Cruising Stories

Motoring Up the East Coast with a Weekend Transient Cruiser

Following the Journey of Defining Moment


The world of a weekend transient cruiser is far different than that of an extended cruiser. My career has me up early every weekday, often far away from where I left my boat the weekend before. But whether it's by train or plane, my fiancee, Sandra, and I enjoy a new adventure every weekend when we return to our vessel, DefiningMoment, a 50-foot sport Bridge Marquis. In late April 2014, Defining Moment began its northward journey from Miami to New York City. If you love a sense of freedom and adventure, plus shared experiences with friends and family, then hop aboard as I recount that ride.

First, we took our time cruising the ICW from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, finally tying up at Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Marina in Fort Lauderdale, with easy access to the beach, marine supply stores and Las Olas Boulevard's dining and shopping. From Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach, my preference is actually to stay outside the ICW and enter West Palm Beach through the Lake Worth Inlet. From Palm Beach, we reached Cape Canaveral in one day. As luck would have it, there was a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral that evening, which we enjoyed from the top of Defining Moment just after sunset. In downtown Jacksonville, we docked at River City Marina to meet local friends for lunch.

In mid-June we embarked on our next leg from Jacksonville, Fla. to Savannah, Ga. Due to the strong current in the Savannah River, we stayed outside of town on the Wilmington River at Morningstar Marina at Bahia Bleu. Downtown Savannah is loaded with fabulous restaurants, bars and shops.

I got a kick out of stopping by Chippewa Square, site of the famous park bench scenes in Forrest Gump. We enjoyed a morning swim off nearby Tybee Island before a quick cruise north to Hilton Head, S.C., where we docked at Harbour town Yacht Basin. The marina offers great access to lovely bike paths and the Hilton Head experience. We were a bit behind schedule, so we decided to stay only a day and then continue north to charming Charleston, where we explored the area by bike and foot, riding and strolling along the historic cobblestone streets.

Next up on our northward journey was Myrtle Beach, S.C. where we docked at Barefoot Marina. If you have an affinity for losing golf balls, a stop along the grand strand is a must, and either way the scenery is stunning. From there we proceeded to gorgeous Beaufort, N.C. Because it was now mid-June, the weather patterns made the outside run more enticing. The leg from Beaufort to Norfolk, Va., took us about 10 hours at a cruising speed of 26 knots. We had an exciting time rounding Cape Hatteras also known as the graveyard of the Atlantic, due to sudden 20-knot winds, but eventually we pulled safely into Rudee's Inlet in Virginia Beach.

One of our goals was to make it to Washington, D.C., with Defining Moment for the July 4th fireworks. Rounding a bend in the Potomac River, our nation's capital was suddenly revealed, an extremely impressive vista. We docked at Gangplank Marina, not far from the National Mall and a Metro station. Afterward, we cruised north to the Baltimore Marine Center at Lighthouse Point and feasted on local steamed crabs.

You can spend months exploring the Chesapeake's islands and towns, each with its own history and atmosphere. We vowed to return but meanwhile pushed onward to the C&D Canal and then the Delaware Bay. This was a very enjoyable leg to navigate, and it was an easy cruise into the Cape May Canal. Cape May, N.J., is a quaint Victorian shore town. Both South Jersey Marina and Canyon Club Marina are great places to tie up.

Our next stop was the Jersey coast's Manasquan Inlet. it had been a year since Hurricane Sandy devastated the area, and there was still lots of construction happening. Hoffman's Marina, in Brielle, offered a convenient place to dock. Later, we rounded New Jersey's Sandy Hook and came into New York City through the Ambrose Channel. The ferry and shipping traffic can get hectic around Southern Manhattan, where the East and Hudson rivers merge. extreme caution and concentration are warranted as you wave to Miss Liberty.

We docked at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, N.J., just across the river from Manhattan. The location was perfect and offered a full-service marine center with easy access to New York City via the Path train. We also knew that this would be a great base from which to begin the next phase of this ongoing journey: exploring the Hudson River, Long Island Sound and the south shore of Long Island.

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