About a decade ago, when the MegaDock opened at Safe Harbor Charleston City, the 454-foot Lürssen Rising Sun pulled in. Folks in South Carolina were treated to a sight normally reserved for the likes of Southeast Florida, Monaco or St. Barts.
Now, the marina is building a new MegaDock to welcome even more of the world’s biggest yachts. While the original MegaDock held Rising Sun, the new one will be big enough to take four or five of them.
“We’re planning to have a portion of the new MegaDock up and running by January,” says David Isom, the marina’s general manager. “These new concrete floating docks that are being custom made for us—they make the original MegaDock look small.”
Plans are for the whole project to be completed by December 2024. The superyacht spots will have high-speed in-slip fueling that can pump 150 gallons per minute as well as shore-power plug-ins capable of handling vessels that size. And the amenities will be accessible to smaller yachts too, Isom says: “The MegaDock typically does around 5,000 transients per year, all kinds of boats, and we sell over a million gallons of diesel fuel. The goal with this project is to double that business.”
Inside the marina, docks are also being built to handle catamarans, whose owners often have trouble finding wide enough slips. Isom says for all types of boats that pull in at Safe Harbor Charleston City, the goal is to make sure they receive the same level of service and amenities found at top locations in South Florida or Newport, Rhode Island.
“The marina space is stuck in the motel world. Thirty, 40, 50 years ago, our parents went to motels,” he says. “Now, we have hotels. Safe Harbor is turning the motel business into the hotel business of marinas. There’s a network. Every property is different, but the goal is the same: to have high-end amenities, first-class service and state-of-the-art facilities. That’s what we’re making.”
Safe Harbor Charleston City is part of a network of more than 130 marinas. Superyachts are a focus at locations such as Rybovich and Lauderdale Marine Center in Southeast Florida, as well as at Newport Shipyard in Rhode Island.
- Membership in the network includes unlimited complimentary transient nights wherever there’s availability, making the marinas a fan favorite among long-distance cruisers.
- E-Boat experiences are an option at some of the properties. The company has a partnership with e-boat builder X Shore.
- Amazon lockers are also available at some locations, giving cruisers a place to have packages delivered and waiting.
Downtown Charleston is a blend of history and modern expansion, with the city dating to 1670 and still growing today.
- King Street is the heart of the historic downtown, with shopping, restaurants, art and antiques.
- South Carolina Aquarium overlooks the harbor and has touch tanks, educational exhibits and kid-friendly experiences.
- The Gibbes Museum of Art has a first floor that is free and open to the public, with tours available on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Fort Sumter is at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. It’s overseen by the National Park Service, whose ranger tours offer a chance to learn about where the Civil War began.