South Haven, Michigan
International shipping during the 1940s and ’50s put South Haven on the map as a port of call, and vacationers began to flock to the town looking to escape hot Chicago summers. Home to the Michigan Maritime Museum, where the replica tall ship Friends of Good Will lives, South Haven has plenty of marinas, many along the sheltered banks of the Black River.
This deepwater port is home to the famous Columbia River Bar pilots as well as the tugs who escort the world’s cargo upriver. Astoria still has the look of an old-fashioned river town and is loaded with quirky charm, funky stores, good places to eat and seriously salty characters.
Located on a barrier island, with the Gulf of Mexico to the east and south and Galveston Bay to the north, it serves as Houston’s playground and a popular beach vacation spot. The bustling Old Strand section blends history, local color and Texas hospitality.
Horta, the main city on the island of Faial in the Azores islands, has been linked with watermen and the sea since the 18th century. It was whalers who began painting their vessels’ names on the town’s sea wall, a tradition embraced by Joshua Slocum when he arrived in Horta on his circumnavigation, and by the countless private yachts that visit this city every year. Horta is a popular destination, especially for yachts heading from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, and has been one of the stops for the World Cruising Club’s ARC Europe since 1987. The 300-slip Horta Marina welcomes salt-stained yachtsmen from around the globe with fuel, a 20-ton travel lift, a ship’s store, a service center and customs clearance. If you make berth in Horta, be sure to visit the legendary Peter Café Sport.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The canals and offshoots of the New River are lined with boats of all types, from gleaming superyachts to long-forgotten, rusting sailboats. If your boat needs work, Fort Lauderdale offers one-stop shopping — from electronics installation to a complete refit. It’s certainly one reason this magazine’s southern office has been in Fort Lauderdale for more than 30 years. The beaches are superb, good restaurants abound, and it’s a culturally vibrant city. Is it the “Yachting Capital of the World?” Well, you be the judge.