Marina Spotlights

Experience Southern Hospitality at Thunderbolt Marine - Wilmington River

Savannah, Georgia

By
Olivia
Schleicher

Tucked away on the Wilmington River, just three miles southeast of Savannah, Ga., sits Thunderbolt Marine. In the 1860s, Fort Thunderbolt served as one of the inland civil war batteries and in 1895 become home to The Casino at Thunderbolt with amusement park rides. The army also used this site during World War II as a staging area for patrol and rescue vessels. In 1965, w. e. Honey and Latex Construction purchased the property to support its dredging operations, and four year later Thunderbolt Marine began operating as a first-class yacht repair facility with a Syncrolift and rail system that is still in use today. Over the years, the facility built numerous vessels, including three tugs for the Panama canal company. In 1985, Thunderbolt Marine Inc. was incorporated, and since then the 25-acre facility has grown into a well-known yard for full-service yacht refits and repairs.

Today the full-service facility has an array of shops that offer cabinetry, canvas and upholstery, electrical, electronics, fine finish, HVAC, hydraulic, joiner, machine, metal, paint, rigging and varnish services, plus the 1,150-ton hauling capability of its Syncrolift and the 150-ton capacity of its Marine Travelift. Thunderbolt Marine's skilled craftsmen perform quality work that exceeds customers' expectations. And for those crew members waiting for work to be completed, there is a new crew lounge.

The 750 feet of transient floating docks in the on-site marina accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. New floating docks will be completed next year. Amenities include on-site diesel and gasoline, clean shower and restroom facilities, a spacious laundry room, ship's store, pump-out station, guarded security gate and WiFi.

Dockmaster Hal Parsons states, "Boaters arriving at Thunderbolt Marina can expect experienced, professional docking assistance, a clean, full-service marina, a friendly, helpful staff -- and a tradition of Southern hospitality. We deliver boxes of delicious krispy kreme doughnuts to the boats each morning."

Just steps from the Thunderbolt Marine are some favorite local places to dine including Tubby's Tank House, Tortugas Grille, chiriya's Thai cuisine and coach's corner. Book a cab to explore downtown Savannah's antebellum architecture, historic landmarks, horse- drawn carriages and city squares shaded by Spanish moss-draped oaks. "There is no greater perk than the opportunity to visit historic Savannah," says Hal Parsons.

If you're traveling south along the ICW this winter, you should consider tying up at Thunderbolt Marina, where, in true Southern style, dockmaster Hal Parsons and his team will make sure you feel right at home.

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Celebrating The Wharf's Grand Opening: Harbormaster Spotlight
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Line of drummers on the street
Credit Alexa Zizzi

The Wharf in Washington, DC, had two big reasons to celebrate this week: The first part of the waterfront development reached its five-year anniversary, on the same day the second neighborhood expansion along the Potomac River was completed.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony, live music, fireworks and attractions lit up the shoreline of the Nation’s Capital.

The highly anticipated conclusion of The Wharf’s revitalization welcomes more green space, restaurants, offices, shops and events. You can now grab sundries and supplies at the new dock shop, relax at The Clubhouse boaters’ lounge and gas up at one of the few fuel stops on the Potomac. 

In honor of this past Harbormaster Appreciation Day, Marinalife is spotlighting both general managers of Oasis Marinas at The Wharf — Leigh Diemert and Reggie Cox — to get their take on this fantastic boating destination.

Marinalife: What in life prepared you for this job at The Wharf?
Leigh:
I started my career working on yachts and eventually earned my 100-GRT Master Captain’s license when I was just 20. I feel like my leadership as a captain prepared me to head an amazing team here at The Wharf, and my boating experience makes me well equipped to run a world-class facility.

Leigh Diemert in front of the water
Leigh Diemert

Marinalife: What’s new and exciting at The Wharf Marina and waterfront district?
Leigh:
The Wharf Marina itself is new and exciting! The marina was just finished this past April. It’s a top-notch facility with amenities to match, including a new club house, fuel dock with high-speed diesel, a dock shop and more.

Marinalife: What is the number one attraction you recommend for visitors to the Washington, DC, area?
Leigh:
It may be too obvious of a choice, but definitely the monuments near the National Mall, especially during cherry blossom season. You can’t go wrong with any of the Smithsonian Museums either, but my favorite is Air and Space.

Marinalife: If you could own any type of boat or watercraft, what would it be?  
Leigh:
Midnight Express. I love fishing and going FAST. So, they’re the perfect combo!

Marinalife: What are the advantages or challenges to being a woman in the marina business?
Leigh:
As a young woman in this industry, it was a little intimidating for me to approach a yacht captain and ask questions about how I can be a captain one day. But I thank God every day that I did and that my captain was receptive — never questioning my ability because of my gender. However, not every man in this industry has believed in me as much as my first captain did. I’ve had my competency questioned countless times and still feel like I must work overtime to prove myself in my role to my male colleagues. Ultimately, it’s made me better at my job. I’m confident that more women will occupy roles within the maritime industry as awareness increases.

Marinalife: Describe the first time you remember being on a boat.
Reggie:
My first time was as a child growing up in the Tidewater, VA, area. I enjoyed going out with friends and family on boat rides. That started my love of the water.

Reggie Cox in front of the water at the marina
Reggie Cox

Marinalife: What is the top attraction you would recommend to DC visitors?
Reggie:
I would suggest that guests catch a show at The Anthem or walk to the nearby Smithsonian Museums. There’s so much to see.

Marinalife: What is the best compliment a boater said about your marina?
Reggie:
The best so far has been that our staff is very friendly. I love getting those compliments.

Marinalife: What is your favorite part of the day at the marina?
Reggie:
I enjoy arriving early in the morning to greet the staff and guests. It starts the day off with a clean slate and sets the tone for the day. 

Marinalife: What can visitors look forward to at the newly completed Wharf community?
Reggie:
We are really excited to see everyone enjoying the wonderful new amenities The Wharf has to offer. We have two new Gordon Ramsay restaurants on-site that are almost finished, and one is located directly above the new upscale boaters’ lounge. I think they're going to be a big hit!

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Champlin's Marina & Resort - Block Island, RI
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Photo Courtesy of John Bellenis

AS YOU CRUISE into the Great Salt Pond along Block Island’s western shore, Champlin’s Marina greets you with cool blue waters and a warm welcome.

Owned and operated by TPG Marinas, the spacious marina boasts 100 wet slips and floating docks accommodating vessels up to 225’ with 15’ drafts, as well as a floating dinghy dock. Amenities include a fuel station, shower facilities, gas fire pits and a swimming pool that overlooks a stunning waterfront view.

Guests can enjoy a plethora of activities on the island from watersports to sightseeing. Rent kayaks, paddleboats, paddleboards and pontoon bikes to putter around the pond or cruise along the shoreline on single-rider or tandem bicycles. Play outdoor games with the kids or kick back at the pool bar.

The hotel offers 42 nautical-themed guest rooms with waterfront views and easy access to on-site eateries. Dine al fresco and enjoy fresh New England seafood at The Galley House restaurant, sip classic cocktails at Pier 76 dock bar and indulge in sweets, treats and libations at The Sugar Shack ice cream shop. Café Boutique coffee shop offers a quick stop for convenient grab-and-go items.

In 2021, the property went under a complete renovation, updated dining offerings and added new event space with a tent area alongside the charming pier. The marina also launched the new Champlin’s Choice Program, which offers members unlimited access to bike rentals and non-motorized watersports.

Photo Courtesy of John Bellenis

Experience true island life with a 25-minute walk into town to visit attractions and unwind at the beaches. Notable sites to visit include South East Lighthouse at Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island North Light and Rodman’s Hollow. Animal lovers should visit 1661 Exotic Farm and Gardens, Abrams Animal Farm or the Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve across from Clay Head Nature Trail.

The resort neighbors a variety of Block Island’s sandy shores such as Crescent Beach, Frederick J. Benson Town Beach, Mansion Beach and Scotch Beach. At the south end of the island, gorgeous views at Black Rock Beach, Vaill Beach and Mohegan Bluffs are minutes away.

“Champlin’s is a staple in the Block Island community,” says Dockmaster Bailey Ziobro. “Whether you choose to relax poolside, sip on a mudslide or listen to live music under the stars, we know we’ll leave you with memories to last a lifetime.”

Catch local events through the year including a farmers’ market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings in June, Blues on the Block concerts in July, movie nights on Tuesdays throughout the summer and the annual Run Around the Block Race in September.

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Port Personality: Leigh Diemert
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Leigh Diemert, The Wharf

What in life prepared you for this job at The Wharf?

I started my career working on yachts and eventually earned my 100-GRT Master Captain’s license when I was just 20. I feel like my leadership as a captain prepared me to head an amazing team here at The Wharf, and my boating experience makes me well-equipped to run a world-class facility.

What’s new and exciting at The Wharf marina and waterfront district?

The Wharf Marina itself is new and exciting! The marina was just completed this past April. It’s a brand-new facility with amenities to match, including a club house, fuel dock with high-speed diesel, a dock shop and more!

What is the number one attraction you recommend for first-time visitors to the Washington, DC, area?

It may be too obvious of a choice, but definitely the monuments on the National Mall, especially during cherry blossom season. You can’t go wrong with any of the Smithsonian Museums either – but my favorite is Air and Space. Leigh Diemert General Manager The Wharf Marina Washington, DC What traits do you think every marina manager should possess? In this industry, adaptability is key, because every day has new challenges. I also think effective leaders know how to be assertive and kind simultaneously.

If you didn’t work at a marina, what would your dream job be?

A chef! I love to cook; it brings out my creative side. It also gives me so much joy when my family tries a new dish that I prepare, and they enjoy it. I just love how food gathers everyone together.

If you could own any type of boat or watercraft, what would it be?

Midnight Express. I love fishing and going FAST. So, they’re the perfect combo!

What is your favorite marine animal and why?

Blue sharks. They are highly migratory and can be found off the coast of every continent, except Antarctica. Unfortunately, they’re the most fished shark species, so we should do more to protect them. What are the advantages or challenges to being a woman in the marina business? In the travel field, we often see women in secondary roles, like stewardess, housekeeping, etc. As a young woman in this industry, it was a little intimidating for me to approach a yacht captain and ask questions about how I can be a captain one day. But I thank God every day that I did and that my captain was receptive — never questioning my ability because of my gender. However, not every man in this industry has believed in me as much as my first captain did. I’ve had my competency questioned countless times, and still feel like I have to work overtime to prove myself to my male colleagues. Ultimately, it’s made me better at my job. I’m confident that more women will occupy roles within the maritime industry as awareness increases.

What book do you believe every boater should read?

U.S.C.G. Safe Boating Regs

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