Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Oatland Island's Storied Past is a Story Worth Telling...

Image courtesy Oatland Island

 Who knew? 

Oatland Island, which can be viewed from Richardson Creek on an Island Shuttle Boat Tour, has a long and fascinating history. In the 1700s and 1800s, it was a plantation, undoubtedly worked by slaves. In 1927, it was the location of a home for retired Railroad Conductors. (In "Once Upon an Island" by Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski,  Walter "Cork" Shaaf recounts those old conductors fixing nets and fishing rigs for him and the other children living on the island.) In 1941, it became a home and research facility for women and children with syphilis and other STDs. In 1945, penicillin eliminated the need for that function, and the old building became a component of what we now call the CDC. 

And it was there that the No Pest Strip (marketed by Shell if memory serves) and the flea collar for pets was invented! After the CDC consolidated facilities in Atlanta, the property was deemed excess and was given to the local school system. School children have enjoyed learning about the natural world there since the early 1970s, and I have picked up groups at their dock on Richardson Creek with Michael Neal and Bull River Cruises in conjunction with Kelly Tours. 

As I wind through these backwater creeks, I learn more and more that every place you see has a story. Chasing those stories down, and sharing them, is great fun!

Click here to learn more...

Shrimping Life...

Continuing a proud tradition! (image by the author)
During the middle decades of the 1900s, an entire fishing industry grew up in our region. Hundreds of shrimping trawlers were built and put into service--many of them from the DESCO boat company in St. Augustine Florida--and thousands of men were provided employment as they brought food to the nation's table. Our favorite Captain, Clyde Carrell "Buddy" Lee spent about twenty years of his working life aboard these vessels and tells of legendary characters who plied the waters and lived the life. Here's another account of that life, from another "Buddy,"
"In summers, I had the opportunity to accompany Hugh Burrows out on the Pinta for all-day shrimping in the offshore Atlantic waters. These excursions were always memorable, but we worked hard. Bobo was not into providing pleasure cruises, if you went fishing with him, you earned it.
We helped with the nets, headed shrimp, hosed down the deck between catches, and cleaned the galley. During the drags, we took cat naps on the bow in the warm sunshine. The long extended double outriggers towed the nets, and the vessel's powerful Caterpillar Diesel engine towed the accumulating bags and catch along the seafloor.

Image courtesy U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries
The "Try Net" in the middle is pulled in mid-drag to see if there are shrimp present.

These trips were always made enjoyable by the food. The local shrimpers definitely knew how to eat. Usually, the striker prepared breakfast just as dawn broke and the sun rose over the horizon. With the first drag of the morning begun and a two-hour lull before hauling in the nets, there would be strong steaming coffee served up in thick crockery mugs with sugar and canned milk, hot grits with butter, and scrambled eggs with ham or bacon.
Lunch came in the early afternoon. It was often shrimp creole, prepared with shrimp that had been in the ocean an hour earlier, simmered in a thick-and-spicy, made-from-scratch, perfectly-seasoned tomato sauce, with onion, bell pepper, and a dash or two of oregano. This blend was served over real white rice, with sweet iced tea to wash it down. It was a grand, almost romantic life..."(from "A Georgia Tidewater Companion" by Buddy Sullivan)

Today; over-fishing, high fuel-prices, and pond-scum-shrimp imported from China have pretty much ruined this once proud and prolific industry. I could gross you out telling you what those pond-owners feed those shrimp they are raising, but let's just say that you can't make chicken salad out of what they eat.

Image courtesy Josephine Johnson: music and photography!

Video courtesy of The Shrimp Alliance. Click here to visit their site
The boat-haul rails and winching-machinery at the old Sasser docks on Wilmington Island are now rusty relics. There are no boats to haul out. The shrimp-boats are going away. Many of them are abandoned, burnt, or sunk.
Image courtesy Diesel Engine Sales Company (DESCO)

You can still see a few shrimpers at work, and Nelson's Shrimp Company in Thunderbolt still sells Wild Georgia Shrimp caught right here (and the best shrimp to have for a Low Country Boil). For an easy and fun way to enjoy the taste of our place, go sit at the Flying Fish Bar and Grill. Tell Heather we sent you!

Situated on Highway 80 just east of the Bull River Bridge, The Flying Fish has great seafood and a great atmosphere to match. The newly covered deck and big outdoor bar, complete with 85 inches of big-screen sports action, make for a memorable visit.
Please tell them you were sent by!

Georgia's shrimping industry is not what it used to be, but don't despair. Life has taught me that the tides of fortune go out, and then they come in again. Sooner or later our shrimping industry will recover fully as people learn the truth about imported shrimp.

Image via My Georgia Coast
The sun will rise again for Georgia shrimping. You can do your part by refusing to purchase imported shrimp. When you go to a restaurant, ask your server if the shrimp has been harvested locally. Every dollar we put into our community passes through the hands of several of our friends and neighbors. Let's support them, and ourselves!

Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

Monday, December 21, 2020

Island Shuttle Boat Tours is Open For Business!


Freedom Boat Club's "Freedom Five" is now in service as 
Shuttle One. This boat will be placed at the Savannah Boathouse
Marina upon its opening and is available for trips now.

Here is the first boat placed in service with Island Shuttle Boat Tours, a veteran-owned small business. This vessel will transport up to six passengers on eco, dolphin, history, and port tours, and will also take groups to and from Daufuskie Island's County Dock or Freeport Marina. Sharktooth Island is close by and we can take you there!

Voyagers who bring a dog aboard receive a 5% discount.
We love dogs, and dogs love boat rides.

Rates and Rides:
The boat is available for tours and charters at $100 per hour for up to 4 people. For extra passengers up to 6, add $25 per person per hour. We can accommodate larger groups on Bull River Cruises' vessels which we crew. Call for details. 912 657-5222.
Savannah-Daufuskie Round Trip, Daylight Hours, County Dock to County Dock: $50 per person up to 6 passengers with a minimum charge of $200.00. We drop off and pick up on your schedule.

A small boat is able to explore creeks and cuts that a larger
vessel can't. Freedom Creek, Tom Thumb Creek, Richardson Creek,
Jack's Cut, New Cut, and The Mosquito Ditch-- just to name a few--are fascinating places
to immerse yourself in the estuarine environment and see this 
place as the original inhabitants did.

For a trip to and from Freeport, which is further north on the Intracoastal waterway, add $10 per person.

Golf cart rentals (delivered to the County Dock) are available at Daufuskie Carts (for a good time call Ron!) 843 997-0062 Please tell Ron we sent you.

We also offer:

A 2-hour loop tour (with no backtracking) including sights and history of Turner's Creek, Turner's Rock, Modena, Dutch Island, Thunderbolt, Causton's Bluff, Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island, and Saint Augustine Creek.
A 2-hour trip through Savannah's history including the story of slavery in Savannah. Travel through the world-famous "Freedom Creek" near the Isle of Hope and see Wormsloe from the water. Hear the story of Young's Marina, the only African-American owned marina in our area, and how it relates to the tragedy at Ebeneezer Creek and William T. Sherman's Special Field Order number 15. We also discuss the role that Savannah's waterways played during prohibition. This trip must be scheduled to coincide with high tide.
A 3-hour big-loop tour of Turner's Creek, Wilmington River, Wassaw Sound, Tybee Cut (dependent on the tide), and the Bull River. See the original path of the "Inland Passage" and hear the story of how the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to move it towards Wassaw Island for a steamboat line.

Visiting Sharktooth Island is great fun, but when one of these behemoths
passes by, the boat must be well in hand and off the beach. Think "Sunami"

A 3-hour Waterside Port tour. See the ships and facilities that make Savannah's port world-class. Learn about the history of our port.

As Savannah's port and river are prepared and maintained for 
Post-Panamax ships, dredging operations are ongoing. In this picture,
you can see the large electric motors that turn the dredge-head.

A 4-hour circumnavigation of Skidaway Island via Turner's Creek, Wilmington River, New Cut, Oddingsells Creek, Wassaw Sound, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. (Restroom break at Delegal Creek marina on the south end of Skidaway Island) See the sights and hear the stories of the Inland Passage, Skidaway Island, Wilmington Island, Skidaway Narrows, PinPoint, Isle of Hope, Modena, and Turner's Rock. This trip is dependent on passing through New Cut at high tide and must be scheduled as such.

Baggage/cargo capacity limited depending on the number and size of passengers. In cooler months or inclement weather, appropriate clothing is recommended. It's cooler on the water than it is on land.

Freeport Marina is a popular gathering spot with food, drinks, and frequent live music shows. A general store is there as well.

Children 12 and under must wear a Type 2 or Type 3 life preserver at all times while aboard. Life preservers are available for wear by all passengers.
Savannah's waterways are rich with a fascinating history. Come experience it all with Island Shuttle Boat Tours! Want to get to know us? Come enjoy a 90-minute sunset tour for only $150 for up to four passengers. For Extra passengers up to 6, add $35 per person.
Cash, Venmo, and Square payments accepted.
Dan Foulds is a USCG licensed Captain and Master. He is a retired Army Chinook pilot and flew Medevac helicopters in civilian life for 17 years, including 4 years at Memorial Hospital's LifeStar program.

Jeanne in another life; pictured at work in a medevac helicopter.
Jeanne celebrating the USCG Auxiliary's "Kids Don't Float" campaign. The gent in the middle is none other than the late Kent Shockey; friend, hero, veteran-of-the-year.

Island Shuttle Boat Tours' First mate, Jeanne Foulds, is a retired LifeStar-Savannah flight nurse who spent many years in the St. Joseph's Hospital Emergency Dept. We also use Captain Buddy Lee for our trips as Buddy is the guy who trained Dan to operate the Bull River Cruises boats over the last five years. Dan and Jeanne continue to work with Mike Neal on the Bull River Cruises boats and will do everything possible to make your trip perfect.

We aim to please!

It Was Almost a Disaster!

I was conducting new boater training yesterday for a couple of young guys, and I wanted to show them the importance of understanding the dif...