Normally this time of year, boaters who have cruised south to Florida or the Caribbean for the winter have started to make their way north for the summer. With uncertainty around fuel, provisions, and marinas being open, some owners are wondering when they will be able to make the journey. To find out the details on the ground, or water in this case, we spoke with Captain Jim Gallagher who routinely makes this trip.
Captain Jim is a familiar face in South Florida to many yacht owners. Based in Palm Beach, Captain Jim is often hired for fishing or scuba excursions, to drive yacht owners to the Bahamas, and handles yacht maintenance when needed. The client that keeps him the busiest though is Princess Yachts America. "I handle many of the transports for Princess Yachts from West Palm up to the northeast," said Jim. Having just made it to the Viking factory in New Gretna with the successful delivery of a S62 on Saturday, he is already headed back south to pick up another Princess. Many of Jim's clients and peers often refer to "WWJD" as in "What Would Jim do?" when confronted with a tricky boating situation.
"There's no more challenge with cruising from Florida to New York right now than there is any other time," said Jim. "All of my favorite stops along the way are open, I'm able to easily access fuel, I've been getting takeout from my favorite restaurants, and it hasn't taken me any longer than it normally would to make the trip."
(Seen below: Capt. Jim is active on social media and routinely lets his friends and peers know where to stop.)
Still, there are some precautions that the Captain is taking along the way, many of which are standard practice right now whether your boating or not. Here is the list right from Captain Jim on what to do:
- First provision the boat as if you can't stop along the way. Going from West Palm to New Gretna takes me about 5 days. If I'm taking clients that want to do some sightseeing along the way it can take longer. Since you never know what's going to happen, take the extra food anyway just in case.
- If you know your specific route, call the marinas ahead of time to check and see if they are open. I like to do runs of 200 miles each day so I know exactly where I'll stop for fuel and food.
- If you are taking along some family members or friends on the trip, make sure you have everyone's medical history on board. In the worst case scenario, it's always good to know if someone has a potential urgent medical condition.
- When we stop to re-fuel, we are using gloves and a mask when interacting with the marina staff or touching the fuel pump. We dispose of the gloves after so they do not make it onboard.
- Continue to wash your hands after every stop just in case.
- Most of all, enjoy the ride and the scenery!
Captain Jim has also offered to give us his preferred list of stopping points that, as of this week, are all open for business. Here is a list of Jim's stopping points along the way from West Palm to our Staten Island Marina. **As of May 4th, 2020 all of the below locations are open and have fuel.
Stop #1 - St. Augustine, Florida - Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor - 29° 55’N – 81°15’W
Captain Jim's first stop, especially when clients are on board, is the Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor in St. Augustine, Florida. Camachee Cove is just a few short miles from the historic district which offers lots of sightseeing opportunities. Fuel has been available at the dock and there are two restaurants right at the marina that offer take-out. Captain Jim also recommends stopping at the nearby Hilton for dinner, "They have a 5-star chef there, it's one of the best spots to stop in St. Augustine.
To reach Camachee Cove, you can call (954) 829-5676.
Stop #2 - Charleston City Marina - Mega Yacht Dock - 32.7871° N, 79.9493° W
Captain Jim's second stop of the trip is normally the Charleston City Marina in South Carolina. Located on mile marker 469.5 of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Charleston City Marina is up and running with fuel 24 hours a day. There are restaurants close by for takeout and the sightseeing opportunities nearby are a favorite of boaters. There is an open air market nearby called the Charleston City Market. As of early May it is still closed, but they look to be opening soon. Whether you're in a small cruiser or a larger yacht. Charleston City Marina has the accommodations for you.
To reach Charleston City Marina, you can call (843) 723-5098.
Stop #3 - Beaufort Docks - Beaufort, North Carolina - 34° 42' 56.92', -76° 39' 54.42'
After heading from Charleston, Captain Jim runs another 200 miles at about 25 knots to get to his next stop - Beaufort Docks. Since fuel is mostly a given, Captain Jim's recommendations normally revolve around food. After all, when you're delivering multiple yachts in a month you start to look forward to that end of day dinner. "I highly recommend the Beaufort Grocery Company," says Jim. "They have some of the best food close by and available for to-go orders." Captain Jim also recommends stopping by the local museum which has really interesting history of boating and shipwrecks around Beaufort.
To reach Beaufort Docks, you can call (252) 728-2503.
Stop #4 - Coinjock Marina - Coinjock, North Carolina (Right on NC/VA border) - 36.3491° N, 75.9484° W
Coinjock Marina and Restaurant is located right on the intracoastal at Mile Market 50 and is a favorite stop for boaters traveling north to south. The restaurant is right on the docks and is "home of the 32oz prime rib" which Captain Jim highly recommends! The docks have been completely re-built making this is a nice stop overnight.
To reach Coinjock Marina, you can call (252) 453-3271.
From this point on, Captain Jim normally takes the intracoastal to the Great Bridge Lock which empties right in Norfolk, Virginia. If cruising north for pleasure, Captain Jim recommends visiting Norfolk as the city's history and military presence are a great sightseeing experience. If you don't want to push hard to make it to Atlantic City, New Jersey, Captain Jim recommends stopping off in Maryland first.
Stop #5 - Sunset Marina - Ocean City, Maryland - 38.3283° N, 75.1038° W
Sunset Marina is one of the most convenient places to stop overnight as it is less than half a mile to the Ocean City inlet, there are no bridges to worry about, and no struggling wtih docking because of moving tides. The fuel docks are open from 8:30 - 5pm and are supplying customers. Sunset Grille is a great place to eat and when open, the marina is stacked with amenities. The best part about stopping overnight at Sunset Marina? When you wake up the next day you are but a few short hours to Staten Island.
To reach Sunset Marina, you can call (410) 213-9600.
The team at SI Yachts is here to help you every step of the way from purchasing your yacht, to service, even helping you find provisions along the way. Captain Jim has offered some excellent advice and stopping points to make cruising north this spring easy for you. If you have any questions about other locations along the way, don't hesitate to contact us at (718) 984-7676.
Captain Jim is also an excellent resource for boaters and we highly recommend him for captain services. Jim can be reached at (772) 713-0365 or by email at CaptainJRG@Bellsouth.net.
(Seen below: Captain Jim's recent trip on the S62 delivery to the Viking factory. It's safe to cruise!)