ICW Cruise: Tip-toeing Past Firing Lines from North River Club to Brunswick Forest

ICW Cruise: Tip-toeing Past Firing Lines from North River Club to Brunswick Forest


Editor's Note: The ICW series of blog entries details the April 2010 cruise down the ICW made by WaterViewHome Network Publisher David Lott. The purpose of the trip is twofold: to accompany Captain Steve Weisbrod who is delivering a 43-foot Lagoon PowerCat from Lewis, DE, to Key West, FL, where it will become part of a charter fleet, and to visit golf and waterview communities and report on them. You can read other posts by clicking on the list of headlines at the end of this entry.

On to Beaufort & North River Club
After leaving Oriental and River Dunes, we quickly made the 23 miles to Beaufort where an emerging golf community, North River Club, was my next stop.

As we entered Beaufort (pronounced BOE-fert), the distinctive building below caught my eye. It is the Harvey W. Smith Center for Watercraft, located just across the street from the NC Maritime Museum, whose purpose is to honor the history of wooden boats.

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center
The Harvey W. Smith Center for Watercraft in Beaufort, NC.

The center provides demonstrations of traditional boat-building techniques, along with time-honored methods of repairing and renovating boats. The facility offers a build-a-boat-in-a-week class and a build-a-boat-in-a-day class.

The Watercraft Center is also the centerpiece of the annual Wooden Boat Show in April, April 25 - May 1, 2010, when wooden boats are displayed and visitors face off in the National Boat-Building Challenge. More of same returns to this huge, cavernous building during Maritime Week in September.

Once at the marina, we had a steak dinner at one of the many restaurants dotting the town and turned in for the evening. The next morning, I met Brett Michaud, North River Club's president and jack of all trades, who is the driving force behind the effort to bring the community into being.

Aerial NRC
North River Club is just five minutes from Beaufort and the waters of the Crystal Coast.

Brett picked me up at the marina in his truck and drove me through the picturesque town of Beaufort which is known for Blue Beard the Pirate (William Teach) and its location on North Carolina's Crystal Coast. The local buzz was all about the pirate, one of whose legendary ships had finally been found.

NRC Harris homes golf
The golf course offers five sets of tees and measures 7,200 yards from the back tees and plays to a par of 72.

Centered around an 18-hole Bob Moore-designed championship golf course, the 620-acre North River Club is located less than 5 miles from the Beaufort waterfront and is clustered into separate villages with inviting home styles suited to match a variety of coastal lifestyles. In addition to the golf course, on-site amenities will include a Racquet Club, swim center, Club House and village center.

Reserve Jenny B NRC
Sample homes include the Lowcountry style of double front porches. Home prices begin in the low-$200,000s.

On to Moorehead City & Camp Lejune
Brett drove me back to the marina, but before saying good-bye, he signed up North River Club to be featured on the GolfCourseHome Network where it will appear in mid-May. Captain Steve quickly took the PowerCat out of the marina and we soon passed through the port of Moorehead City.

1 cargo ship
Freighter at the dock at Moorehead City.

The marine training facility at Camp Lejune was the next landmark which signaled its presence with the friendly welcome mat below.


We had spoken with other travelers who had been delayed an hour while waiting for the flashing lights to go off. Fortunately, when we came through, the lights were dark.

War games 3

_Though the guns were silent, we saw evidence of past war games rusting in marsh and wate_r.

2 war games
Not a playground--we moved quickly past.

3 icw homes
ICW homes come in all shapes and size. This stretch not far from Topsail Beach showcased attractive homes accompanied by elaborate docks.

4 Fleming 55
We passed a Fleming 55, a luxury, raised-pilothouse motoryacht. Notice the 'ICW mustache' on the bow, proof of having passed many miles on the Intracoastal Waterway.


It's that time of year when the ICW sprouts a continuous line of boats heading north.

Sailors keep a respective distance while maintaining their place in the parade.

5 motor sail
Motorsailing is the closest you can get to actual sailing on the ICW. Here we pass a good-looking boat that is clearly far from home.

Mile 283: Brunswick Forest & Cape Fear National
As the day ended we arrived at Mile 283 and Wrightsville Beach. Bridges were closed so Captain Steve eased up to a public dock, I stepped off onto solid ground and Brandy Marshall of Brunswick Forest picked me and we made the short drive to the community.

Located on North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast, Brunswick Forest is a master-planned 4,500-acre community only minutes from historic Wilmington. Ancient woodlands, slow-moving creeks and broad meadows provide the dramatic backdrop for its amenities and the new Cape Fear National® Country Club whose clubhouse and course had just opened only days earlier.

10 BF golf good
The newly opened Cape Fear National® Country Club.

Designed by Tim Cate, the course features gently undulating terrain that winds through abundant water features, tall trees and marsh. At the club I met Jerry Helms, director of sales, who has already built an impressive resume with his work at St. James Plantation.

Jerry took me on a tour of Brunswick Forest, pointing out all the activity at this growing community. We drove by the medical center that had just opened on campus, a major convenience for residents.

6 brunswick forest #1
Evangeline Townhomes: 3 BRs/2.5 BAs, stacked stone fireplace, illuminated tray ceilings, double crown molding, garage space for two cars and 2,215 sq. ft.

First stop was the Evangeline neighborhood which is tucked into a private corner of the community and offers luxury townhomes, custom homes and homesites. Designed for low-maintenance living, the neighborhood is a short stroll from the Fitness & Wellness Center and Community Garden Center.

7 garden plots
_The Community Garden Center at Brunswick Forest is growing literally and figuratively.

9 BF home
_The first home to be built on the golf course.

BF sold sign

A welcome sign: This lot  was sold to the Duffys who hail from Newtown, CT, my hometown. As if on cue, the Duffys drove by as we slowed down to take this picture. I asked them if they had sold their home in Newtown yet and they said 'yes.' How long was it on the market? 60 days. Good news for communities whose buyers first have to sell their homes 'up North' before they can purchase at communities such as Brunswick Forest.

Homesites around the course range from $165,000. Not in a hurry to build? Don't worry, you have 10 years in which to build your dream home.

11 golf
Plenty of natural hazards make the course a challenging one.

16 small home
Cottage compete with white picket fence.

17 BF jerry home
Ready for showing.

Jerry points out the finer points of this home about to be the focus of an open house the next day. See below for its cozy breakfast booth.

18 BF b-fast nook
Breakfast booth.

After we finished our tour, Jerry drove me to St. James Plantation to where Captain Steve had moved on ahead while I was at Brunswick Forest. My final impression of Brunswick Forest was of activity. As we drove through the community I frequently saw bikers, joggers, walking couples, not to mention honking Canadian geese, who all combined to say that this was a community that people enjoyed and were making the most of.

Mile 309 - St. James Plantation, Southport NC
The sun was setting over the marina as we arrived at St. James Plantation. Captain Steve had the boat in a slip and had already eaten. Looming over the marina was a massive boat shed that Jerry proudly pointed out, noting he was responsible for getting it done. An impressive legacy.

19 st james marina dusk
Dusk at St. James Plantation Marina.

20 SJP boat shed
The St. James Plantation boat shed.

21 SJP bar
Tommy Thompson's, the St. James Plantation marina grille.

I took this shot early the next morning, but it was bustling in the evening. The grille is a new addition. One young patron at the bar said, "This place is great! Why didn't they build this years ago?" Residents now enjoy it fully, perhaps trying to make up for lost time.

Next stop: St. James Plantation Gets Busy

Follow the Complete Trip Down the ICW by clicking on the headlines below.

**ICW Trip Announcement

DAY 1 - Havre de Grace, MD - Engine Trouble**

DAY 2 - Alligator River Marina, NC - River Forest, NC

DAY 2: A Visit to River Dunes, Oriental NC

DAY 3 - The Oriental Boat Show Is a Town-Wide Celebration

DAY 4 - Tiptoeing Past Firing Lines to North River Club & Brunswick Forest

DAY 5 - St. James Plantation Marina - New Home Construction

DAY 6: Charleston's Mega Dock Is a Showcase for the World's Most Beautiful Yachts

Day 6: Daniel Island's Mitchell Wharf Offers Deepwater Docks, River Views

Day 6: Harbour Town Yacht Club with All the Trimmings on Hilton Head Island

Day 7: Discovering Windmill Harbour's Elegance and Privacy on HHI, SC

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