Charleston is a city well-known for its friendliness and hospitality. Its unique location at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, makes it one of the easiest cities to navigate by boat.
With it’s impressive architecture and plantation landscapes, historic Charleston is boosting with Southern charm making you feel as though you’re suspended in time. In terms of hotels, inns and restaurants, there is something for everyone. Many people visit the city each year just to sample its award-winning eateries.
Though warm in the summer, Charleston’s mild climate the rest of the year provides plenty of time to enjoy all of the outdoor activities available in the area. Enjoy golf, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, cycling, swimming and lounging at the beach. One thing is for sure, you will not run out of things to do during your visit.
Soak up the sun in the vibrant city of Savannah, set on the uppermost corner of Georgia, and spend an unforgettable and scenic weekend cruising up the southernmost part of South Carolina. Walking around downtown Savannah feels like taking a step back in time. Scattered throughout the city are 22 historic squares, all unique, fully restored and shaded by abundant oak trees covered with swaying Spanish moss. Savannah is known for its lively arts scene and many festivals. Sip locally brewed beer while listening to oompah bands during Oktoberfest (Oct. 4-6), or spot the many famous movie stars and producers who flock to town for the Savannah Film Festival (Oct. 26 to Nov. 2).
If you're ready to shop till you drop, you'll find dozens of fantastic boutiques along Savannah's Broughton Street. If a day of relaxation is what you need, visit the gorgeous beach on nearby Tybee Island. The light station, a historic landmark built in 1732, is one of the few remaining lighthouses still functioning today. For some Southern-style comfort food, stop by Paula Dean's restaurant The Lady & Sons (912-233-2600). With three floors of dining, you'll be sure to snag a table, but first, you must wait outside for the dinner bell to ring. Dock at the world-class Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa (westinsavannah.com, 912-201-2021), within walking distance of downtown.
Head about 20 miles north of Savannah to Hilton Head. This island destination is filled with breathtaking beaches, golf courses galore, and endless amounts of family activities, including bike riding and zip lining. Dock at Harbour Town Yacht Basin (seapinesresort.com, 843-671-2704) or Skull Creek Marina (theskullcreekmarina.com, 843-681-8436) to make the most of your Hilton Head adventure.
For a short day trip from Hilton Head, cruise north up the Beaufort River to the town of Beaufort, the second-oldest city in South Carolina. This charming Southern town has been a popular site for famous movie productions, including Forrest Gump, G.I. Jane, and Something to Talk About. Sail up to Beaufort on the first Friday evening of every month to enjoy live music, crafts for kids and stalls selling locally grown produce in Habersham Marketplace. For a tranquil evening, dock at the Downtown Marina of Beaufort (downtownmarinabeaufort.com, 843-524-4422).
Charleston is just 60-miles north of Hilton Head, along the Atlantic shore. Known as the oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston is packed with traditional Southern charm. Explore historic Boone Hall Plantation, still actively producing crops today. Charleston has an incredible selection of restaurants, from the wellknown Magnolias (843-577-7771), where you can indulge in fried oysters and blackened catfish, to Fig (eatatfig.com, 843-805-5900), a local favorite known for seasonal specialties such as fish stew with white shrimp, mussels, squid and, of course, grits!Dock at Charleston City Marina (megadock.us, 843-723- 5098). If you can, plan to be in town for the Billfishing Tournament ( July 10-13). This is the biggest fishing event in South Carolina you don't want to miss it.
The last 50-mile stretch of the trip brings you to Georgetown. Located on Winyah Bay, Georgetown has one of the largest seaports in South Carolina. Dive in with one of Captain Sandy's tours (843-527-4106). The Georgetown-born historian will help you navigate ghost stories, gators, campfire cooking and a plantation and swamp tour. In the mood for some fresh seafood? Stop at the waterfront River Room Restaurant (843-527-4110) set in the historic J.B. Steele building. To step back in time, visit Mansfield Plantation, a preserved 1,000-acre rice plantation.Tie up at Georgetown Landing Marina (georgetownlandingmarina.com, 843-546-1776) and venture out to explore this area that occupies a unique place in American history.
How long have you worked at Charleston City Marina?
I have been General Manager here for 12 years.
What interested you in a career in the marine industry?
I grew up around Lake Erie and loved to be near the water. I wanted to work outdoors and be around people having fun. Most boaters who visit the marina are in vacation mode, which makes for a good atmosphere and a fun job.
You accommodate a lot of mega yachts.What is the most unusual experience you have had?
I think one of the craziest things to happen was when one of them pumped between 46,000 to 47,000 gallons of diesel fuel and paid in cash!
What do you do when you have some time off, away from the marina?
I like to run and play guitar. I play both acoustic and electric. I used to be in a band years ago but play for myself now.
What is your favorite type of music?
Grateful Dead; I am definitely a Dead Head.
What is your favorite drink on board?
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
What is the best tip you would give a new boater?
If you are new to boating, find an experienced broker or dealer to help you buy the right boat. Your first boat should fit your lifestyle and be easy for you to handle. Being comfortable and confident will lay the groundwork for you to become a lifetime boater.
Where is the first place you would send a new visitor to in Charleston?
Take the marina courtesy van and get off at the corner of King & Market Street. This is the heart of town where you can find hundreds of great places to shop, eat, drink, and visit local galleries and museums. You can book tours, catch a trolley or take a horse and carriage ride to explore Charleston and all it has to offer.
What is something that not everyone knows about you?
I am a pretty open book, but most people don't know I have identical twin girls: Cate and Quinn.
For all the bluster and saber rattling by the secessionists in South Carolina in the run-up to the Civil War, it is surprising that so few battles took place in the Palmetto State. The battles that were fought, however, were concentrated around Charleston and Hilton Head Island, which now happen to be favorite areas for boaters cruising the Intracoastal Waterway and the South Carolina coast. Using the unique perspective of your boat, you can visualize the strategies of the opposing forces as you cruise through history in Charleston Harbor or Port Royal Sound.
Antebellum Charleston was a city of affluence and refinement built on the underpinnings of slavery. After the Revolutionary War, this seaport had the highest per-capita wealth among whites and the largest number of enslaved blacks in the United States. When South Carolina passed a nullification ordinance in 1832, allowing its state rights to trump federal law, the slide into the abyss of war began. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, and that action was pivotal in starting the secession movement. Just six weeks after South Carolina seceded and one month before Lincoln was even inaugurated, the Confederate States of America was born.
At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, which guarded the entrance to Charleston Harbor, began --- and with it the Civil War. The next four years would be spent by the Union trying to wrest control of Charleston from the rebels while simultaneously maintaining a blockade of the port city from the sea.In order to improve the resupply and refueling of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Charleston, the U.S. Navy chose to establish a base at Port Royal Sound, 50 miles down the coast, to be taken by an amphibious invasion force.
The U.S. fleet departed from Hampton Roads, at the south end of Chesapeake Bay, on Oct. 29, 1861. While off Cape Hatteras a few days later, gale force winds scattered the fleet. Some ships were sunk, others washed ashore, and a few returned home for repairs, but the remaining ships in the fleet managed to straggle to the rendezvous point off Port Royal Sound, and the battle was finally engaged on Nov. 7. Within six hours, the Confederate army abandoned its forts. After their victory, the Union forces occupied Hilton Head and offered shelter to 1,000 slaves seeking refuge from the 20 plantations on the island. A year later, Mitchelville was built as the first freedmen's village on Hilton Head.
The 1989 Academy Award winning film Glory depicted the exploits of the 54th Massachussets Volunteer Infantry, the first all-African-American regiment in the U.S. Army. Their white leader, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, was offered command of the new unit after recovering from wounds he received at the Battle of Antietam in 1862. In the summer of 1863, the all-black regiment was sent south from Boston as part of the force trying to put an end to Confederate control of Fort Wagner, on Morris Island, which guarded the southern approaches to Charleston Harbor. On the night of July 18, under the battle cry "Forward, Fifty-Fourth Forward!", Colonel Shaw led the regimental charge on the fort. As Shaw mounted the fort's parapet, he was shot through the heart and died instantly. The 54th continued the assault. Sergeant William Carney seized the Union flag from a downed color bearer and planted it atop the parapet, but after an hour of enduring an intense barrage of grenades, canister shot and small-arms fire, the 54th was forced to retreat. Carney, despite being wounded by bullets, brought the Stars and Stripes back to the Union lines.Of the 600 black men who began the charge, more than 250 became casualties of war. Although the Confederate forces carried the day, the 54th's valor helped assure their place in history by dismissing any lingering skepticism that free black men would not make good soldiers. Sergeant Carney received the Medal of Honor for his heroism that night.
Attention then turned back toward the city of Charleston, considered a legitimate target under the rules of war at the time. Siege artillery began the bombardment of Charleston during August of 1863, continuing on and off for more than a year, leaving much of the city in ruins.
By 1864, between the Union bombardments and the shipping blockade, Charleston was in desperate straits. In an attempt to finally break the blockade, the Confederate Navy launched its secret weapon on the night of Feb. 17. Powered with a handcranked propeller manned by its crew of eight, the 40-foot long submarine H.L. Hunley skimmed silently below the surface of Charleston Harbor and out into the Atlantic. The submarine's target was the USS Housatonic, a 205-foot-long sloop of war powered by both sail and steam. The Housatonic was on station about five miles out to sea. Two minutes before the attack, the officer of the deck noticed an object approaching the ship with the appearance of a plank moving in the water. Then the Hunley rammed her spar torpedo into the hull of the Housatonic, and the submarine backed away. The torpedo was detonated, and the Housatonic sank within five minutes.
The world had just witnessed the first sinking of an enemy warship by a submarine in combat. While this changed the future of naval warfare, it did little to break the blockade. The Confederate submarine failed to return to port and would never be able to harry the Union blockade again. In the 1970s the wreck of the Hunley was discovered, and she was finally raised back to the surface in 2000. Although there was no conclusive evidence found to determine the cause of then sinking of the Hunley, it remains one of the most important American underwater archaeological finds of the 20th century.
After General Sherman captured Savannah on Dec. 21, 1864, at the end of his March to the Sea, he turned his attention north and marched through South Carolina.The Confederacy abandoned Charleston on Feb. 15, 1865, when General Beauregard ordered the evacuation of the remaining troops. Three days later, the mayor of Charleston surrendered to the Union.Eventually the scars healed, the ruins were rebuilt, and the animosities put to rest. Today, Charleston has become a showcase for historic preservation and an important Civil War touchstone, and Hilton Head has become a southern vacation playground. And the best way to begin your journey into the history of South Carolina is with your boat.
For those of us lucky to have a boat, there's nothing quite like grabbing a good meal at a dock and dine. No matter what sort of shape your ship is in, these waterfront eateries welcome foodies by land and sea and offer the type of friendly and casual vibe that boaters hunger for.
Motoring around the Newport Harbor is one of the great joys of boating, as the eye can feast on pretty homes, playful wildlife (think barking seals) and an eclectic variety of power and sailing vessels. Try the historic Cannery Seafood in the Cannery Village on Balboa Peninsula. This award-winning restaurant has been a culinary standout for some time, but since the arrival of Chef Nicolas Weber in the summer of 2015, there's even more buzz surrounding this harbor-side eatery. The menu emphasizes fresh, locally sourced seafood; regulars like the electric energy in the dining room. (949-566-0060, cannerynewport.com)
Where to Dock: There's a 200-foot dock out front, but you have to reserve a slip well in advance. You can call ahead for dock space, but for the most part, it's available on a first-come first-served basis.
Here's a great place for boaters in search of tavern-style comfort food and the opportunity to hang with the locals. Tides Tavern has been a mainstay in the Puget Sound region for years. It's located on the shores of the downtown harbor and offers some of the best waterfront views in the region, from inside and the outdoor deck. The no-fuss atmosphere is a big draw, as is the friendly staff that can make any tourist feel at home. There's lots of local seafood on the menu including baked halibut and clam chowder, but this is a great burger joint, too, especially when that burger is paired with one of the good artisanal beers. (253-858-3982, tidestavern.com)
Where to Dock: There's a long face dock out front and diners are encouraged to tie up there, but the owners caution visitors to remember the tide levels. Note that rafting up is the policy here. The dockmaster will encourage you to put out your fenders and meet other boaters.
This contemporary restaurant in the recently developed flats East Bank entertainment district couples a big space with industrial-chic dÃ©cor that makes for an edgy vibe. Most appealing are the expansive views of the Cuyahoga River, which can be enjoyed from the open-air dining room that also overlooks the area's new boardwalk. The cuisine is another big draw. For the most part, the menu is what you'd expect in a traditional shoreside restaurant, with mainstays like oysters, mussels, clams, lobster and fresh fish (think beer-battered catfish and perch sandwich) alongside chicken, steak, chowders, soups and salads. (216-574-9999, alleycatoysterbar.com)Where to Dock: Dock-and-diners can tie up at the public dock that's just out front of the restaurant, running along the East Bank. Space is available on a first-come basis. The staff says it's not too difficult to get dockage on a Friday or Saturday night in season, but it can be tricky to get a table inside, so be sure to make a reservation.
It began as a small neighborhood restaurant with a small gift shop and a patch of sand for the kids to pull pails through. Twelve years later, Lulu's has evolved into one of most popular waterfront dining spots in the Gulf Shores region. Located on the ICW, the staff serves as many as 4,000 people per day in high season, but the place is huge so there's plenty of open-air seating. If there is a wait for a table, the crew can find ways to stay entertained: There's a three-story rope climbing apparatus, volleyball nets, retail center, arcade and Fountain of Youth, where the little ones can cool off. The atmosphere is as casual as the menu that features burgers, salads, sandwiches and baskets of grilled, blackened or fried fish. (251-967-5858, lulubuffett.com)
Where to Dock: Lulu's is located beside Homeport Marina, a full-service facility with electricity, restrooms, showers, laundry and fuel dock. There's sufficient space for transients boats available along the concrete floating docks. To reserve a slip call 251-968-4528.
Overlooking Matanzas Pass in the southwest corner of the state, Nervous Nellie's also calls itself a crazy waterfront eatery. The vibe is both low-key casual and lots of fun. If you're traveling with kids, you'll be glad to know service is prompt: Meals come quick so the little ones don't have to wait too long for the gator bites, mahi mahi tacos and coconut shrimp. The menu also has fresh seafood, steaks, a selection of sandwiches and a lobster roll that's stuffed with plenty of meat and minimal dressing. If you're dining with friends, head upstairs to the second floor deck to Ugly's Waterside Bar to hear live music. (239-463-8077, nervousnellies.net)
Where to Dock: The restaurant has its own slips, and a dock attendant should be standing by to help you tie up. Try to call in early to reserve a spot.
This very chill restaurant located on the east end of Pensacola Beach and overlooking Santa Rosa Sound is the type of place you can pull up to after a day out fishing and swimming. Just throw a T-shirt and shorts over your bathing suit and head to the dining room covered in kitschy but fun nautical dÃ©cor. Think fish nets on the ceiling, pirate flags flying on deck and signs that read Unruly Children Will be Cooked and Eaten. Regulars come for the big portions and dishes like the Fresh Gulf Coast shrimp steamed in beer and Cajun spices. And yes, you peel your own. The place is jumping by 5:30 p.m., particularly on weekends, so plan for an early arrival to get a slip and a good table. For boaters traveling with kids, there's a sand-covered playground on the lower level. (850-932-4139, peglegpetes.com)
Where to Dock: Lafitte Cove Marina is located directly behind the restaurant, and it has a couple of transient slips for restaurant patrons, plus overnight dockage if you decide to tie up and stay for a while. To reserve a slip, call the marina at 850-934-7112.
Located just two miles from historic St. Augustine is Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, where visitors can find everything from boat rentals to fishing charters, a canvas shop and restaurants, including the Kingfish Grill. It offers up sweet views of the ICW and plenty of fresh fish, including sushi, which typically gets strong reviews from locals and tourists alike. The fare and venue are family-friendly, too, so bring the kids. Regulars say reserve a table early so you can enjoy the atmosphere in the best light of day and watch as the harbor fills with boats coming in to tie up for the evening. (904-824-2111, kingfishgrill.com)
Where to Dock: Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor (904-829-5676) is a completely protected marina that's less than a mile from the St. Augustine Inlet and Atlantic Ocean. The marina can accommodate boats up to 125 feet. There's gas and diesel on the docks, so fuel up before you take off.
If you're cruising the bustling Charleston region and want to tuck away to a mellow place for good local seafood, turn the bow toward Mt. Pleasant and then make your way up historic Shem Creek to Red's. What used to be an icehouse and packing shed for local shrimpers is now both a laidback and lively gathering place for local and transient boaters. The view of Shem Creek at sunset from the top deck is particularly spectacular when paired with a cold beer and backed up by the sounds of live music. Some reviewers say the bar is more of a draw than the food, although mainstays like crab and shrimp are typically good. (843-388-0003, redsicehouse.com)
Where to Dock: Red's is a relatively big place and it gets crowded, so arrive early, as dockage is available on a first-come basis. There's room at the restaurant's dock for a half dozen boats.
Food rarely tastes better than after a long day of boating, and one of the best places to satisfy a skipper'sappetite is on the Chesapeake, at a place like Waterman's. Located on Maryland's upper Eastern Shore, this restaurant evolved from a local seafood market into an award-winning family restaurant specializing in Chesapeake steamed crabs as well as rockfish and oysters. The eatery gets a thumbs-up for the full-service menu available in high season that includes jumbo lump crab cakes. There's a good beer selection and live music on the weekends during the summer season. (410-639-2261, watermanscrabhouse.com)
Where to Dock: Waterman's has 30 slips that are complimentary while dining. Dockage is also available next door at Rock Hall Landing Marina (410-639-2224).
For really fresh fish, dig into the catch of the day at this Jersey Shore favorite. Before the Shrimp Box opened about 75 years ago, this location was all commercial fishing dock. Today, the dock is also home to this casual eatery that lures devout followers who come for dishes that are sometimes prepared with fish that come off the boats pulling into the dock. Sure, there's the somewhat intense smell of fish when you first tie up, but that's part of the uber-salty atmosphere. Before dinner, enjoy a cocktail on the west-facing patio bar that overlooks the Manasquan River as it empties into the Atlantic. There's a limited selection of food to choose from on the patio bar menu, but inside the dining room, the there's a full menu. (732-899-1637, theshrimpbox.com)
Where to Dock: You can pull up alongside the restaurant and put out fenders at the docks that belong to The Shrimp Box. When it gets crowded, the staff will encourage you to raft up.
Because it looks out over the Sakonnet River in a pretty New England port, the Boat House has been ranked by OpenTable as one of the top 100 restaurants with scenic views in the U.S. for four consecutive years. The menu at this casual-chic eatery features the freshest seafood and freshly farmed produced. The owners say the mission of this restaurant is to elevate the treasured seafood shack to a new level of innovation and excellence. Menu will typically feature New England classics with a twist, such as chowder made with Maine baby shrimp, chorizo and corn. The wine list is also quite good and service is always professional. (401-624-6300, boathousetiverton.com)
Where to Dock: The restaurant has one long floating dock that can accommodate three or four boats up to 30 feet. A dockhand might be available to grab your lines on a summer holiday weekend, but typically, boaters are on their own. Space is available on a first-come basis, and it fills up fast.
Located in Hyannis Harbor since 1967, this is one of the oldest watering holes in the area and also one of the busiest. Yes, it's filled with tourists, but locals adore the place too as it sits waterside and offers excellent views of the busy waterway plied by recreational vessels, charter fishing boats and commercial ferries headed out to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The atmosphere is laidback: Drinks are served in plastic cups on the open top deck (bring a jacket), and food is served on paper plates. Regulars say don't leave without sampling the fried oysters, although the whole belly clams are supposed to be quite good, too. (508-775-4490, baxterscapecod.com)
Where to Dock: The restaurant has its own slips and can accommodate as many as 20 boats at a time. The dockmaster says they'll make room for boats of almost any size. Hyannis Marina (508-790-4000) is anotheroption in town.