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Ring Tum Ditty: Ah, the food of our youth

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By Lee Scott

One rainy and chilly Sunday evening recently, I was enjoying a hot chicken and broccoli casserole dinner with my spouse.  

After he was finished, he announced that my casserole was much better than “Ring Tum Ditty.” 

“What in blazes is ‘Ring Tum Ditty?’ ” I asked, thinking he had just made it up.  

“Check the Internet.” he suggested.  

I did a search and sure enough, there were multiple recipes for Ring Tum Ditty. How had I never heard of it before? Let me educate those of you who have never heard of Ring Tum Ditty. 

The recipe follows:  Open a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and pour into sauce pan with a half can of milk (you never use a measuring cup when cooking with Campbell’s soup). Heat it up. Then chop up some of your favorite cheese (my mother-in-law would add Velveeta cheese) and melt it in the hot soup. Once the cheese melts, pour the soup over toast and serve.  

Talk about an easy meal to prepare.

We then started to reveal other “favorites” our mothers would put together. My mother’s easy family dinner was called “Glop.”

This was made by browning a pound of ground beef in a frying pan and then adding a can of Campbell’s Onion Soup. It was then served over white bread.  “Mmmmm, mmmm, good!”  

Another dish his mother made was called “Momma’s Muck.” This delicious (sic) sounding dish consisted of pouring a can of Tomato Soup over browned meat and cooked noodles, topping it with cheese, and heating it for 15 minutes. I’m thinking 25 minutes from walking in the door to sitting down to dinner. 

My personal “easy mom” dinners were different. I would come home from work and announce it was time for breakfast. Nobody ever complained about pancakes and sausages at the dinner table. Oh, there was the occasional can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli too.  

Let’s face it, we all need a break sometimes.  

It seems like young families today do not have dinners like Ring Tum Ditty, Momma’s Muck or Glop anymore. 

It is just as easy for them to stop at a fast food restaurant or order a pizza for dinner.  

However, as it turns out I still find myself pulling out that old familiar red and white can. You see, the sauce in my chicken and broccoli casserole that night had been made using Campbell’s soups.  

Our moms would have loved it.

Time to get out front on the pathways

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This map shows all the sidewalks presently on Lady’s Island. Most but not all of these are separated from the cars on the street by just a 10-inch curb. Photo courtesy of Beaufort County Planning Dept.
This map shows all the sidewalks presently on Lady’s Island. Most but not all of these are separated from the cars on the street by just a 10-inch curb. Photo courtesy of Beaufort County Planning Dept.

By Bill Rauch

These will be struggles, but they are struggles worth undertaking.

The residents of Lady’s Island want a path or paths, something along the lines of Beaufort’s Spanish Moss Trail. They have now said that loudly and plainly.

Yet no master plan for Lady’s Island has called for such an improvement. There is no obvious corridor, like for example an abandoned railway corridor. And there’s no money in anyone’s current or proposed budget for such a thing.

This is an effort that begins right at the beginning … right at zero. Thus it is not for the faint of heart.

Yet the potential benefits are enormous: increased property values, better public health, improved quality of life, increased tourism and a stronger and more cohesive community to name a few.

Having heard the call, Beaufort County’s planners have quietly begun working on a plan for pathways on Lady’s Island. Soon we will see a draft plan, parts of which will undoubtedly have merit. Meanwhile, the city of Beaufort, which under the Northern Area Plan will have the responsibility of enforcing the plan, either hasn’t yet heard the call, or has declined to acknowledge it.

That’s probably because the Beaufort City Council knows it will cost whoever steps up with both time and money.

But it is past time for the city to step up for Lady’s Island. That doesn’t mean the city should go it alone financially. It shouldn’t. But it is time for the city to begin providing some leadership.

Here’s a scenario for the upcoming budget season.

Let’s break out the revenues provided to the city’s treasury from Lady’s Island: property taxes, business license taxes, prepared food taxes.  

Add the three figures up and subtract from that sum the city’s reimbursement to the Lady’s Island/St. Helena Fire District. What’s left is roughly what the city is putting into its pocket from Lady’s Island.

Then let’s add a line to the city’s fiscal year 2018 budget: “Implementation of the Lady’s Island Pathway Plan,” and ascribe to it a portion (15 percent?) of what’s left in the pot after the fire district gets paid.

Now the city’s actually got some skin in the game. People notice these things — especially government people. A modest commitment will bring with it modest credibility, which means people start paying attention. That’s when government gets beyond the talking stage and the real stuff starts happening.

But where to start?

The city should begin by staking out the position that the SCDOT should get off its current dark ages of the 20th century posture of replacing the Harbor Island Bridge with a bridge that has no hiker/biker walkway. Beaufort County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville will be right there with the city. State Sen. Tom Davis and the legislative delegation will surely come along too. 

It’s common sense. Why should Beaufort County have to pay for the bridge’s walkway out to one of the state of South Carolina’s signature parks — a park that is by the way growing in size, not shrinking.

The county should not have to pay. The SCDOT should pay for their bridge, including the part people walk and ride bikes on. And they would without a struggle in just about any other county in the state. 

But this is Beaufort County where Hilton Head Island is. So there’s going to be a struggle over who pays. 

Why should the city be in the forefront of the struggle? It is in the city’s interests that there be a good and safe hiker-biker path from the Woods Bridge to Hunting Island State Park.  

When the great path is finally built, and bike clubs from all over the Southeast come here to take that extraordinary (and no hills) ride through history, where will they sleep? In Beaufort’s hotels.

That’s just the beginning.

Now, having put the team together, the city should turn the team’s attention to choosing which portion of the Lady’s Island Pathways plan is the most popular and most doable, and then get to soliciting the state, the county, the SCDOT’s intermodal offices, private foundations, individual donors, and, yes, even the federal government to join the city in supporting Lady’s Island’s Pathway plan.

That’s how projects like these get built: with steady leadership, over time, a portion at a time, with many hands working — and egos buried — and many funding sources contributing.

Lady’s Island’s pathways and the trail to Hunting Island are good projects. They are worthy of the governments’ interest and support. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

March trifecta makes month fly by

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By Lee Scott

There are three annual events in March that make the month fly by for me.  

First is the “spring forward” time change where we all lose an hour. This day is filled with unhappy people frustrated because some of their electronic clocks refuse to recognize the adjustment.  

Second is the tax return preparation time where we gather all the pertinent information like income statements, copies of tax bills and other important documents and begin the grueling process.   

The third event is the annual spring cleaning. This archaic ritual was practiced by my mother and had been passed down to her by her own mother. 

Mom would designate a weekend in March and assign chores for all of us kids.  The boys generally had the garage and basement to clean and the girls would clean out cabinets, dressers and closets.    

For me, spring cleaning is one of those practices that I both hate and love at the same time. It gives me the opportunity to go through clothes and shoes and follow the “if you haven’t touched it in two years then give it away” rule.  

The piles of magazines we have accumulated are donated and the miscellaneous junk is sorted and discarded.  

My spouse believes that I am morbid because I always say things like “Get rid of it now, so the kids won’t have to do it later.”  

The kitchen cabinets are always an interesting challenge in this process. Normally, there is an item like an open box of raisins sitting on a back shelf all dried up or a box of brown sugar that is hard as a rock. These discoveries remind me to put on some latex gloves. I worry about little critters having a feast in my cabinet.  

One year I found an empty can of soda in the pantry. The can had been punctured and the contents had seeped out all over the back of a shelf.  Everything had to get scrubbed down, including the shelves and the floor. 

But soon, March will be ending and the March trifecta will be behind me. The clocks will all have the correct time, the tax returns will have been filed and once again, my house will be cleaned and organized.  

It is then that I will find out how I did in my March Madness bracket, hoping to see if my favorite team has made the Final Four.  

After all, March should include a little bit of fun.

Life is all about the art of ‘doing nothing’

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By Lee Scott

My daughter called to say her husband had finally completed the renovation to their kitchen: new cabinets, new tiles; the whole HGTV redo.  

She said that after he was done, he spread out on the couch and announced he was going to relax and “do nothing.”

She left to go shopping and when she returned home, she found him in the kitchen marinating a roast and preparing fresh vegetables. 

“What happened to your relaxing?” she asked.  

“I just could not keep still.” he replied.

It was after she told me about this occurrence that I shared my recent “do nothing” experience. 

It had been a very hectic week and it was my time to relax. The hammock hanging between the two large pine trees in our backyard was calling me. I stretched out in it and started to get comfortable when I realized I was missing a stick to help me swing. 

Knowing there were some sticks in the garage that would fit the bill, I went in and found a rake instead. 

As I was heading back to the hammock, I noticed all the pine cones under it, and decided since I had a rake in my hand, I should just gather them up. That’s when I noticed the garden next to the pine trees was also full of pine cones.  

I went back to the garage, grabbed a large garbage pail and proceeded to rake up the pine cones and scoop them into the garbage can.  

The garden looked so good, but did need a bit of weeding. Back to the garage for my gardening gloves and some garden tools. 

I plucked the weeds and then picked up the camellia blossoms that had fallen from the nearby bush.

The garden looked so good, but needed some watering. Back to the garage for the hose.  

As I stood there watering the garden, I realized the hammock was getting watered also. That is when it hit me!  What happened to my “do nothing” time? How was I suddenly up again doing something and ruining my down time? 

As I continued to water the flowers, I realized how relaxing it was to stand there and enjoy the sight of the garden. 

So I told my daughter, “As it turns out, sometimes ‘doing nothing’ means doing something you enjoy. Enjoy your dinner, Faith.”

Study: Alzheimer’s patients benefit from eye surgery

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

Researchers at Tenon Hospital in Paris have found that patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease whose vision improved after cataract surgery also showed improvement in cognitive ability, mood, sleep patterns and other behaviors.

This is the first study to specifically assess whether cataract surgery could benefit Alzheimer’s patients, although earlier research had shown that poor vision is related to impaired mood and thinking skills in older people and that cataract surgery could improve their quality of life. 

Thirty-eight patients, average age 85 and all exhibiting mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, completed the study. 

All participants had debilitating cataract in at least one eye and were appropriately treated with standard cataract surgery and implantation of intraocular lenses, which replace the eyes’ natural lenses in order to provide vision correction. 

After surgery, distance and near vision improved dramatically in all but one of the Alzheimer’s patients.

A neuropsychologist assessed the Alzheimer’s patients for mood and depression, behavior, ability to function independently and cognitive abilities at one month before and three months after cataract surgery. 

Cognitive status, the ability to perceive, understand and respond appropriately to one’s surroundings, improved in 25 percent of patients. Depression was relieved in many of them, and the level of improvement was similar to what commonly occurs after cataract surgery in elderly people who do not have dementia. 

No changes were found in patients’ level of autonomy, that is, their ability to function independently.

Sleep patterns improved and nighttime behavior problems decreased in most study patients. 

Other studies have shown that when cataracts are removed, levels of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin become normalized. Dr. Girard notes that this may have been a key factor in the Alzheimer’s patients’ improved sleep patterns.

Since removing cataracts can improve the ability of patients with Alzheimer’s disease to function, improve their mood, cognition and sleep patterns, then this is another means to help those we love with this debilitating disease.

Dr. Mark S. Siegel is the medical director at Sea Island Ophthalmology on Ribaut Road in Beaufort. 

Visit www.seaislandophthalmology.com for more information.

The pickle: Picking up after litterbug Hurricane Matthew

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By Lee Scott

As I was hanging off my dock the other day a wild man came running towards me screaming, “STOP! Do not pick up that wood!” 

I proceeded to lasso the end of the broken pole and secured it to the side of the dock.  

The man yelling was my spouse. 

I thought he had already gone to the hardware store, but he must have forgotten something because there he was flailing his arms at me to stop. 

We have gotten this routine down pretty well. He leaves the house and I go out to the dock and see what piece of floating dock debris I can fish out of the water. 

He has estimated that since Hurricane Matthew, I have pulled out enough wood to build an entire dock. “I cannot help it!” I say to him. “It is an obsession.” 

I hate to see this junk floating in the water. His argument back to me is that he is the one who has to haul it to the dump all the time. Which is not true, because a lot of times, I just do it myself so we do not have to have this same conversation. 

I am on a personal crusade.  

The debris is floating down from islands all over the Lowcountry. The tides snatch it from the shores and send it out to the surrounding waterways. It makes me nervous to see boats flying up and down the creek dodging the wreckage. 

When a neighbor pointed out to me that it was the boat owner’s responsibility if he hit something. I responded, “That is not the point. If there are volunteers picking up litter along our highways, why can’t boaters and waterfront property owners help to pick up the debris in our waterways?”   

On this particular day, the piece I was pulling up was too big for me.  

“What would you have done if I had not been here?” my spouse asked.  

“I would have had to wait for you,” I said, knowing, in the back of my mind, that he always helps me when I need him. 

He shook his head as we both dragged the broken piling out of the water. 

In the meantime, I just wait for another opportunity when he is leaving the house and remember to say to him casually, “Honey, just leave the truck for me today.”

Lady’s Island is Beaufort’s riddle

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By Bill Rauch

Lady’s Island was back in the news last week with 67 parcels there annexed into Beaufort and a big planning charrette at the elementary school that was organized by The Sea Island Corridor Coalition.

First, the big meeting. 

The city is way behind on reaching out to the residents of Lady’s Island. The meeting was basically the residents taking matters into their own hands. And, yes, of course the Coastal Conservation League sees in the void an opportunity to make some new friends and get in some contributions. Thus the snacks and crayons.

There was no harm done there except having attracted hundreds to their meeting, the organizers have gotten cocky and now think they may be able to go it alone without the city or the county.  That’s naive. 

To get what they want and for it to stick they’ll need to work with both governments, but especially the city whose responsibility it is under the Northern Beaufort County Regional Plan to manage the growth on Lady’s Island.

But the city has to be willing to do its part. And, in all candor, it appears to date it has not been. 

Why? Because the city has a problem. It wants the tax revenues from Lady’s Island, but it doesn’t want to incur the cost of delivering the services.

City Council has so underfunded its police department, for example, that the Beaufort PD isn’t able to answer most of the calls from the in-city parcels on Lady’s Island. The Beaufort police count on the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office for that.

Same with fire. Lady’s Island-St. Helena is carrying the load, although by intergovernmental agreement they are compensated by the city for doing so. 

And, of course, then there’s planning.

It’s past time to get real on Harris Teeter. No reasonable person can actually believe most of the shoppers who will shop at a Harris Teeter in the old Publix location will be pedestrians. The city needs the revenues, the chain wants to be in the neighborhood, and the neighborhood wants the store. It is time to end the stand-off. It’s OK for the parking lot to be on the Sea Island Parkway side like it was with Publix.

As suggested, most of the shoppers on Lady’s Island use automobiles to transport the goods they buy. Consultants can suggest more people should ride bicycles. Good. Maybe they will. It’s clearly healthy, except when you have to cross one of those five-lane roads. 

But more and more people want to live on Lady’s Island. That means there are more and more shoppers, and unless things change dramatically, there will thusly be more and more automobiles. 

Getting back to the meeting, so where’s the area traffic plan, including the intermodal part? Mayor Billy Keyserling said if he’d thought of it, he could have gotten for the city an integrated traffic plan for the big Publix intersection. But he didn’t. And the city doesn’t have one. 

The city’s transportation plan for Lady’s Island is characteristically “What can we get the county and SCDOT to do?”

No wonder the mayor kept his head down and his hands in his pockets at the big meeting.

It’s kind of like the embarrassing boats that slipped their anchors in Hurricane Matthew.

The mayor says he called a meeting of OCRM, DNR and DOT to try to get to the bottom of whose responsibility it is to get those boats off the Lady’s Island causeway to be either sold or scrapped. But, surprise, the state agencies each said cleaning up Beaufort’s waterfront is not their responsibility, nor is the project in any of their respective budgets.

Obviously the mayor thinks the city’s in the same boat: no responsibility, no money. So the junkyard continues. 

To be fair and not unduly critical, I applaud the mayor and council for the 67 annexations.   “Annexation” used to be a bad word with this group. Maybe with the added revenues from the new parcels the city will feel it has reached the critical mass on Lady’s Island such that it can begin delivering there the urban services that are implicit with the jurisdictional change.

Budget season approaches. Take note Lady’s Islanders. Take note Sea Island Corridor Coalition. It is there — and only there — that the true tale will be told. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Deer, squirrels of Lowcountry are messing with us

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By Lee Scott

A friend of mine named Cindy recently sent out an e-mail to a group of neighbors. It read “Met a deer last night and the deer won. Any recommendations for quick car surgery?” 

I had to laugh, although hitting a deer is not a laughing matter, because her e-mail struck a chord with me.  

How many deer have I almost hit, or have almost collided into me in the past three years?  

And it is not just the deer pursuing me. My true nemeses are the squirrels. I call them the Kamikaze Squirrels of the Lowcountry. 

These squirrels play “chicken” in the road with other squirrels. I slow down when they are crossing the road, only to see them turn around again in front of my car, leaping across to the opposite side of the road. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I screamed yesterday as I swerved to avoid a squirrel while trying not to hit a tree. 

They are just as bad when I am driving my golf cart. There I am, just enjoying a beautiful day, when one of them will run in front of me. This is followed by chortling as the squirrels do high fives on the curb watching me slam on my brakes.  

I told my spouse that I am going to start putting pictures of squirrels on the side of my golf cart with a large X through the picture, like the fighter pilots would do on their planes. Maybe the squirrels would get nervous if they thought I was running over their playmates.  

My true intent is not to hurt them. I try my best to avoid them regardless of their games. I have looked for gadgets that emit electronic signals from both my car and golf cart to alert the little guys a motorized vehicle is close.  

Would that help keep them out of my way? I do not think so. The gadgets would not work because the squirrels are having too much fun watching cars abruptly swerve to avoid hitting them.  

And after a recent bicycle ride where one of them almost took me down, I think they are going to keep it up. 

So, Cindy, sorry about the “deer meeting” you had the other day. But please watch out for the squirrels. They can be just as hazardous.

The Saga of Southside Park

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By Bill Rauch

This is a story of what happens when government changes its priorities. In the same breath let me hasten to add government should change its priorities. Priority-changing is the relentless reinventing that is the core strength of democracy.  

Sometimes, however, when governments change direction there are implications. This is a story about one such implication.

Previous Beaufort City Councils have consistently seen enhancing the city’s parks as a priority. Mayor Angus Fordham’s city council, for example in the 1960s, filled in what we know now as “The Marina Parking Lot,” fashioned a bandshell from a surplused quonset hut, called the new area “Freedom Mall,” and invited the public downtown for concerts. Here was where The Water Festival was begun.

Henry Chambers, in the 1970s, as we all know because the park is named for him, pushed through his signature accomplishment: the Waterfront Park that extended Freedom Mall to the Woods Bridge.

When David Taub was mayor in the 1990s, council began the long process of adding Southside Park to the city’s list of parks.

How was that done? I was there and I know firsthand.

David Taub and City Manager John McDonough had worked very hard negotiating a deal with The Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority (BJWSA) to sell at a fair price the city’s water and sewer works to them. The deal required the voters’ approval which was to be sought on the May 1999 ballot.  Also on that ballot were expected to be four well-known Beaufortonians — Henry Chambers, Billy Keyserling, Donnie Beer and myself — running to replace Taub as mayor since he had announced he would not seek reelection.

I was mayor pro tem at the time, and watching the Beaufort-Jasper deal go down I wondered whether the voters would vote for it, as I believed they should. Thinking about that, I saw a win-win. It would be an added incentive for the voters — especially for the all-important Mossy Oaks voters — to vote “yes” if they knew the site of the city’s stinky old Southside Boulevard sewage treatment plant would one day be turned into a neighborhood park.

I asked my campaign lawyer, now-State Senator Tom Davis, how that might be done and he suggested council vote to place a springing covenant on the land’s deed that would say “if and when the land is no longer needed for a sewage treatment plant, its ownership will revert to the city where it can only be used by the city for a neighborhood park.” Davis drafted up the covenant and council passed it unanimously several months before the election.

I ran on — among other issues — the BJWSA deal, and it was passed by the voters. The same voters the same day also elected me their mayor in a three-way race with Chambers and Beer (Keyserling had dropped out). And there the matter sat for a decade while the Water Authority built its Shell Point Plant, put the pieces into place to pump all the city’s sewage out to that plant, and then finally in about 2009 BJWSA surplused the Southside plant.

That’s when things got interesting.

At the time of the reversion, Tom Davis was representing the city on the BJWSA board. Davis favored the park, and there was a rumor that the park should be named for him. Unfortunately however by then the park’s name was mud.

After another unsuccessful run in 2004 — Billy Keyserling was by 2009 mayor and he was determined nothing good would come of the Southside Park deal. First he proposed breaking the perimeter of the park into lots and selling them one-by-one with the interior area serving as a kind of private park for the new owners of the perimeter parcels. But that proposal ran afoul of the springing covenant which had by then “sprung” by virtue of the land having reverted to the city. Next, Mayor Keyserling proposed planting the park’s open spaces in soybeans. But he couldn’t make that proposal fly either. Finally, frustrated, the city disbanded the park’s advisory committee, presumably because council didn’t want to hear any more requests for funding from them. And there the hapless park has sat, lucky to get mowed.

Last year, quelling an uproar from dog-owners who said they had waited too long for their promised park, the city put up some fences and called it a dog park. It is very popular. But more than a decade after it was first proposed, the perimeter trail is yet to be built. The bandstand and the playground are still just glints in the eye as well.  Building a bandstand, building a playground and even building a perimeter path are neither complicated nor expensive projects, if there’s a will to do them.

But there clearly is no will.

This city council’s announced priority is instead jobs: jobs for the children of the city’s residents. First they purchased and supported the Commerce Park. Then they purchased and are supporting the office building at Carteret and North streets where they are building a business incubator for high-tech companies.

I — and Mossy Oaks’ residents — hope these ambitious programs begin to work soon and bring in some tax revenues, because soon the grass at Southside will need mowing again. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

The sailboat that sailed on warm winds now abandoned

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By Lee Scott

There is a sad little boat sitting on the shore along Sea Island Parkway. The name of the boat is Sirocco and she has been there since the morning of Oct. 8, 2016.

That is when Hurricane Matthew pushed the waters of the Beaufort River and with it Sirocco to the shore. She sits there along with five other sailboats and a power boat named Wave Dancer. Although two of the boats are hidden by trees, if you look closely you can see their masts sticking up in the reeds.

The name Sirocco fascinated me, and when I researched it I discovered it means “warm wind.” This was a name given to the wind blowing from the Libyan desert over to Italy.  

As a sailor, myself, I can appreciate the name Sirocco. It conjures up beautiful days on the water with the sails pulled in and a nice warm 10-15 knot breeze.

I think that is why it is so sad to see her aground. What happened to the owner? What happened to someone who so loved to go sailing that he would name her Sirocco and then abandon her? 

This is evidently a common problem along the coastal waters. People who can no longer afford their boats abandon them in creeks and rivers. Sometimes, an owner dies and the family does not know where the boat is located. 

So, what happened to the sailor who owned Sirocco?  Did his insurance lapse and he could not afford to remove her after the storm? Or had she already been abandoned? If so, why?  

Even sitting on the bank, it appears there may be some salvageable items on the boat. There are numerous companies in the sailboat salvage business. They make money by salvaging the parts of these sore sights, which potentially could become environmental hazards.  

Did any of the seven boat owners know there were other avenues to pursue rather than just anchor them off Lady’s Island?

Regardless of the reasons, when I pass Sirocco a part of me wants to get out of my car and climb aboard. I want to go below and pull out her sailing log to see where she has been. I am sorry that the warm winds of South Carolina have brought you to this place, Sirocco, but you need to find a new home now.

Abandoned boats have an orange sign posted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources asking for information regarding the owners of the vessels. The phone number is 800-922-5431.
Abandoned boats have an orange sign posted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources asking for information regarding the owners of the vessels. The phone number is 800-922-5431.
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