USA offers a boater paradise, but it’s important to know where to go, the best ports, marinas and hidden bays and cities perched on the dark azure water waiting to be discovered. First, fly into Baltimore, then head to Annapolis Maryland. This is Maryland’s capital city, a ‘museum without walls. It is a lively, upbeat city, where four centuries of architecture embrace 21st century living. History buffs will be enthralled. Try and visit the USNA, the United States Naval Academy, while in town. It has self-guided walking tours, a new visitor’s centre and a quaint, picturesque chapel. Stay at the Annapolis Yacht Basin, which is downtown from the Annapolis Yacht Club.
“From there, you are near Ego Alley,” says Ned Dozier, Sales and Brokerage Executive with OneWater Yacht Group. “It’s a small cut of water where locals like to do a ‘loop’ and show off their boats and wave to friends.” A particularly good spot to perch is from Pusser’s Caribbean Grille. For those who are thirsty (and confident) try their signature rum drink, the Painkiller, which comes in strength from one-to-four. A word to the wise, only those with good sea legs will handle the four. This is the start of the itinerary, no need to overdo it.
Cocktails aside, Middleton Tavern offers the local favourite ‘oyster shooter’, an oyster in cocktail sauce in a shot glass chased by a beer. The more adventurous add vodka to their oyster shot. For those in favour of classic dining, a short walk across the Spa Creek Bridge will take you to the neighbourhood of Eastport (residents call themselves ‘Eastporticans’) where the Boat Yard Bar and Grill offers casual dining and their world-famous Chesapeake Bay styled crab cakes. For a formal meal, try Lewness Steak House, which is next door. The steaks are terrific.
For Sunseeker’s docked at Yacht Basin on a Wednesday night, enjoy front row seats to the finish of Annapolis Yacht Club's Wednesday Night Sailboat Races.
“They often come into Spa Creek under conditions allowing a gorgeous spinnaker finish,” explains Dozier
Annapolis aside, it’s time to explore Chesapeake Bay, and the second port of interest is Cape Charles, Virginia. This is a Victoria-era planned community which also offers a golf course, and a great marina. A stop at Kelly’s Ginger Nut is always fun, an Irish pub in a converted bank. Most nights, there is live music, delicious food, and a good atmosphere. For breakfast (or, an afternoon snack) don’t forget to grab the daily-made scratch bread and pastries from Bakery on Mason. Enjoy the sleepy, nostalgic pace of Cape Charles, a town which retains much of its past, a trip back in time.
“If the weather permits, I would then prefer to go out of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and into the Atlantic, and around Cape Hatteras,” says Dozier. “If it is too sporty out, you just ned to plan to go south through Norfolk into the Intracoastal Waterway. This is the new ‘inside route’ from Virginia all the way to Florida.”
“The route offers many stops for those wanting to take their time, but there are also extended no-wake zones due to residential development that add time,” finishes Dozier. Sunseeker readers take note, there are also depth issues in places, specifically in Georgia, so plan your trip before you depart. Regardless, the excellent Waterway Guide offers an extensive outline and resources, ‘the bible of cruising’ Dozier says of the East Coast of the US and the Bahamas. Now, arrive at Beaufort, North Carolina. Berth at Beaufort Docks, and you’ll find yourself at the centre of the quaint waterfront downtown. Front Street is close, perfect for zealous shoppers.
“I always end up with a few Southern Hooker hats from Island Traders, while Mrs. Dozier gets her retail therapy at Island Proper,” Dozier says, with a laugh.
Beaufort is not merely a passer-by ‘stop’ but is a major offshore fishing hub. Charter a ‘Carolina style’ sportfishing boat for the day to run far offshore (80+ miles at times) in search of marlin and sailfish. Act out your inner Hemingway (same sport, different port, but you get the idea…) and start early. The stories will be plentiful and ample, memories to remember that will make you forget the raw early start. Fishing will surely work up the appetite, and the Beaufort Grocery will quench hungry mouths. ‘I get the port chop, my wife prefers the rack of lamb,’ Dozier says. Bid farewell to Beaufort, as pretty and quaint as it is, it’s time to explore what is regarded as one of the greatest waterfront cities in the country, Charleston, South Carolina.
Dozier offers an inside tip: “People will say to stay at Charleston City Marina on the Megadock, but I disagree. I prefer to dock across the river at Charleston Harbor Resort in Mount Pleasant. They have a private beach, pools, golf, a wonderful hotel, and the best sunsets in town as you look over Charleston across the river from your boat, or one of several restaurants including the rooftop bar.”
Ensure you allow ample time on your itinerary for Charleston (it’s a favourite stop for many keen boaters), and little wonder. The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is next door to the Charleston Harbor Resort and offers tours of the decommissioned Naval Aircraft Carrier Yorktown. Take in a slice of history before breakfast, which must be at Silence of the Hams.
Breakfast aside, next, take the Charleston Water Taxi over to Charleston proper. King Street is fun, and another opportunity to indulge in retail therapy. Shopping is thirsty business, and the hip 167 Raw Charleston is the perfect spot to rest tired feet (and, wallets). The afternoon must be spent walking around the Battery, a landmark defensive seawall and promenade. Let your eyes rest on the endless parade of seemingly gorgeous Antebellum homes, a staple vista of Charleston. Finally, dinner, which, must be the Halls Chophouse.
“This is my favourite restaurant in the US,” boasts Dozier with a gleam. “My family schedules holiday gatherings around my devotion to this establishment. Billy Hall is a world class host and the food, from steaks to anything else they offer, is amazing. The funny secret is that after dining hours it turns into a bit of a nightclub, which explains why the charming waitress may have been wearing thigh-high boots.”
Next stop is Saint Augustine, Florida, which is America’s oldest city. Dock at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, right by the Bridge of Lions. Call Towboat US for updated guidance on docking, or merely follow one of the Forrest Gump-style shrimping boats. The city is known for its Spanish colonial architecture perched by the vast Atlantic Ocean. The Sandy St. Augustine Beach and tranquil Crescent Beach are good spots to visit for a swim. For food, an Irish pub might seem incongruous, but the bangers and mash at Meehan’s Irish Pub are a local favourite. The view from the deck is worth it too. Alternatively, The Floridan Pickled Pepper Shrimp is certainly worth the visit. For a formal option, try Collage. The wine list is enviable.
For those who want to explore the history of the city, try the Spanish Fort by the Inlet. It was built by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route. Finally, the last stop on the route is Palm Beach Florida. It is an easy run for a Sunseeker. Berth at Palm Harbor Marina, right across from Palm Beach Island. From there, it’s a short walk to Clematis Street, which offers a great selection of bars and restaurants.
“Two of my favourites are Rocco’s Tacos, and Lynora’s,” explains Dozier. “Both have sidewalk eating as well as a bar and table dining, so you can enjoy a cool and casual atmosphere.”
The Ben West Palm is a new hotel with a trendy rooftop bar and pool. Enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail and look out over the expansive vista of Lake Worth to Palm Beach Island. For architecture-lovers, this part of the country has some incredible houses to feast your eyes on, as well as world-famous shopping and dining. Finally, Dozier adds, “If they decide they want a new Sunseeker without getting in the car, they can walk to our new Palm Beach office which is right between The Ben Hotel and Clematis Street.”
It’s an enviable itinerary which takes in the north to south of the East Coast, and visits some of the quaintest (and famous) fishing ports in the entire country. The secret ingredient? A Sunseeker Yacht, of course. For Sunseeker Enquiries in East Coast USA, please contact Sunseeker East Coast