The problem with NC''s coast is that it''s PO-Dunk compared to other states. Snazzy upscale areas we haven''t got.
Short-short explanations: Let me start by saying that the location of a Wal-mart in NC will be our a basis for defining any settled area that''s risen above third-world status.
Wilmington/Wrightsville is the most modern place we have, and that''s not saying much when you compare it to other coastal towns/cities. They have Wal-mart, and Best Buy. Very advanced for us swamp people. But very expensive. I checked on slips and it would cost me $1000 a month to park my boat in a choppy space that wasn''t even close to conveniences.
Oriental is nice, has good protection and good location for jumping off to other areas, but it''s a day''s trip to the real coast no matter which way you go. It''s also the END OF THE ROAD, not even a Wal-Mart. Excellent repair facilities, however, they do have.
Beaufort is nice, sort of backwater but it''s a short drive to modern conveniences and at least there is a Wal-mart in neighboring Morehead City. It''s right on the coast and Cape Lookout (the best spot in NC in my opinion) is only a few hours sail from the inlet.
Hatteras is not a good sailboat place. Great for sportfishing, bad for sail. Don''t let anyone talk to putting your boat there, it will take you an hour just to get out the channel into navigable water.
Southport is expensive, 50% snotty, and a good stopping point on the ICW. Why they are snotty I have no idea - the town is very rednecky but they DO have a Wal-mart.
Washington, where I keep my boat, is very redneck but very cheap. They do have a wal-mart, and it''s open 24 hours. You do need a car to get around, though. It''s also 2 hours from Raleigh without any major congestion spots on the highway. Don''t keep your boat at the waterfront, though. The locals are, shall we say, resentful of ''rich boy toys'' and are rumored to throw rocks. McCotter''s Marina is a good remote spot adjacent to the country and yacht club. Shabby but solid facilities (withstood several hurricanes intact) but you can''t beat $150 a month for a 40-foot slip that includes power and water. It''s also fresh water, well-protected, and not prone to tidal depth variances. Straight shot down the Pamlico River out Ocracoke Inlet if you feel like taking some time offshore, although it will take a good full day to get there.
Any further north you will have problems with the navigability of the water for a liveaboard-sized boat. The bridge from the mainland to Roanoke Island is not full ICW height, so you''ll have to go through the Alligator-Pungo canal all the way back to Belhaven in order to pass through.