WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – For boaters wanting to take an overnight trip to the Port City, don’t plan on spending the night at the city’s docks – over the summer the city quietly moved away from allowing boaters to stay for a few nights to restricting the use of the city’s docks to daytime use only.
Hari Volikas has used the city’s docks for overnight stays for years but got a surprise when he found out that over the summer the city changed the policy.
“Why Wilmington decided to do this is beyond me. It’s – they call it a port city, what’s the sense of having a port city if you have nowhere to port,” he asked.
Volikas has a 30-foot sailboat that he says he often takes downtown to enjoy a night or two out on the town – without having to worry about sailing home that night. But now the city says he can no longer do that.
Wilmington spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron said the city made the decision based on an apparent lack of interest in the use of the city’s docks.
“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in users of the public docks and that’s attributed to the private marinas, the private docks with better amenities opening up,” she said.
But for Volikas, he’s not as interested in the amenities as he is in the location.
“I see no allure to come here, if I want to come and tie up downtown, I want to be downtown. If people come up from Southport or any areas like that they are traveling a long way only to be turned around which is unfortunate,” he said.
It’s not just about the inconvenience for him but he also said that this move could have safety implications if boaters going downtown for a night out have to drive back to somewhere like Southport or Carolina Beach at night.
“I want to come up, tie-up, have an enjoyable night, and not have to worry about having to navigate the river back down in the dark. I’m not afraid to do it – but there are oftentimes obstacles in the river that you just can’t see at night,” he said.
It’s also a safety issue because he says that many times people who come to stay the night on their boat have been out drinking and should not be trying to navigate the Cape Fear River.
Regardless of the rules and possible consequences, Volakis says he is going to keep on doing what he has always done.
“I’ve been tying up downtown for a long time, and it just does not sit well with me. As I said at the beginning of our talk, I plan on challenging it and if I risk arrest – so be it – that’s where we are now,” he said.
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