Marina Spotlights

River Dunes

By
Kalie
Walter

Tucked away on a protected deep-water harbor off of Pamlico Sound in Oriental, North Carolina, boaters will find one of the state's most renowned coastal communities: River Dunes, part of the Palm Hill group of award-winning residential and commercial properties. Covering more than 28 acres, the marina at River Dunes provides transient boaters convenient access to the ICW, as the protected entrance channel opens directly into the natural, deep-water Broad Creek. The 124-slip inland basin marina accommodates vessels up to 150 feet and is outfitted with floating docks with full-length finger piers.

As initial planning for the marina commenced, three elements were paramount to the developers: preserving the surrounding environment and habitat throughout construction, using the location's landscape to create a protected port to ensure boater safety, and elevating boaters' experiences with a first-rate marina with exceptional amenities. When the community launched in 2006, all three of these goals had been achieved.

Ed Mitchell, River Dunes' President, says, "Although a marina is a place to house your boat, River Dunes is much more than that. We offer a destination marina that focuses on enhancing the boater lifestyle.

Laser-focused on providing high-quality conveniences to both members and visitors, River Dunes has only improved its amenities over the years. It's much-loved, award-winning Harbor Club is about to hit its tenth anniversary with dining, event space, library, reside hot tubs, pool and cabana bar. A new 4,000 square foot Fitness and Wellness Center overlooks the marina with a fitness area, saunas, steam rooms and boutique spa. e exceptional Dining Room at the Club offers seasonal dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. River Dunes also boasts several fully furnished cottages complete with spa-like bathrooms, inviting living areas, and gourmet kitchens for visitors attending corporate gatherings or weddings, or for boaters who simply want to take a break from the stateroom.

Guests at River Dunes frequently visit nearby downtown Oriental, just a short 10-minute drive away via the marina's courtesy car, and a vibrant waterfront town where sailboats outnumber residents three to one. Popular attractions include The Old Theater originally a movie theater, now transformed into a performing arts center and the Oriental History Museum, which is full of maritime artifacts and classic memorabilia.

As you work your way up the ICW this spring, tie up at River Dunes for a chance to experience this one-of-a-kind, top-notch boating community.

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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.

Read More
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

Read More

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