By Delores Schweitzer for The Island Eye News
Photos by Sue Widhalm and Pamela Marsh of Wild Dunes Yacht Club
Enthusiastic greetings and easy laughter enlivened the conversations on the night of July 22 as the benches of the Caretta and Delphinus Barrier Island Eco Tours pontoon boats filled. Like children on a field trip, the excitement of a maritime getaway was infectious. Members chatted about travel, life events and plans for golf games and wine-and-painting outings, with banter frequently trailing off as they came upon pelicans, dolphins and gulls enjoying their own communities along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Members of the Wild Dunes Yacht Club know these sea passages well. Says member Myron Tucker, a retired maxillofacial surgeon and past Commodore, “It’s the most social group with the best knowledge of the Intracoastal Waterway from Myrtle Beach to Savannah.” Chartered in 2007 with the mission to “promote water related activities, boating safety, and conservation of marine natural resources,” fulfillment of that mission has included day and week-long cruises, kayak “raft ups,” participation in boat parades and fishing tournaments and guest speaker visits from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maritime Association of South Carolina. And then there is the social mission. Says member Pamela Marsh, “My favorite activities of the Yacht Club are any of the water related activities, from kayaking in Morgan Creek behind Wild Dunes, an eco tour of Capers Island, or a cruise down the Waterway to Beaufort. We end each day with “docktails,” a group dinner and often dessert sitting on the bridge/salon of a member’s boat, sharing tales of boating adventures and enjoying the stars.”
This evening commemorated the 10th anniversary of the club, and 80 of its almost 200 members turned out for the three-hour cruise to Capers Island. Once there, members were welcomed with opening remarks about the past year, followed by a brief history of the club by past Commodore and retired Navy Captain Arlene Southerland. With much applause, eight past Commodores were recognized, as were the 54 charter members for the organization.
Two-time former Commodore Tucker gave special commendation and a plaque to Southerland, who was Charter Member #1 and had the original vision of creating a formal group of sailing and boating enthusiasts at Wild Dunes. “We live in an amazing place, but there was no way to be in community on the water,” said Tucker. “Arlene made this community. She’s amazing.”
The evening’s formalities concluded with the Changing of Command and presentation of “bungee” flags to senior officers. Jack Leber replaced Fred Shinners as Commodore, with Pamela Marsh stepping up to Vice Commodore, and Mike McCall taking on Rear Commodore. Additional roles included Phyllis Bascomb as Treasurer, Rick Bradley as Secretary, and Marty Jackson as Membership Chair.
As the sun began to dip toward the horizon, the pontoons headed back to the mainland, with members sharing funny stories of calamities at sea – running aground, forgetting the tide, getting lost, and helping others in need. This is the continued value of this community: sharing knowledge and resources keep them safe and informed, but fun keeps them together.