Authors Posts by Stephanie McMillan

Stephanie McMillan


Northeast Boat Parades

northeast boat parades

There are quite a few northeast boat parades this winter.

Most encourage participants to deck out their vessels with lights, decorations, and adornments that add to the jovial spirit, and may also include a visit from jolly old St. Nick. Check out these northeast boat parades.

New York

In New York, Long Island’s South Shore boating families will enjoy the 25th Annual Christmas Holiday Parade of Boats on Sunday, November 18th. More than two dozen decorated boats ease down the Patchogue River competing for a variety of titles, including Best Overall Decorations, Best in Theme, Best Lights, and People’s Choice. This year’s theme is “A Hollywood Christmas!” There’s a $35 fee to compete, but viewing is free on the water and from Sandspit Town Park or Fire Island National Seashore. Festivities shove off from Off Key Tikki Bar and West Bank Marina at 6 PM. Santa brings up the stern end of the parade and visits both land-based viewing areas.

Long Island’s North Shore crews will surely want to check out the Huntington Lighthouse Parade of Lights on November 23rd. It’s a glow-in-the-dark maritime extravaganza drawing scores of boaters and thousands of landlubbers to the shores of Huntington Harbor to increase awareness about the ongoing preservation efforts at the lighthouse. The parade features several categories of prizes for those willing to ante up the $50 boat registration fee. Homes and businesses along the harbor also join in the decorating and merriment, and many host house or deck parties as part of the fundraiser. Start time is 6 PM in front of the Harbor Boating Club.

Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island’s 21st Annual Illuminated Holiday Harbor Lights Boat Parade sets sail from the Newport Yacht Club at 6:15 PM on Friday, November 23rd. Local shops, restaurants, and a holiday stroll will be open both before and after the parade with many offering special discounts. This year’s event features Caribbean Christmas and holiday tunes played on a steel pan by the group Panoramic View while over 20 boats vie for the Best Decorated award. Boaters can view the parade from anywhere within the harbor, and landlubbers can get a good look from numerous shore access points, including Bowen’s Wharf.

northeast boat parades
A Connecticut tugboat takes on the boat parade game.


If you boat in the Nutmeg State, you’ll be privy to the Santa Arrives By Tugboat and Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on November 24th. Thousands gather at Mystic River Park to watch Santa arrive at 2PM on the John Paul, a 60-foot tugboat. There’s a Christmas tree lighting at 6PM, followed by decorated vessels sliding down the Mystic River at 6:20PM before returning to Mystic River Park. Boats are judged on creativity and team spirit, and prizes are offered in several categories, including Most Charismatic Crew, Innovative Vessel and Miss Mystic Vessel of Grandeur. Contest entry is free with proof of boat insurance.

northeast boat parades
A Maine lobster boat dons ye gay apparel.


Even Maine, where the weather after dark is already noticeably cooler than in southern New England, has a boat parade scheduled. The 33rd Booth Bay Harbor Lights Festival on December 1st sees Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by sea along with a cast of characters including elves, moose, lobsters, and more. You’ll find horse-drawn carriage rides, a craft show, tree lighting, and caroling before the evening concludes with a lighted boat parade at 5PM that’s guaranteed to warm your crew on a chilly December evening. Entry in the parade competition is free, and all boats that sign up receive a $35 gas card toward expenses.

By Tom Schlichter, Southern Boating November 2018

Grace Runs Deep at River Dunes

Harbor Club at River Dunes

River Dunes on Grace Harbor

The true Southern hospitality and ample amenities River Dunes on Grace Harbor will leave a lasting memory.

The well-known towns of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast typically get most of the credit as cruiser hotspots. But along the Intracoastal Waterway, tucked within the Neuse River off the Pamlico Sound, sits a remarkable hidden gem. It’s one that won’t stay hidden for long. River Dunes Resort and Marina on Grace Harbor is putting Oriental, North Carolina, on the map as a premier marina resort destination—and for good reason.

As you cruise along the Atlantic Coast, set aside few extra days to see the property’s recent re-design.

A Pleasant Surprise

River Dunes aims to enhance the cruiser’s lifestyle, and it shows through with lush landscaping, architectural design features, gourmet meals, fully outfitted facilities, and some of the friendliest staff I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Fellow cruisers on the property agree that it’s more of an experience than a marina.

For transient cruisers, the best part is that they’re welcome to use all club members’ amenities at no additional cost. In fact, one cruiser discovered the benefits of River Dunes quite unexpectedly.

While on his fifth summer voyage from Miami to the Hamptons in his beloved boat he refers to as “his best girl,” Davar experienced what every cruiser dreads: engine trouble.

He was within reach of his usual mooring but decided on River Dunes Marina because it was closer to his next stop in Maryland, and he hoped to avoid time lost the next day. Davar was struck by the quality of the marina and by the beauty and charm surrounding the quaint resort, but more so by the professional and friendly staff. He was so impressed, he stayed an additional two days even after his engines were ready.

“I had no clue this place was here, so it was the most pleasant surprise,” he says. “I had to call my girlfriend and tell her I would be a few days late because I couldn’t bring myself to leave here yet.” While he finished a glass of red wine and homemade white chocolate raspberry cheesecake at the Harbor Club restaurant, he shared his intention to take advantage of all the newly renovated facilities open to guests; he especially anticipated the state-of-the-art gym that overlooks the harbor.

What’s in Store

In addition to the new luxurious spa and wellness facility that offers a sauna and steam room, guests can find just about any activity to fill their time. If you haven’t quite overdosed on saltwater fun, grab one of the many available canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Stretch your sea legs with a leisurely bicycle ride along the 28 lush waterfront acres, or play a game of tennis on one of two brand-new, lighted Har-Tru tennis courts. If you prefer a little more relaxation, lounge under one of the covered cabanas and order food and drinks poolside, then take a dip in the pool or hot tub. The pool area also offers a brand-new bar area to grab an adult libation.

To beat the heat in the middle of the day, opt for lunch inside YAWL’S Cafe, where Scarlett and Lauren are eager to take your order. Then stroll over to the Harbor Village and browse at the Grace Harbor Provisions Company. In addition to a fine dining restaurant, the Harbor Club is also home to a library, billiards table, event space, and screened-in porch with a fireplace to wind down after a day on the water.

Something that makes this place extra special is the variety of accommodations. River Dunes is part of the award-winning Palm Hill Group. That includes breathtaking homes, future home sites, leased and transient boat slips, cottage rentals, and hotel rooms. One couple who keeps their boat at River Dunes full-time arranged their family reunion on the property. The rental cottages and bunkies provided the perfect option to house all their out-of-town family not staying on a boat.

Dry Land

Accommodations range from one-bedroom cottages with mini kitchenettes and sitting areas to multiple bedroom bunkies with full kitchens and living rooms. There’s something to suit any need. Spa-like finishes with personal décor touches lend to the ideal blend of a luxury resort and cozy home feel. A laundry room is also available on property in what will soon be the new cruisers’ lounge area. Free Wi-Fi is available in the marina slips, pool, harbor club, village center, and all rentals.

Use the property’s courtesy car to venture into town for supplies or just a fun visit. A 10-minute drive will take you into the quiet town of Oriental, famed for its deep sailing roots. Along the main road of Broad Street, food provisions are available at a nice Piggly Wiggly supermarket, and just beyond, boat supplies can be found at the West Marine.

If you crave Italian food, The Silos Restaurant across from West Marine hits the spot. They make homemade pizzas and pasta (featuring fresh local seafood) as well as the typical American fare with many local and imported beers on tap. O’Town Restaurant is a few minutes farther into town and its outdoor accommodations with a pub-type feel and a band draws in all the locals, so grab a seat when you can. On a quieter street, the unassuming M&M’s Cafe is a good old-fashioned American seafood grill with fried hushpuppy baskets that will feed the whole table.

A Crown Jewel

As you enter back onto the property, you will notice a distinct difference from the surrounding town. And it’s not because of the friendly ponies that greet you from their nearby pasture. It’s clear River Dunes offers the luxuries, relaxation, professionalism, and sophistication of a private club, but stays true to their roots. Their goal of excellence is certainly achieved in the layout, attention to design detail, service, and resident and cruiser amenities.

River Dunes is truly a breath of fresh air and the crown jewel for cruisers near  Oriental, North Carolina. The property’s management and staff have their eyes set on continued expansion and advancement. The goal? Be the area’s most sought-after, full-service destination resort and marina. As more delighted cruisers discover this sweet spot, it’s easy to imagine all the success and accolades River Dunes will receive.

Here on Grace Harbor, grace does, indeed, run deep.

By Christine Carpenter, Southern Boating September 2018

Cruiser Resources

River Dunes Marina on Grace Harbor
MM173 in Oriental, NC
Monitors VHF 16 & 72
(800) 348-7618 or (252) 249-4908


  • ICW access
  • Accommodates vessels up to 150′ LOA and 7′ draft
  • Floating docks
  • 500ft. fuel dock with high-speed diesel, gasoline and pump out
  • 30-50-100-200 amp service
  • Steam showers
  • Laundry service
  • Courtesy cars
  • Direct Wi-Fi to boat slips

How to Install a Transom Shower on Your Boat

Install a Transom Shower

Install a transom shower to rinse away the sand, cool off from the hot sun and wash away the salt.

Boating in and of itself is a great time, but everyone knows the fun really begins after arriving at that favorite anchorage. The kids want to go kayaking, the dog wants to swim and hairy Uncle Joe visiting from Jersey wants to go snorkeling (while hopefully avoiding last year’s backward thong fiasco).The downside to all this fun is the salt, sand, and muck tracked on board at the end of the day, that is, unless you have a transom shower.

But if you don’t have one, installing a transom shower is a project that’s within the ability of the average DIYer. Here’s a look at what’s involved and the various options available.

Transom showers can use saltwater or plumb directly into an existing freshwater system as well as provide hot and cold water. Although you can cobble a system together, the simplest way to install a transom shower is by purchasing a kit. Kit parts may vary slightly but at a minimum will contain a recessed enclosure, a showerhead or nozzle (fitted with a length of retractable hose), and valves for hot and cold water control.

The Setup

The installation itself is pretty straightforward; however, as with any project, you’ll want to thoroughly plan out and visualize it prior to beginning. Start by gathering a few basic tools, such as a tape measure, pencil, drill, bits, jigsaw, wrenches, Channellock pliers, screwdrivers, and a hose cutter or sharp knife. As for parts, you’ll need two barbed hose “T” fittings, appropriate lengths of hot and cold water hose (assuming a hot and cold shower installation), stainless steel hose clamps and a tube of marine-grade adhesive sealant such as 3M 5200.

Location, Location

The first decision is to select a location for the shower. Look for a flat surface near the swim platform, transom or cockpit, one with enough depth behind it to accept the shower enclosure and enough room in front to allow the shower enclosure’s lid (if so equipped) to swing open. Double check to make sure you won’t be cutting or drilling into anything unexpected (wiring, hoses, rod holder, etc.).

Choose a location that allows the shower head to reach a convenient height for ease of use (you can verify this by using a piece of line cut the same length as the shower hose), but avoid areas above electrical equipment or other such items that could be damaged by water leaks or drips should they occur. Accessibility to the area (in order to run the hoses) is another consideration.


Most shower kits include a template to assist with cutting the hole. You can also make your own by tracing the outline of the enclosure and marking the location of the mounting holes to assist with drilling. Place the template where you want to mount the enclosure, tape it in place and then cut the hole. When cutting and mounting in solid fiberglass, simply apply a bead of sealant around the inside flange of the enclosure to seal out water. If the area is of cored construction (balsa, plywood, etc.), you also want to seal the edges of the hole (thickened epoxy works well) to prevent water intrusion into the coring and the possibility of rot or other core related issues in the future.

Once the hole is cut, dry fit the enclosure, drill the mounting holes and install the mounting hardware to ensure everything fits properly. If adequate access exists behind the enclosure, you can mount it now and connect the water system hoses afterward. If not, you’ll need to plumb the shower prior to mounting.

For our purposes, let’s assume you have plenty of access and want to mount the enclosure first. Start by applying a liberal bead of caulk along the mounting flange. Carefully install the enclosure and tighten the mounting hardware until caulk begins to ooze out, then stop. Most folks want to crank down until whatever they are mounting is tight, but this approach squeezes out most (if not all) of the caulk. A better approach is to snug it up and let the caulk cure. This forms a gasket and provides a better seal.

As a final touch, remove the mounting bolts or screws one at a time and coat the threads liberally with sealant prior to that final tightening.


Once the enclosure is mounted and the shower assembled (normally involves simply connecting the shower head to the hose, which is then screwed into the enclosure), locate the nearest access to the vessel’s hot and cold water system, allowing the shortest, straightest run possible to the new shower.

Once you’ve located a promising spot, turn off and secure power to the water pressure pump. Next, cut the hoses and install the “T” fittings (securing each with stainless steel clamps). Then run the respective hoses back to the shower and support each hose with wire ties and mounts or cushioned stainless-steel clamps every 12 to 16 inches or so. Once everything is connected, power up the water pressure pump and inspect the system for leaks. Now you’re ready to hose down the kids, dog and Uncle Joe with your new transom shower.

By Frank Lanier, Southern Boating August 2018

Maintenance Check

Time for a maintenance check. Don’t skip these oft-forgotten items

There’s a lot of terrestrial-based wisdom that just doesn’t ring true when it comes to boats. “Out of sight, out of mind,” “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” and “Let sleeping dogs lie” are all perfect examples of advice not to heed when planning your boat’s maintenance. In an effort to protect you from old wives and their tales, here are three often neglected items that can ruin your boating day quicker than stepping on a crack can cause you to cry over spilled milk. Just do a maintenance check.

Maintenance Check  #1: Anchor rode and connections

No matter what you enjoy doing on the water, there’s one need all boaters have in common: the ability to anchor safely and securely. Unfortunately, the other thing they often have in common is poorly maintained or unserviceable ground tackle.

an image of a bad anchor rode splice
The splice is NOT right.

While the anchor typically enjoys a place of prominence at the bow, the anchor rode is relegated to the dark, dank recesses of the anchor locker. In a nutshell, its purpose is to connect the boat to the anchor.

Most boats use a combination rode, which is simply a rope rode with a length of chain between it and the anchor. The chain protects the rope portion of the rode from chafe along rough seabeds and adds weight that increases horizontal pull and helps the anchor remain set. Three-strand nylon is most commonly used for anchor rode. It’s strong, provides more elasticity than a braided line (which absorb the sudden loads and jerks of a bouncing boat), is more easily spliced, and is less expensive.

Your anchoring system is only as strong as its weakest component, which includes not only the rode, but also shackles, splices, chains, mooring bitts, cleats, and, in short, any gear used to secure your boat while at anchor. Proper maintenance includes inspection of these items as well as pulling the rode from the anchor locker and inspecting it at least annually. Check rope rodes for wear, hard spots, cut strands, aging, discoloration, etc. Chafe is rope’s worst enemy, so you’ll also want to inspect hawseholes, chocks, cleats, and windlasses for burrs, sharp edges or anything else that can cause rope damage.

Maintenance Check #2: Stuffing box

Stuffing boxes (aka packing glands) are victims of their own reliability. They carry on so well with such little attention that many boat owners don’t realize they need regularly scheduled maintenance.

Leaking Stuffing Box could have been prevented with a maintenance check
Warning: leaking stuffing box

The purpose of the stuffing box is to allow the propeller shaft to exit the hull while keeping water out. The shaft is sealed by compressing packing material against it, most often by using a hollow nut that screws onto the inboard side of the shaft tube or a tightening arrangement that uses a plate secured by nuts and studs on either side of the shaft. The more you tighten either type of gland, the more the packing material gets compressed against the shaft. Most packing consists of a square plaited material and comes either as traditional greased (or waxed) flax or a more modern version impregnated with Teflon.

Water helps lubricate the packing material, so it’s okay for a stuffing box to leak a few drips (three to four per minute) while the vessel is underway. More than that amount (say 10 drops per minute) or any drips while the shaft isn’t turning indicate the need for maintenance. A stuffing box leak can cause everything from corrosion (the spinning shaft slings excess water all over the engine compartment) to sinkings, particularly if the boat is left unattended in the water for long periods of time.

Maintenance Check #3: Packing Material

Packing material hardens over time (as the lubricant dries out) and gets worn away by shaft rotation, allowing water to pass and enter the vessel. When this happens, most boaters simply tighten the packing gland to compress the packing material and stop or reduce the leak. This works to a point; however, as the packing gets smaller, it also gets harder. Keep compressing it, and it will eventually score the propeller shaft, which will then have to be replaced before the stuffing box will seal properly.

The simplest answer here is to replace the packing material on a regular basis. This bit of routine maintenance should only take about 30 minutes and normally costs less for materials than you’d spend on a mocha-frappu-latte-whatever and a free-range muffin. How often you repack typically depends on the number of hours your boat is used. As the vessel has to be hauled, many owners simply repack annually as part of their haul-out or spring commissioning routine.

Maintenance Check #4: Fuel tank fill hose

You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more out-of-sight, out-of-mind item than your fuel tank fill hose. Fill hoses are attached to the underside of the fuel fill fitting, connecting it to your fuel tank.

All hose has a limited lifespan, and fuel fill hose is no exception. Recommended replacement timeframes will vary between fuel hose manufacturers, but some call for replacement as often as every five years. The American Boat and Yacht Council standards also call for flexible fuel fill hose to be double clamped at each end with marine-grade stainless steel (if there is sufficient hose barb to allow it) as well as marked with the manufacturer’s name or trademark, year of manufacture and application on the outermost cover.

Access and inspect fuel tank fill hoses regularly for leaks and deterioration as part of your vessel’s maintenance program. Check that each end of the hose is double clamped and that the clamps are tight and free from corrosion. Replace older hose (regardless of appearance) as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Story and photos by Frank Lanier, Southern Boating September 2018

Palm Beach GT50

an image of the Palm Beach GT50

Palm Beach GT50

The Palm Beach GT50 marks the launch of the stunning and sporty GT line from the renowned Australian builder. The GT50 is an elegant cruiser made of lightweight and composite materials and capable of 40-plus knots, with an economic cruise speed in the mid-30-knot range.

The GT Series incorporates Palm Beach’s unique hull design that results in less resistance to achieve plane while keeping the bow in the water. Palm Beach gave significant attention to the GT50’s outdoor spaces to accommodate large groups of guests while underway. For now, the GT50 is available in an Express version.

In 2019, the Open version is to be launched and the GT line will grow.

54′ LOA, 14’8″ beam

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