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  Trip Report: Cape Fear River, NC 2009

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Author Topic:   Trip Report: Cape Fear River, NC 2009
K Albus posted 09-13-2009 11:34 AM ET (US)   Profile for K Albus   Send Email to K Albus  
I recently spent five days in Wilmington, North Carolina, visiting my in-laws. I towed my 2002 Dauntless 180 there from my home in Michigan. The following is a brief account of the boating I did during my vacation.

September 5, 2009 - I put the boat in the water at Carolina Beach, and headed for the marina where my father-in-law had reserved a slip. After getting set up at the marina, my wife, the in-laws, and I cruised up the Intracoastal to Wrightsville Beach. We stopped at the Dockside Restaurant & Marina for lunch. The Dockside serves seafood, sandwiches, fried foods. The food was decent and reasonably priced. The service was good, and the docking was free. The Dockside is a good place for people watching and boat watching.

After leaving the Dockside, we cruised down the Intracoastal a ways, and beached boat at a small island. We spent about 1/2 hour swimming, and then got back underway. We continued down the Intracoastal, through Snow's Cut, and out onto the Cape Fear River for about a mile. We then returned to the marina in Carolina Beach. Total run: 35 miles.

September 7, 2009 - My father-in-law and I took the boat down to Bald Head Island. We docked at Bald Head Island Marina and ate lunch at Eb & Flo's Steambar. The food and the service were sub-par. The restaurant was the kind of place that strives to be a quaint sea-side restaurant with a bit character that serves seafood, sandwiches and fried foods. It failed miserably in its attempt. It was over-priced and lacked any character whatsoever. Docking at the marina was $20.

After finishing lunch, we went to see about renting a golf cart to tour the island. We wanted to take a quick spin and see if there was any reason to come back with our wives. The golf cart rentals had a two hour minimum which cost about $50. The girl at rental shack told us that Eb & Flo's was the best restaurant on the island, and that there was only limited shopping on the island. Based on that, we decided it wasn't worth the money to rent a golf cart, and it wasn't worth returning to the island. We left the marina, ducked out onto the Atlantic briefly, and then returned to the marina at Carolina Beach via the Intracoastal. Total run: 39 miles.

September 8, 2009 - The four of us cruised from Carolina Beach to Southport. We docked at the Provision Company restaurant and ate lunch there. Once again, seafood, sandwiches, and fried foods. This place had lots of character and a nice view of the water. (It's the kind of place that Eb & Flo's was attempting to be.) The food was good and reasonably priced, the service was good, and the docking was free.

After lunch we walked into downtown Southport so the ladies could do some shopping. The shopping district was an easy 1/2 mile walk from the restaurant. There were also various historical markers and points-of-interest signs throughout the area. Southport had much more to offer than Bald Head Island on all fronts. There were numerous restaurants within easy walking distance from the Southport Yacht Basin, including many with free docking available. After walking around Southport, we returned to the boat and cruised back to the marina at Carolina Beach. A couple hours later I pulled the boat out of the water. Total run: 30 miles.

On September 9, my wife and I left Wilmington and headed to my brother's place near Lexington, South Carolina. My brother has a house on Lake Murray, and I had planned on a couple more days of boating. On the drive to over, I lost the cooler seat from my boat. I apparently forgot to strap it into position in front of the console before leaving Wilmington. Unfortunately, the weather and other events conspired against us, and I did not get my boat in the water at my brother's house.

The weather during my entire trip was not great. It rained on-and-off almost every day. The boat trips we were able to complete were squeezed in between periods of rain. We managed to stay dry except on the trip back from Bald Head Island when my father-in-law and I ran through a brief rain shower. Because of the weather, I did relatively little boating for the week, especially in light of the distance I towed my boat. Despite this, I'll probably do it again in a couple of years.

69boo307 posted 09-14-2009 12:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for 69boo307  Send Email to 69boo307     
Your trip on the 5th was the exact same as what I did about 2 weeks earlier, including eating at Dockside and stopping on an island on the way back!

What Marina were you at? I kept my boat in Joyner Marina while I was down there.

My experiences with both Bald Head and Southport are the same as well, though I havn't made those trips in my own boat, I've only been to Southport via car, and from there to Bald Head on someone else's boat.

K Albus posted 09-14-2009 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I kept my boat at the Mona Black Marina in Carolina Beach. It was a small marina with only about 20 slips. It was a nice place, with floating docks. The only complaint I had was the long no-wake ride between the marina and the Intracoastal.
69boo307 posted 09-14-2009 01:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for 69boo307  Send Email to 69boo307     
Yeah, it was pretty tedious to travel the length of the Carolina Beach 'harbor' if you are in a hurry. My wife and I went down in there just to sightsee and actually saw a HUGE sea turtle poking its head out of the water near one of the docks. Unfortunately we weren't fast enough to get a photo.

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