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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased a used 2016 Tracker Pro Guide V16. It has an 18" draft. I bought it in SC and we tested before buying on the fresh parts of the ICW and the Waccamaw River. I enjoyed this more than I though I would. What parts of the Cape Fear would this boat be safe to use? I assume Cape Fear and Black River around Roan Island south to the Surry Street access area in Wilmington would be OK, or does the water get too salty there (My trailer appears to be painted steel). If the water is safe for my boat and trailer, how far south can I go before I start asking for trouble with the boat?

Further North how is the river for a boat like mine? I know you can't fully navigate because of the inactive locks, but apart from them is it safe?

I live in Fayetteville and often see log jams when I pass over the river on bridges.

Any particular stretches of the river that are particularly good for either fishing or leisurely cruising? Same goes for the connecting portions of the Black, Brunswick, and NE Cape Fear.

Thank you,
 

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The Cape Fear River at Wilmington can get very salty, it all depends on the tides, how much fresh water is coming down the river, and wind direction. The further up you go, the less salt. I don't advise dunking your trailer in the Wilmington ramp. Your boat should be fine, but be sure to wash it thoroughly after use and flush your engine with fresh water for at least 15 minutes.

There's a ramp in Castle Hayne that should be safe for you to launch.
 

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I've seen skeeter and pontoon boats 3-5 miles offshore (brave souls I admit) so it really depends on you aversion to risk. Just remember it's your life you're playing with. I personally play it by ear...if it's slick and the winds out of the right direction, I'll hit the stream...but then, I'm running a 22 ft CC with a 22 degree deadrise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice guys. Castle Hayne might be a bit further than I'd typically want to drive (almost as far as Myrtle Beach), but I will definitely keep it in mind. What's the river like south of lock 1? The satellite imagery on Google Maps is not clear, I cannot tell if there are rapids or if it's just the way the sun hit the water when the images were taken (I've seen similar patterns on what I know to be calm lakes, so I'm assuming its not rapids). If the river is clear enough, it looks like it would be easier for me to get to the Roan island area from their instead of from Castle Hayne.

I'm not planning on going off shore, just trying to figure out how far south on the river my boat and trailer wouldn't get damaged with salt water.. worried more about the trailer and it's nooks and crannies than I am of the boat.
 

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There are no rapids on the Cape Fear below the dams. Current is generally pretty strong after heavy rains up around Jordan Lake. The main hazards like most places are floating and submerged logs. Black River has some very good fishing, but when the water is low, it's treacherous to navigate, especially the further you go up in it.
 

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I recently purchased a used 2016 Tracker Pro Guide V16. It has an 18" draft. I bought it in SC and we tested before buying on the fresh parts of the ICW and the Waccamaw River. I enjoyed this more than I though I would. What parts of the Cape Fear would this boat be safe to use? I assume Cape Fear and Black River around Roan Island south to the Surry Street access area in Wilmington would be OK, or does the water get too salty there (My trailer appears to be painted steel). If the water is safe for my boat and trailer, how far south can I go before I start asking for trouble with the boat?

Further North how is the river for a boat like mine? I know you can't fully navigate because of the inactive locks, but apart from them is it safe?

I live in Fayetteville and often see log jams when I pass over the river on bridges.

Any particular stretches of the river that are particularly good for either fishing or leisurely cruising? Same goes for the connecting portions of the Black, Brunswick, and NE Cape Fear.

Thank you,
I recently purchased a used 2016 Tracker Pro Guide V16. It has an 18" draft. I bought it in SC and we tested before buying on the fresh parts of the ICW and the Waccamaw River. I enjoyed this more than I though I would. What parts of the Cape Fear would this boat be safe to use? I assume Cape Fear and Black River around Roan Island south to the Surry Street access area in Wilmington would be OK, or does the water get too salty there (My trailer appears to be painted steel). If the water is safe for my boat and trailer, how far south can I go before I start asking for trouble with the boat?

Further North how is the river for a boat like mine? I know you can't fully navigate because of the inactive locks, but apart from them is it safe?

I live in Fayetteville and often see log jams when I pass over the river on bridges.

Any particular stretches of the river that are particularly good for either fishing or leisurely cruising? Same goes for the connecting portions of the Black, Brunswick, and NE Cape Fear.

Thank you,
You can run a long way upstream on the river from downtown Wilmington. I have a 20 ft bay boat and can easily run from downtown ramp to HWY 210 bridge on the Black River or to Hwy 53 on the North East Cape Fear river side. Pay attention to floating obstructions which are of course more prevalent after heavier rains. Generally, keep the boat closer to the outside bends where the water is deeper and you will have plenty of depth. I think downtown is borderline for launching a painted trailer. I certainly would advise against launching anywhere south of here if you don't have a galvanized or aluminum trailer. Saltwater can really cause problems to a painted trailer, even with limited exposure. Furthermore, in times of low rainfall, the salt wedge moves upriver with reduced fresh runoff to hold it back. I don't think you would have any issues with salt water damage to your trailer if routinely launching from Castle Hayne on the NE Cape Fear as has already been stated or at lock and dam #1 off Hwy 87 on the Cape Fear, which is closer to Fayetteville. One other option is the Hunts Bluff ramp off 11/53 between Kelly and Atkinson on the Black River. Be cautious boating from here all the way down to the 210 bridge, the water can be skinny in a few places, moreso if things have been dry and river level is lower. Once you get to the 210, you can relax and be fine as long as you follow normal precautions. There is not too much navigable water for a power boat north of Hunts Bluff ramp before you run into the swamp where all the old trees are located.
 
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