It would take something grand to bring the 145 foot custom yacht “Island Heiress” to downtown Wilmington, a luxury vessel with 6 rooms, an outdoor bar, Jacuzzi, swim up bar, inflatable water slide and room for a crew – that’s a crew, in addition to the guests – of ten.
That grand opening is the new Port City Marina, with state-of-the-art floating concrete wet slips, 6,000 feet of linear dock space, drafts up to 25 feet, and a full range of first class amenities. From ice and showers to a full-service fuel dock with ethanol-free gasoline and high speed diesel, Wilmington’s new downtown marina is ramping up the city’s long history as a boating destination.
Port City Marina, which covers 10 acres on the Cape Fear River just north of Wilmington’s Convention Center, is easy accessible from the ocean via the Intracoastal Waterway. Although the river has a reputation for being difficult to navigate – perhaps even just due to its ominous name – the trip upriver is unanimously reviewed as beautiful, interesting and a rewarding experience. The destination of downtown Wilmington – and its restaurants, theater, music scene and shopping – is a fine reward for boaters who make Port City Marina a stop.
In the office at Port City Marina, the phone is ringing steadily with inquiries. Security? Yes, staff boasts about both marina personnel and the exemplary support and attention marina guests receive from the Wilmington police. Accessibility? Only three miles from the ILM airport. Throw in the free trolley downtown, golf carts to buzz around the marina, complimentary Wi-Fi and more… the entire marina is a world away from where the harbor was a decade ago, when developers began planning the transformation.
“The marina was basically a junk yard when we started the project; it has been totally transformed into what you see now, and there are projects – like the condos and retail development – that haven’t broken ground yet,” says Pete Werling, Marina Manager. “The long-range vision for what the marina is bringing to Wilmington is really exciting, and it’s going to benefit the greater Wilmington area.”
Port City Marina is poised for even more exciting development, with two major restaurants, Blackfinn Ameripub and Vida Cantina – including an outdoor Tiki Bar – scheduled to open this fall. A band shell on the north dock, Riverfront Park, public art installations, and extension of the Riverwalk all the way to the Marina office – already open – includes Wilmington residents and visitors in the excitement. It’s a lovely walk along the docks, with almost 50% of the slips occupied and an interesting collection of sailboats, yachts and fishing boats visiting the city. Slips are available daily, weekly, monthly and long-term, so the “on-the-water scenery” promises to be ever-changing for boat lovers.
The marina will also be the anchor location for Wilmington’s first-class boat show, which will take place from September 9-11, and events that will envelop Pier 33, Wilmington Convention Center and Battleship Park. The boat show will be open to the public with activities for the entire family. Boat lines from all over the Carolinas and beyond will be displayed in-water, with a demo dock for serious buyers and great end-of-season deals. The show will be produced by JBM & Associates, the group that has produced both the Charleston and Savannah Boat Shows. Wilmington’s show will have vendors, fishing and sailing seminars and programs celebrating our coastal lifestyle.
Wilmington Boat Show
Port City Marina