Stephanie McMillan, Author at Southern Boating & Yachting
Authors Posts by Stephanie McMillan

Stephanie McMillan


Go South for Scuba

scuba, scuba dive, where to scuba, where to dive
Christmas Island: photo by Kara Murphy

If you’re a scuba diving enthusiast, your daydreams may feature a yacht, land-based luxury, racing fish-filled currents, calmer conditions, staggering depths, sunlight-filled shallows, inquisitive marine life or probably some combination of all of these. Whatever your preferred base and dive profile, add these six diving locations in the Southern  Hemisphere to your underwater bucket list.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Off Indonesia’s West Papua province, the 15,000-square-mile Raja Ampat archipelago has tremendous marine biodiversity: more than 75 percent of the world’s hard coral species, half of the world’s soft corals, 1,500 fish species, and 700 mollusk species.
Another heartwarming feature is its status as Indonesia’s first shark sanctuary; sea turtles, rays and dugongs are also protected.

While scuba sites are superb throughout the archipelago, Misool in the south has some of the best. Explore swim-throughs and say hello to Papuan scorpionfish at the Dunia Kecil (“small world”) site. Become mesmerized by otherworldly soft coral gardens at Whale Rock, and meet multitudes of fish—barracuda, Spanish mackerel and more—flying through Karang  Bayangan’s currents. Between dives, ease into a lake filled with ethereal jellyfish, their sting so mild it’s undetectable.

October – April

Beautifully crafted, 167-foot Dunia Baru has seven ensuite cabins and is an ideal base for remote dive adventures.

Ari Atoll, Maldives

For wonders on a grand scale, head to Ari Atoll, one of 26 natural atolls in the remote and vulnerable 1,190-island Maldives archipelago. Whale sharks cruise its outer edge year-round; if you’re lucky, you’ll swim close to the planet’s biggest fish, awed by their
might and magnificence.  However, this atoll has smaller delights as well. At the Hafsa Thila dive site, for example, hundreds of psychedelically colored anemones and anemonefish create a striking dream world. At nearby sites, giant moray eels, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and fish—fusiliers, butterflyfish, tangs, parrotfi sh, and more—add to the enchantment. Migratory reef manta rays are also common, and one manta event is well worth a detour. Between June and November, at high tide during the full and new
moon, up to 200 hungry rays gather for plankton feeding frenzies in Baa Atoll’s Hanifaru Bay, so add this to your scuba itinerary, if possible.

Year-round, although seas tend to be calmest in March.

128-foot Four Seasons Explorer has 10 staterooms and one suite. Charter her or book a place on a scheduled cruise.

Christmas Island, Australia

With a narrow fringing reef harboring 600 species of fi sh, 88 species of pristine coral, caves, and steep walls plummeting to the deep sea, remote Christmas Island—in the Indian Ocean and closer to Indonesia than the Australian mainland—offers a bounty
of dive sites…64 altogether. These include the Rhoda Wall, which begins at 60 feet and descends to 10 times that; Daniel Roux, a lively coral outcrop; and the Thunderdome
and Thundercliff caves. The former cave has a dark, air-filled chamber in its inner reaches; rise for a breath here and let your imagination toy with its chair-shaped natural formation known as “Neptune’s Seat.” Does a sea goddess rule from here?

November to April for whale sharks; November for the red crab migration; and May to October if you’re visiting via yacht.

Christmas Island Wet’n’Dry Adventures offers daily dive trips.

Similan and Surin Islands, Thailand

To sample Thailand’s best scuba diving, venture into the Andaman Sea, about 40 miles west of Khao Lak, where 11 granite boulder islands (the Similans) attract boatloads of divers and snorkelers, thanks to the good visibility, intriguing underwater boulders, coral gardens, and other marine life.

Hin Muan Deaw (“whole roll of film rock”), a sea fan and soft coral-covered rock near islands No. 5 and No. 6, and West Ridge (near No. 10), which features a manta cleaning station, are just a couple must-visit sites. The area’s most exquisite dive, though, is 40 miles north, in Mu Ko Surin National Park. Here, Richelieu Rock—a flat, horseshoe-shaped, sedimentary limestone rock draped in pink, red and purple corals—rewards divers
with a dizzying display of fish as well as turtles, manta rays, moray eels, and scorpionfish.

The Similan Islands are only open to visitors from November to mid-May with best visibility between December and March.

Dunia Baru can include the Similan Islands on charters traveling to or from Myanmar’s Merguiarchipelago.

Rainbow Reef, Fiji

Fiji is blessed with more than 4,000 square miles of coral reef and more
than 1,000 fi sh species. Dive sites are scattered throughout the 333-island
archipelago; however, make Rainbow Reef, in the narrow Somosomo Strait
between Vanua Levu and Taveuni, your first stop. Here, about 20 scuba sites are
spread along its southern section. The abundance of soft coral is the result of
water rushing through the channel during tidal shifts, thus providing nutrients
for the marine life.

The Great White Wall—a scenic vertical wall of soft, white corals—is the most famous site and is best experienced during low slack tide, when the current is minimal and the soft corals are visible. After descending to 49 feet, you’ll enter a swim-through filled with soldierfish and fairy basslets. Exiting at about 82 feet, turn left and begin drifting along the spectacular wall, which extends to depths of more than 130 feet. Remember to move away from the wall at least once to properly witness its grandeur.

April – October; check with your dive guide for the best tidal window for the Great White Wall.

Laucala Island, a 40-minute boat ride from the Great White Wall, offers diving day trips and glamorous villas.

Lady Elliot Island, Australia

If close scuba encounters with manta rays and sea turtles sound like your version of heaven, book a trip to Lady Elliot Island, a coral cay on the southernmost Great Barrier Reef. Expect to fall in love as reef manta rays dance elegantly around cleaning stations such as Lighthouse Bommie; for the ultimate treat, visit in the Austral winter and early
spring, when humpback whales migrate along Australia’s East Coast. Their song, audible on nearly every dive, will fill your senses. Keep your fins crossed that one swims past before you surface.

July and August

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort offers dives twice daily.

Ocean Alliance represents a number of yachts that charter on the Great Barrier Reef.

Story and photos by Kara Murphy, Southern Boating September 2017

Should you replace or repair your generator?

Should you replace or repair your generator

To repair your generator or to replace your generator…that is the question.

It’s a dilemma many generators of a certain age present to their owners. The genset prompts so many service calls that Joe the mechanic feels like a member of the family, and you’re beginning to question its reliability. Should you replace your generator? Should you replace it? Here are a few points to consider when making your decision.

How’d we get here?
Before deciding whether to repair or replace the ailing generator, let’s look at how we likely got to this point and, hopefully, how we can avoid a repeat in the future. “One of the most common causes of problems with generators is lack of use,” says Tom Sutherland, director of sales and marketing for Westerbeke Corporation. “It’s not unusual
to talk with customers having problems only to discover that the root cause is infrequent use.” In other words, a two-year-old generator with 1,000 hours of operation is usually less susceptible to trouble than a two-year-old generator with 100 hours of use.

While gasoline and diesel generators have different characteristics, typically the more a generator is used (assuming proper maintenance, of course), the more likely it will provide better performance and enjoy a longer service life. It’s important to note that engine and cooling system components (seals, fuel pumps, heat exchangers, etc.) also tend to deteriorate and fail sooner with minimal use.

Operating in salt water versus fresh water is also a factor. Salt water takes a greater toll on your generator, particularly the cooling and exhaust systems. Corrosion can also be a major issue for units operating in salt water. Moisture damage can occur not only to the unit’s exterior but also to the generator’s electrical systems (both AC and DC).

Units that have suffered extensive moisture damage should likely be replaced. Even if initial repairs appear to be successful, water can migrate along wires and cable runs causing corrosion and future reliability issues, such as those dreaded “intermittent problems” which can take so much time and money to track down.

Factors to consider: In general, if you’re facing major engine or electrical repairs to a generator that’s more than five years old, replacement might be a better option. Depending on the extent of the fixes, you may find that the cost of replacement versus repairs is not that far apart.  There could be other existing factors that can effectively reduce this gap even further. Here are some to think about:

Reliability: Is your current generator trustworthy or do you silently mouth a prayer each time you hit the start button? If your generator (as Captain Ron puts it) “loves her oil
same as a sailor loves rum” or is in need of significant repairs, now may be the time to replace.

Parts and service availability: Locating parts for an older, outdated generator can be an ordeal, as well as finding someone with the knowledge to work on it.

Old school versus cutting-edge: Replacement allows you to enjoy the latest technology—from greener efficiency and fuel economy to less vibration and quieter operation— typically in a smaller, lighter package. Even if you crunch the numbers and can save a few bucks by completing a major overhaul of your current unit, you’ll still wind up with an old-model generator—one without the golden umbrella of a factory warranty.

Long-term goals: Consider how long you intend to keep the boat, as well as your future plans (such as extended cruising). For those thinking about sailing off into the sunset in search of paradise and tropical drinks, the peace of mind that comes with replacing an aging, questionable generator can be a significant factor.

Other vessel upgrades: If your future plans include installation of new, power-hungry equipment (another airconditioning unit, gyrostabilizer, etc.), your existing generator
may not be able to meet the additional power requirements.

The bottom line: The decision to repair or replace can be boiled down to comparing the price of installing a new generator with the cost to fix your current unit and keep it running reliably.

For an older generator that continuously needs improvement or provides questionable service, think about a replacement. However, “if the set is used frequently,  operated properly and well-maintained,” says Sutherland, “the occasional non-maintenance-type repair is expected and worth the investment.” Just keep in mind that many non- disposable components (water pumps, heat exchangers, cooling hoses, mounting isolators, and exhaust systems) do have a finite service life and will need to be replaced at some point.

Choose wisely: If you decide to replace your generator, always consult the manufacturer or an authorized representative as part of the selection process to determine which model best suits your current (and future) power needs. A generator that’s too small will be constantly laboring to meet demands, leading to poor performance and a shorter service life. Conversely, installing a generator that’s too large will lead to “underloading” problems, such as carbon buildup in the engine, incomplete fuel combustion, and overall inefficient operation.


Cummins Onan



Northern Lights




By Frank Lanier, Southern Boating September 2017

40th Annual St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show

St. Pete Boat Show

As the holiday season kicks off, the largest in-water boat show on Florida’s magnificent Gulf Coast will take place for four days for the St. Pete Boat Show, well-known for its beautiful beaches along popular Tampa Bay.

From Thursday, November 30th to Sunday, December 3rd, the 40th Annual St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show will line Florida’s west coast waterfront at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park. Thinking about what to give your boat-loving friend or family member for the holidays?

Ideas for the perfect nautical gift are all around. The show offers a wide selection of powerboats and sailboats in the water and on land, including family cruisers, fishing boats, personal watercraft, and more. A 40,000-square-foot tent will display a large variety of boating products, marine gear, electronics, apparel, and accessories as well. Boaters can participate in numerous special events and exhibits offered, such as daily free marine seminars.

Be sure to bring the kids along to attend the fun and educational activities at the youth fishing clinics presented by the nonprofit organization Hook the Future. All participants ages 15 and younger will receive a free rod and reel. While you’re in St. Petersburg, take some time to visit a few of the city’s popular attractions like the Salvador Dali Museum and Locale Market, a 20,000-square-foot marketplace offering the region’s finest artisanal foods.

Jump on the Suncoast Beach Trolley for a tour of the area or just relax on one of the gorgeous beaches—no matter what you do, you’re guaranteed to have fun in the sun at the St. Pete Boat Show! For more information, or to purchase tickets online, visit

Boat Show Schedule
Thursday, November 30: 10AM-6PM
Friday, December 1: 10AM-6PM
Saturday, December 2: 10AM-7PM
Sunday, December 3: 10AM-5PM
FREE: “Kids Experience” for ages 15 and younger
FREE: veterans and active duty military
$17 for ages 16 and older
NOTE: No pets allowed except for guide dogs and licensed, working dogs.

Story by Bonnie Schultz, Southern Boating November 2017 PHOTO: FOREST JOHNSON

Krogen 50 Open

Kadey Krogen 50 Open


Kadey-Krogen Yachts has been building trawlers that can cross oceans for more than 40 years, but the new Kadey Krogen 50 Open (LOA: 52′ 9″; Beam: 17′ 5″) is a Krogen you haven’t seen before. Not a modification of the longstanding 48s or popular 52, the 50′ Open expands the company’s offerings to those who desire a continuous layout from the salon to pilothouse. Forward of the salon and galley, the pilothouse is elevated by a single step and can be part of the social space or closed o with a partition during night time passages.

Below-decks is a two- or three-stateroom layout with the master either amidships or forward. Aft is a walk-in engine room with generous six-and-a-half feet of headroom. Power from either a single 231-hp or twin 125-hp John Deere engines push the full displacement hull to a top speed of 9.4 knots. At its cruising speed of 8 knots, the 50′ Open will go 2,100 nautical miles. Other highlights include port and starboard wing stations, a Portuguese bridge and a flybridge modeled after the new Krogen 58′ EB (extended bridge).

The first hull will be delivered this fall to Kadey-Krogen’s vice president, Larry Polster, and make her boat show debut in Miami in February 2018.

Go back to the list of Top Ten Cruisers.

Cheoy Lee Global 104

Cheoy Lee Global 104 Pilothouse

Cheoy Lee Global 104 Pilothouse

When the owner of an 84-foot Cheoy Lee returned to the yard for his next and bigger yacht, he had a long list of demands. Instead of compromising, the yard’s designers turned to naval architect Jon Overing and interior designer Sylvia Bolton to come up with something entirely new.

The result is this Global 104 Pilothouse (LOA: 103′ 10″; Beam: 22′) with unprecedented interior volume and clever design solutions that gave the owner everything on his wish list. In addition to a salon and dining area, the main deck encompasses both a large country kitchen as well as a full-beam owner’s suite with his-and-hers heads.

Up top, the spacious skylounge was designed to seat 15 around the focal point of a 75-inch television. Below-decks are four guest staterooms, with crew quarters for five aft. Drawing less than six feet for Bahamas cruising, the Global 104 has twin 1,900-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs that give it a swift top speed of over 25 knots.

At a more sedate 11 knots, the Global 104 can make it 2,400 nautical miles, thanks to integral fuel tanks with 5,200-gallon capacity.

Go back to the list of Top Ten Cruisers.