Monday, October 31, 2016

Carolina Beach, NC -- "a redneck's Wrightsville Beach"

White Pepper stumbled onto Carolina Beach by accident. Luckily making the 2 pm (once only hourly) opening at Wrightsville Beach Swing Bridge, we decided to carry on instead of the traditional choice of anchoring at Wrightsville Beach. Our goal was Southport, NC. Later, the short, albeit beautiful, late October day and a contrary current put paid to that plan. What else?

Mob Scene on ICW after crowded opening at Wrightsville Bridge 2 pm

Carolina Beach is 20 miles south of Wrightsville Beach and only one mile off of the magenta line that marks the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). However, it is never mentioned in the litany of stops on the great migration South. One of our experienced friends, Cindy, had casually said there was a “cute” mooring field at Carolina Beach. There was a 3 line entry in the Skipper Bob cruising guide mentioning a mooring field at Carolina Beach. Rather than making for Southport in the dark, I pulled over at mile marker 285. We were amazed at the congestion. There were boats, docks, marinas and condos solidly for a mile and a half on each side of a well marked channel. And we had never heard of this place! By and by White Pepper found the mooring field. It was full (long story); but we ended up at a private marina—Mona Black Marina.

 Carolina Beach looking north

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Basing at the marina was a blessing as Jan and I were able to explore the town of Carolina Beach and meet the people. Everyone was extraordinarily friendly even by the standards of a tourist town. One local at the marina described Carolina Beach as a “redneck's Wrightsville Beach.” Somehow the description seemed to fit as the town exudes a rough and tumble beach beauty. The beach is, indeed, beautiful. The town stretches linearly along the beach as do most North Carolina beach towns. However, it does seem to have rough and tawdry edges. All of the locals that we spoke to were quite pleased to live here and especially praised the activities available during the summer—carnivals, fireworks and bands.
Jan at beach bar on the boardwalk

White Pepper spent 4 days at the Mona Black Marina waiting for weather window to jump to Charleston. Light provisions were available with a bit of walking. We felt the time was well spent and can recommend Carolina Beach as a good stop on the journey up and down the ICW.