Upgrades in the Carolinas

New owners purchased the historic River Forest Manor and Marina in Belhaven, North Carolina, in October with renovations in mind. Most of the new owners are cruisers and members of the River Rat and Belhaven Yacht Clubs. All docking facilities will be fully operational during improvements. Visitors will find new bathrooms with showers, marina office and free laundry facilities upon completion. Services already available include diesel and non-ethanol 89 octane gas, 30-, 50- and 100-amp electrical services, Wi-Fi, golf carts, deep water transient slips, and a swimming pool. Belhaven is the birthplace of the Intracoastal Waterway and boasts of several popular eateries. riverforestmarina.com, riverratyachtclub.com, belhavenyachtclub.org

Fernandina Beach, Florida, has been called the “birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.” In 1902, Sicilian Mike Salvador introduced motorized boats to the industry, and generations of the Greek Deonas family helped establish what was the largest shrimping industry in the world for decades. Although tourism now replaces shrimping, Amelia Island remembers its past with a new satellite museum of the Amelia Island Museum of History in Fernandina Beach. Hours are 10AM to 4PM Monday through Saturday, and 1PM to 4PM on Sundays. ameliamuseum.org

After Georgetown, South Carolina’s devastating fire in 2013, debris was cleared and Harborwalk was rebuilt, but little else has taken place due to new construction standards and lack of funds. After some controversy, however, in November 2014 the city applied for a Community Development Block Grant funding for business development purposes. Hopes are that the waterfront will return to its former glory this year.

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Cruisers to St. Augustine, Florida, now have a shuttle bus service. The first of three bus routes takes visitors to St. Augustine Municipal Marina and other nearby marinas, Sailors Exchange, West Marine, and other businesses. Two other daytime runs stop at marinas, uptown St. Augustine, the Vilano Pier, Publix, restaurants, offices, and attractions. Evening routes accommodate area dining and entertainment. Updates are available at the St. Augustine Cruisers Net Facebook page. Schedule is available at waterwayguide.com/images/St-Augustine-Shuttle-SCHEDULE.pdf.

An official dog park now adjoins the Vero Beach Municipal Marina in Vero Beach, Florida. The 6.5-acre field is completely fenced in with separate areas for big and little dogs. Private donations and volunteer grunt work made the park with its water fountain, bowls and a safety entryway possible. Seadogs and their masters may access the park with dinghies.

The Miami International Boat Show is headed to Miami Marine Stadium in 2016 and 2017, and possibly into the future. A $30 million renovation is in store for the battered Miami Marine Stadium that closed after 1992 Hurricane Andrew. Changes include replacing asphalt with grass and trees, as well as building a modest marine-exhibit building. The boat show will occupy existing parking lots, temporary structures and a small portion of its water basin with little interference to local rowers and paddlers.

Free pump-outs in the Florida Keys may end in 2017. Monroe County is losing substantial financial support from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The county’s proof of pump-out requirement in larger live-aboard anchorages helps protect Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

By Nancy E. Spraker, Southern Boating March 2015