Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Marina Review – Whittaker Pointe Marina Oriental (NC) 2018 New

This is another marina review on the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour. 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.

I have a confession. I have a bias towards Whittaker Pointe Marina. It is one of our most favorite marinas of them all. It's quiet and serene, perfect to chill for awhile. It also is beautiful with a wonderful clubhouse and a great view out over the Neuse River.

N: Navigability – Almost directly across the Neuse River from Adams Creek. That's the part of the ICW that comes up from Morehead City. It's also just east of Oriental proper. It's entrance channel, which it shares with several other marinas, is shallow, but not so much that any normal vessel can't get in and out. Tons of sailboats use it. Mind the markers. When we entered this most recent time we never sounded what would have been less than 8 feet of water from surface to bottom at low tide.




D: Dockage Three t-head docks and a bunch of slips with plenty of water. The marina is laid out at non-ninety-degree angles so turnaround room in the thoroughfares will vary. But it's enough everywhere. The docks are fixed concrete with pilings and cleats – very substantial and strong. You'll feel secure. There are a few slips wide enough for cats.

S: Services – No fuel. No pump out either. They have a manual pump out cart that is free to use. But you have to do ALL the work, from wheeling it down to your dock, to operating the hand pump, to hauling it back on shore to the sewage spout, and emptying it. Pump out is available at the marina next door at their travel lift slot.

A: Amenities – In my humble opinion, this marina's clubhouse (lounge, monster-size bathrooms, laundry) is the very best out there. It is bright, clean, and very up-to-date – mega-comfy. They also have a swimming pool! We were never able to use their wifi for the docks.

A: Accessibility – Whittaker Pointe has a loaner van available. You can ride your bike also; it's 4.0 miles from the clubhouse to the waterfront in town.

P: Provisioning – There is a small Piggly Wiggly in Oriental for provisioning. There is also a West Marine Express and a hardware store too. And that's pretty much it. The marine consignment shop exists in name only. It looks like someone is trying to convert it to a sail and rigging loft. It smelled awful from dirt and mold, and there isn't any merchandise to speak of, good or bad.

P: Price – Their published transient rate on Active Captain is $1.60 per foot. If you pay for a week you get a month.

Oriental is a cute town. There's a few good restaurants (M&Ms, The Silo) and it is pretty. But if you really look at it carefully, there isn't much else to do. It exists to support the marinas and commercial fishing boats there. We think Oriental would be at its maximum-fun quotient if you were traveling with boat-buddies and brought a party with you.


Verdict – Whittaker Pointe Marina is a gem. The setting is idyllic, and the facilities are first-class. We feel very much at home there. We've always set aside time to stay there when we crossed paths with it. You should too.
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tags: marina, liveaboard boat, liveaboard boating, liveaboard sailboat, boating as a couple, living aboard a trawler, liveaboard cruiser, liveaboard boater, trawler, liveaboard, the on board life, someday's here, boating adventures, boating websites

Friday, June 15, 2018

Marina Review – Seapath Yacht Club Wrightsville Beach (NC) 2018 New

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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tags: marina, liveaboard boat, liveaboard boating, liveaboard sailboat, boating as a couple, living aboard a trawler, liveaboard cruiser, liveaboard boater, trawler, liveaboard, the on board life, someday's here, boating adventures, boating websites

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Wilmington, NC City Dock – SURPRISE!

Because of where we stayed in Wilmington is technically not a marina but a waterfront dock, I'm giving it a different review treatment. Make sure you check out the full-blown review of Seapath Yacht Club in Wrightsville Beach. The two go together. They're 25 miles apart by water, but they're both part of the same metro area.

First, the technical marina review-ish stuff.

The city docks in Wilmington, NC are floating docks along the boardwalk shoreline in downtown Wilmington. The depths are fine, the docks float, there's 30 and 50 amp juice, and there isn't any wifi other than what you can get using your phone as a hotspot. The docks are not secured, and you should pay close attention to tie your boat up in a manner that would deter troublemakers. There's no shower or toilets. (We were at the H dock, and I confess I snuck into the Hotel Ballast [aka “The Hilton”] to use their bathrooms.) Our total coast was $122.00 for two nights for our forty-five foot boat. There is a pump-out apparatus on the south end of the H dock. There is also an employee who monitors the dock, collects the money, and helps with the pump-out, but don't count on him to assist you with docking or other things like that. It was surprisingly rocky and rolly.

Clever marketing is like magic. It can take an otherwise humdrum, boring, dying (or at least sick) waterfront town and, presto-chango, turn it into a shinning star, a destination with near magical qualities, at least in their brochures and websites. But more often or not it's an illusion. They look great on paper but are big, fat nothings in reality. (I'm looking at you, Crisfield and Cape Charles.) With this as a background we went up from Bald Head Island to Wilmington with our eyes as wide open as we could have them. We were in store for just about anything, good or bad, but what would we actually find.?

I'm very happy to report that Wilmington was delightful.



The downtown area was energetic and engaging. There were actual things to do there. And there were people, yes, real people on the streets coming in and out of stores and doing things! There were several very nice restaurants along the riverfront. (We ate at the Pilot House restaurant. Very good food.) Lisa actually got some shopping in. Everyone was pleasant. It was a place that was actually worth the effort to get to.

There are museums and tours and lots of history to discover. And for you war buffs, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is just on the other side of the river from downtown: The USS North Carolina battleship is there.


So, by all means, if you're cruising up or down the ICW, make the time to go up the Cape Fear River to the city docks at Wilmington. It's a pleasant cruise with a town at the end itching to help you make it worth the effort.


Stay tuned for the review of Seapath Yacht Club at Wrightsville Beach to lean how the whole thing ticks. Hint: They're neighbors with less distance between them by land than by water.  

Marina Review – Bald Head Island Marina (NC) 2018 New

Welcome to another marina review on the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour. 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.

Bald Head Island Marina is another marina that serves a resort, similar to Harbour Town Yacht Basin at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island. But the two resorts couldn't be more different. And so are their marinas. Unlike the hustle and bustle of Sea Pines where everyone is encouraged to have fun, fun, fun, Bald Head Island resort is all about relaxation. It is not densely populated, and everything about it encourages big time chillaxin.
N: Navigability – The entrance to the marina is just three miles outbound from Southport, NC on the Cape Fear River. (If you are northbound on the ICW at Southport you turn right to the island instead of turning left to continue on the ICW.) Stay alert for the fast-moving ferry boats that run back and forth from the island and mainland. Also, the marina's entrance channel is right at the mouth of Cape Fear River and can be turbulent.


D: Dockage Plenty of depth. There are several very large, big boat slips that you can pull straight in to. Pumpout and fuel is to the right as you pull in. There are also a number of smaller slips to the left and right. The docks for the two ferry boats are directly to the right as you pull in to the basin. There is not a current per se, but the tides do raise and lower the water level a few feet. The two, sometimes three, ferry boats which come in and out about every thirty minutes or so do stir the water up though.

S: Services – Gasoline, diesel, and pump-out at the fuel dock.

A: Amenities – This is an island resort, so there are all the accoutrements you'd expect. There's golf, swimming, tennis, (all for very steep upcharges) nature trails, and a small shopping area in the middle of the island. There's a small but nicely stocked grocery store, a hardware store, and clothing and gift stores. There are bathrooms / showers / laundry for boaters and their guests; they're a little cramped. There are two restaurants at the marina and a couple elsewhere on the island. I did not personally see any marine service work being performed other than by boat owners and crew. There is one thing you will not see on Bald Head Island: cars. There are commercial vehicles on the island that have to come and go daily on a vehicle ferry. The only other gas-powered vehicles are the island's emergency vehicles. Everyone gets around the island on bicycles or electric golf carts. The nature conservancy is very nice, with tours to follow sea turtles and to explore the wonderful natural beauty of the island. But then, the whole idea of being on Bald Head Island in the first place is to relax, relax, relax. All that may seem like too much work.

A: Accessibility – Bikes, golf carts, or walking. Those are your only choices.

P: Provisioning – The small grocery store in the little central shopping district is surprisingly well stocked. And according to my admiral, the prices are a only a little higher than what you'd find on the mainland. We'd suggest that you stock up ahead of time, but you can certainly fill your needs as they arise.

P: Price – Their published transient rate on Active Captain is $1.50 per foot. Lots of discounts available. Not bad. Access fees to the pool and golf courses are steep!

Verdict – It's a lovely resort, and the marina makes it a pleasant stay. Everyone needs to splurge and enjoy it at least once.
Random Thoughts
Announce a securite' when you are about to enter or exit through the marina channel. It's narrow. The names of the ferries are Patriot and San Souci. The best time to pull out of the marina when you are leaving is just after a ferry has departed from there. With their alternating schedule you'll be guaranteed that you will not run into one of them on your way out.
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tags: marina, liveaboard boat, liveaboard boating, liveaboard sailboat, boating as a couple, living aboard a trawler, liveaboard cruiser, liveaboard boater, trawler, liveaboard, the on board life, someday's here, boating adventures, boating websites

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Marina Review – Barefoot Marina, Myrtle Beach (SC) 2018 New

This is another marina review on the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour. 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.

There are (was?) two Barefoot marinas on the ICW in Myrtle Beach. Barefoot LANDING marina, a long wooden facing dock on the east side of the channel, is now closed except for daytime-only docking … for $10 per visit. A large portion of the Barefoot Landing shopping and entertainment area is being redeveloped. Barefoot Marina, the full-service marina on the west side of the channel, is the marina this review is about.


N: Navigability – Smack dab on the west side of the ICW. You can't miss it. During summer weekends the area is, however, swarming with runabouts and PWCs. Watch it.

D: Dockage Three transient facing docks. Plenty of depth. They also have several basins with slips. (I was told all the slips are, so to speak, sold out. They all have long-term rentals in them.) The finger docks are long, and the thoroughfares are generous. The dock crew is alert and helpful. It's also appropriate to note that at least on the weekend we were there, they had plenty of workers. That's a good change from some marinas where the staff is stretched thin. It's also appropriate to note that we arrived there Memorial Day weekend, and it was nuts with pleasure boaters, PWC rentals, and people who have no business being in command of a boat sitting at helms believing they're driving their Toyota Camry. There is a current, but it's not Charleston-level. A lot of boaters pull in here to set themselves up to transit The Rockpile on a high-tide the next day.



S: Services – Gasoline, diesel, and pump-out at a fueling area on the transient dock. Local service technicians are available.

So far, so good.

A: Amenities – This is where it starts getting tricky. The marina itself (the docks, etc) is in tip-top condition. It's a pleasant place except that it is noisy during either of the two motorcycle weeks during the summer; we were there for the second. But things change the moment you walk up the ramp and through the magnetized security gates onto land. The marina is part of the larger Barefoot Resort. There is a large building that houses the bathrooms and showers, the condition of which I can attest was better in the past. They're cleaned every morning. The bases of the showers have that coating of perma-grime on them. In one bathroom there is an installed bench that is broken and disheveled. The linoleum tile floors are in need of upkeep. Like I said, they're clean, and I certainly don't want to make it sound like it's falling apart – it's not – but the underlying surfaces are showing wear and tear. There is a laundry with two washers and two driers – $1.25 per cycle. There is also a full-service restaurant that has an open/closed schedule that seems very fluid. There are three large timeshare (I guess) towers with a large swimming pool. Marina guests have access to the pool. We were docked fifty feet from the dockmaster's hut, and the wifi was marginal, then good, then marginal again, and back and forth.

Dockhand Denny is the guy that opens the marina up every morning. He works incredibly hard to make sure it is spic and span and cleaned up. Give him a tip.



A: Accessibility – You need a car to explore and enjoy Myrtle Beach at all. Simple as that, you need a car. The marina is on the west side of the channel and is isolated from everything else of interest or usefulness on the east side of the channel. You could certainly ride a bike or even walk, but it's a trek, and there's butt-loads of traffic to contend with. Uber and Lyft are available.

P: Provisioning – There's a Bi-Lo, Walgreens, and CVS 1.6 miles away as per Google Maps. There's a Walmart SuperCenter 4.1 miles away. There's a West Marine 6.5 miles away. NAPA auto parts: 2.7 miles. As already mentioned, they, along with everything else, are on the other side of the channel from the marina.

P: Price – Their published transient rate on Active Captain of $1.50 per foot is out of date. We paid $2.00 per foot. There was no additional charge for electricity.



Verdict – The marina is fine, no problems. But unless you want to burn some cash on Uber to get anywhere on the other side of the ICW, this is a rest stop. Take on some fuel, pump out, do some swimming, set yourself up to enter The Rockpile at high tide; its great for all that. Just be aware of some upkeep issues on shore.
Random Thoughts
There was a PWC rental business near us. It was noisy but not terrible.
This is a no-wake zone so there wasn't much rocking around.
Great swimming pool.

Big Random Thought
Where were all the transient boaters? There were only three other boats on the transient docks other than us. Has the whole Motorcycle Week(s) thing scared everyone away? This is a secure, substantial, and pleasant marina, even with the caveats.

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tags: marina, liveaboard boat, liveaboard boating, liveaboard sailboat, boating as a couple, living aboard a trawler, liveaboard cruiser, liveaboard boater, trawler, liveaboard, the on board life, someday's here, boating adventures, boating websites

Friday, June 1, 2018

New Video! Harbour Town Yacht Basin

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST VIDEO ABOUT THE HARBOUR TOWN YACHT BASIN ON HILTON HEAD ISLAND.


Marina Review – Charleston MEGA DOCK (SC) 2018 New

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.

When you come into Charleston you have several marinas to choose from. The one everyone talks about is the MEGA DOCK!!!! at the Charleston City Marina. (I just like saying MEGA DOCK!!!! Imagine there's an echo-effect of some kind.)
N: Navigability – Directly across from Elliott Cut of the Ashley River. I mean, it's a big marina so you can't miss it. Plenty of deep water, but there is a pretty hefty current too.


D: Dockage Big, long, transient facing dock. Plenty of depth. The facing dock is a hair over 1,500 feet long, and because the dock itself is very substantial it is very well suited for big, big yachts. A 287 footer came in while we were there. The current through there is very strong, and you have to be on your toes when pulling in or out. They do like to put boats on an inside thoroughfare along the main dock. We've heard stories of how boats can get screwed up in there because of the current. That was no place for a 46 foot single-engine, no-bow-thruster boat. We asked if we could be on the outside and they accommodated us without blinking. It got a little rocky and roll-y, but it wasn't bad. One thing they do that is interesting is that they have different size cleats on the dock that range from normal size ones for most recreational vessels to MEGA CLEATS!!!! (sorry. I couldn't resist.) for the really big boats.



S: Services – Gasoline, diesel at a fueling area on the mega dock. Multiple diesel fueling stations the entire length of the dock with very long hoses so fueling can happen almost anywhere. Pump-out at the fuel dock as well as by a pump out boat for a fee and 24 hour request. They have an in-house (or should I say in-marina) boat service service. There were quite a few technicians on the dock at any one time.

A: Amenities – The marina's office is right there on the docks. The bathrooms and showers are in very good shape: clean, up-to-date. There is a laundry. Wifi was somewhere between good and great. I think it would be easy to confuse the Charleston Yacht Club, a large blue building to the left of the marina as you walk onto the shore, as the on-shore clubhouse for the marina. It's not. There is an associated restaurant on shore to the right that people have said has good food. There's a gas station convenience mart. But, to be fair, they don't need awesome amenities at the marina because they have the spirit of the next section down pat.


A: Accessibility – Downtown Charleston is a vibrant and exciting destination with lot's of shopping, restaurants and attractions. You really should make time to explore it. The marina makes it easy. They operate a free hourly shuttle set up to make sure you can get to it all. It goes into downtown and will drop you off or pick you up darn near anywhere on the route.

P: Provisioning – There's a Harris Teeter on the shuttle route, so provisioning is possible. There's also a West Marine 3.4 miles away, and they make a shuttle run to it specifically at 11:00 am everyday. While the shuttle is very flexible about pickup / dropoff locations on the route, they don't deviate from it. Big box stores are not accessible. As said, the daily run off-course to West Marine is the only exception.

P: Price – Their published transient rate on Active Captain is $2.15 per foot. We paid $2.50 per foot plus electricity. Pricey.

Verdict – MEGA DOCK!!!! (I can't help myself) is a fun experience, and the closest and most convenient way to explore Charleston.


RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION: You MUST go to SNOB (Slightly North On Broad) and have their shrimp and grits. Great food with modern southern sophistication. Holy cats! It's a little pricey but worth it.



Random Thoughts
If you enjoy looking at lots of different kinds of boats, this is the place for you!
Busy, busy, busy.


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tags: marina, liveaboard boat, liveaboard boating, liveaboard sailboat, boating as a couple, living aboard a trawler, liveaboard cruiser, liveaboard boater, trawler, liveaboard, the on board life, someday's here, boating adventures, boating websites