While cruising down the ICW, we decided to go home for the holidays and visit our families and pets. To do this, we needed to leave our boat somewhere safe and affordable. We were close to Cape Fear, so we decided to pull into Joyner Marina.
Having lived aboard for five years, I know a nice marina when I see one! The piers were floating so you don't have to worry about your dock lines as the radical tide grew and fell by over 5 feet. The quality of the wood and woodwork of the piers construction was an entirely different level to anything I have ever encountered! The boards on the pier looked like they were put together by a professional yacht joiner. Each board flowed effortlessly and flushly into the next, and at the edge of the marina was another trim board to finish up the dock.
While a marina might just be a collection of piers and boats, this is not all that makes a marina great; it's the liveaboards that make the difference. Next to us, on a 37 foot Egg Harbor, was a lovely couple named Wes and Blair. They have two dogs and knew all the fun places to go in town for a good night. We would all go into town and eat at the local burger shacks and then pop over to the Fat Pelican, a famous dive bar, where you pick your own beer out of the giant walk-in cooler.
Our other neighbor was Dale, who had been following us on YouTube and was very excited to see us arrive and be tied up near him. Dale was a wealth of information about the hydrography of the ICW and how to best plan the safest and least eventful journey down the ICW. He has an old pet ferret, that is living out its last months. Once his pet named "Possum" passes, he will head to the Bahamas and begin cruising!
The last important part of a marina is the staff, and this can make or break a marina experience. The dock hands and dock master were all very happy and helpful people who had a way of making you feel like part of the family! They hosted a winter cookout and invited us to come join, where we ate hot dogs and burgers, while talking with the other liveaboards.
While our boat was there for about 1.5 months, we were only at the marina for around 1 week total. In that short amount of time, we fell in love with the place and found it very hard to muster up the courage to set sail away from there. We had such a great time there that we really never wanted to leave!
If you ever find yourself heading to Snow's Cut, consider stopping over at Joyner for a few nights to get a feel for the local flavors. It might even become a highlight of your trip down the ICW!