WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH -- Spring is here and that means boating season is right around the corner -- that is, if you can get your boat out into the water. Public access to waterways is becoming more and more rare. Experts say private development along the waterfront is taking up value boating real estate and keeping the average boater stuck on shore. One dock is the one of the few places in wrightsville beach tim szczech can launch his boat to go fishing... Tim Szczech has few places in Wrightsville Beach to launch his fishing boat. He said, "It gives all the normal people -- the regular working people -- a chance to get out and enjoy the area as much as everybody else." It's the only public access point to the water at Wrightsville Beach. And it gets pretty crowded. So crowded that Szczech says sometimes, he'd almost rather stay home. "If I were to come out here on a Saturday morning, at 9:00 on a pretty day in the summer... Actually I probably just wouldn't even come," Szczech said. Tripp Brice is the dock master at the Bridge Tender Marina in Wrightsville Beach. He says as developers make way for more people moving to the area public access to waterways is declining. Brice said, "It's gotten to the point where if somebody wants to come down here and go boating, they've got to really want to do it." He says people like Szczech have two options: either pay to keep their boat at a marina or take their chances at a public access point. Szczech said, "Obviously, if you're going to use this ramp, you have to go out earlier and earlier each year it seems, so you know, well before dawn." Paying for a slip at a marina costs about $35 dollars a day for a 20-foot boat, more if your boat is larger. And if you want to buy a boat slip, be prepared to shell out upwards of $140,000. Brice says keeping waterways accessible is important. "You don't want people to say, well, I'm not going to the coast because I can't get to the water," he said. "It's a limited resource, so the more people that come to this area, the more people that get boats and personal watercraft -- it's just going to get more and more congested I imagine." A spokesperson for the state department of transportation says public access to waterways has declined statewide over the past decade, and that they are working on a way to fix the problem.
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