We are excited to announce that our Water Tours are up and running again!
The Tour Boat “Sally Ann” is back in the water and offering water tours. We are operating on a limited schedule and at a limited capacity for right now and will be running our full schedule soon.
To reserve a seat on the water tour you can call us, purchase tickets online, or in person. We are the only Tour Boat in Southport and Oak Island and would be happy to to take you and your group out for a tour.
If you have any questions please call us at 910-523-6021. We are located in downtown Southport beside Fishy Fishy and Provisions Company.
We are Open for Boat Rentals! Our Water Tours will be available soon at a limited capacity.
Safety always comes first on the water and we are extending that awareness to dry land by practicing safe distancing, cleaning all touched surfaces regularly, and wearing masks when in close contact with customers.
We also used this downtime to add benches to our docking area.
We hope to see y’all soon!
Hurricane Florence was a very damaging storm but we have rebuilt and reopened. Our docks were completely destroyed and it was very disheartening to watch. Hurricanes are part of life here on the coast and our area is sometimes considered “hurricane ally”.
We are actually pretty lucky compared to some other places and everywhere has its hazards like California has wildfires and Hawaii has volcanoes. All we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We pulled our boats out of the water and put them on trailers. Then we took them to a yard without trees. We stripped the boats of anything that might catch wind, tied them down, and kept a close eye on them during the storm and the days of rain that followed.
After the storm we helped the neighbors with there yards and houses. Robert, one of the owners of Southport boat rentals is an excellent at tree removal and we all got together for a week to help out the community. We got trees cut down off of people’s houses and garages, out of their driveways and off of fences. It was really sad to see all of the damages from hurricane Florence but it felt good to help and see other people helping also.
Then came the time to deal with our docks and problems of our own. It was pretty bad. Everything from our floating docks to our walkways and ramps, even our staircase and sign were all in such poor shape we had to start from scratch. Good thing Robert is also an expert carpenter! We built a new frame for our deck using pilings for support. Instead of stairs like last time, we engineered a handicap accessible ramp on the parking lot side. Mcphearson marine helped us reset our old pilings that hold our dock in place and Chris Lowell built our actual floating docks right there in our parking lot and pushed them in the water at high tide. With the docks in place we measured and built new gangways (the ramp that connects floating docks to a fixed dock or bulkhead). After the gangways were in place it was time to add cleats to the dock. Chris came back and added nice new rub rails for the sides of the dock. Then we started bringing everything back. Our tent, bar, bench, and last but not least, our large Southport Boat Rental sign that has our phone number on it.
The very next day we had 2 boat rentals and the day after we went on a fishing charter. I’m just getting back from a sand dollar safari as I’m writing this and it sure does feel good to get back to work! Thanks for reading.
Flounder fishing is in full swing this time of year and these are our top 3 best fishing tips on getting them on the hook and in the boat.
Tip 1 Location
Flounder and drum can be found around most inlets, in creeks (deeper water), main channels like the icw, and just off the beach.
Tip 2 Bait
Use smaller live bait like mud minnows, finger mullet, and menhaden (pogies). Carolina rigs with live bait rigged on number 1 and 1/0 circle hooks with a 20 pound floro leader will put dinner on the table. Artificial bait like a gulp swimming mullet with a 1/4 once jighead is a great way to find flounder and drum when the live bait is scarce.
Tip 3 Temperature
The flounder aren’t as picky but the red drum bite is usually best in the morning and evening when the water is not so hot. The occasional rain showers we get during this time of year are perfect for cooling he water off and starting the red drum bite. Deeper, cooler water is where these fish are hiding around Southport in July
Hey Everyone, we have been asked by many locals and visitors to do a daily weather report since we at Southport Boat Rentals are on our dock getting our rental boats ready every morning. We are located right in downtown Southport at the intersection of the Atlantic ICW and the Cape Fear River giving us a great vantage point to see the local weather.
Today 8/9/17 we have heavy cloud coverage and light to no wind 1-5 knots out if the NNE. The forecast for today is cloudy early with scattered thunderstorms developing this afternoon. High of 79 and winds increasing to 5-10 mph. Tonight is variable clouds with scattered thunderstorms. Low of 72 with light winds and a 60 percent chance of rain.
We do have a few rental boats out today and might go out for a Sunset Tour if the rain holds off a little longer.
Please check back with us for daily weather reports and information about shipping boats in our area.
Thanks for reading
Located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Bald Head Island ends where the treacherous sand bars known as Frying Pan Shoals begin. Large sand bars seasonally emerge from and subsequently retreat into the sea. It is thought that Bald Head Island emerged from one such sandbar, stabilized by the establishment of plant life, creating a permanent island.
Over 400 years ago, Native Americans were fishing and hunting in the creeks, forest and on the shoreline of the Cape Fear River. Midden sites (shell mounds) have been found near the creeks, documenting the Indians’ presence and reliance on the abundant shellfish. Unfortunately, disease and war killed most of the population before much was learned about the original inhabitants.
In 1524, explorer Giavanni da Verrazano reached what is thought to be the Cape Fear River. He was followed by Lucas Vasques de Ayllon and Sir Walter Raleigh, but attempts to colonize the Cape Fear during the 1600s, were unsuccessful. During that period, the area was called Cape of Feare.
In the 1660s, William Hilton initiated an expedition called the “Adventures of Cape Fayre” by English Puritan dissidents. Sandy, barren soil made farming impossible and colonization efforts were abandoned. Hilton tried again in 1667, but efforts were again foiled.
In 1713, the authorities in North Carolina issued a land grant to Thomas Smith for Cape Island, which was then renamed Smith Island.
Many pirates found refuge in the island’s back creeks, the most locally famous of which was Stede Bonnet, known as the “Gentleman Pirate.” Originally a plantation owner from Barbados, he purchased a sloop named Revenge, outfitted it with guns and a crew, and set sail along the East Coast. He sailed as partner to Blackbeard for a time. He was captured and hung in 1718.
In 1776, the British left a small garrison of troops and a few naval vessels to keep the Cape Fear port closed to Continental shipping. They created Fort George on the southwestern corner of Bald Head Island. The Continentals were occupying Fort Johnson across the river. The Continentals launched an attack against the British but were forced to retreat back across the river after the British vessels opened fire. British troops withdrew a month later.
The first lighthouse on Bald Head was authorized by the Commissioners of the Cape Fear in 1789. Land for the light, built on the extreme point nearest the sandbar to warn ships of the great shoal called Frying Pan, was donated by Benjamin Smith. Construction was completed in December 1794. Lightkeeper Henry Long, operated the lighthouse until 1806. Within 20 years of being built, the light succumbed to erosion, being too close to the water. By July 1813, the light was condemned.
Old Baldy was completed in 1817, built farther from the eroding shores. Its purpose was to help vessels navigate the southern entrance to the Cape Fear River. It was first decommissioned when the Confederate states turned off all their lighthouses at the beginning of the Civil War.
Fort Holmes was erected in 1863 and 1864 as part of a defense system for the lower Cape Fear River Basin. Although no major battles were fought here, Fort Holmes was a successful deterrent to the Union army because of its strategic location. Given the presence of two navigable entrances, that at Bald Head and a second above Smith Island at New Inlet, the river was ideal for Confederate supplies via blockade runners. Fort Holmes was constructed of earthen works, reinforced with palmetto and oak logs. Four batteries extended along the east side of the fort. The fifth and largest, Battery Holmes, with bombproof magazines, was at the island’s southwestern point.
From the 1870s until 1937, the Cape Fear Lifesaving Station was active with life savers patrolling the shore day and night watching for ships in distress. No matter how bad the weather, the life savers would row their surfboats out to wrecks and assist survivors back to shore.
In 1854, because there was still a need for a light to aid vessels navigating Frying Pan Shoals, Frying Pan Lightship was positioned on the shoals. However, the lightship broke loose multiple times from its anchor and would be in the wrong place so proposals for a another light house started in 1889. In 1901 construction began Cape Fear Lighthouse, a steel 150’ tall structure. First they laid a railway from the west end of the island to the east, then the railway transported materials and supplies over 3 miles (5 km) to the site of the lighthouse both during construction and operation. The railway is now remembered by the straight portion of Federal Road.
In 1916, T.F. Boyd of Hamlet, NC, purchased Smith Island and renamed it “Palmetto Island.” He built a beach boardwalk, pavilion and an eight room hotel. Boyd managed to sell 40 lots and cleared several streets before he lost the island in foreclosure for back taxes during the Great Depression.
Frank Sherrill bought the island in 1938 and announced he had “big development plans.” In 1964, the public became aware of the grandiose plans and a conservation battle began. Sherrill eventually abandoned his plans and in 1970 the Cape Fear Corporation purchased the island. Honoring the protests against major development, three fourths of Smith Island, its marshes, the east beach, Bluff, Battery and Striking islands were deeded to the state of North Carolina for conservation.
Since 1983, Bald Head Island Limited has been the named developer. Many of the island’s support organizations also began about that time, including the Bald Head Association in 1982 and the Bald Head Island Conservancy in 1983.
The actual Cape Fear itself (the Point), thanks to island inhabitants and the developer, was purchased from the developer and placed in the Smith Island Land Trust, where it will be left in its natural state, never to be developed.
There is a North Carolina Forest Preserve located on Bald Head Island. This forest preserve is an example of the maritime forests that existed at the time the colonists came to America. It is worth the trip to go to the Forest Preserve, walk the nature trail and see sights such as the huge live oak tree at its tail end.
For more history go to the Old Baldy Foundation Website. This information is from Bald Head association.
Come join us for a tour around Southport and surrounding areas. All tours are private and comfortably seat up to six people. We set out from the Old Yacht Basin right between Fishy Fishy Cafe and the Yacht Basin Eatery. Depending on what the group would prefer we can head towards Bald Head Island or down the Intra coastal waterway towards Oak Island and St James. We also pick Groups up from Bald Head Island Marina, St James Marina, or any other dock that is accessible by boat.
For more information contact Southport Boat Rentals at 910-523-6012
Here at Southport Boat Rentals we want you to have the best time possible. There are many different activities available and we can help you if you let us know what you have in mind. Secluded beaches are what most groups look for but others like to find the beaches with boat parties and plenty of other boaters to meet and chat with. The boating community here is very welcoming and friendly. Fishing is big in our area and we can tell you where the best place to look for the fish depending on the time of year. Water sports are always popular and we have tubes, skis, wake boards, and knee boards to get you going. Dolphin and birds are frequently spotted and if you are a ” birder” there are bird sanctuaries around for your viewing pleasure.
What we are trying to say is that there are many options for what you can do and we can help custom design your trip to whatever fits your needs. All you have to do ask!
Southport Boat Rentals offers Sunset Boat Rides every night of the week. Each boat can hold 6 passengers with 1 captain for every 6 passengers. we have 4 boats used for Sunset Water Tours and can bring groups up to 20 people. Just call us and sign up alone or with a group. The tour can be private or with others and you will get the chance to meet with our captains and learn about the history of Southport and the mighty Cape Fear River.
We have the best sunset cruise around and provide a cooler and ice so you can bring the beverages of your choice and enjoy the ride. The trip can be towards Bald Head Island, Oak Island, or down the waterway to St James plantation. After the sun sets we return to the small harbor of Southport all lit up and waiting for us.
If you have any ideas for special occasions just let us know over the phone and we arrange a custom package just for you!