Movie star cruises Key Largo canals

Movie star cruises Key Largo canals.

An old steam engine sputters along the canals of Key Largo, Florida these days. Lance and Suzanne Holmquist restored the original 30-foot, steel hulled 1912 steamship African Queen used in the film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. They give 80-minute cruises on the vessel for up to six passengers. Captain Wayne toots a steam whistle as it passes homes along Port Largo canals to the Atlantic Ocean. Cruises depart from the Marina Del Mar and cost $49. africanqueenflkeys.com

Bring on the lobster!
Spiny lobster season in Florida, both recreational and commercial, started in late July and continues through March 31st. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) allows up to six lobsters per person per day. Carapace length must be larger than three inches and harvesting of egg-bearing females is not allowed. Lobsters must remain whole until brought ashore—whole lobsters must be kept in a cooler and no tools should alter shells. During the two-day sport season this year (July 29-30) the FWC permitted one extra lobster for every 10 lionfish caught. Divers-down buoys are required when diving.

New marina in historic Wilmington
Port City Marina on the Cape Fear River, North Carolina, 14 miles north of the ICW (Mile 300) opened for business in July. Port City management says, “Due to hard work and dedication we are more than thrilled and proud to be the gateway to historic downtown Wilmington.” The marina handles boats up to 250 feet in their 200 state-of-the-art floating wet slips with a controlled depth of 10 feet in its basin, accommodating deeper drafts in slips along the Cape Fear River. First class amenities—30, 50 and 100-amp electric service, free Wi-Fi, full service fuel dock, and more—as well as concierge services complete the marina. Downtown Wilmington offers restaurants, art galleries and boutiques, and Wilmington International Airport is just 10 minutes away. portcitymarina.com

A spaceport in coastal Georgia?
If Camden County, Georgia, officials have their way, Titusville, Florida, won’t be the only place within the Southeast Seaboard region to be a vantage point for cruisers to view rocket launches. The county has been working to bring a spaceport to a site located on the I-95 corridor next to the Atlantic Ocean for two years. Launches could affect navigable waterways—required to close as per most spaceports’ procedures around the country—and impose timed closures of the ICW. Fallen debris from launch failures might also disturb the birthing of right whales off Georgia’s coast and pose a threat to nearby Kings Bay Naval Base, home to nuclear powered submarines.

Reduced vertical clearance
Work on the main channel at Buckman Bridge on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida, continues through November. Although horizontal clearance in the channel is unchanged, vertical clearance is 60 feet 6 inches on one half of the channel. The original 64 feet 2 inches remains on the other half. Original vertical clearance will be restored throughout at construction’s completion.

By Nancy E. Spraker, Southern Boating, November 2015