As many as 50 boats will cruise down the Beaufort River and into the city's marina this November for a stop on the Intracoastal Waterway Snowbird Rally.
It's an opportunity to showcase the area, and a number of activities are being organized to make this a "showcase, premier event, instead of a stopover," according to Robb Wells, tourism division executive for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"Most people are familiar with us by the bridges and marinas and landmarks, and this will give them the opportunity to see us in a different light," he said.
SAIL Magazine and the city are working to plan the stop Nov. 19, according to a news release from the chamber. The Snowbird Rally starts Nov. 1 in Hampton, Va., and ends Dec. 15 in Miami. Other stops include Beaufort, N.C.; Wrightsville Beach, N.C.; Charleston and St. Simons Island, Ga.
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Redevelopment Commission member and Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club board chairman Alan Dechovitz noticed an article in SAIL last year about the rally. He enlisted the chamber of commerce to help arrange a stop in Beaufort, and talked the Yacht and Sailing Club into volunteering during the stop
"It turned out one of the organizers is a blogger who just happens to love Beaufort," Dechovitz said.
The plan is for boats to moor and dock at the Beaufort Downtown Marina. Hosts from the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club will assist them with stocking up on provisions and coordinating activities and discounts at downtown businesses, according to the release.
In return, Beaufort will get publicity in the magazine and online, Dechovitz said. It's an opportunity to attract more of the boating and cruising community, he said.
"These people fit the profile of the type of people we want to attract to Beaufort," he said. "... We need to bring a different type of visitor to Beaufort, people who will dine and shop in downtown and put some money into our community."
The Snowbirds also are invited to a private dinner outside with the Bull Grapes band performing at an unnamed, waterfront "signature plantation home."
"Beaufort, S.C., has always been one of my favorite ICW stops," Snowbird Rally leader and SAIL contributing editor Wally Moran said in the release, noting "its charm, history, beauty and the wonderful people."
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.