July 14th, 2022
Today was tinged with sadness as we had to leave the wonderful little town of Wilmington. We had such a great time here we really were sad to leave, this was also marking the end of our trip. We were heading home from now on, it was going to take us 2-days to hit New York, 1 day back to London, and another day to get back up to manchester, and we would be doing quite a bit of fun stuff on the way, but we were definitely heading home. However, before we left we had one last Wilmington Treat.
Nauti Times – Boat Rental
Background – Dawson Leery’s house was one Filming location we had been unable to reach in Wilmington. It is also possibly the most Iconic in the Series of Dawson Creek, after all the dock at the bottom of the Garden is actually ON Dawson’s Creek!
We know where the house is, and it would have been no issue to drive to it. Whilst researching the trip, we saw countless bloggers who had rocked up unannounced and pretty much proceeded to trespass on Private property. Some claim to have met the owners who allowed it, others less so, however, these are private residences and not really accessible without entering the property.
We didn’t want to do this without prior permission. So we contacted the owners via a handwritten letter asking if there was a chance we could visit them for a few minutes to see the house and the filming location. We would take No-Answer as a no and avoid the house, begrudgingly. However, the owners wrote back and politely explained that they no longer accepted visitors to the site and that could we please respect their privacy. No Problem.
Only, we still wanted to see the house, dock, and creek in some way. They invited us to check out their Instagram account, which we did.
On here was a random video, with one of the Twins walking to the end of his pier to chat with a couple of fishermen spinning the creek from their little boat. This gave us a brainwave! If we couldn’t visit the house, we could always hire a boat and sail up the creek!
We hit the net and started the research and it seemed no issue to white a boat from a couple of companies, all you needed was prior boating experience, of which I have plenty. So we got in touch with Nauti Times and they arranged for us to hire a nice Skiff for the morning from Carolina Beach State Park they also have a base at Wrigshville Beach which would have suited us better but we had contacted them late and had nothing available there.
Carolina Beach State Park
After packing up our apartment and heading out of Wilmington we drove down the Cape to Carolina Beach State Park marina where we met up with Nauti Times Boat Rentals. The agent got us check-in super fast and explained the intricacies of navigating the Waterway and where we were allowed to go, basically anywhere apart from up the Cape Fear River and out to see. This gives us a huge amount of waterway to explore. The Prices were:
- Half Day Morning – $320
- Half Day Afternoon – $380
- Full Day – $440
This provided us with a 21-foot California Skiff with a 115hp engine. After a little paperwork and the Nav briefing we were onto the boat and out onto the Intracoastal Waterway of North Carolina. The first section is through Snow’s Cut which gets you away from the River and into the main Waterway.
The Boat really got a shift on and as we powered through the high-sided cut it really was great fun. When we met boats there was some big surf to cut through but the Skiff was pretty large and heavy and slammed through with no issue. Out into the main channel and we powered up along the Cape on our left and the island beaches on the right. The skiff happily trotted along at 30mph and we followed the integrated Navigation system and depth finder along the deep channel until we got to Dawsons Creek.
Hewletts Creek is the actual name for the fictional creek, and the leery house and dock is a short way up the side river. However, these side channels were a lot shallower than the main channel, and even at really slow speeds, we went at zero-wake speed, we were finding the bottom getting a little close for comfort at times.
This was an expensive boat with a real expensive motor on the back and any damage to the boat, engine or propeller would be charged. And the tide was pouring out the creek so if we got grounded in any way we would be stuck for hours. As an experienced boater it was clear we were out f our depth, and as Katie has less confidence in my boating ability than I, she was very unnerved by a couple of the near misses.
However we made it as far as Dawson’s dock, but heading past it on the current tide would have resulted in disaster so we turned around at this point grabbed a few snaps, and headed back out to deeper water. You can just see the house peeking through the trees.
While our plan to visit the leery house succeeded, it was touch and go, and we REALLY would not recommend this to anyone, unless you are very experienced in navigation on this waterway we would stick to dry land.
Jack Parker Beach
You might be thinking this is a hell of a convoluted plan and huge expense just to get a shot of a dock that was used in a ’90s TV show, and you are right, but we were not planning on just visiting the creek. We had a whole waterway to explore and we love boating and getting out in the water so this whole experience was going to be fun.
We powered out into the ocean side channel and moored up near Jack Parker Beach and cracked out the fishing rod and suncream! We spent a relaxing hour soaking up the sun and river vibes by the beach. We did a little fishing but were not particularly successful, a few small bites but the baits were two large, and the small fish just nipped the tails off the Gulp worms.
We also had a picnic lunch we had brought with us and just basically relaxed on the water.
We then continued our journey along the Intercoastal waterway, heading up towards Wrightsville Beach. This is where we wanted to start from but in reality, with the speed of the boat, it was better from Carolina Beach as we got to sail Snow’s Cut which we would not have passed through from Wrightsville.
As we passed through the Wristville Area there was a No-Wake speed limit and this meant going really slow as we passed the incredible number of boats moored up in this heavily boaty part of the world. There were also hundreds of pelicans chilling out, sunning themselves on the Bouys and Pylons.
Back out onto the main Waterway again we could wind the throttle back up and power back down the waterway towards Carolina. The tide was running REALLY strong now and as we passed Dawsons Creek (Hewlett Creek) there would have been no way into the creek with this boat so a good job we sailed up earlier.
With the wind and the tide against us, it took a lot longer to get back to the Snows Cut turn off, and head back up to the marina, there was a lot more traffic and we had a pretty bumpy ride back. The water was far shallower too, and doing 30mph in 5-6 feet of water is pretty alarming! We made it back safe and checked back in with the Nauti Times Crew.
Fuel is charged separately from the charter and we used around $60 of fuel. The agent checked over the boat and confirmed we hadn’t broken anything and we were on our way. It was stinking hot by now and we were pretty relieved to get into the aircon. Out on the water, the temps were cooler and the constant breeze cooled us down, but as we pulled into the marina it was like entering an oven!
We still had a few hours we could spend in Wilmington, but with the car loaded and almost everything ticked off for this trip we decided the best option was to begin our journey back to New York. We would be driving to Washinton and then going back on the train. this was a 6-hour drive and over 400miles so we decided to break it up.
So today we just had a 4-hour haul up to Richmond, Virginia. The drive was pretty uneventful, thankfully. We were straight onto the Interstate Network and just powered up the country.
Richmond is an interesting City with quite a bit of history and culture right on the James River, but we chose it purely for its location partway back to DC. We had chosen a Roadside Strip-mall location purely for convenience. This was just an overnight stop to rest and get ready to go again. Richmond’s history and Culture will have to wait.
The Sleep Inn Hotel we checked into was actually really nice. We had gone mainly on price and it was nice and cheap, but the desk was welcoming and the room was modern, new, and really clean. We had pretty low expectations so it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised.
We headed to a Local Chili’s for dinner and had a great meal. We know it’s just a chain restaurant but it is such good value, with bottomless nachos, a huge entree, and a house margarita for $13.50, you really can’t complain.
After dinner, we hunted out an ABC Store. We needed some Gifts to take back with us and some of The Rocks Tequila that we just can’t get at home. We really struggled to get liquor in the southern controlled states, you need to head to a government-run ABC store to buy it and well we have just been pretty busy. We mainly stuck to just beer and wine but finally hunted one out for our take-home alcohol (we find US Duty Free to be pretty poor)
We then just relaxed in our room for the evening, ready for our final push north tomorrow. It seems pretty odd we were in North Carolina this morning and would be in New York this time tomorrow, without boarding a plane!
Walking Total – 4,272 Steps – 2.2 Miles
Another big driving day so very few steps