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Old 08-07-2016, 06:29 PM   #1
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Thoughts on Wintering in Southport, NC

I am thinking about heading South from the Annapolis area to the Wilmington, NC area, specifically Southport for the winter. I travel on business to within reasonable distance of the area fairly regularly. My hope is that I could do some winter boating rather than the normal three to four months of full winterization with occasional weekend overnights. I have an indoor climate controlled helm so it's not like I need balmy weather just something reasonable. Any thoughts on winter boating in that area? Is engine, generator winterization needed for a wet slip? Any recommendations on a good marina in the area?
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Old 08-07-2016, 06:35 PM   #2
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Southport Marina is excellent. Easy walk to town. No need to winterize, we lived aboard for a couple of winters in Morehead City well north of there. Even got snow. In our opinion the cruising options are much more varied out of Morehead; the Waccama river area in SC is lovely though.
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Old 08-07-2016, 08:45 PM   #3
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I kept my boat at a dock behind my house for five years in Oriental, NC about 100 miles north of Southport. I used an electric heater on low to keep it above freezing but I am not sure if that was even necessary. The creek we were on froze once or twice each winter but cleared a day later.


Southport would be even better, so I suspect you would need to do nothing vs a vs winterizing. Boating in February is another story. There are nice days and even 60 degree ones in February, but I wouldn't consider it great boating weather. I would not plan on anything more than a day cruise in Jan-Feb and maybe early March.


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Old 08-07-2016, 09:10 PM   #4
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Another option is Wilmington. Might be closer to the area you travel. Good shipyard there. I would think with minimal protection the boat would be fine for winter. We did use heat and insulation but I've never winterized and I was in Charlotte.
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:23 PM   #5
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I spent night there on the trip bringing my boat from Maryland to Louisiana. It looked like one of the nicest little towns I've seen. I'm hoping to get back there one day.
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Old 08-07-2016, 11:47 PM   #6
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Southport is a very lovely place, but I am with George on this. The Wilmington area is nice, but the boating there is limited. Very little in the way of anchorages (none except for the Waccama River) The destinations, short of Bald Head, are a pretty good haul from each other. Weekend or PTO week boating in the area is limited to just ICW cruising or a hop to Georgetown outside. Myrtle Beach has a following, but I find no appeal to it, especially as a boating destination. In and around the Neuse River/Newport River provides a wide array of different types of destinations. From quiet anchorages like South River, to quaint small towns like Oriental and Bellhaven, to bustling tourist towns like Ocracoke, Morehead City, and Beaufort. To the king of all anchorages, Cape Lookout. Even better, a five day off week of PTO and you can still get to Southport and Bald Head.
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Old 08-08-2016, 12:33 AM   #7
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The reason I suggested Wilmington is he isn't looking for an anchorage, but for a Marina. Wilmington is up the Cape Fear but it's protected. Bennett Brothers has an excellent reputation if any work is needed. Cape Fear Marina is the marina there and the reputation was good but may well be declining based on recent reviews. However, Wilmington does have the new Port City Marina which has received excellent reviews.

From Wilmington you are about 25 miles from Southport, Bald Head, Wrightsville, and Masonboro. Bald Head Island is one of our favorite places to visit and Southport is very nice. Not knowing where you are commuting from, Wilmington is an easier commute by car from most places than Southport. However, the negative of that is that you can go faster by car than boat, so if you're looking to cruise in the ocean on most visits, then overall time is reduced by being in Southport.

You did not mention where you'll be conducting business and that may well be a major influence of your decision.

I will also say in favor of Southport, some of widest services of any small coastal town.
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Old 08-08-2016, 01:06 AM   #8
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Evans-I lived more than ten years about 20 miles south of Southport near Holden Beach, NC. There is no issue with winterization, you don't really need to do anything. While there are occasional cold snaps, they are short lived. That said, I would agree with others that cruising opportunities are limited. 25 miles to Wilmington, 20 miles to Wrightsville Beach/Masonboro. Only 3 miles to Bald Head Isalnd, but not really much there. Little River, SC is 35 miles or so, Myrtle Beach is close to 45-48 miles. The Waccamaw River down to Georgetown is a spectacular trip, but from Southport to Georgetown and back, you need at least 4 days minimum. Of course, you can go outside but then you miss the Waccamaw portion of the trip.
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Old 08-08-2016, 05:07 AM   #9
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I lot will depend on what you think is reasonable boating temperatures. Overnighted in Southport last Febuary. Talked to a couple boaters spending the winter there who were frustrated with the repeated cold snaps. Personally, I really like the area. Simple answer would be to try it for a winter and see how much you use the boat relative to the weather. Easy enough to try a different area the following winter.

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Old 08-08-2016, 06:35 AM   #10
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The reason I suggested Wilmington...

Fair enough. Sorry. Bennet Bros is a good yard, but a friend that stayed there for a while didn't have glowing reviews for the marina itself. It is right out there in the river and the current runs very quickly through there and the marina isn't protected from it. Port City is new, but at $14/ft, it is very pricey fir the area (certainly Wrightville Beach. Is higher).In addition, Port City is right in the middle of a major construction zone. Both of the Wilmington choices, if it matters, are close to the airport. In Southport proper, Deep Point is a good choice. Well protected and a good staff. Just look out for the ferry that moors there.
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Old 08-08-2016, 06:52 AM   #11
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Fair enough. Sorry. Bennet Bros is a good yard, but a friend that stayed there for a while didn't have glowing reviews for the marina itself. It is right out there in the river and the current runs very quickly through there and the marina isn't protected from it. Port City is new, but at $14/ft, it is very pricey fir the area (certainly Wrightville Beach. Is higher).In addition, Port City is right in the middle of a major construction zone. Both of the Wilmington choices, if it matters, are close to the airport. In Southport proper, Deep Point is a good choice. Well protected and a good staff. Just look out for the ferry that moors there.
That's the same thing I've heard about Cape Fear Marina....the marina at Bennett. I had heard rates lower than the $14. Worth inquiry, especially on winter rate.

I keep hoping the OP will give more information on the area he'll be working in. That could be a key factor in his decision.

I like the entire area and as to cruising area, you have a lot of places to go North or South.
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:19 AM   #12
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The reason I suggested Wilmington is he isn't looking for an anchorage, but for a Marina. Wilmington is up the Cape Fear but it's protected. Bennett Brothers has an excellent reputation if any work is needed. Cape Fear Marina is the marina there and the reputation was good but may well be declining based on recent reviews. However, Wilmington does have the new Port City Marina which has received excellent reviews.

From Wilmington you are about 25 miles from Southport, Bald Head, Wrightsville, and Masonboro. Bald Head Island is one of our favorite places to visit and Southport is very nice. Not knowing where you are commuting from, Wilmington is an easier commute by car from most places than Southport. However, the negative of that is that you can go faster by car than boat, so if you're looking to cruise in the ocean on most visits, then overall time is reduced by being in Southport.

You did not mention where you'll be conducting business and that may well be a major influence of your decision.

I will also say in favor of Southport, some of widest services of any small coastal town.
My POV is that all those places are much faster, cheaper, easier and pleasurable to explore by car (or ferry in the case of BI). Southport is a nice base or that to be sure.
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Old 08-08-2016, 08:29 AM   #13
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Wilmington has a problem with thefts/break-ins as well. If you choose that area of NC, definitely choose Southport over Wilmington. Much better view at Southport Marina and still walking distance to the little town.
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Old 08-08-2016, 09:11 AM   #14
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"Talked to a couple boaters spending the winter there who were frustrated with the repeated cold snaps."

"Stuff Happens" .

Having a non electric powered source of heat , as well as winterizing stuff that is not used ,2nd head?, deck wash down , live bait well and pump, can ease the Fire Drill should the temp drops into the teens.

We are enjoying a warming period , between ice ages , preparation is cheap insurance..
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Old 08-08-2016, 06:26 PM   #15
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Thanks for the great replies. I would be coming over from Fayetteville, NC. I also understand that there is a service in Southport that will do weekly checks of your boat for a reasonable fee. If it is reliable and conscientious then that would provide some piece of mind in being so far away most of the time
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:48 PM   #16
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Ok. makes more sense if you are based in Fayetteville, about 2 hours to Southport vs 3 to Morehead City/Beaufort. But I personally (the operative word here) would still prefer the latter for all the cruising options nearby. You should also consider Wrightsville Beach, might be the best of the two worlds of Wilmington and Southport, and you can head out Masonboro inlet and be to Cape Lookout in an easy day's passage.

Any good marina can arrange to have your boat checked on a regular basis, either by staff or refer you to a professional captain who does it for another boat or boats.
They'll also tell you who the "good guys" are among the live aboard community if any, and you would want to befriend them 1st thing.
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:53 PM   #17
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Between Southport and Wilmington...

Carolina Beach State Park Marina
1020 State Park Rd.
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
United States (US)
910-458-7770

Carolina Beach State Park | NC State Parks

I have stayed there twice...nice...different but maybe a consideration.
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Old 08-08-2016, 10:34 PM   #18
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I am curious what would need to pay someone to check? I don't want to derail the conversation, but in every marina We have been in, we have made friends. Those are the people I tell where the key is...Heck, I want everyone to know where it is in case there is an issue. I would feel better having our marina friends and marina live aboards keep an eye on it than pay a stranger to do it. Dock workers are not always boaters. Sometimes they are just people looking for work. I want a boater, one that I know, to check on my boat. How long are you going to be away from it, I guess is the question?

Thread drift... Sorry.

Again... Still with George here. Even from Fayetteville, Morehead or New Bern are close enough to consider.
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Old 08-08-2016, 11:03 PM   #19
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I am curious what would need to pay someone to check? I don't want to derail the conversation, but in every marina We have been in, we have made friends. Those are the people I tell where the key is...Heck, I want everyone to know where it is in case there is an issue. I would feel better having our marina friends and marina live aboards keep an eye on it than pay a stranger to do it. Dock workers are not always boaters. Sometimes they are just people looking for work. I want a boater, one that I know, to check on my boat. How long are you going to be away from it, I guess is the question?

Thread drift... Sorry.

Again... Still with George here. Even from Fayetteville, Morehead or New Bern are close enough to consider.
It's so variable based on what "check on my boat" means to you. It needs to be clearly defined. Yacht managers generally run the engines periodically, check all equipment. They will spend several hours a month at anywhere from $50 to $100 an hour. If you just want some basic things like check for water, check the electric is still plugged in and operating, just do a quick walk though then you may find someone to do that for $100 - $150 per month and a knowledgeable liveaboard boat owner can be great at that.

One thing I'd recommend for anyone with a boat distant from them is alarms and cameras. Have alarms for any water, for any power loss, and have cameras to look yourself. Also, if you are paying someone to check or perform services it can be very worthwhile to be able to actually see what is being done.
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:52 AM   #20
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Between Southport and Wilmington...

Carolina Beach State Park Marina
1020 State Park Rd.
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
United States (US)
910-458-7770

Carolina Beach State Park | NC State Parks

I have stayed there twice...nice...different but maybe a consideration.
I've stayed there once. It's OK. It's inexpensive for the area but I don't know if they have long term rates. It looks like a marina but the people working there don't know much about boats and it's DIY docking.

A nice marina (in my opinion) just a couple miles north of Southport is Deep Point Marina. It's owned by the same group that owns Bald Head Island Marina. It's a little far to walk to Southport but since you will have a car, that shouldn't be an issue. It's a "real" marina and less expensive than Southport Marina. St. James Plantation Marina is a few miles south of Southport and is nice and less expensive than Southport.
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