Wilmington is, above all, defined by its proximity to the water, and there’s no better way to understand that relationship than to take a Wrightsville Beach Scenic Cruise. Of course, while the scenery is magnificent, the focus isn’t about the vistas but about the area’s history, ecology, birds, marine life, development and even yachts.
U.S.C.G Captain Joseph Abbate, who also answers to the name of “company owner” and “Cape Fear Naturalist,” is an acknowledged expert in the area of coastal birds as well as environmental education. Equally important, his genuine enthusiasm for his subject energizes everyone on board.
“Ooooh, look, look quickly. This is the coolest bird ever. You don’t know how lucky you are to see one.” He slows the motor on the 27-foot catamaran, and the 15 passengers, who on this particular day range from ten to “not telling,” rush to get out their binoculars. “That’s an American oyster catcher,” says Abbate.
In the course of an hour we see innumerable pelicans and gulls and loons, as well as great egret, osprey, terns and the home of a rich billionaire who has a helicopter landing pad in his front yard.
Special tours can be arranged that cater to children, families, birdwatchers, etc. Some even include disembarking on a small island.