Authors Posts by Stephanie McMillan

Stephanie McMillan


Tea Party Festival

Actors reenact the Boston Tea Part at the Chestertown Tea Party Festival.

A stroll through activities during Chestertown, Maryland’s annual Tea Party Festival is a fine way to celebrate Memorial Day weekend. Every year the festival seems to grow larger and be more fun with so many people gathering to celebrate the meaning of the holiday.

Now in its 39th consecutive year, the Tea Party Festival offers a look back at our colonial past. There will also be local musical entertainment, children’s activities, crafts, wine and beer tastings, and more. The highlight of the weekend is the reenactment of Colonists and Tories as they march to the Chester River. There, they board Chestertown’s 18th-century tall ship, Sultana, to dispatch its cargo of tea overboard. Plenty of anchoring space is available on the Chester River allowing dinghies and paddlers easy access to Wilmer Park right in the heart of the festival.

Festivities start with a street party on Friday evening in front of the Garfield Center for the Arts that includes barbecue, music and children’s activities. Saturday begins with a colonial parade at 10 AM that includes the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and at 2 PM, the tea reenactment begins. Beer and wine tasting starts at noon on Sunday with the much-anticipated raft race on the Chester at 2:30 PM.

By Chris Knauss, Southern Boating May 2018
Photo Courtesy of Chestertown Teas Party

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Louisiana Pirate Festival

An artist's rendering of a pirate for the Louisiana Pirate Festival!

Shiver me timbers, it’s the Louisiana Pirate Festival!

The 2018 Louisiana Pirate Festival dates back to 1957 and was recently voted a “Top 20 Event” by the Southeast Tourism Society. Many Gulf cities have pirate festivals, but Lake Charles has a story to go with it. It is said that Jean Lafitte and his pirates used to hide out in Lake Charles and buried lots of contraband on its shores. Should we start looking?

Every year, citizens of Lake Charles fight the invading pirates. Cannons boom and festivities are widespread, but the good citizens always lose and the mayor is forced to walk the plank.

Cruisers can reserve a fully-serviced slip at Bord du Lac Marina on the eastern shore of Lake Charles. With 40 transient boat slips, the marina is only a short walk to the festival held in and around the Lake Charles Civic Center.

From May 3-13, tempting Cajun food beckons up and down Galley Alley while uplifting Louisiana music swirls in the air, much of it live. Saturday, May 5th salutes mariners with a boat parade and the “Show Us Your Dinghy” contest. The “Dress Like a Pirate” parade takes to the streets on Sunday.

Children have extra fun things to do at McDonald’s Little Matey Children’s Area with Captain Crabbe where they can join in the Pirates Got Talent competition and the “How to Play with Your Food” cooking class.

The inaugural Louisiana Pirate Festival Costume Ball will take place at the appropriately named Buccaneer Room of the Civic Center on Friday, May 11th. Tickets begin at $45 and proceeds benefit the St. Nicholas Center for Children.

Arrgh, matey! Let the fun begin.

By Bill AuCoin, Southern Boating May 2018

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Dolphinfish Tagging in the Caribbean

A man catching a mahi-mahi as part of the Caribbean's Dolphinfish tagging project

Participate in the Caribbean Dolphinfish Tagging Initiative

The Dolphinfish Research Program (DRP) is running the latest study of Dolphinfish, sometimes known as Mahi-Mahi. DRP is the largest private research program aimed specifically at better understanding the movements, population dynamics and life history of dolphin fish around the world. They will be doing so with a dolphinfish tagging initiative.

In the U.S. waters of the Caribbean Sea, namely Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the program has been active since 2008 and deployed seven satellites and nine acoustic tags and has had 150 participants tag and release 742 dolphinfish. Since 2016, twenty vessels have contributed detailed catch information from more than 697 offshore fishing trips.

“The northeast Caribbean Sea is a key location to continue to expand the DRP to further describe local movements and regional connectivity with not only northern Caribbean Islands and the United States, but within the Caribbean Sea as a whole, which is largely unknown,” says Wessley Merten, Ph.D., director and president of the DRP, based in Rockville, MD.

Anglers who catch dolphinfish in U.S. Caribbean waters can participate in the dolphinfish tagging initiative. Send a photo and a brief description to Merten at, on Facebook @tagdolphinfish or Twitter @dolphintagging. He and his team will incorporate the report into the DRP’s bi-monthly posts. Anglers who want to tag and release small dolphin can also request a tagging kit by emailing Merten or calling (787) 436-8300.

By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating May 2018

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World Famous Blue Crab Festival

An image of a painted blue crab from the World Famous Blue Crab Festival in Little River, South Carolina

World Famous Blue Crab Festival

If you love crabs, you’ll want to be in Little River, South Carolina, May 19-20 for the 37th Annual World Famous Blue Crab Festival. Event organizers say: “What began in 1981 as a small waterfront gathering, has grown into a premier event that draws visitors from all over the country.” It is not the “World Famous” Blue Crab Festival.

Bring your family & friends to enjoy fresh, local seafood from a waterfront restaurant or get your favorite festival food fix. Enjoy scenic views, live entertainment, and shop for a unique souvenir or gift from a crafter. A kids zone will offer a variety of entertainment & activities.

This year’s festival is expected to attract more than 50,000 people with food, music and more. The commercial crabbing industry and the hard-working watermen who have supported this community appreciate the recognition this festival brings to their trade.

Besides being one heck of a good party, The World Famous Blue Crab Festival is continually voted as one of the best events along the South Carolina coast. The event also serves as a fund-raiser for local needs and nonprofit groups.

By Bob Arrington, Southern Boating May 2018
Photo: Little River Chamber of Commerce

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Lose Onboard Weight

Lighten the load and lose the onboard weight for improved boat performance

Once your boat is back in the water, don’t undo the good your yard has done by carrying around unnecessary weight in your storage compartments. Do some spring cleaning, empty out the closets and compartments, and get lose onboard weight.

Here’s the skinny on tips to help both your wallet and boat performance. Remember the slogan: Lighter boat = fatter wallet.

What’s the big deal over a few extra pounds? Your body can’t function at peak efficiency Southern Boating's Annual Haul Out Guidewhen lugging around a keg instead of six-pack abs, and your boat is no different. While the effects of excess weight are bad enough for full displacement hulls, the negative effects are even worse for faster boats with lighter, planing hulls. Boats are designed to perform their best with a specific payload in mind. An overweight boat rides low on her lines. This increases the wetted surface of the hull which, in turn, increases friction between the hull and water and reduces speed and fuel efficiency.

An image of free weights
Lose the weight(s)!


Lighten your load.
If it’s time to put your boat on a diet, start to lose onboard weight by going through all cabinets, lockers and storage compartments to see what items you really need on board. The goal here is to ditch the excess weight while maintaining acceptable levels of equipment to maintain safety and comfort. Be realistic, and consider your near future boating plans when reviewing items to keep or purge. There’s no better place to start your boat diet than in the galley. Sure you’ve got enough pots, pans, and gadgets to cook a seven-course meal, but how often have you actually done so? The same thing goes for all those extra cooking supplies, canned goods and that bulk purchase 10-pound bag of sugar that was on sale. Will you actually use them anytime soon?

Books and boats just go together, but rather than maintaining a complete library on board, how about only bringing the ones you’ll need for one trip and keep the rest ashore? Better yet, download them to your iPad or Kindle to save even more weight.

Items that may seem inconsequential weight-wise can add up before you know it. Do you really need two dozen towels, three changes of bed linens, five blankets, and all those throw pillows? Go through your hanging lockers and see what clothes have actually been worn in the past year, and ask yourself if you really need five sun hats.

Next up, take a hard look at your engine and boat spares as well as maintenance items. You’ll want to make sure you have the prudent and proper amount of spares and tools on board, but unless you’re going on an extended cruise, remove those “just in case” duplicates or stock, such as extra oil, spare hardware, and rarely used tools; they can add up to significant weight savings. The same is true for routine maintenance items and cleaning supplies (paints, varnishes, shop vacs, and the like), which would be better stored in a dock box or at home until necessary.

Tanks for the idea.
Another great place to realize some huge onboard weight savings is your vessel’s tankage. You always want to have enough fuel on board, but if you’re doing shorter trips, why take on a full tank of fuel and lug around the extra weight? Buy only as much fuel as needed plus a bit of reserve, and avoid the temptation to burn extra fuel because you have a full tank. It may mean more trips to the fuel dock, but you’ll save money in the long run.

Employ a similar mindset when it comes to your water tanks. A gallon of water weighs more than eight pounds, so why drag around a full tank when you’re only going on a day trip? As any good plumber will tell you, “it ain’t just water that rolls downhill,” so what about that full holding tank? Pumping it after every trip will reduce both weight and unwanted smells.

Coolers and live wells present another opportunity. Why use 100 lbs. of ice if 50 lbs. will do, or why bring a case of sodas if you only drink four or five per trip? Keeping your live well empty unless you actually have bait seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed by what some boat owners unthinkingly do out of sheer habit.

Balance what’s left.
Once you’ve removed all of that excess onboard weight, distribute the remaining gear to best balance the boat. This not only improves the ride but also saves fuel by allowing non-displacement boats to get up on a plane more quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask passengers to shift around to accomplish this, and, if installed, learn how to properly use trim tabs for maximum planing efficiency.

Keep the mindset.
Like any diet, once the weight is off, it’s easy to backslide and start packing it on again, especially when looking at all that empty storage space. Keep that rebound onboard weight gain in check by paying attention to all the stuff that tries to find its way back on board. It’s also a good idea to clean out your storage lockers at the beginning of each season to get rid of stuff you really don’t need. Keep the weight off, and both your boat and your wallet will thank you.

Ditch the parachute.
While not a weight reduction issue, boats with planing hulls can also improve their fuel economy by lowering their Bimini top while running. That big, shady top may be horizontal while at the dock, but it will be angled and act like a huge parachute while underway. Dropping it when running fast on longer trips and then raising it once you reach your destination will significantly improve your boat’s fuel efficiency.

By Frank Lanier, Southern Boating March 2018

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