. Augustine - Vilano - Salt Run – Conch House Marina

7.6 NM

Heather and Greg Burke Dining at Caps on the Water | Credit Greg Burke

Take a leisurely boat ride 3.8 NM north, watching for dolphins as you pass the fort and cruise under the Vilano Bridge. Caps on the Water is an ideal dock and dine lunch on the ICW Tolomato River. Arrive at 11:30 a.m. to secure a coveted dock slip. Sitting along Cap’s waterfront deck, shaded under mossy branches, savor smoked fish dip, grouper, gator — all ideal for sharing with a drink and view of your boat.

Boat 3.8 NM south to the eastern shores of Anastasia Island, with St. Augustine Lighthouse as your beacon. Your destination, the Conch House Marina, is a fun full-service marina with a relaxed tiki bar restaurant, and pool for marina guests. Live bands play at “The Conch” (locals’ nickname) Thursday to Sunday afternoons on the Pier Deck. It’s fun to watch charter fishing boats return and filet their catch on the docks below.

From the Conch Marina, you can walk .8 miles to climb the 1874 St. Augustine Lighthouse, where its 219 circular steps award you with an amazing 360-degree view of the Atlantic. Don’t miss the Maritime Museum to learn of lighthouse keeping and the hauntings of this glorious light. If you love gators, snakes and birds, nearby St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm Zoological Park will fulfill your reptile fantasies (or fuel nightmares if you are phobic).

Anastasia State Park is also in this neighborhood, a pristine four-mile Atlantic beach park, home to the original Coquina quarries that built the Fort. St. Augustine Ampitheatre. Just over a mile from The Conch House is a fantastic outdoor concert venue hosting popular bands. Or just kick back on your boat enjoying the island vibe and the Conch’s free band.

WHERE TO DOCK

St. Augustine Municipal Marina

904-825-1026

A great in-town location on the ICW and Matanzas Bay, southwest of the Bridge of Lions (opens on-demand every half hour for over 25’ clearance), this marina offers 151 slips, fuel, showers, laundry and a lounge.

Conch House Marina

904-829-8646

This full-service marina is just off the ICW in Salt Run, with a fun tiki bar and live music, a casual restaurant and motel. The Conch has 200 protected dock slips, fuel, pump-out, showers, swimming pool and laundry for marina guests.

Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor

904-829-5676

Located just two miles from St. Augustine’s Historic District, this full-service marina boasts 230 wet slips, high-speed fuel pumps and a service yacht yard. Enjoy amenities such as a pool, fish cleaning station and on-site dining.

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Day Trip to the Exumas by Boat

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Jen
Leroux
Credit Jen Leroux

During my visit to Nassau, the vibrant capital of the Bahamas, I was presented with a remarkable chance to set sail on a day trip to the Exumas. This was a dream come true, as I had only ever glimpsed the blue-green waters of the Bahamas from above, whether during a flight or in photographs. Unlike Nassau, which serves as the political, economic, and cultural epicenter of the Bahamas, the Exumas promised a more tranquil and laid-back escape.

The Exumas lie near Nassau, nestled within the Exuma Cays. This chain of islands and cays is a part of the broader Bahamian archipelago, which comprises more than 700 islands and 2,400 cays.

My husband Jim and I had the privilege of being guests aboard Captain Peter Maury’s boat. Peter is the General Manager of Bay Street Marina and a past president of the Association of Bahamas Marinas (ABM). With his childhood spent boating in and around the Exumas, Peter was an ideal host and guide to unveil the splendor of these islands. Joining us on this adventure was Erika Feszt, Assistant Manager of Bay Street.

Our day commenced bright and early as we boarded Peter’s boat at Bay Street Marina, conveniently situated within walking distance of Paradise Island to the east and downtown to the west. The marina boasts state-of-the-art amenities, including a fitness center, stunning pool and the on-site restaurant, The Green Parrot, where fried snapper and lobster are a must-try!

It was a picturesque morning, and the waterway was already bustling as we departed from the marina, headed toward the open sea. Despite our repeated inquiries about the day’s itinerary, Captain Maury kindly advised us to cease questioning and simply savor the unfolding day.

Iguana Island | Credit Jen Leroux

After navigating around a brief squall, we reached our first destination about an hour later — the untouched, remote Cabbage Cay, also known as Iguana Island or Leaf Cay. What set it apart was the presence of a rare and protected population of Northern Bahamian rock iguanas. Stepping off the boat to explore the island’s white sandy beaches and lush vegetation, we observed these remarkable iguanas in their natural habitat.

Our next stop was Highbourne Cay, steeped in a rich history interwoven with stories of shipwrecks and pirate legends. The island’s history traces back to the early 18th century when it became a haven for buccaneers who used its natural harbors and concealed coves as bases for their operations. Highbourne Cay, like many other islands in the region, was a favorite haunt of notorious pirates such as Blackbeard and Calico Jack.

Its historical significance was accentuated by the discovery of the oldest-known shipwreck in the Americas, a Spanish galleon dating back to the early 16th century. This shipwreck bore witness to the extensive maritime history of The Bahamas and Exumas, where sailors, pirates and explorers had left their mark for centuries. Today, Highbourne Cay Marina offers a serene haven for boaters, thanks to its naturally sheltered harbor.

By this point in our journey, we were ready for lunch! Every mention of the Exumas had included a mandate: “You must go to MacDuff ’s for the best burger you will ever have!” So, off we went to MacDuff ’s Cottages & Restaurant on Norman’s Cay. We anchored in the ocean, waded onto the beach, and immediately spotted the quaint wooden path leading to the restaurant.

As we ascended the stairs to be seated and absorbed the inviting ambiance, friendly staff, and lush surroundings, we knew this would be a meal to remember. After devouring mouth-watering burgers chased down with frozen margaritas, I can wholeheartedly endorse MacDuff ’s. While the burger was undeniably spectacular, it was the warm hospitality, the salty margaritas, and sea tales shared by Captain Maury that rendered it an unforgettable experience.

Our next stop, aptly named “The Washing Machine,” required precise timing based on the tides. Before taking the plunge into its clear waters, we climbed to the top of a nearby hill to soak in breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding islands.

Credit Jen Leroux

From there, we immersed ourselves in the swirling waters, where the significance of tides became evident. A unique tidal whirlpool effect, engendered by the dynamic interplay of ocean currents and submerged caves, made this a must-see natural phenomenon. As we swam and floated around, it felt as though we were effortlessly drifting through the water, akin to being inside a washing machine. It was an exhilarating and somewhat nerve- wracking adventure that showcased the awe-inspiring forces of nature.

Before we headed back to Nassau, our last stop was Ship Channel Cay, the home of Powerboat Adventures. It’s typically lively with cruise ship excursions and tourists seeking to swim with pigs, feed stingrays, and swim with sharks, but we arrived after the day’s guests had departed and had the island to ourselves.

After relaxing and engaging in a conversation with the island’s owner and manager, we swam in the ocean to cool off. Soon, we realized we were not alone. Several uninvited nurse sharks came over to join us!

Regrettably, the day was ending, and it was time to bid farewell to our newfound friends and leave the unexplored beauty of the Exumas. No words can sufficiently describe the jaw-dropping turquoise hues of the waters against the pristine white sands that graced our journey. As we made our way back to Nassau, the sun began to set in the sky. It was a peaceful, contemplative ride as we reflected on an extraordinary, authentic and inspiring day on the water.

Upon returning to port, we made one final stop at the renowned Margaritaville on Paradise Island. To our delight, we arrived just in time for the weekly Junkanoo Rush Out — a dazzling spectacle, featuring elaborate costumes, rhythmic music and electrifying dance performances. Each group, or “rush,” dedicates months to crafting intricate costumes and choreographing their routines, blending historical narratives with modern artistry. It was a sight to behold, a vibrant and captivating display.

Jim and I remain eternally grateful for the opportunity to explore the Exumas like a local, thanks to Captain Maury. This experience has solidified our love for the Bahamas, its people, and its culture, and it will remain a favorite destination for years to come.

Special Destinations on my Exuma Getaway

Bay Street Marina

Green Parrot Bar & Grill

Highbourne Cay

Norman’s Cay

MacDuff’s Cottages & Restaurant

Powerboat Adventures

Margaritaville Paradise Island

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Boating in Cozumel, Mexico

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Susan Elnicki
Wade
Snorkeling Credit Grand Velas Riviera Maya on Flickr

Located just off the Yucatan Peninsula across from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, making it a prime boating and cruise ship destination, as well as one of the country’s most popular beach resorts.

For boaters, Cozumel offers plenty of aquatic attractions. The island sits on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest barrier reef in the world, which has created a snorkeling and scuba diving mecca. One of the top reefs is Palancar, located about a mile offshore from the southeast tip of the island. It’s actually a series of four reefs — in descending order from Palancar Gardens, Bricks and Herradura to Caves, ranging from about 30 feet to 120 feet in depth.

Other popular snorkeling/diving spots include Santa Rosa Wall, Paradise Reef, Columbia Reef, Chankanaab Reef, Punta Francesa, Villa Blanca and Yucab Reef. Most are located within Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, a 46-square-mile protected area that is also the habitat of loggerhead turtles, hawksbill turtles, queen triggerfish and splendid toadfish.

Beaches are plentiful too if you just want to relax and recharge. The east side of Cozumel is a spectacular stretch of remote beaches interspersed with funky local beach bars. Sandy spots worth checking out include Chen Rio, Punta Morena and San Martin. Shopping and dining options are plentiful.

Winter travel tip: Carnaval de Cozumel is one of the top celebrations in Mexico, having been around since the mid-1800s. Beginning the week before Mardi Gras in February, it features multiple parades and events with elaborately costumed revelers battling in dancing competitions and bands playing live music around San Miguel.

Catamarans along the shoreline of Cozumel - Credit - Pxhere.com

WHERE TO DOCK

Marina FONATUR Cozumel

+52 987-871-4381

The new 333-berth Cozumel marina represents one of the Mexican government’s largest investments in tourism infrastructure. Its construction has been managed by Fonatur, the same federal agency that created the Mexican Caribbean resort of Cancun, and it is also known as the Marina Fonatur. It lies next to the Caleta marina, a few miles south of downtown, and shares the same sea access as its neighbor.

WHERE TO DINE

Buccanos at Night

+52 986-114-5607

BaN creatively showcases culinary masterpieces that include fish freshly caught by the owner, along with signature seafood dishes and seasonal specials.

Burritos Gorditos

+52 987-116-7214

Burritos Gorditos is all about fresh ingredients and huge portions. This small, family-owned joint serves what many agree are the best burritos in Cozumel.

Ix-Kool

+52 987-105-9793

Located about 10 minutes south of San Miguel town center, Ix-Kool is widely regarded as one of the best places in Mexico to get authentic Mayan cuisine. Try the Cochinita Pibil, Sikilp’aak, Pork Panucho and other Yucatecan specialties.

K’ooben Laab

+52 987-100-4726

If you’re looking for a break from Mexican cuisine, the homemade bread and pasta here will have you thinking you’re on a rooftop terrace in Tuscany. You can’t go wrong, whether it’s the caprese, carpaccio, frutti di mare or carbonara.

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Boating Destination: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Claire
Ruppert
Jet Skis | Credit: Visit Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos Archipelago is situated on the Caribbean’s Caicos Plateau, which makes the perfect place for snorkeling in the shallows and diving or deep-sea fishing off the edge of the plateau. Providenciales, or “Provo,” is the most populated island in the archipelago, and the best option for a base of operations during a Turks and Caicos vacation.

The island boasts one of the best golf courses in the Caribbean as well as luxury resorts and spas. But the real draw of Turks and Caicos is the pure natural beauty. With clear turquoise water, soft white sand beaches and no shortage of options around the island and surrounding cays, the 40+ Turks and Caicos islands are your oyster — or maybe your conch, in this case.

The shopping and nightlife district is sandwiched between the award-winning Grace Bay Beach on the north coast of Provo and Long Beach Bay on the southeast side of the island. Good dining options are plentiful, but the weekly fish fry at Bight Park on Thursdays is a must.

Both Grace Bay and Long Beach have beaches lined with colorful resorts and villas, and the two locations provide different opportunities to enjoy the pristine coast. The Grace Bay area offers snorkeling nestled in the curve of the island at Smith’s Reef and Bight Reef. Not much farther from shore is the second largest reef in the Atlantic, the Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef. Another offshore attraction is Provo’s famous friendly dolphin Jojo, who although wild, has been known to befriend humans. Once you have your fill of snorkeling, Long Beach Bay is a popular kitesurfing destination, thanks to the Eastern trade winds that carry surfers through the waves.

On the southwestern side of the island awaits one of the most stunning attractions, Chalk Sound Lagoon. An almost entirely landlocked lagoon filled with tiny islets, Chalk Sound is ready to be explored by paddle board or kayak. Aside from Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve, Chalk Sound Lagoon is one of the few places in the world with “ironshore” landscapes consisting of stunted salt-resistant shrubbery and heavily weathered limestone. The erosion of the limestone cliffs leaves sinkholes and caves that reveal centuries of history, marked by storms and marooned sailors alike.

The stunning natural beauty of Turks and Caicos makes it a truly unique experience. It is no surprise that Providenciales and surrounding islands are thought to be one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets.

WHERE TO DOCK

South Bank Marina

+1-649-946 5600

This full-service marina and boatyard is located off the island’s south shore along the Caicos Bank natural sheltered barrier. Amenities include a ships store, fuel, haul out, storage, megayacht concierge services, and the boatyard operates the only 75-ton marine travelift in Provo.

Blue Haven Marina | Credit: Visit Turks and Caicos

Blue Haven Marina

+1-649-946-9910

Blue Haven is situated in a sheltered cove on the eastern side of Provo. This full-service marina is complete with a concierge service, catering and dry-cleaning, and it can accommodate megayachts larger than 200 feet.

South Side Marina

+1-649-946-4137

A quieter marina and popular with cruisers, South Side Marina is on the southern coast of Providenciales, offering water, power, fuel, Wi-Fi, laundry, ice and a small pub.

Turtle Cove Marina

+1-649-941-3781

The oldest recreational marina on the island, Turtle Cove is in the middle of Provo on the north shore, and it provides gas, diesel, water and power, as well as a boat ramp and restaurants. The location is naturally well protected from the elements.

Where to Dine

da Conch Shack

+1-649-946-8877

A waterfront beach restaurant and rum bar, da Conch is a reliable spot to fill up on delicious traditional and modern island dishes. The restaurant features live music multiple times a week, and the menu ranges from fresh seafood to ribs, steak, and vegetarian dishes, making it one of the most popular restaurants on the island.

Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar

+1-649-946-5050

Infiniti is part of the Grace Bay Club. It is an open, gourmet oceanfront restaurant that has received the Wine Spectator award for the past four years for serving hand-crafted cocktails and premium ingredients on its high-end menu.

Coco Bistro

+1-649-946-5369

Coco Bistro is optimally located in the center of Grace Bay. The dining experience happens under the largest grove of palms on the island. The menu consists of fresh local dishes such as conch and local tuna, which cater perfectly to the beachy setting and earns the reputation of one of the best culinary establishments in Provo.

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Guide to Painting your Boat's Bottom

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Scott
Miller
Bottom painting credit Dejan Kolar

If you keep your boat in the water year-round, odds are that you might wonder what the bottom looks like and the condition of your running gear. Choosing the right bottom paint and coating goes a long way for the boat’s protection and performance, as well as your peace of mind.

To pick correct paints, several factors are considered such as the type of water, where you boat, how often you boat, the boat’s material and your budget. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but you should maintain it if you want to get the best performance.

Bottom paint is essential to protect the hull and prevent fouling of the bottom and running gear. Many choices are on the market today, and a smart boater will research the options when selecting paint to understand how the boat is used and where it goes.

Which fits your boating style — hard or soft coating?

Hard paint coating does not wear away like an ablative (an older type of hull paint designed to come off slowly). It works all the time whether the boat is moving or not. However, with hard paints, the antifouling properties (biocides) leach out over time thus losing power to keep growth and barnacles from attaching. With ablatives, when you run your boat, the soft paint sloughs off exposing a new layer of antifouling and removing the old layer of growth. While boat movement is a big consideration for hard or ablative, many other factors are considered.

•Cruising Area: Especially in warm waters like the Caribbean, bays and sounds, you need a high- quality antifouling paint specifically designed for saltwater. These paints usually provide better protection against marine growth. Freshwater cruising doesn’t mean you don’t need bottom paint. Algae and other marine growth still foul the bottom and running gear based on temperatures.

•Hull Material: Hull material also plays a big role in paint selection. Most antifouling paints are suitable for fiberglass boats. Aluminum boats require antifouling paints formulated for aluminum surfaces to prevent corrosion and protect the bottom from marine growth and barnacles. Wooden boats may need specialized bottom paints designed to protect wood against fouling and rot. Some traditional copper-based paints work well for wooden boats.

•Environmental concerns: Be aware of local and regional regulations regarding bottom paint. Some areas have restrictions on certain types of bottom paints, especially those containing high levels of copper or other potentially harmful substances. Many boat yards are required to follow these regulations and won’t let you or the staff use paints that are locally restricted.

Selecting the right paint

Interlux bottom paint-westmarine.com

Once you know what characteristics you’re looking for, various reputable bottom paint brands are available, such as Interlux, Pettit, Sea Hawk and more. While it is important to consult with your boatyard or marina for recommendations based on local conditions, boaters should do their research. Most paint manufacturers have well-written instructions and guidance on use and proper application.

Be sure to follow manufacturers’ instructions for application, surface preparation, number of coats and drying times. Applying paint correctly is crucial for the paint’s effectiveness, and most poor paint jobs were doomed at the first step with surface preparation.

Some boaters use the same bottom paint on their running gear as the hull, but it’s not designed for this and will not last. Many options for paints and application methods are available, with potential solutions ranging from metal paints and zinc spray to brush-on paints. Some choose to go paint free on the running gear, and with frequent boat use and proper cleaning, this can be effective.

One coating gets a lot of attention. Propspeed’s bright and high-gloss gold appearance stands out in the boat yard and gets noticed by boaters who aren’t used to seeing it. Propspeed is a foul-release coating that is free of biocides and applied to the propellers, shafts, thrusters and other underwater metals. It creates a surface that is tough for marine organisms to adhere to instead of antifoulants. If you select this coating, make sure you understand the application process and your boat yard is properly trained to apply it.

Regular maintenance is key

Maintaining your boat bottom well is crucial to get the life expectancy from a paint job. Inspect the bottom regularly, ideally once a month or before each outing. Look for signs of fouling, such as barnacles, algae or slime. If you notice fouling at the waterline, it’s also likely to be on the bottom. Use a soft brush or a pressure washer with a low setting to remove marine growth and slime where you can reach. Hire a diver to regularly clean below the water line. The warmer the water, the more often you need to do this.

Depending on the extent of fouling, you may need to haul the boat out of the water for a thorough cleaning or repainting. Hauling out should be a last resort, and if proper maintenance is done all year long, it isn’t always needed annually. When you do haul out, check anodes (zincs) for excessive wear and through-hulls for debris and growth.

Finally, keep records of when the bottom was last painted, what type and how much was used. This information is valuable for future maintenance and deciding on the next application. By staying proactive and following best practices, you can enjoy a clean and well-protected hull while extending the life of your bottom paint.

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Best Marina Contest Winners 2023

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

Each year for our Best Marina Contest, Marinalife asks readers to choose their go-to spot to tie up the boat. Ranging from familiar homeports to favorite vacation destinations, we receive hundreds of votes for marinas with state-of-the-art facilities and exceptional customer service and hospitality. In this highly anticipated competition, the winners were determined by a nationwide boater survey throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. We are pleased to announce the winners of our 14th annual Best Marina Contest. Thank you to all the hardworking marina staff and dedicated boaters who participated.

Look for the 2024 Best Marina Contest announcement in our summer issue to cast your vote!

Courtesy of Brunswick Landing Marina

1st Place Best Large Marina

BRUNSWICK LANDING MARINA in Brunswick, GA

Just off Georgia’s East River, this spacious facility boasts 445+ wet and dry slips with more than 3.5 miles of leasable dock space. Experience southern hospitality with friendly concierge services and amenities such as laundry, lounges, a fitness center and propane grills on every dock. Catch all-you-can-drink free beer and wine offered three times per week at Happy Hour. Marina management is currently working with the Army Corp of Engineers and Department of Natural Resources to construct a mooring ball field adjacent to the property to provide lower-cost options for visitors to the marina and downtown area.

Courtesy of Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina

2nd Place Best Large Marina

SHELTER COVE HARBOUR & MARINA in Hilton Head Island, SC

In the heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina boasts 187 wet slips. This destination is near beautiful beaches, golf courses and attractions including the marina promenade with shopping and dining at seven waterfront restaurants. The on-site eatery, Top Dawg Tavern, plans to open a new pizzeria adjacent to the pavilion stage. Catch live entertainment and seasonal shuttle services to access the neighboring Palmetto Dunes Resort amenities. This year marks the 35th anniversary of HarbourFest, Hilton Head Island’s largest multi-week summertime event featuring live entertainment, Tuesday night fireworks and kids’ activities from June to mid-August.

Courtesy of Morningstar Marinas Golden Isles

3rd Place Best Large Marina

MORNINGSTAR MARINAS GOLDEN ISLES in St. Simons Island, GA

Located on the Frederica River, this spacious marina is surrounded by Georgia’s picturesque Golden Isles. The facility boats 1,100’ of state-of-the-art transient dockage, wet slips accommodating 25’ to 56’ and covered dry storage for vessels up to 30’. The river provides smooth sailing with no obstructions making this deep-water marina an easy stop along the ICW and Atlantic Ocean. Amenities include a restaurant, pool, ships store, fuel and full-service mechanic on-site. Guests can enjoy concierge services and a courtesy car shuttle for inland visits.

1st Place Best Small Marina

Courtesy of Chicks Marina

CHICKS MARINA in Kennebunkport, ME

Holding the first-place title for the fourth year in a row, the family-owned Chicks Marina continues to win the hearts of boaters with its top-notch facility and outstanding service. Tucked away in the southern coast of Maine, this charming 50-slip marina offers seasonal and transient dockage, heated winter storage and custom boat services. Lounge on the sundeck and patio complete with Adirondack chairs, picnic benches and gas grills. Amenities include laundry, showers, shuttle services, a ships store, and gas and diesel fuel dock.

Courtesy of Jekyll Harbor Marina

2nd PLACE BEST SMALL MARINA

JEKYLL HARBOR MARINA in Jekyll Island, GA

Situated along the southern Golden Isles, this full-service facility is nestled in a secluded cut surrounded by 10 miles of beaches and attractions. The 50-slip marina accommodates vessels up to 150’ and is an easy stop off the ICW. Amenities include dry storage, a marina store, fish-cleaning station, restaurant and fuel dock, plus complimentary golf carts and bike rentals to explore the island and 22 miles of scenic bike trails. jekyllharbor.com

3rd PLACE BEST SMALL MARINA

DOWRY CREEK MARINA in Belhaven, NC

This family-owned and operated marina is located three miles north of Belhaven’s Inner Banks along pristine marshlands. The facility offers deep-water transient slips accommodating vessels from 20’ to 120’. Relax in the Captain’s Lounge, swim in the saltwater pool or enjoy live music and delicious food at the new on-site restaurant, The Salty Crab. Amenities include laundry, fuel and watersport rentals such as paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and peddle boats.

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Detecting Dangerous Gases Onboard your Vessel

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Scott
Miller

The saying “Out of sight, out of mind” rings true with many boat owners when talking about invisible and sometimes odorless gases. While conducting surveys with sail and power boats (gas and diesel), I am surprised to still find many vessels without carbon monoxide (CO), smoke or propane gas detectors. I’m also astonished to see vessels that are equipped with these devices, and they are either inoperable or disabled on purpose due to perceived or real false alarms.

Given the dangers involved with these deadly gases and the risks they pose to the owners, guests and crew, captains should ensure their boats comply with the standards of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) for their crew’s and guests’ safety.

Propane and carbon monoxide can potentially be deadly gases if not handled and monitored correctly. To do this, it’s important to understand what and how to deal with the risks.

Propane or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

Propane tank credit DonNichols

LPG is used on boats for grills, stoves, heaters and ovens. If propane is not installed correctly and/or monitored and vented correctly, it can become a high safety risk. It’s also highly flammable, and if the gas leaks and accumulates in an enclosed space, it can explode when it comes into contact with an open flame or spark.

Propane systems can develop leaks that can be dangerous and difficult to detect. Leaking propane can build up inside the boat, creating a potentially explosive atmosphere. A slow leak can fill an accommodation space with lethal fumes and overwhelm the vessel’s occupants very quickly.

To mitigate these dangers, it’s crucial to install and maintain propane systems correctly. Here’s how:

• Install and use a propane detector according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Detectors should be installed at the lowest point possible near the appliance and where it is visible and will not be damaged.

• Regularly inspect and test the detector and ensure proper ventilation when using propane appliances.

• Inspect the propane locker and gasket, which should only open at the top and be above the waterline.

• Ensure the locker is vented at the bottom and vented overboard away from openings near accommodation spaces.

• A readily accessible electric or manual shutoff valve should be installed in addition to the propane tank valve.

• Fuel lines should be inspected and secured correctly.

• Each propane appliance should be supplied by a separate low pressure, regulated supply line originating from the propane locker.

If you see any signs of propane leaks or faulty equipment, shut off the propane and call a qualified technician immediately.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

This colorless, odorless gas is produced when carbon- containing fuels like gasoline, diesel, natural gas and propane burn incompletely. On boats, CO can be a significant danger with internal combustion engines and generators. CO can come from your own boat or other vessels around you, so don’t be lured into a false sense of security because you have diesel power on your boat.

Smoke Detector - Credit Dori Arrington

Poisoning risk is the biggest concern with CO. Inhaling it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and in severe cases, death. CO poisoning can occur if exhaust gases are not properly vented, or if leaks or malfunctions are in your boat’s exhaust systems or other vessels are nearby and their fumes are venting into your vessel.

Since CO is odorless and colorless, detecting its presence can be a challenge without a carbon monoxide detector. With a moderate concentration of 1600 ppm (parts per million), headache, dizziness and nausea are present within five minutes and death occurs within 30 minutes.

To mitigate the dangers of carbon monoxide on a boat, it’s essential to have the proper equipment onboard and follow these guidelines:

• Install marine carbon monoxide detectors in all enclosed accommodation spaces, particularly near sleeping quarters but also galleys with a sink, head compartments and other enclosed spaces. Home CO detectors do not have the same specifications and operating parameters that are designed with the marine environment in mind.

• Maintain your CO detector and test regularly.

• Replace the CO detector every five years or at intervals based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

• Regularly inspect and maintain propane and other exhaust systems to ensure they are functioning correctly and only use approved generators on your boat and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

• Educate all occupants about the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and the importance of proper ventilation.

The ABYC Standards A-1/A-14 (propane) and A-24 (carbon monoxide detection) provides guidance and requirements for proper installation and operation of detection devices. Additionally, using gas detectors for propane and carbon monoxide can provide early warnings and help prevent accidents and poisoning incidents. It is the captain’s responsibility to ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience and avoid unnecessary risks.

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Marina Industry Updates Winter 2024

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

Industry Updates

Pursuit OS 405 | Courtesy of Pursuit Boats

Venture on a New Pursuit this Season

For more than 45 years, Pursuit Boats has produced high-end yachts accommodating boaters nationwide. The new OS 405 is the latest model with updated styling and luxurious finishes. The design presents a sleek silhouette with new features including joystick controls and dual 22’ Garmin multifunction displays at the helm. If you’re a Pursuit boat owner, enjoy our perks and join Marinalife’s Pursuit Advantage Club.

Suntex Welcomes New Gulf Coast Destination

Premier marina owner and operator, Suntex Marinas added another property to its Florida roster. Mariner’s Cove Marina in Gulfport is a well- known dry stack facility on Boca Ciega Bay just minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. Ideal for all your winterizing needs, the facility offers safe high and dry slips customized for most boat types, and is equipped with aluminum floating docks, fuel and a fish-cleaning station.

The Moorings in The Bahamas | Credit: UP TOP Media

ePropulsion Expands to the United States

An international leader in marine electric propulsion systems, ePropulsion, recently announced its American expansion. The distributor offers a vast dealer network for high-end products ranging from diesel engines to electric motors. ePropulsion USA’s branch aims to further the company’s presence and expand opportunities in the North American boating industry.

‘Tis the Season to Charter a Luxury Yacht

Escape the cold and head south this winter to let The Moorings charter your next dream destination. This world- class company is offering new Caribbean charter packages for private trips on state-of-the-art yachts. Whether you prefer bareboating or crewed charters, all needs are accommodated through easy booking. Top Caribbean locations include Antigua, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St. Martin, Grenada and the British Virgin Islands.

Upcoming Boat Shows

St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show

St. Petersburg, FL, January 18-21, 2024

Seattle Boat Show

Seattle, WA, February 2-10, 2024

Trawlerfest Stuart

Stuart, FL, February 27-March 2, 2024

Miami International Boat Show

Miami, FL, February 14-18, 2024

Palm Beach International Boat Show

West Palm Beach, FL, March 21-24, 2024

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Marina Jack, Suntex Marinas, Sarasota, FL

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Courtesy of Suntex Marinas

As you cruise down the gulf coast, enjoy the scenery of lush wetlands and mangrove forests on your way to Marina Jack — a stunning destination along Sarasota Bay.

The full-service marina boasts 305 wet slips on floating and fixed docks accommodating vessels up to 185 feet, as well as a 58-ball mooring field for annuals and transients up to 50 feet. The property is connected to Bayfront Park, which offers trails, a picnic area, playground with a splash pad and Sarasota’s iconic dolphin fountain.

Amenities include laundry, showers, 24-hour fuel, Ship Store and recently upgraded Wi-Fi. Services include a list of contractors for boat repairs and detailing. Choose from a variety of on-site restaurants including an award-winning wine list and the region’s finest steaks and seafood at The Marina Jack Dining Room on the second floor or dine al fresco and sip tropical drinks at the recently renovated Blue Sunshine Patio Bar & Grill. O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill offers a more casual setting with lovely waterfront views along Bayfront Park.

Courtesy of Suntex Marinas

For the city’s best sightseeing, embark on a lunch tour or sunset dinner cruise aboard the Marina Jack II. Depart from the marina and voyage to Lido Bay and Bird Key passing through the Ringling Bridge and cruising along the Gulf. To sightsee by land, take the marina’s concierge shuttle to explore downtown Sarasota’s vibrant arts and culture scene.

Kayak, birdwatch and explore nature reserves at the nearby Myakka River State Park, stroll around historic neighborhoods through Spanish Point, and admire orchids and tropical plants at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens nature museum. Check out the local hidden gem, Towles Court, where you’ll find live music, art galleries, studios and gift shops near Old Florida-style homes.

Just across the bay, cruise to St. Armands Circle, an island destination for dining, visiting galleries and shopping at more than 130 boutiques. The area is also known for its golf courses, white sand beaches and fishing, and the marina is a premier venue for inshore, offshore and billfish tournaments.

“Marina Jack provides a world-class hospitality experience where a community of boat owners, enthusiasts, renters and waterside diners can all relax with family and friends and enjoy the benefits of being on or near the water,” says General Manager Patrick Lustro. “Our attentive and experienced team has a single mission of providing every tenant and guest a lifetime of treasured memories.”

Don’t miss the Downtown Sarasota Festival of the Arts in February, or the marina’s two biggest events: the annual 4th of July and New Year’s Eve fireworks. The marina also hosts the popular Suncoast Boat Show in April.

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Boating Destination: Gasparilla Island & Boca Grande, FL

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Claire
Ruppert
Gasparilla Island lighthouse | Credit Ebyabe on Wikimedia Commons

Boca Grande is a small town at the southern end of Gasparilla Island, one of Florida’s many barrier islands. A secluded, long-time escape of the country’s social elite, Boca Grande is one of South Florida’s hidden gems.

Gasparilla Island is idyllic for visitors who want a relaxing vacation. Steeped in Old Florida charm and seemingly forgotten by the rest of the world, Boca Grande truly runs on island time. The historic downtown is well preserved and dotted with Spanish colonial-style community buildings. The oldest lighthouse on the island, Port Boca Grande Lighthouse was completed in 1890 and is open for tours at the southernmost end of the island in Gasparilla Island State Park.

The best way to explore the island is by bike or golf cart, both available to rent, on the paved path that runs six and a half miles, end to end. Free of chain restaurants and shrouded in preserved landscapes, Boca Grande visitors often feel like they’ve stepped back in time. Learning about the island’s history is easy with museums at the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and historic Whidden’s Marina.

Gasparilla Island State Park offers four beach access points to the powder soft sand. These beaches are accessible and outfitted with grills, showers, parking and shade canopies. Between the amenities and the clear blue waters, Boca Grande is every beach-goer’s paradise. The shallow Florida waters are a great place to snorkel, but Gasparilla Island is better known as a world-famous tarpon fishing and angling site.

When visiting the beaches, be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Gasparilla Island is a treasured shelling location, revealing beautiful seashells and fossils such as shark teeth. All the island’s beaches tend to be laid back, but if you are looking to add a day trip to your itinerary, Caya Costa, the island state park across the strait, is another exceptional beach option.

On the east side of the island, just north of the golf club, is the Boca Grande Bayou, home to the famous Gasparilla Inn & Club. The bayou is perfect for exploring by kayak or paddleboard, especially in the morning. Whether you come here for fishing, the beautiful Florida waters, the privacy or the Old Florida experience, Gasparilla Island will delight and surprise you. Embrace your escape; enjoy Boca Grande.

Where to Dock

Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament - Credit - Christopher Harrison on Flickr

Boca Grande Marina

941-964-2100

This marina accommodates vessels up to 130 feet. It’s a full-service, pet-friendly place with free Wi-Fi, restaurants and golf cart rentals that also offers the only roadside gas pump for vehicles on the island.

The Inn Marina

941-964-4620

Available to guests of the Gasparilla Inn & Club, this marina is located on the Boca Grande Bayou and offers wet and dry storage, as well as an extensive marina store. As a full-service, certified green marina, it has on-site technicians.

Whidden’s Marina

941-964-2878

As one of the area’s oldest marinas, this family-owned facility has been serving the Boca Grande community since 1925. The historic establishment offers overnight slips, gas, bait and tackle and onsite fishing charters.

Where to Dine

The Pink Elephant

941-964-4540

Located in a historic building on the Boca Grande Bayou, The Pink Elephant is part of Gasparilla Inn & Club. The second floor accepts reservations and is somewhat formal, but the first floor, known as “The Pink” is a casual and popular watering hole with a seafood-forward menu that includes surf ‘n turf and comfort foods.

The Temptation

941-964-2610

An extremely popular eatery known for fresh seafood, The Temptation has been around for 75 years, still maintaining its original retro vibes. Often called “the fish house of your dreams,” it has a stocked wine cellar and chefs will cook your catch of the day.

The Outlet Restaurant at the Innlet

855-643-7557

Start your day right with a hearty breakfast and a lovely waterfront view at The Outlet. Open from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the kitchen dishes out comfort foods from omelets and French toast to po’ boys and paninis. Box lunches for day trips on the water are available if you call in advance.

Eagle Grill & Miller’s Dockside

941-964-8000

Located at the Boca Grande Marina, this pair of restaurants can accommodate any whim or budget. Miller’s Dockside on the bottom level has a lively sports bar vibe with good pub fare. On the second floor, Eagle Grill presents fine dining in a calm setting with a gorgeous view of Charlotte Harbor.

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Abaco Beach Resort, The Bahamas

NEWS
|
January 1, 2024
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi
Courtesy of Abaco Beach Resort

Picture yourself perched under a palm tree on a secluded white sand beach overlooking Bahamian cays and waterways at Abaco Beach Resort. The boat harbour marina boasts 200 wet slips along the stunning Sea of Abaco with amenities including two swimming pools, a fitness center, fuel dock, two on-site restaurants and a private beach with complimentary nonmotorized watersports.

The marina’s 24-hour services provide concierge, security and boat washing, plus boat mechanics available per request. Dock your vessel and stay for a while in one of the 96 guest suites. The recently renovated, cozy rooms include hammocks, hot tubs, private patios and beachfront balconies with panoramic views of the gardens and ocean.

For an elegant, fine-dining experience, feast on ribeye steaks and Caribbean spiny lobster tail at The Bistro or relax in a tropical paradise with poolside snacks and fruity drinks at The Terrace & Pool Bar at Marinaville.

The property spans 40 acres along Marsh Harbour offering 100 nautical miles of protected cruising grounds. Less than eight minutes from the local city center and Marsh Harbour International Airport, the resort is a quick jaunt to town for provisions. But you don’t need to leave for fun, because plenty of attractions are available onsite including beach bonfires, live entertainment, watersports, beach volleyball, pickleball, weekly Karaoke and Sushi Night at the pool bar and other year-round events.

Courtesy of Abaco Beach Resort

Experience ecological treasures of the Bahamas and embark on adventures including deep-sea diving, reef fishing, swimming with pigs and sting rays, and visiting nearby sites such as Man-O-War Cay, Tahiti Beach and Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park. Just 15-20 minutes away, the ferry dock offers trips to the beautiful outer cays.

“The Abaco Beach Resort Marina’s prime location continues to play a strategic role in the success of our business,” says Brent Ingraham, director of sales and marketing.

“With the recent infrastructural improvements, ongoing customer service training, and multimillion-dollar upgrades to the hotel, restaurants, beach and other guest amenities, we’re honored to share our little piece of paradise with our boating enthusiasts, adventure seekers, avid fishermen and vacationers looking for an escape to the Bahama Out Islands.”

The marina hosts the White Marlin Roundup in April and The Shootout — Production vs. Custom billfish tournament in May. Be sure to check out the area’s popular annual events including Regattas in the Abacos in the spring and the Stranded Naked Flotilla in the summer.

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A Toast to Mistletoe, Battleships & a Festive Cocktail

NEWS
|
December 19, 2023
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

‘Tis the season to get creative with recipes and cocktails peppered with gingerbread and peppermint. While these may be some of our favorite winter flavors, have you considered adding mistletoe to your holiday repertoire of beverages? 

Even though you can’t actually consume mistletoe — it’s highly poisonous — the minty green leaves attached to clusters of berries on woody stems have inspired festive concoctions for ages.  

The history of mistletoe dates back centuries, as many cultures used it as a healing plant to address everything from sickness to fertility. For many people, it symbolized love, which led to the romantic connection and present-day tradition to hang it above a doorway and steal a smooch while underneath.

Mistletoe branch | Credit Pixel-Shot on Shutterstock

I SAW THREE SHIPS COME SAILING IN

If you add a bit of maritime trivia to this popular yuletide plant, boaters at holiday events can impress their crew with the stories of three U.S. war ships named Mistletoe.

The first was a small steamer tugboat built in St. Louis in 1861. The vessel served at the Cairo Naval Base during the American Civil War. Her task was to tow ships when they became stuck or inoperable.

The second USS Mistletoe was a wooden lighthouse tender built in Chester, PA, in 1872. The 153-foot ship was operated by the Lighthouse Service of the Commerce Department and transferred to the Navy to serve in World War I as a patrol boat out of Staten Island, NY. 

The third Mistletoe entered service in September 1939 out of Portsmouth, VA, during World War II. She later patrolled the President’s Cup Regatta from 1950-1952 and assisted in emergency search and rescues until decommissioning in 1968. 

To honor the festive spirit, toast with the following mistletoe-inspired cocktail seasoned with a dash of nautical history.

Frozen Mistletoe Margarita

A fresh and fruity berry-flavored mix

Ingredients:

12 oz. silver tequila

8 oz. Triple Sec

½ cup whole cranberries

½ cup granulated sugar, divided

½ cup + 1 tbsp. lime juice, divided

2 tbsp. kosher salt

2 cups cranberry juice

1 lime wedge and mint for garnish

12 cups ice

Instructions:
Step 1:

Frozen Christmas Cocktail | Credit Candice Bell on Shutterstock

In a medium bowl, toss cranberries with 1 tablespoon of lime juice, drain out lime juice, then toss with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pour onto a baking sheet to dry.

Step 2:
For salted and sugary rim, combine remaining sugar and salt on a plate. Rub the top of the glass with the lime wedge for moisture and dip the rim in the sugar/salt mixture.

Step 3:
Fill a large blender with 12 cups of ice. Combine all ingredients into blender until smooth. 

Step 4:
Pour into rimmed glass, garnish and enjoy!

*Recipe courtesy of delish.com

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Coastal Holiday Markets

NEWS
|
December 6, 2023
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

The season has arrived to shop ‘til you drop in search of the perfect holiday gift. To avoid schlepping through the same old commercial retail stores and ordering online, transport yourself to a themed winter wonderland with glistening lights and seasonal festivities to find unique handcrafted items from local artisans.

The following coastal towns offer Christmas villages and holiday markets where you can browse homemade crafts, indulge in cultural foods, and enjoy family-friendly attractions. 

NORTHEAST/MID-ATLANTIC

Holidays with friends | Credit Kzenon

The Holiday Market at Snowport

Boston, MA, Now – December 31

This second annual event presents a tree market, vendors, a custom cocktail bar from Tuscan Kitchen and shopping in Boston Seaport businesses. Runs Monday – Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

Union Square Holiday Market

New York City, NY, Now – December 24

As NYC is known as the holiday capital this time of year, you can find many markets throughout the urban port. Union Square’s annual event hosts 150+ vendors, a local retail gift guide and interactive map, and the city’s largest green market. Runs weekdays 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sundays 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Closes at 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.  

Annapolis Holiday Market

Annapolis, MD, Now – December 10

Historic Downtown Annapolis features more than 80 artisans, specialty food vendors and late-night Midnight Madness shopping events on Thursdays along the waterfront. Catch a spectacular view of the Eastport Yacht Club’s Lights Parade on December 9 at 6:00 p.m.

German Christmas Village & Market

Baltimore, MD, Now – December 24

Feast on schnitzel, sip on holiday cocktails from the Winter Wunder Bar or take a ride on the colorful Ferris wheel overlooking the Inner Harbor. Runs Sundays – Thursdays 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The last week of the market will be open the entire week.

Weekend Wonderland in Bethany

Bethany Beach, DE, December 9 & 16

This event hosts town trolley rides, Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt and holiday specials from local businesses. Select locations offer in-store giveaways and attractions such as photos with Santa. Check website for store hours.

SOUTH

Holiday market ornaments | Credit dmitrynaumov

Holiday & Craft Vendor Show

Virginia Beach, VA, December 16

Shop home décor, jewelry and a variety of gifts at this beachside holiday market hosted by The Wydham Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel. Enjoy baked goods and refreshments from the Hot Chocolate & Coffee Bar. Runs 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 

Holy City Holiday Market

Charleston, SC, December 16

Neighboring businesses such as Holy City Brewing, Firefly Distillery and The Station Park Circle team up at this nineth annual event hosting 200+ local vendors along Old Park Circle. Enjoy food trucks, live music and holiday treats. Runs 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

Savannah Christmas Market

Savannah, GA, Now – January 1

Plant Riverside District hosts vendors, live performances, brunch with Santa and family-friendly activities at this European-style holiday market. Join events such as Holiday Cookie Decorating at 2:00 p.m. every Saturday through December and the 31st Annual Savannah Lighted Christmas Parade at 5:30 p.m. on December 9. 

Holiday Market at St. Augustine Beach

St. Augustine, FL, December 9

Stroll along the pier to shop local vendors and view light displays throughout St. John’s County Ocean Pier Park. Runs 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Merry Beach Market & Holiday Festival

Madeira Beach, FL, December 9

Shoppers can enjoy more than 150 local vendors and the annual lighting of the Madeira Beach Christmas tree at R.O.C. Park/Madeira Beach Recreational Complex along the waterfront. The location boasts a beautiful view of the 57th annual Madeira Beach Lighted Boat Parade beginning at 6:30 p.m. Event runs 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

WEST COAST

Holiday market shopping | Credit martin dm

European Christmas Village

Seattle, WA, Now – December 24

Witness Seattle Center transform into a European-style village at this new holiday tradition. Explore more than 50 vendors, sip on mulled wine in the heated Alpine Lounge and take a spin on the Christmas Carousel at Fisher Pavilion Lawn. Runs December 4 – 7 from 4:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., December 8 – 23 from 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Christmas Eve from 11:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. 

The Heavenly Village Sip & Shop

South Lake Tahoe, CA, December 16

This holiday market and festival hosts vendors and activities such as Holiday Paint & Sip and the Champagne & Chocolate Sleigh Ride Tasting Experience. Enjoy live music, local artisans, and ice sculptures, and kids can meet their favorite Disney characters. Check website for store hours.

Cambria Christmas Market

Cambria, CA, Now – December 23

Artisan vendors, cozy fire pits, live music and two million twinkling lights align this Christmas market. Take a train ride, stop by the Sweets Booths for traditional Lebkuchenherz cookies and enjoy dinner buffets at Cambria Pines Lodge. Runs 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. 

Pop-Up Holiday Market 

Newport Beach, CA, December 13

Head to Marina Park for the opening night event kick off and get a prime viewing location for the 115th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Shop 35 local crafters and food vendors and enjoy live music along Newport Harbor. Runs 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy

Laguna Beach, CA, Now – December 17

This third annual art festival boasts three live music stages, handcrafted gifts from 160+ artists and a gorgeous holiday light exhibition throughout an enchanting winter wonderland setting. Runs 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

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Florida’s Holiday Boat Parades

NEWS
|
November 7, 2023
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

When it comes to the winter holiday season, Florida boasts the tradition of hosting the nation’s most spectacular boat parades across its coastal towns. Each year boaters decorate their vessels with dazzling light displays and creative themes inspired by holiday movies, yuletide carols and all things merry and bright. Most parades offer cash prizes for the best-designed boats.

Mark your calendars and catch the following events taking place across Florida’s east and west coasts this season.

Jacksonville Light Boat Parade | Credit caroLENnys on Shutterstock

Jacksonville Light Boat Parade 

Jacksonville, November 25, 6:00 p.m.

Enjoy a 30-year holiday tradition as watercraft cruise along the north and south banks of the St. Johns River. Gather downtown along the North and Southbank Riverwalks for spectacular views. 

Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade

Spring Bayou, December 1, 6:00 p.m. 

Hosting its 34th annual event, the Tarpon Spring Recreation Division’s holiday parade journeys through the Anclote River, Whitcomb and Spring Bayous. Register at Tarpon Landing Marina. 

Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade

Sarasota, December 2, 7:00 p.m. 

Watch vessels light up Sarasota Bay at this 27th annual celebration. This year’s theme features “Holidays Around the World.” 

Boynton Beach Holiday Boat Parade | Courtesy of Boynton Harbor Marina

Boynton Beach Holiday Boat Parade 

Boynton Harbor Marina, December 8, 6:30 p.m. 

The parade begins at the Ocean Avenue Bridge in Lantana near Old Key Lime House and travels south to the C-15 Canal in Delray Beach, south of Linton Boulevard. Boynton Harbor Marina serves at the official watch location. 

Palm Coast Holiday Boat Parade 

Palm Coast Yacht Club, December 9, 6:00 p.m. 

Celebrating a 40th annual holiday tradition, this yacht club hosts one of the largest boat parades in Florida. Routes begin at Cochise Waterway and pass through the Cimarron and Club House Waterways before reaching Grand Haven. 

HOLIDAY ON THE HARBOR FESTIVAL & BOAT PARADE OF LIGHTS

Downtown Carrabelle, December 9, 12:00 p.m.

Enjoy a street festival, lighted boat parade and holiday laser show finale along the Carrabelle harbor at this annual celebration. Tons of children's activities, giveaways and live music will take place along Marine Street's waterfront.

Clearwater Yacht Club Boat Parade

Clearwater Yacht Club, December 9, 6:30 p.m.

Join this 49th annual holiday parade and catch stunning views from Coachman Park and Clearwater’s waterfront restaurants and hotels. 

Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade 

Bradenton Yacht Club, December 9, 6:00 p.m.

Hosted by a local nonprofit, this parade is Manatee River County’s largest annual event. Vessels stage at Snead Island followed by gorgeous cruising routes down the Manatee River. The parade ends at the yacht club with an exclusive after party.

Schooner Wharf Lighted Boat Parade | Credit Carol Tedesco

32nd Annual Schooner Wharf Bar/Absolut Vodka Lighted Boat Parade

Key West Seaport, December 9, 8:00 p.m.

Catch family-friendly activities and music from the Bahama Village Music Program at 6:00 p.m., followed by the boat parade setting sail into the city’s southernmost historic Key West Bight Harbor. 

Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade | Photo by zielinski creative

The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade 

Fort Lauderdale, December 16, 6:30 p.m.

Let giant showboats, lights, live music and entertainment dazzle you at this 52nd annual larger-than-life event. Staging begins on the New River along the docks west of Stranahan House to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and travels 12 miles along the ICW to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. 

City of Boca Raton Holiday Boat Parade 

Boca Raton, December 16, 6:30 p.m.

Catch the lighted boat parade voyage along the ICW, starting at the C-15 Canal and traveling south to Hillsboro Blvd. Bridge. Viewing areas include Red Reef, Wildflower and Silver Palm Parks. 

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade

Tampa, December 23, 6:15 p.m. 

The route begins at the southern tip of Davis Island and travels through the Convention Center basin, up the Heights, and then heads to Sparkman Wharf.

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Happy Shucking Season!

NEWS
|
October 25, 2023
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

As leaves turn to orange and red, we bid farewell to summer crabs and welcome plump oysters to the autumn boating festivities. Even though modern aqua farming extends the bivalve season to year-round, tradition still calls us to celebrate oysters during the months ending in the letter R. If you’re cruising the Chesapeake Bay or heading south to the ICW this fall, be sure to enjoy the region’s prime time for oyster shucking and make a few stops to feast on these local delicacies.  

To prepare you for the season, Marinalife consulted oyster expert, Dylan Salmon, owner of Dylan’s Oyster Cellar in Baltimore, MD. Check out the following excerpt from the Chesapeake Oyster Lovers’ Handbook to plan your mid-Atlantic autumn oyster experience:

Oyster Sidekicks: Cocktails Required, Toppings Optional

By Dylan Salmon, Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, Baltimore, MD

Dylan Salmon shucking at a Baltimore oyster festival | Credit Susan Elnicki Wade

When you belly up to an oyster bar, it’s time to begin your plan of attack.  Let's say the raw bar offers three different kinds of oysters that day, all harvested in local waters.  You and your oyster-eating companion should try all three varieties to experience their subtle taste differences. 

Here is my trick:  Make sure you both sample at least two of each oyster, so you can try each one naked. That’s right — in the nude (not you, but your oyster). Try each variety completely on its own devoid of sauce to truly savor the flavor profile of that specific oyster and its body of water. 

Feel free to guzzle a beer or sip wine in between to cleanse your palate and explore flavor pairings. When you have a mental note of their tastes, you can play with condiments accordingly. Consider hot sauce and lemon on a sweet oyster and maybe mignonette on the salts. 

The fact of the matter is oysters are supposed to be fun, celebratory and primal.  Disregard rules and regulations dictating how to eat them or what to drink with them.  People have their own set of preferences and traditions that guide them around the icy tray.  So, experiment, enjoy yourself and eat a few naked. You’ll be surprised just how delicious Chesapeake Bay oysters taste all by themselves.

Tantalizing Topping

Cocktail sauce, Tabasco, lemon and mignonette are the norm, but here are condiment stand-outs you’ll want to try:

Chesapeake Oysters shucked  | Credit Susan Elnicki Wade
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper:  Commonplace in Portugal, it’s a unique garnish especially with a dry sherry.
  • Fresh grated horseradish:  When grated fresh, this is a sublime topping washed down with an earthy stout.
  • Slurp ‘n Burp:  Dump six oysters, hot sauce and cocktail sauce into your pint of beer, stir it up and chug it down.  Rocky would be proud.
  • Cracker sandwich:   Put a Bay oyster on a saltine cracker, garnish as you like and top with another cracker.  Great for kids and adults alike.
  • Vinegar and a slice of hard-boiled egg:  This might sound weird, but it’s an old Baltimore tradition and can be pretty good if done right.
  • Drawn butter:  This is a bad idea!   Cold oysters make butter congeal, which is pretty unappetizing.

*Read the full story in the Chesapeake Oyster Lovers’ Handbook by Susan Elnicki Wade and Bill Wade.

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13 Haunted Boat Tours to Board this Holiday Season

NEWS
|
October 11, 2023
|
By
Alexa
Zizzi

If Halloween makes you want to encounter spirits in a haunted house or embark on a ghoulish adventure, there’s no better place to uncover mysteries than aboard the spooky seas.

From historic New England villages to the haunted south, check out the following tours that offer everything from Halloween party cruises and family-friendly ghost boats to terrorizing treks across hallowed waterways.

Haunted Happenings Harbor Cruise in Salem | Credit Sam T of Flickr

Haunted Happenings Harbor Cruise

Salem, MA

Discover Salem Harbor’s hidden secrets traced along this mysterious witch town. Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises hosts a 75-minute tour featuring tales of local pirates, haunted islands and sea monsters. Enjoy face-painting for the kids, festive music and tarot card readings. Runs Thurs. – Sun. until Oct. 31, plus select Mondays. 

Bay State Cruise Company Halloween Cruises

Boston, MA

Enjoy a Halloweekend full of haunted boat rides that double as lively Halloween parties. Cruise along Boston Harbor while sipping spooky spirits and monster-mashing to devilish DJ sets. Embark on the Saints & Sinners Haunted Party Cruise on Fri., Oct. 27 or the Witches & Zombie Halloween Party Cruise on Sat., Oct. 28, both running from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. 

Haunted Boat Rides 

Providence, RI

Providence River Boat Company ship captains and special guides from Providence Ghost Tours team up for spooktacular tours along Rhode Island’s moonlit waterways. Sightsee century-old architecture while hearing stories of where past souls once dwelled. Runs Weds. – Sun. until Oct. 29. 

Wobbly Pirate Haunted Cruise

Erie, PA

Scallywags Pirate Adventures hosts two nights of frightening fun aboard this haunted happy hour cruise. The hour-and-a-half boat ride along Presque Isle Bay hosts a costume contest, cash bar and holiday entertainment. Runs Fri. Oct. 6 – Sat. Oct. 7 at 6:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. 

Skull on the bow of a pirate ship | Credit VDB Photos on Shutterstock

Haunted Three Rivers Cruise

Pittsburgh, PA

This sightseeing cruise recounts tales along Pittsburgh’s three rivers such as Allegheny County Jail ghost stories and monsters lurking beneath the Monongahela River. Be prepared for a costume contest, full bar and spooky surprises. Runs Fri. – Sun. until Oct. 29. 

Duluth Haunted Ship

Duluth, MN

Docked along Lake Superior, the retired SS William A. Irvin freighter ship is open for historic tours through the summer and transforms into the ultimate ghost ship in the fall. Take a self-guided tour through dark hallways with flickering lights and slamming doors that leads to a maze of terror in the ship’s dungeon. Runs Thurs. – Sun. until Oct. 28, as well as Oct. 31.

Eerie Canal Halloween Cruises

Richmond, VA

Riverfront Canal Cruises celebrates three nights of boat tours narrating haunted historical tales while cruising down Richmond City Canal. Boats depart from the Canal Walk’s turning basin, and kids receive candy with admission. Runs Fri. Oct. 27 – Sun. Oct. 29, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. 

The Haunted Canoe Trip

Nashville, TN

Located just outside of Nashville, this southern attraction is perfect for thrill-seekers. Canoe the Caney embarks on a ghost tour through an historic military recreation base where you can canoe or paddle to an 1800s sunken cemetery. The burial ground is located just 15 feet below the water’s surface. Runs Fri. – Sat. until Nov. 11, as well as Oct. 31.

Ghost Ship Black Raven 

St. Augustine, FL

What’s spookier than a ghost ship? One that’s invaded by pirates of course! Black Raven Adventures’ two-hour interactive tour sails along the Matanzas River, cruising past the haunted Castillo de San Marcos and providing narrated history tours throughout one of the south’s most haunted cities. Runs Fri. – Sat. until Nov. 17. 

Spirits of the Shadows — Pirate Water Taxi

Tampa, FL

Climb aboard the Pirate Water Taxi’s Pirate Pat or Latitude Lindsey II vessels, complete with a 45-minute haunted cruise along the Hillsborough River and a stop at Captain Patchy’s Pumpkin Barge. This family-friendly event provides pumpkins to all kids. Runs Fri. – Sun. until Oct. 29.   

Spooky Night | Credit JRigby Photography

Haunted Bayou Cruise

Bay St. Louis, MS

The Mystic Ghost Ride Company’s Mystic Molly theatrically narrates this unique BYOB excursion through dark, misty marshes of the Bayou Caddy and Mississippi Sound. Hear local tales of The Creeper, Reptilians in the Devils Swamp and the curse of the Old Oak Tree. Runs Weds. – Sun. until Nov. 4, then select days through the winter. 

Creole Queen Haunted Halloween Cruise

New Orleans, LA

Explore mysterious Mississippi waters aboard the glorious Creole Queen paddle wheeler to discover what haunts the riverbanks of the deep south. Storytellers share local legends on a tour complete with dinner, specialty cocktails and Halloween treats. Halloween only; Tues. Oct. 31., 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. 

Haunted Harbor Tours

Galveston, TX

Learn about the history of Galveston Bay’s haunted harborside on this 90-minute tour aboard the Galveston Historical Foundation’s SEAGULL II. Cruises depart from the Galveston Historic Seaport at Pier 22. Runs Fri. Oct. 27 – Sun. Oct. 29, plus a special Halloween celebration on Oct. 31 with a costume contest.

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Port Personality: Mason Lemon of Shelter Cove Marina

NEWS
|
September 28, 2023
|
By

Mason Lemon

Harbourmaster

Shelter Cove Marina

Hilton Head Island, SC

Mason Lemon, Shelter Cove Marina

What is your first memory of being on a boat?

Being with my parents who had a 17’ Boston Whaler. I was probably four or five years old, and we were fishing for redfish and trout. My dad gave me a rod with an artificial lure and taught me how to cast. I don’t think he expected that I would catch a fish — but I did — a 13-inch trout!

If you could spend a day on the water with anyone, who would it be?

Other than my family, it would probably be Michael Jordan. From what I hear he is a pretty serious fisherman, and he also has a famous 80’ Viking Sportfish, Catch 23, that I would love to see and fish aboard.

What is the top attraction you recommend to visitors in your area?

If a boater comes to visit us, one of the first places we send them is across the street to Palmetto Dunes, which offers a wide range of activities such as golf, tennis, pickleball and bike trails.

Where is your favorite body of water to anchor and relax?

My favorite place used to be in a creek behind Bull Island, but I’ve recently been spending a lot of time in Mackay Creek exploring the north end of the island.

If you didn’t work at a marina, what would be your dream job?

It’s hard to imagine not working at a marina, but if I had to choose another occupation it would involve water and boats. I would probably go into yacht sales.

What book do you believe every boater should read and why?

I would recommend The American Practical Navigator. It’s a great book to read if you’re starting to learn about navigating in open water. I think every boat should have one onboard.

Describe the perfect meal. What would you eat and where would you go?

My idea of the perfect meal is sashimi and ceviche as an appetizer followed by a thick-cut ribeye steak topped with lobster and béarnaise sauce, a Caesar salad and a baked potato.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you while boating or working at the marina?

Boating around Hilton Head Island, you are almost guaranteed to see a dolphin every time you go out. A year or so ago, I decided to take my dog on the boat for the first time. He was great at all points of the trip except when we saw dolphins. He would get so excited and just jump out of the boat anytime we saw them. Needless to say, he hasn’t been back on the boat much after that.

What is the nicest compliment a boater said about your marina?

Our most frequent compliment and the one I am most proud of is our exceptional customer service. Everyone on my team takes pride in going above and beyond for guests that stop into our marina.

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Destination: Orcas Island

NEWS
|
September 28, 2023
|
By
Claire
Ruppert
Hiking Turtleback Mountain | Credit: Dana Halfery

Between the Rosario Strait (along mainland Washington State) and Haro Strait (bordering Vancouver Island) is an archipelago called the San Juan Islands. These islands are a hot spot destination for delicious food, rugged coastlines and beautiful water. The largest island, Orcas, is the ultimate outdoors getaway to experience the pristine natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

The main town on the island, Eastsound, has everything you need, from a supermarket to watersports and bike rentals and waterfront views from the heart of downtown. Arguably the most popular destination on the island is Moran State Park, which aside from the 30+ miles of hiking trails and multiple freshwater lakes, also encompasses Mount Constitution, the highest point on the island. At 2,409 feet, Mount Constitution also has an observation tower at the summit built more than 100 years ago.

From the tower, hikers can feast their eyes on stunning water vistas, the rest of the San Juan Islands and even a few cities in Canada.

Yet another state park on the island, Obstruction Pass State Park is one of the few places on the island with an accessible public beach, located a half-mile from the trail head. Make a point to explore off island in the surrounding waters. The islands are a stunning natural habitat. Fishing and wildlife tours, including whale watches where you’re likely to see orcas, bring visitors closer to the endemic aquatic life.

The island has a strong community culture, accessible through the farmers’ market at the Eastsound Village Green, art galleries and studios speckling the island, and the Orcas Island Historical Museum. The historical society relocated six original homestead cabins to the new location in Eastsound, which also holds more than 6,000 artifacts, documents and photos.

The arts scene is encapsulated in two centers for the arts on the island. Orcas Island Artworks in Olga is a co-op of 45 island-based crafts people. Orcas Center is the performing arts venue that produces more than 40 shows a year.

WHERE TO DOCK

Deer Harbor Marina

360-376-3037

Located on the southwest side of Orcas Island, this full-service marina is an ideal stop for transients as it provides moorings, amenities, a fuel dock and The Barge Gift Shop. The marina is close to attractions, hotels and dining options.

West Sound Marina

360-376-2314

A family-owned full-service marina complete with dry storage and a repair crane. Close to the Turtleback Mountain Preserve, it’s the largest marina on the island and open year-round with six transient spaces.

Brandt’s Landing Marina

360-376-4477

One of the few marinas located on the north side of the island, Brandt’s offers family-run services. A canal was excavated to form this marina, which is a good location to explore the northern San Juan Islands and Canadian Gulf Islands.

WHERE TO DINE

Eastsound shopping | Credit: Dana Halfery

Matia

360-375-4350

Matia is one of Washington’s most critically acclaimed restaurants. With seasonal farm-to-table fare highlighting the region, its tasting menu changes daily to ensure a
unique dining experience.

Rosario Resort & Spa

360-376-2222

The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort & Spa is tucked away on a woodland peninsula. Enjoy the menu of local seafood and produce in a dining room overlooking Cascade Bay. Check out the Moran Lounge in the mansion’s original living room and Cascade Bay Grill & Store overlooking the marina.

Brown Bear Baking

360-855-7456

Traditional French techniques and dishes are married with local ingredients at the cozy cafe in Eastsound. The two partner bakers are graduates of the San Francisco Baking Institute and churn out small batches all day to ensure freshness.

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Cruising Crystal River

NEWS
|
September 28, 2023
|
By
Heather
Burke

Crystal River is a cool Florida destination to explore. With nicknames like “Water Lovers’ Paradise” and “Home of the Manatee,” we might also add “Boaters’ Dream.” This is Old Florida, with southern hospitality, deep history, fun watersports, classic seafood shacks — not just broad sandy beaches, though they have those, too. Crystal River is teeming with wildlife, parks and preserves, and a myriad of interconnected waterways stretching seven miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Most Great Loopers and pleasure boaters cut the corner and skip this special section of Florida’s Gulf Coast due to its challenging shallow navigation. But intrepid captains willing to venture up the Crystal River are in for a real treat. These waterways are U.S. Coast Guard marked for navigation and a sanctuary in winter for over 1,000 manatees munching on the abundance of healthy seagrass.

A convenient way to boat the inlets of beautiful Citrus County is to trailer your own boat or rent one to explore Crystal River, Ozello Keys and Homosassa just south. We enjoyed 72 hours in Crystal River, exploring the waterways, meeting manatees, touring lush parks and nature preserves, and feasting on delish local fish, crab and scallops. Folks in this part of Florida are genuine, friendly and proud of their seaside scene.

Starting the journey in Old Florida style

Get Up and Go kayaking, Homosassa | Credit Greg Burke

Arriving in Crystal River, we checked in to the Plantation, a grand old hotel and resort on the waterfront where our room overlooked the lawn and inlet leading to the river. The Plantation has its own marina where you can dock, launch or rent a boat, kayak or paddleboard, or hop on a scenic tour from manatee encounters to sunset cruises.

We chose to stretch our legs by biking 1.8 miles to the historic downtown of Crystal River, riding the scenic designated Three Sisters Springs Crosstown Trail and passing the Mermaid House. We poked around unique boutiques on Citrus Avenue, such as Amy’s on the Avenue, Salty Girls Beach Shop and Fishhook Outfitters. Hand-painted murals throughout the colorful village add to its vibrance, along with manatee sculptures, Crystal River’s mascot. From the town center, Crystal River Preserve State Park is just 4 miles north and west to a peaceful waterfront setting with dramatic ancient burial mounds dating back to 2,000 A.D.

Back at the Plantation, we refreshed with a swim in the resort’s expansive riverfront pool and drinks from the Tiki Bar. Dinner that evening was extraordinary at Vintage on 5th in town. Sitting on the veranda of this 1940s church- turned-gourmet bistro was sublime, so was the She Crab soup and fried green tomatoes smothered in goat cheese and bacon. Live music from next door Norton’s Riverside Sports Bar & Grill was our entertainment.

Get Up and Go Kayaking was our calling next morning, just south in Homosassa. Following our guide, we paddled up the “Chaz” in clear bottom kayaks through a maze of mossy oak-shaded canals. The Chassahowitzka River (aka the Chaz), is teeming with waterbirds and marine life. Schools of fish swam under our clear kayaks, massive manatees floated lazily by, and turtles sunned on rocks. Passing one alligator, I paddled a little faster.

Soon we reached the glittering deep-water pools of Seven Sisters Springs and then the dramatic “Crack” where we swam in an iridescent fissure in the rock bottom where millions of gallons of freshwater pump into the river every minute. Magical.

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park was our next stop. Boarding a boat at Pepper Creek, our park guide plied the peaceful waters into the park grounds where we discovered an extensive wildlife park devoted to rehabilitating Florida animals and mammals with various injuries in this protected preserve. From the huge old hippo named Lu to a panther, bear, deer, fox, owl, otter and manatee, this rescue center is the kindest example of a zoo we’d ever witnessed.

That evening, our activity-fueled appetites were perfectly satiated at Wallace’s at the Greenhouse in Homosassa. From the chef ’s scratch kitchen, we ordered the best smoky fish dip with homemade chips, followed by the freshest fish du jour with delicious sides. In this cheerful greenhouse eatery, the locally sourced menu changes daily.

Swimming with gentle giants

Greg Swimming with Manatees, Crystal River | Credit Greg Burke

Next morning, we boarded our much-an- ticipated swim with the manatees encounter from the Plantation Resort’s own Adventure Center. Our captain and guide told us all about the wildlife-rich Crystal River on our boat ride into the bay. We learned about manatees and soon were floating right next to these most gentle of marine giants.

We had been coached on mimicking the manatees’ behavior in our black wet suits, so they’d approach us, and it worked! We were eye to eye, whisker to snorkel, with these docile but huge sea cows. Amazing! Along our tour, we also stopped to swim in percolating crystal-clear freshwater springs (hence the river’s name, which hosts over 70 springs in its 600-acre bay).

A beautiful swerving seaside drive out Ozello Keys brought us to a fun old fish shack for lunch, Peck’s Old Port Cove. We devoured sweet salty crab, blackened shrimp and the most outrageously tasty thin-sliced onion rings, made fresh daily and complemented by the turquoise water view.

After eating so much delish fish, we wanted to go fishing in this water lover’s paradise! That afternoon Captain Gary Bartell took us on a charter from his family-owned Ozello Keys Marina. He expertly sped us across calm bays to his spot and hooked us up for success, literally.

After a bit of bait, wait and chat about his show Fish Talk Live, we were reeling in redfish, including Greg’s 32-inch trophy fish that was too big to keep. So, we only “caught” the photo before releasing it, proof it wasn’t just a fish tale. Captain Gary cleaned and fileted our keeper fish back at the dock, and sent us to Seafood Seller, where they’d cook our catch.

We found Seafood Seller & Café in a humble strip mall. Locals were lined up at this mom-and-pop affordable seafood joint. Folks were feasting on piles of shrimp, crawfish and oysters. But we brought our own fish, and the chef prepared our redfish perfectly — blackened and served with tasty homemade sides.

On our reluctant departure from a fun-filled Crystal River visit, we passed through Inverness, another idyllic little town and boaters’ heaven. Boaters can launch here into the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes to explore a 23-mile-long freshwater haven. Since we had bikes, we rode part of the Withlacoochee State Trail, a 46-mile paved designated pedestrian and bike path that stretches the entire East Citrus County of Florida along old train tracks, beautiful farms and lakeshores.

We vowed to return to the abundant water world of Crystal River and BYOB (bring your own boat) next time.

Crystal River Cruising Tips

WHERE TO STAY

Plantation Resort on Crystal River

This 196-room full-service hotel has a marina, boat tours, launch, dock slips, pool and tiki bar. Bring your own boat or rent from their fleet. Boater, family and pet friendly.

Crystal Blue Lagoon B&B

The waterfront mermaid-inspired house is a rental with a riverfront lawn, firepit and complimentary clear kayaks and bikes for guests. Walking distance to downtown Crystal River, also on the Crosstown bike path.

WHERE TO DOCK

Pete's Pier Marina | Credit Greg Burke

Crystal River is busiest in scallop season, July to mid-September, when docks slips are challenging to find, so book well in advance.

Pete’s Pier Marina

The marina offers a few transient boat slips at King’s Bay Marina on Crystal River, with new docks built in 2023. Great location near town.  

Twin Rivers Marina

As the largest marina on Crystal River, it offers easy access to the Gulf and Kings Bay, but it is 6 miles to downtown Crystal River. Boat rentals are available, limited transient dock slips, better availability in winter months.  

Plantation Adventure Center

Find boat rentals, launch and transient dock slips, kayaks and SUPs for rent, and daily boat excursions.  

WHERE TO DINE

The author dining at The Crab Plant | Credit Greg Burke

The Crab Plant

At the head of Kings Bay is a former crab processing plant and super casual eatery that serves big portions of local fish, shrimp and crabs. Cash only.  

Peck’s Old Port Cove

This classic Old-Florida seafood shack for lunch or dinner is reached by a scenic swerving drive out to this dramatic land on Ozello Keys.  

Wallace’s at the Greenhouse in Homosassa

Visit a fabulous scratch kitchen for lunch or dinner with a very talented chef.  

Vintage on 5th

Enjoy a gourmet wine and delicious dinner experience in a 1940s church in town.

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