As a career destination marketer, cruising has been an eye-opening experience. Many ICW destinations publicly give lip service to the importance of the cruising and leisure market, while privately saying it has little economic impact. When asked for research to back up the assertion, they admit it’s non-existent. Other destinations like Beaufort, SC Georgetown, SC, and Wilmington, NC, Morehead City, NC, Beaufort, NC, Belhaven, NC, Elizabeth City, NC and Brunswick, GA have recognized the market for many years. For many small coastal communities without interstate access, the Intracoastal waterways of America have become their “interstate.”
“Thinking Outside the Boat.” Most leisure boating is local or within a day trip of a boater’s homeport. We hope this blog will encourage readers that haven’t cruised the ICW to try it. My wife and I found it addictive. As a result, when our son was married, he and his new bride cruised our old boat on a honeymoon trip from Charleston to Beaufort, NC. Our daughter and her family and friends enjoy cruising their center console boats to ports within a day trip from Charleston. They often have multiple boats cruising together and stay in bed and breakfast inns at their destination. Besides the beautiful scenery and relaxation of being on the water, our family has discovered the comradery of the cruising community, regardless of boat size.
“Thinking Outside the Boat.” In our family, the first duty of the captain is safety, maintenance, and marinas! The vast majority of boating magazines have long focused on boats, boating products, and of course, advertising. It has only been in recent years that publishers have recognized destinations in their editorial mix. As a cruiser and career destination marketer, that decision has puzzled me. The boating “experience” goes far beyond the boat. Recently we met a wonderful couple during our stay in Beaufort, NC. They live in California, but keep their Marlowe 57e on the East coast because of the myriad of wonderful destinations they can visit by water. Last spring when we cruised to Georgetown, SC for spring break, we were greeted by two fellow cruisers, who gladly assisted in handling our lines when we docked. It turned out there were six “Great Looper” boats overnighting in the marina that evening. Later, we learned through conversation that the time spent cruising “the loop” was far more about the places they visited and people they met, than anything to do with the boats.
Time spent on the water is an incredible experience. Time spent making new friends and experiencing new places — many of which you would never visit if not traveling by boat — only enhances that incredible experience.
If you’re reading this and haven’t tried cruising, do your research and plan an overnight cruise. I’m guessing it’s a safe bet you’ll find it as addictive as the rest of the cruising community has.
Fair winds and following seas.