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Heading south for the winter is a longtime tradition in boating, especially on the U.S. East Coast. And today, more than ever, there are quite a few high-quality marinas available as stopping points along the way. Yachtsmen who want to make the transit a journey unto itself have all kinds of opportunities to rest and explore for a day, a week or even longer.
One popular stop for boaters who start their southbound journey in New England is the Channel Club Marina in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. Suntex, which has marinas in 14 states, acquired Channel Club Marina this past September. Its floating-dock system is newer, having been installed in 2013, with power pedestals that include cable, water and electric hookups. “Channel Club Marina is an amazing location, offering a host of amenities in the very popular Jersey Shore area,” David Filler, investments partner at Suntex, said of the acquisition.
Continuing southbound, another popular stop for yachtsmen—particularly those with larger vessels—is Safe Harbor Charleston City, home of the Mega Dock that can handle yachts as big as 455 feet length overall. Safe Harbor has more than 130 locations, and this one gives boaters easy access to everything that Charleston, South Carolina, offers visitors. That includes so many breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurants that “great food” was the top reason Condé Nast voters named Charleston the best small city in America this year. Lovers of sweet tea and seafood, in particular, can rejoice to their belly’s content before heading back to the boat and continuing their itinerary.
From South Carolina, many boaters make Florida their next stop. With so many marinas, the Sunshine State has many transient options, depending on which part of the Florida coast boaters want to explore. Suntex properties include Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale, which many boaters are familiar with from the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Bahia Mar has 250 slips for boats as large as 300 feet length overall. In the same region, Safe Harbor has two properties: Safe Harbor Old Port Cove in North Palm Beach, and Safe Harbor Rybovich in West Palm Beach. The Old Port Cove location can take boats up to 200 feet length overall, while the Rybovich location can welcome 390-foot superyachts.
What’s really fun at all these locations is being in the heart of the South Florida yachting scene—the yachting capital of the United States. Visitors are likely to see well-known yachts every day and can find just about anything needed for provisioning and repairs.
From Florida, many snowbirds are tempted to just keep going—and why not? Continuing south opens up an entire world of additional options, including the Bahamas, Virgin Islands and greater Caribbean.
For boaters looking to make a shorter hop at first, there’s Safe Harbor Puerto Del Rey in Puerto Rico. This marina’s location has been part of the Safe Harbor portfolio since September 2021, and it’s sizable, spanning 140 acres with more than 1,200 wet slips. According to Safe Harbor, that makes Puerto Del Rey the largest marina in the whole Caribbean.
It’s also about 45 minutes from the international airport at San Juan, which means it can be a good place to leave the boat and visit from time to time throughout the winter months—before the summer season arrives and it’s time to cruise northbound for all new adventures.
Channel Club marina: Transients Welcome
This Suntex property on the Shrewsbury River in New Jersey, in a prime spot about midway between New York City and Atlantic City, makes a point of welcoming transient boaters coming from both directions. There are two restaurants on-site, along with a fuel dock for gas and diesel, a Travelift, a pump-out and a service center, so boaters have everything they might need in one location. Transients also can use the private restroom and showers, pool, shuttle to the beach and free Wi-Fi.
Safe Harbor Charleston City: Home of the Mega Dock
Some of the largest yachts in the world make it a point to stop at this marina’s Mega Dock when heading south for the winter. The marina has all the amenities that transient boaters might need, including being an Amazon Locker location. It’s a program that lets Amazon customers select any Locker location as their delivery address and retrieve their orders there. For yacht owners and crew heading south but unsure of their arrival dates along the way, it’s an especially convenient service.
Safe Harbor Rybovich: A Well-known Name
Rybovich is a name whose history in the boating world dates back to 1910, when the family started building boats in Palm Beach County, Florida. Safe Harbor Marinas acquired the Rybovich marinas and service yards in 2021, with the deal including properties in West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach. Amenities for boaters include a fuel dock, a pump-out, restrooms, showers, a restaurant, a ship’s store, a clubhouse, a business center, a courtesy shuttle, free Wi-Fi, a fitness center and more.