Most marine supplies can be obtained in Southport. Along its waterfront there are several fish wharves, service wharves, a yacht basin, and a small-boat harbor, as well as restaurants and motels. Berthage with electricity, gasoline, diesel fuel, water, ice, a pump-out station and marine supplies are available at these facilities.
The Wilmington Cape Fear Pilots Association maintains an office and a lookout tower (33°55.0’N., 78°01.2’W.) adjacent to the town pier, which had 18 feet reported alongside in 1983. A yacht basin is on the north side of the Intracoastal Waterway about 0.2 mile westward of the lookout tower. In 2010, the controlling depth was 5.8 feet in the basin, except for depths of 2 feet near the pier at the head. The small-boat harbor, 0.45 mile westward of the lookout tower, has lifts to 75 tons for hull, engine, and electrical repairs. In 2008, depths of 3 to 6 feet were in the small-boat harbor with lesser depths in the east part and along the edges. A storm barrier on the south bank of the Intracoastal Waterway protects the harbor.
Click the “Map View” button above to see a chart of this harbor.
Cape Fear River, 370 miles long and the approach to the city of Wilmington, empties into the sea immediately westward of Cape Fear.
Oak Island Light (33°53’34″N., 78°02’06″W.), 169 feet above the water, is shown from a 155-foot cylindrical tower, upper part black, middle white, and lower part gray, on Oak Island on the western side of Cape Fear River entrance. It is the most conspicuous object in the approach. The abandoned lighthouse, known as Old Baldy on the west side of Smith Island, and the buildings of the Oak Island Coast Guard Station, westward of Fort Caswell, are also conspicuous.
Western Bar Channel, close to Fort Caswell on the western side of the entrance to Cape Fear River, is used considerably by small craft bound westward along the coast. This unmarked channel had a reported depth of 8 feet in 1983, and the best water was about 50 yards offshore. The channel is not stable, and local knowledge is advised for boats drawing over 6 feet. Abreast Oak Island Coast Guard Station, the shore should not be approached closer than 0.3 miles. A dredged channel from Cape Fear River to the Coast Guard wharf had a reported midchannel controlling depth of 4½ feet in 1998. The channel is marked by daybeacons and lights.
Southport is on the west bank of Cape Fear River 3 miles above the mouth.