Marina Spotlights

Exploring the Exuma Cays

Bahamas / Caribbean
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April 2017
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By
Olivia
Schleicher

Surrounded by enticing turquoise waters in the Exuma Cays, the 2-square-mile island of Staniel Cay sits roughly 75 miles south of Nassau and 250 miles from southeast Florida. It is also home to Staniel Cay Yacht Club, a premier resort marina in the heart of the Bahamas.

Rewinding back to the late 1950s, the property where the resort is located was originally a small refueling  stop between Nassau and Georgetown and a popular spot for pigeon hunting, a local Bahamian pastime. Staniel Cay Yacht Club opened in 1956. In the early 1990s, the marina went through extensive renovations.

Today, Staniel Cay Yacht Club has expanded into a 18-slip facility accommodating vessels up to 185 feet with a 12-foot draft. New electric hook-ups and an upgraded fuel dock were recently added. More than half the docks have been replaced in the last year alone, and a breakwater wall is scheduled for construction.

Staniel Cay Yacht Club also has 14 bungalows for rent, including one currently being built with a full kitchen  and dining room, perfect for vacationing families. The fun-loving property hosts many festive events where locals and property guests both join in. The Commodores Ball, on New Year's Eve, is a James Bond "Casino Royale"-themed masquerade bash that raises money for a popular wooden-boat regatta. "Staniel Cay Yacht Club is not just a resort existing separately," says owner David Hocher. "We always try to be involved with our local community. We have second and third generations of families working here."

The best way to explore the Exumas is by small boat or dinghy. "The Exumas are very diverse and there's a different beach around every corner," explains David. Staniel Cay offers numerous water activities -- exploring the sugar- white sands of Pirates Beach, snorkeling around pristine reefs and sunken airplanes, visiting the sandbars of Pipe Creek, swimming with the famous pigs on Big Major and petting the nurse sharks on Compass Cay -- the options are endless. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board to explore on your own, or book a chartered fishing adventure.

So how do you get to paradise? If you're not traveling by boat, Watermakers Air provides daily service from Fort Lauderdale to the out islands, including Staniel Cay, which has a 3,000-foot air strip. Watermakers Air was recently part of the Hurricane Matthew relief efforts, flying supplies to families on Andros Island.

The Exumas are known for their colorful flare and diversity. What are you waiting for? Staniel Cay Yacht Club is calling your name.

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What in your life prepared you for a job in the marina industry?

After working in the boating industry for 20+ years and staying in several marinas while owning and working on vessels, I feel like I can anticipate the needs of boat owners and I am well-equipped to accommodate them.

 

Tell us about your experience captaining the Roseway for the World Ocean School.

My experience was life changing. Being in charge of an historic schooner vessel like Roseway taught me patience. Making a positive daily impact on the kids at World Ocean School was some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever been a part of in my life. 

Where do you like to send people for an authentic dining experience when they arrive at your marina for the first time? 

I like to send people to the Lobster Pot. It’s a Provincetown institution that’s been in operation since 1943. From its iconic neon sign to the lobster rolls — it can’t be beat!

Where is your favorite place to relax on your day off?

I would definitely say Long Point Beach is a favorite. The shuttle from MacMillan Pier drops you right in the sand. You plop your chair down and relax while watching boats exit and enter the harbor.

 

Name your top three favorite boating songs on your playlist.

“Chan Chan” by Buena Vista Social Club, because it’s just a relaxing song and it reminds me of my early days in Key West. “Second Hand News by Fleetwood Mac — this song, to me, screams summer! But if you’re out boating here in Ptown, you can’t go wrong with “Old Cape Cod by Patti Page.

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

Ernest Shackleton, the great Antarctic explorer of the early 1900s. Having the courage and resolve to lead his team from certain death to safety was a remarkable and inspiring story. 

 

What is your favorite part of the day at the marina?

“The Golden Hour” – when all our guests are situated and relaxing means we’ve done our job!

 

What is the one thing that everyone should do or see in Provincetown?

This artistic town is known for its nightlife, so catching one of the many shows that are offered here is a must-see! Also, if you miss them on your way in, WHALES! The best way to see them is by jumping on one of the whale watch boats that head out daily to the feeding grounds on Stellwagen Marine Sanctuary.

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Morningstar Marinas at Little Creek - marina spotlight - marinalife
Courtesy of Morningstar Marinas at Little Creek

After acquiring the marina, Morningstar received permits to not only replace all the wet slips with new Bellingham docks but also adjusted the configuration to better suit coastal boaters. The upgrades included widening the slips, installing full-length fingers, and achieving 100% clear main walks using tri-frames for dock box placement and cantilevered mid-basin power pedestal bump outs. When you consider they also replaced the fuel and electrical systems, Morningstar Marinas Little Creek will become a premiere marina on the East Coast.Morningstar will exceed all boaters' expectations by offering 350 dry storage spaces in its fully enclosed building, 180 wet slips ranging from 25' to 75' and 400' of side tie. Amenities include a bath house, laundry room, and showers. Other upgrades include a new Toyota forklift, Wi-Fi, pump out, and new fueling stations with ValvTect gasoline and diesel.

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Stony's Dockside Waterfront Bar & Grill allows our boaters to enjoy a wonderful meal within minutes of stepping off their vessel. Within walking distance are COVA Brewing Company, Longboards East Beach, and other local favorites. The warm waters at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay create a fishing paradise for anglers, and miles of easily accessible beaches entice visitors to dive in for a swim or just soak up the sun.

Morningstar Marinas at Little Creek - marina spotlight - marinalife
Courtesy of Morningstar Marinas at Little Creek

"The proximity to Norfolk and Virginia Beach's restaurants, shops and entertainment gives marina guests the conveniences of a big city backed up to an abundance of open water," notes Quinn. Regardless of whether you plan to stay annually or for a couple nights, a visit to Morningstar Marinas, next to Norfolk International Airport in the up-and-coming East Ocean View Section of Norfolk, presents endless opportunities and your gateway to all the Chesapeake Bay has to offer.

Make sure you schedule your trip around one of the many festivals in the area including Harborfest, Town Point Virginia Fall Wine Festival, and Neptune Festival. If you plan a spring visit, don't miss the Patriotic Festival Norfolk for family friendly activities, concerts with national performing artists, and celebrations for all branches of the U.S. armed forces.

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Courtesy of Kingman Yacht Center

This New England gem is an historic property and community along the northeast corner of Buzzards Bay. The spacious, full-service marina boasts 235 slips in renovated floating docks, as well as 130 moorings. That's room for 365 boats one for every day of the year!With easy access through the seven-mile canal, this destination is ideal for boaters looking for a calm, rural escape. Established in 1932, the site was originally a boat-building center for the U.S. Army, Navy and aircraft rescue boats during military conflicts such as the Korean War.The Kingman family ran this location until they sold it to current owner Scott Zeien in 2000. It became a recreational marina in the ‘50s. I grew up sailing here, and it really hasn't changed much in terms of the personality and the harbor, says Zeien. Our premier boatyard is a community of boaters enjoying one of the most beautiful natural harbors in New England.This retreat is centrally focused around two brands that make KYC: Kingman Yacht Center and Kingman Yacht Club, a thriving marina, service and sales facility, as well as social club where transients and members can enjoy exclusive benefits. Poised on a hilltop overlooking the marina, Red Brook Harbor Club townhomes span a luxury community alongside aquaculture farming and a water treatment plant that filters pollution out of local waterways.

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