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Aug 06

Dewees Island ferry decommissioned

By Bridget Manzella

The beloved Dewees Island ferry, Aggie Gray, has been permanently decommissioned this summer due to extensive corrosion of her aluminum hull, discovered during routine annual maintenance.

While the Dewees Island Property Owner’s Association carefully assessed the repairs to the hull and the costs associated with them, residents held out hope that the Aggie Gray would eventually be reinstated. Unfortunately, the POA has now determined the cost of the repairs to be excessive and is currently investigating viable replacements to the Aggie Gray.

On a typical day, the Aggie Gray departed from the Isle of Palms Marina every hour on the hour from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and returned every half hour from Dewees Island. Once a year the Aggie Gray went to the shipyard for routine annual maintenance. During this time, passengers would ride the Dewees Lady, known as Old Thunderbox, or the Parker, which are used as back-up and emergency ferries throughout the year. For the time being, residents ride the Dewees Lady or the Parker until a permanent replacement to the ferry can be found.

For the majority of the 64 residents of the island, the Aggie Gray is an important part of the Dewees Island experience. “Many who over the years have purchased property on Dewees literally fell in love with the Aggie the first time she brought them to the island.  She set the stage for a unique place and for the very special experience of discovering Dewees,” says Dewees Island resident, Anne Anderson.

From the top deck of the ferry, passengers experienced a beautiful 360-degree view of the lush marshes, and comings and goings of commercial and private boats. During the passage, it is common to see dolphins, which are usually nosing around the edges of the marshes eating fish.  If you are travelling in the evening, you might see a magnificent sunset or a have a romantic moment under the stars.

“We leave a lot behind when we come to Dewees. The Aggie Gray helps us do that. We relax on the top deck of the ferry and look out over the marshes and the islands along the waterway to Dewees. We see the undeveloped parts of Wild Dunes and the quiet beauty of Goat Island. We can get a beautiful view of the sunrise and sunset. As we approach Dewees after the 20 minute ride, we feel like we are really away from it all,” says Dewees Island resident, Jane Pasquini.

The Aggie Gray not only provided a glorious view, but also an occasion to be social. It is an easy place to strike up a conversation with residents, invited guests, or the friendly ferry staff. Information is shared, news broken, and friends made aboard the Aggie Gray. “The ferry is an important highway to the island,” says another resident, Judy Fairchild,  “But it is most valuable as a place to connect with your neighbors, and [as a] physical transition between the busyness of our land-side worlds and the relaxation of being on the island.”

For 25 years, the Aggie Gray ferried residents and guests, pets and parcels, over to the island. Dewees residents have come to tell time by its comings and goings and to depend upon them. She will be dearly missed.

The Dewees Island Ferry is private. You must be an island resident, renter, or invited guest to ride the ferry.  For more information about island rentals visit www.deweesrentals.com/featured-rental-houses/. For more information about Dewees Island visit www.deweesislandpoa.org.

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