Thursday, April 30, 2015

Carolina Beach State Park Marina - Best kept secret on the ICW

How would you like to meet this in the Rock Pile?
We headed north through the famous "Rock Pile" and once again didn't meet another boat. In the five years we've been up and down the ICW, we've yet to meet an oncoming boat in the Rock Pile. However, we did see a dredge that seemed to cover the entire channel. We called on all the VHF channels but got no response. Finally we squeezed by on the red side and made it through. The day turned out to be better than forecasted with light winds and no rain, we made good time.

The docks are well kept and shielded from winds by the trees in the photo
North Carolina has taken care of their inlets and we didn't have any depth problems between Barefoot Landing and Carolina Beach. You had to pay attention to keeping in some narrow channels but the depth was there. Now if only Georgia and South Carolina would do the same!

A pretty marina, lots of trails to hike
Now to the best kept secret. How would you like the following features of a marina:
- Completely protected from all wakes and waves
- Laundry at $1 a load for either washer or dryer
- Nature trails to hike at your leisure, no extra charge. They include wild Venus Flytraps and Painted Buntings
- Free 30 and 50 amp service
- Excellent, new docks
- No reservations needed, it's always empty
And the kicker is all this for a flat rate of $30/day for a maximum of at 43 ft boat. You can get all this at Carolina Beach State Park Marina.

The only downside is the 6.5 MLW approach and the 5.7 MLW depth by the face docks. For me that's fine with my 4' 9" keel. It's hard to understand why it's so empty. It was overhauled three years ago and they upped the rates to the present level ($30/day) and drove away their local customers but it's still a good deal for cruisers on the ICW. You will get no help in docking however, they are park rangers not marina operators. If they do happen to come out, they know nothing about how to handle lines in docking a boat, you're on your own. If you dock on the end like I did, there's a pier between you and the dock so you have to adjust your fenders for that.

Also a great place to watch the sunset
We looked for Pirate today but he didn't come out. We still can't figure out where he hides. I think he needs warmer days. We'll leave for Swan Point Marina on Friday, a marina with real character.