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Wandering Aimlessly
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You've got a number of different ways to go in that area, though I'm not really familiar with the marinas.

I would look at Wrightsville Beach first. Good inlet out to open water.

Southport is near the mouth of the Cape Fear R, but there's extensive shoaling out from the east side into the open water.

There's also Carolina Beach along the ICW, but it's inlet is marginal, at best.

Not sure what's along the Cape Fear R between Southport and Wilmington.
 

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I have my sailboat at Federal Point Yacht Club in Carolina Beach. It's just four hours sail through Snow's cut and down the Cape Fear and out the Southport Inlet. You can dinghy to the town dock or do a 5 minute walk and be just two blocks from the beach and Britt's Doughnuts. It has VERY clean shower rooms and a lovely pool.
 

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I vote for Southport, a good marina with good repair services, one of the loveliest towns on the East Coast less than an hours drive from Wilmington and close to the ocean with protected day sailing.

However, the Cape Fear River inlet can be exciting on the ebb with onshore winds.

Phil
 
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