This is another marina review on the On Board Life. Using the N D S, A A, P P marina analysis model, I'll fill you in on what my experience was. The views expressed are strictly my own.
If you're a cruising boater and cruised along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, you've had to wait for the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge. They only open at the top of the hour during the day. You pull up, make your request, then do the bridge dance with your boat until the bridge tender blares their siren and opens her up. We all know that part.
What about the town of Wrightsville Beach? What's it like? We pulled into Seapath Yacht Club (a private club with a public transient dock) for two nights so we could get into this beachside tourist trap and see what was what.
N: Navigability – On Motts Channel which you turn onto off of the ICW 1,500 feet from the bridge. You can also get to it by turning off the ICW at the Mansboro Inlet channel a little further south, then navigate around to the marina.
D: Dockage – Long, transient facing dock. Plenty of depth. The current is noticeable but not terrible at all. Quite a few day-boaters and transients pull in for fuel.
S: Services – Gasoline, diesel, and pump-out on the fuel dock. I don't know what their policies about technicians is. They are a very amiable bunch of folks there.
A: Amenities – The marina's office is right there on the docks. The bathrooms and showers are clean but odd. The toilet stall in the men's room is very short. To be frank, there's barely enough room to sit down with the door closed if the door was flat. They get around this by having a door that is curved outward, but you still have to work at finishing the job, so to speak. (I ran into this same thing at Colonial Beach Marina on the Potomac River on the way to Washington D.C., but they didn't have the curved doors. It sucked.) (I don't know about the women's stalls.) There is a laundry. Pull the drier away from the wall a couple of inches to get it to dry well.
A: Accessibility – Seapath has a loaner van available. Bikes are also a real option. (There are bike trails. Be mindful of the heavy vehicle traffic.) Uber and Lyft are available. There is a public transit system called Wave. We did not explore that.
P: Provisioning – There's a Harris Teeter 1.3 miles on the other side of the bridge, so provisioning is possible with the loaner van. There's also a West Marine in the same plaza, but they told me they're moving soon to a location not as convenient. ("We sell boat stuff, so let's move further away from where the boats are." Nice thinking.) There is a hardware store near the Harris Teeter too. Check out Redix (pr: ready), a large sundries store a block or two down the causeway from the marina. (Old timers from St. Louis may remember Grandpa Pidgeons stores; Redix reminded me of them. Remember their catch phrase? "We're open every night.")
Wrightsville Beach is part of the Wilmington statistical area, and we were surprised how bustling, busy, and hectic the entire area is. If you're on a bike be very alert in the heavy traffic. It's a 25 mile journey from Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach by water but only 9 miles by road from the docks in downtown Wilmington to the marina. They are part and parcel together as a community.
|The ICW directly before the bridge on the south side|
Wrightsville Beach is a popular tourist area with rental houses and condos and a small beach strip with gift stores and pizza parlors. Nice beach. And it's all piled onto the small island area. But that's cool. It was fun. It doesn't come off as being glitzy at all.
As I said in Wrightsville's review, it's a vibrant and happening city. If you dig a happening downtown, go to Wilmington and enjoy what they have to offer. It's Americana with all the stores and amenities you need or want. But, if you are into sand and surf, Wrightsville Beach is the place to be.
Seapath Yacht Club is a terrific marina with all the accouterments you need to enjoy your stay there … even if the men's toilet stalls are weird.
P: Price – Their published transient rate on Active Captain is $2.50 per foot. That included electricity.
Verdict – We really liked both Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. We wished we had more time to explore it. The next time you are on the ICW there, dock at Seapath Yacht Club, grab their loaner car, and dig into the fun.
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