Charleston Waterways-And Do You Really Want to Own Your Own Boat

Every since being a boy, I’ve always dreamed of owning my own boat.  As long as I can remember, and before, we would visit my grandparents in Fair Haven NY, staying in their cottage on Little Soda’s bay.  Grandpa had a Boston Whaler, with a pretty anemic 40hp Evinrude Outboard.  It was strong enough to pull us on ski’s when we were little, and as we grew, it was barely adequate, but would still get us out of the water on two ski’s.  This was before hydroslides and wakeboards.  You had a choice between one ski and two. 

So, in 1994, Cara and I purchased our boat.  A 1994 SeaSwirl 175, 17 1/2 feet with a 115 Evinrude Outboard.  Now, I couldn’t imagine not having had a boat at this point, but I do want to caution you…the cost/fun quotient is pretty darned high.  We paid over $12,000 for the boat, they’re well over $20,000 now for something similar.  It’s long since been paid for, but the $272/month payment took a pretty good chunk out of our budget for awhile.  We didn’t want to do the 10 year thing that dealers offer. 

It was really a lot of fun.  Just this week, Cara and I had lunch at California Dreaming Restaurant, one of the spots we used to visit with our boat, when our two boys still lived at home.  The food has slipped some over the years, but it brings back warm memories of tying up the boat and having lunch together sitting in our wet bathing suits and tasting the salt on our lips from the harbor water. 

So for me, I don’t think I could have avoided the temptation of buying a boat.  As I expected, it was a great feeling.  I remember the first time I took it out.  My friend Steve was with me and we crossed the harbor over to Isle of Palms.  I distintly remember the new boat smile that lasted about 3 years.  The beautiful thing about being a new boater, is that it’s hard to think of much else when you’re out on the water.  Between the sheer enjoyment, and the concentration it takes to boat safely, it’s pretty consuming.  In a good way.  Especially in these water ways where you’re dealing with wind, and tide and current, often at the same time.  And other boaters as well.  Those other boaters, oh my.  When we first were using the boat, for some reason, we nearly always went to County Farm Landing just off of I 526.  Now I know there are better choices, but it was quite a challenge dealing with all the drinking boaters out there.  It was challenging to deal with both their lack of coordination and the decreased inhibitions.  People tend to get a little mouthier when they’ve had a few, so you have to be careful.  Police tend to be little concerned with who started what when they are involved in a fray. 

Anyway, unless you’re like me, and just absolutely have to own your own boat, I recommend making friends with boat owners and offering to buy the gas.  You can have the same fun, and get off a lot cheaper.  Now, the boat sits in the garage mostly.  I think we took it out three or four times last summer.  I’m still in just good enough shape to ski, wakeboard actually, but it hurts for a few days.  We usually put in up in Summerville at Oakbrook landing.  It’s a little dicey at low tide, but I can bounce my way in.  It’s been a long time since I”ve been concerned about scratches on the bottom of the boat.  The first few are so traumatic, and then you’re over it.  It is, after all, the bottom of the boat.  We have to slow down for King’s Grant and the Plantations, but we can be to our favorite skiing spot in about 15 minutes.  It takes almost two hours to get down to the harbor….a little excessive on a hot day, but we’ve done it a few times.  It’s a little expensive too, as we’ll go through most of our 25 gallons.  But that includes an hour of skiing, which uses a lot of fuel.  Jason hasn’t learned to get up on the wakeboard yet, but he likes the knee board.  Cara is a pretty decent driver, once she gets warmed up.  I learned a long time ago that it’s not good to mouth off at her when I’m in the water, and she’s driving, no matter how urgent I think my feedback is.  She has a tendency to become decidedly less precise after my suggestions.  But she does a great job usually, maneuvering the boat, and getting the speed just right. 

One of the best things about Charleston boating is the variety.  You have a choice between ocean, intracoastal waterways, rivers, harbor…so you never get bored.  Cara and I lived on a lake in Georgia for about two years, and once you had toured the lake a few times, and been up to the falls, and down to the damn, well…that was pretty much it. 

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings.  Tell us your boat stories. 

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