Crane delivery anchors boats along Cape Fear River

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — For several hours Thursday the Cape Fear River will be off limits to boaters.

Two huge cranes are being delivered to the Port of Wilmington.

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In order for the cranes to arrive safely, the Coast Guard established a temporary 26 mile safe zone.

Carolina Beach State Park is where boaters would stop to fill up on gas or grab a snack. They will have to avoid this area tomorrow for at least a couple hours.

Coast Guard says it’s to keep everyone safe as the cranes get delivered.



“I’m sure it will be an inconvenience to somebody but if its a safety concern, there’s not much that can be done. Safety is first,” Kip Futch, state park ranger, said.

After 8 months of planning, two Neo-Panamax cranes will finally make their way to the port but in order to get there they must travel up the Cape Fear River.

“Any marina and facility that is along that Cape Fear River area which includes Carolina Beach State Park also in the area of Southport Marina. We’re asking that vessels stay out of the Cape Fear River,” U.S. Coast Guard Commander Chief of Prevention Heather Stratton said.

The Coast Guard says due to the size of the cranes and the narrow width of the river boats, big or small, need to stay clear for an estimated 5-7 hours.

“If people don’t know that its going to happen it may effect their fishing plans or their recreational plans or boating but for us the overall safety of boaters is paramount,” Stratton said.

Ranger Kip Futch says he does not think it will have as major of an impact on them as it would on a weekend.

Law enforcement and emergency services will be helping monitor the waterways during the safety zone.

The Coast Guard said boaters could receive a fine if they intentionally go through the safety zone which runs from the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Oak Island up to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

They urge boaters to stay out of the water until the captain of the port issues it is safe.

One boater at the state park says he is excited to watch the cranes pass by.

The cranes will pass Southport around 8 a.m. on Thursday and will reach the port at 10 a.m.

There are three public viewing areas if you want to watch as the cranes make their way up the river.

  • Riverlights Marina Village Waterfront Park
    109 Pier Master Point, Wilmington
  • River Road Park
    6500 River Road, Wilmington
  • Southport Waterfront Park
    146-176 E Bay Street, Southport