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Hitching rides to Masonboro illegal, dangerous

READ MORE: Hitching rides to Masonboro illegal, dangerous

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Masonboro Island is a popular destination on the 4th of July, but the increased population on the island during the holiday may cause some issues and even break some laws.

Masonboro Island has seen upwards of 2,000 people on summer holidays like the 4th of July.

The easiest and safest way to get to the island is by boat, so many people hire water taxis to get to the beach. But sometimes, beachgoers are left without a ride.

"The swim is dangerous," said James Thornton, owner of Masonboro Water Taxi. "It's windy in the afternoon, and they're stranded, and it's getting darker and it's not a good position to be in."

Thornton says his business provides rides to and from the island with a ticket purchase, but illegal boat rides are not as reliable.

The Coast Guard says if anyone is found operating an unlicensed service, they will be fined. Fines can reach thousands of dollars. The amount of that fine depends on how many people are being transported.

Thornton says people are not the only thing left behind, though.

"Trash is a big issue," he said. "We've got to get it off the island. I don't tolerate any garbage or litter or empty beer cans being thrown off my boat. We'll double back immediately for those. I encourage any parties going out to take trash bags and take your trash with you."

The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office says anyone left behind on the island are ultimately responsible for themselves and have to figure out a way to get back to the mainland.

Water taxis recommend if you would want to use their service to schedule as soon as possible.

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