Authors Posts by Southern Boating LP

Southern Boating LP


Jacksonville, Florida

Nestled along the gorgeous St. Johns River in Downtown Jacksonville, The Jacksonville Landing is home to year-round entertainment, a wide variety of waterfront dining options and a cozy inside shopping mall all of which are sure to complete an afternoon or evening of fun.

Cruisers willing to make the 21-nautical-mile detour from the ICW on Florida’s northern Atlantic coast will find a beautiful, year-round port at Jacksonville, Florida.

Those who take the delightful side trip and venture up the St. Johns River can enjoy two stops here, one on each side of the river. Jacksonville has been a popular winter resort since the Civil War, and cruisers enjoy the city’s annual average of 300 sunny days at docks on both sides of the river.

A favorite stop for mariners is Jacksonville Landing, which hosts more than 350 events each year, live weekend outdoor entertainment, lots of dining options, and an indoor shopping mall. Dock alongside to be in the heart of the action, but watch for strong currents during mid-tide.

Once you’re tied up, leave the driving to someone else. The water taxi traverses the river with stops at River City Marina, the Landing and the Metropolitan Park Marina. On shore, the Riverside Trolley can get you to Publix grocery store for provisioning in about 10 minutes. Then return to the Landing for an evening of people watching, waterfront dining, drinks, and entertainment. On the south side of the river, try Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Chart House or River City Brewery at River City Marina. An interesting eatery with a southwest flavor is the Mossfire Grill (904-355-4434; named for the moss-stuffed mattress company whose warehouse caught fire and burned down the city 100 years ago. It’s a cab ride from the docks but worth the trip just for its “Ka-pow” spicy seafood tacos or Mossfire crabcakes with chipotle lime mayo.

A great way to see the city—and work off the extra calories—is the Downtown Top to Bottom Walking Tour, which meets on Tuesdays at 10am at the Jacksonville Landing escalators. You’ll tour the city’s tallest office buildings, get a bird’s eye view of Jacksonville and the St. Johns River, and explore secret underground bank tunnels for $15 per person (904-827-1845; walking-tour).

Also recommended are two dinghy excursions from your downtown slip. Just head to the small free day dock at the Saturday Riverside Arts and Farmers Market (904-389-2449;, held March through December near the I-95 bridge over the St. Johns River. Enjoy live entertainment ranging from barbershop quartets to bellydancers, and shop for locallymade pottery, paintings, jewelry, accessories, as well as fresh local produce, meats, honey, plants, and spices. Stop in next door at the Cummer Museum (904-356- 6857; for a pleasant walk through manicured gardens. Then take your dinghy downriver (toward the ICW) to the Trout River and turn north. Before the Main Street Bridge, you’ll find a long dock belonging to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. While the alongside depth at low tide is just one foot, when you dock here, admission to the zoo is free. October brings a pumpkincarving contest and haunted house, and the zoo will be celebrating its centennial in 2014 with special events and exhibits (904-757-4463;

If you’re a music lover, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival is held Memorial Day weekend, right in the heart of Jacksonville. This free street party features four stages scattered in the downtown corridor, and has showcased the likes of Natalie Cole and Herbie Hancock. During the festival, check out local artists displaying their wares in the Art in the Heart Downtown juried art show, and grab a glass or two at the Wine Down/Brew Town Tasting Experience.

In a nod to more than a century of local filmmaking history, the Jacksonville Film Festival, held every October, features premieres and parties where you can hobnob with celebrities. While starting long ago with silent films, well-known contemporary movies like G.I. Jane and the Manchurian Candidate continue to be filmed in the area.

For events all year long, visit Metropolitan Park and Marina. One highlight is the annual Southeast U.S. Boat Show, held in mid-April. The three-day event includes seminars, live music and a broad selection of power and sailboats, kayaks and marine accessories. Later in April, check out the Welcome to Rockville Festival; 2013’s event featured headlining performances from Alice in Chains, Jacksonville’s own Limp Bizkit and local legend Lynyrd Skynyrd. And where else can you dock your craft and walk to an NFL game? You can even tailgate on your boat before heading over to EverBank Field for a Jaguars game in the fall. If collegiate football and more tailgating sound good, try the annual Florida/Georgia game, accompanied by what’s billed as the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party.”

By Marty Richardson, Southern Boating August 2013

Monterey 360SC

Monterey 360 Sport Coupe

If you missed the Monterey 360 Sport Coupe at the 2014 Fort Lauderdale Show where it made its official debut, make sure you see it at your local dealer. Perhaps the most interesting design element on this 37’10”-long family cruiser is the patent-pending electronic windshield that slides open (70″) to allow passengers direct access to the foredeck from the cockpit. You can also slide the windshield open just a few inches to bring a gentle breeze into the cockpit. Designed by Monterey and Michael Peters Yacht Design, the 360SC boasts other cool features, including two electric helm chairs with flip-back bolsters that allow the couple at the driving station to turn and face guests in the cockpit when the hook is down. A great entertainer, the 360SC is offered with plenty of seating, a wetbar, an optional grill, home theater system and satellite-ready stereo. The cabin sleeps four in the V-berth and mid-cabin.

By Jeanne Craig, Southern Boating February 2015

Formula 330 CBR

Formula 330 Crossover Bow Rider

It’s one of the sweetest hybrid models to debut in 2015. The Formula 330 CBR (33′ LOA, 10’3″ beam) is one part day boat, one part overnight cruiser. This crossover model boasts open cockpit and bow areas that are as forward thinking as they are stylish. Lounges and seats, for instance, are convertible and make up into a variety of arrangements to suit the preferences of any group of guests. Seating is covered in fitted upholstery that’s top-notch, as it typically is on a Formula boat. The cabin, accessed through a door near the helm, has six feet of headroom, a lounge that converts to a queen-sized berth, a head with shower, plus an entertainment system. Whether you cruise for a few hours or into the night, driving the 330 should be a thrill. Twin Merc or Volvo engines power the 21-degree deep-V hull to deliver the exacting performance Formula owners have come to expect.

By Jeanne Craig, Southern Boating February 2015

Night-Vision Cameras

Portable thermal cameras help you see in the dark on water and land.

One reason iPhones are popular is because they are portable—they work as well on your boat as they do at home. Portable products like iPads and iPhones are enjoying a wave of integration into boat systems, and handheld thermal imaging cameras and scopes are riding that wave. Thermal night vision cameras do what the human eye cannot because they see heat they are not dependent on light and contrast to create an image. Thermal cameras work both day and night and provide benefits beyond what you may think.

Handheld thermal imaging cameras by FLIR and Iris Corporation are similar to the fixed-mount thermal imaging cameras both companies offer. But since they are portable they can be used on both water and land. On the water, their ability to clearly detect dangers such as rocks, unlit buoys, jetties, vessels, commercial fishing gear, floating debris, and other objects give boat operators confidence to explore unfamiliar waters and let people keep fishing long into the night. In emergency situations, the thermal cameras can help boat captains and crew find people in the water. Thermal cameras can see the heat signatures of people and vessels in total darkness, as well as through smoke, haze, and light fog—nothing can help you find someone in the water faster than a thermal camera. A person floating in the water often only has his head visible, but this can show up on the thermal video display as a white ball against a black or dark gray background.

Once sighted, it is important for rescuers to keep them in sight. A thermal imager allows vessel crewmembers to keep a person in the water in sight while maneuvering their vessel to pick up the victim. This improved situational awareness increases the safety of all involved and improves the chance of rescuing a victim at night and during the day, making thermal cameras a crucial asset.

“Two of our models allow you to connect the display with your MFD,” says Andrew Cox, FLIR maritime sales manager. “A lot of consumers can’t justify the cost of a mounted unit on their boat. With our First Mate II HM, the cost is about $3,000, and that gives you the video output for your MFD. So you have the functionality of a mounted unit on your boat, but when it’s the offseason for boating or you come off the boat for the day, you can use it for a lot more.”

FLIR’s product range begins with the First Mate II MS, which costs around $2,000 and is a marine scope. It doesn’t offer video output, but it’s small enough to fit in your pocket and offers ways to expand capabilities, including an extended lens that doubles its range. For example, the First Mate II MS is rated to spot a man bobbing in the water a quarter mile away and to detect a small vessel two-thirds of a mile away.

“Our most popular maritime unit is the waterproof First Mate II HM series,” Cox explains. “The HM307XP model with the large 655mm lens gives the camera much greater range capability. The HM307XP can detect a man in the water at three-quarters of mile, and it can detect a boat as far away as two miles.”

The cameras let you see clearly at night and show you things you might be missing during the day, but they do have their limitations since infrared energy doesn’t travel as far through heavy atmospheric moisture as it does through drier air. When it’s raining or when you’re enveloped by heavy fog, a thermal imager won’t see as far. It will still help you to see, just not as far.

Once people come off the water and start using it around the house and outdoors, they find a lot of different uses. For example, spotting animals or people in the dark has educational and safety value, which is why everyone from hunters to law enforcement are using handheld thermal imaging cameras. “There’s a good chance that the guy who goes fishing in his boat is also a hunter or a hiker,” says Tony Digweed, head of North American sales for Iris Corporation, which offers the NightSpotter handheld thermal imaging camera, currently the only handheld model the company offers. “When he comes off the boat he’s going to take his NightSpotter with him, and he’ll use it.”

The NightSpotter offers video output, is waterproof and retails for just under $3,000. The technology that both FLIR and Iris use for their handheld thermal imaging cameras is essentially the same.

Regarding a thermal camera’s resolution—the number of pixels used to capture thermal energy—the higher the resolution (larger number), the more pixels that are gathering energy, so the better image detail and range performance. This means that a higher resolution camera will typically let you see more detail, smaller objects and see them from farther away. With FLIR’s First Mate II MS and HM models, customers can choose 240 x 180 or full 320 x 240 thermal resolution. The Iris NightSpotter offers 384 x 288 thermal resolution.



Iris Corporation:

By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating January 2015

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

panorami aereo CASAECAMPO RESORT

Cruise to Culture and Charisma

Stretching more than four miles along the southeast coast of Hispaniola, and nestled among Cuba, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Puerto Rico, Casa de Campo—a 7,000-acre luxury resort in the Dominican Republic—presents a veritable paradise for cruisers. An esteemed member of the Leading Hotels in the World group, Casa de Campo models itself as “a house in the country”—only quite a bit larger—and renowned Italian architect, designer and sailor Gianfranco Fini’s innovative styling can be seen throughout the grounds. Countless amenities and activities for cruisers include 63 holes of golf— the ever-popular “Teeth of the Dog” golf course is consistently ranked by the pros as one of the world’s best—and with average year-round temperatures ranging from 84-88 degrees, playing 18 on any of the four picturesque golf courses is a real treat. If golf isn’t your game of choice, however, options include an 18-court tennis club, horseback riding, shooting range, and fitness center with Turkish bath and sauna. But the true pièce de résistance for cruisers and fisherman is the impressive Casa de Campo Marina. It’s situated perfectly for easy access to the beautiful surrounding waters from which blue marlin is the predominant catch, as evidenced by a staggering 400-plus blue marlin release count among 18 fishing boats over 61 days last year. Seasoned mariners with the right means will find the voyage to be a feasible venture, especially when armed with the latest copy of A Cruising Guide to the Dominican Republic—Fifth Edition by Frank Virgintino (a free PDF download is available at, and certainly well worth the trek at the other end.

Casa de Campo Marina ( and the Casa de Campo Yacht Club (CCYC) opened their doors in November 2001 and changed Casa de Campo’s culture by attracting a whole new clientele. Architect Gianfranco Fini and business partner Piero Giacosa—now the president of Casa de Campo Marina —approached Casa de Campo’s owners with their vision to develop a marina in a once abandoned area of the grounds, driven by the duo’s passion for the area. “I sail [to] other islands and admire their beauty, but there is always something missing in them. That something is the human warmth that [Casa de Campo] offers in such abundance,” recalls Fini.


Today, the marina’s 22-plus-acres offer 370 slips for yachts up to 250 feet, a stately, two-story colonial-style yacht club with pillared terraces designed to conjure up an atmosphere of days gone by, a 10,000-square-foot boatyard with a 120-ton Travelift, more than 60 shops, a residential community, plus the necessary government authorities to accommodate international check-ins.

Casa de Campo Marina’s Director-General José Gonzalvo works hard to make the CCYC attractive to all visitors whether they’re yacht owners, captains or crew. Guest safety is taken seriously as well. Security is tight from the outside, a welcome feature for cruisers bringing their expensive toys to the locale—and Casa de Campo Marina Marketing Manager, Vilma Nuñez asserts that the marina is one of the few in the world where you can “leave your boat open and not have to worry about anybody [who doesn’t have access] getting into your boat.”

Casa de Campo Marina was specifically designed with the mariner in mind according to Fini. “I have always designed my architectural creations and houses [by] relating to my clients, trying to understand their tastes, their backgrounds,” notes Fini. “When you are designing a marina, you have to be able to construct a mental picture of the ideal situation that a [yachtsman] would like to experience, basing your work on his tastes and preferences.” The result? A paradisiacal Mediterranean marina similar to a quaint European fishing village, but on a much larger scale. In the heart of Casa de Campo Marina, the village’s Piazza Portofino is an interesting Mediterranean and Caribbean blend. The village itself brings a distinct European flavor, forming a horseshoe complete with restaurants, cafés and bars, and longer-term residences overlooking the plaza.

Outside the marina, you can explore the rest of Casa de Campo via resort-supplied golf cart. Popular Altos de Chavón, a 16th-century village replica, offers a dramatic view of the Chavón River and part of the Dye Fore golf course (designed by famous golf course architect, Pete Dye). Cobblestone lanes, beautiful fountains, shade trees, and colorful flowers set the tone throughout the village as you pass by art galleries, museums, the Pope John Paul II-consecrated Church of St. Stanislaus, School of Design Altos de Chavón, and the open-air, 5,000-seat, Frank Sinatra-inaugurated amphitheater.

After exploring Altos de Chavón, go to Minitas Beach—a private white sand beach—to windsurf, snorkel, kayak, paddleboard, or just bask in the Caribbean sun. Catch your breath at Beach Club by Le Cirque for lunch or dinner with a relaxing view of the Caribbean Sea. Or, maybe you want to go horseback riding in fields with fantastic mountain views where bulls and buffalo roam freely. Later, enjoy a nice meal at one of the fine restaurants on location, such as Chinois Restaurant, a Pan-Asian bistro in Piazza Portofino. (Try the lemonade!) Of course, there are a number of great dining options throughout Casa de Campo, whether at the marina, near the hotel lobby, in Altos de Chavón, or at La Casita on Paseo del Mar, which features superb Spanish fare.

Make sure you save an evening and return to Altos de Chavón for dancing and live music. Perhaps a local will even teach you how to merengue. As a farewell to the Dominican Republic, I did just that, where I met Javier—who I wanted to adopt as my grandfather immediately. Dressed in black suspenders, a red bow tie, red spats, and red-rimmed fedora, Javier seemed closer to 45 years old than 85. Not one to leave anyone out, he happily—and patiently—danced with two novice ladies at a time, encouraging and praising them with skilled direction and a permanent but genuine smile on his face, eliminating any trepidation merengue beginners might have. (Don’t worry, gentlemen—pretty young women will do the same thing for you, too!)

Between Casa de Campo’s 370-slip marina, stunning architecture, award-winning golf courses, charming Altos de Chavón village, and other endless ways to have your own tropical adventure, you too can live out Mark Twain’s vision to “explore, dream and discover,” as I did, at one of the Caribbean’s foremost luxury resorts.

By Laura Dunn, Southern Boating July 2013


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