Delights Of Dock Life
In praise of that special space between land and sea, where we can walk on water and embrace the sky. A dock brings you closer to nature, letting you jump right in. By Margaret Pilarski. Photos by Steve Rosamilia.
For landlocked lovers of the Lowcountry, the dream is often a dock. Whether you’ve got motor powered boats, tricep-fueled paddleboards, or just a couple of inner tubes, the dock is the all-purpose bridge between hearth and sea.
For Maureen Marr, the dock was a feature the family sought out. “When we first moved to Sullivan’s Island ten years ago we wanted to be near the ocean. Five years later we fell in love with the marsh and decided we wanted to build a house on the creek. Having a dock in deep water was our dream.”
The Marr family moved to the area from Washington, D.C., and found that when friends would visit, they took one look at the dock and understood what was special about the Marr’s new home. “At first we thought it would mostly be used for boating, but now we spend most of our time on paddleboards, jet skis and fishing,” Maureen says, adding that the dock even holds sway with their independence-seeking kids. “As our children were growing into the teenage years we found they still liked to hang out with us when we were on the dock.”
That the dock can act as a family magnet isn’t lost on Anna Schoderbek, who says their dock on Isle of Palms tends to attract half the neighborhood. “We’ll have literally ten kids just jumping off the dock, running back to the pool, then off the dock again and run back into the pool again,” Anna says. The tight-knit community feel followed the Schoderbeks from their home on Sullivan’s Island when they relocated to Isle of Palms. “Most of my girlfriends are truly my sisters, we all feel like family and watch after each other’s kids,” she says.
While her family, and all those in the neighborhood too, make plenty of use out of the dock, it’s the one-on one time the dock provides that Anna cherishes. “I love to drive our boat and I love that we have a boatlift, so I can do it all myself—I like the independence and freedom of doing it all,” Anna says. “My husband works 80 to 90 hours a week so it’s nice to be able to enjoy the water with my son and not need my husband there to help.”
To be fair, it was her husband Rob’s idea. “Living on Sullivan’s we were on the marsh and spoiled with the sunsets over there,” Anna says. “But my husband has always wanted to have a dock. He hates to move so we think this is our last move.”
Luckily for the Haynes family, they have two options. “When we were looking for a property, my wife and I were really more interested in having the wide open, panoramic view of the marsh, because my parents already had a deep water dock down the street, but it has been fantastic to have a dock at our property,” Ashley Haynes, whose wife and two kids appreciate the opportunities the dock a fords, says. Those dock adventures include proximity to nature, a favorite of daughter Elliot.
“Elliot and I like to do most of the fishing and crabbing, studying shell fish beds, different birds and fish life, checking out all of the different animal tracks—from birds, to raccoons and coyotes, and we’ve even seen a few large bald eagles,” Haynes says.
A Childhood Dream
Both Bobby and Kristin Cummings grew up on Sullivan’s Island and a dock was “the ultimate goal” Kristin says. “When we bought this place about 13 years ago we would have lived in a tent if we had to in order to have a dock on this creek,” Bobby says.
His family home was on the same street he lives on now, just five houses down on the mainland side. He remembers all the neighborhood children swimming in the creek almost every day. “One of my main goals in life was to ‘move across the street.’”
Today Bobby’s children, sons Tanner and Banks and daughter Keenan, are the “kids in the creek” all summer long. While they’re all interested in paddle boarding and kayaking, there’s a special boat memory that Bobby pinpoints as representative of the family’s love of recreation.
“When Tanner was five or so, his Christmas present from me was a boat I built. A ten-foot bateau to be exact.” The plans Bobby found online promised a 25-hour build, around 300 hours of work later, it was ready to get wet. “One day after church we christened it and launched it from the backyard. I will never forget how awesome it was to watch him row the boat and the fact that it actually floated,” Bobby says. “The boat has brought smiles to countless kids ... [o fen] it is the first time they have piloted a boat without an adult on board. There is just a certain sense of freedom and accomplishment for a young mariner to do that.”
Mariners they all are, with a weekend motto of “If we can’t get there by bike, boat, or golf cart we don’t go.” So, if dinner downtown is on the itinerary, the Cummings family will meet you at a downtown dock before they set foot on the peninsula.
The Docks of Dewees
For some, dock life doesn’t necessitate finding the perfect lot, just the ideal dock-loving community, and if it’s only accessible by boat, well that’s just a bonus.
The Dewees Island ferry, which brings residents and guests to the private island via the Isle of Palms marina, has a dock at Dewees that acts as a prime space for residents of this unique community to gather. Dewees resident Reggie Fairchild says it’s quite the spot. “Since everyone and everything comes to Dewees by boat, the private dock is a key amenity. It even serves as the bus stop for island kids,” Reggie says. “Island anglers also love it as a prime fishing spot for sheepshead, red drum and the occasional shark.”
On the marsh side of Dewees there are two community docks reaching out to Horseshoe Bend Creek. “The western dock, called Big Bend Dock, stretches from the island fire station over the pluff mud to the water,” Reggie says. “To the east, Lone Cedar dock extends past, you guessed it, a gnarled cedar tree.”
Reggie and his wife Judy regularly organize creek floats on the outgoing tide from Lone Cedar to Big Bend. “Some swim, some paddle, some sip a tasty beverage while floating,” Reggie says. “They all make the trek in about an hour. Ten they repeatedly jump off the Big Bend pierhead, plunging into the water. It makes for a great moment.
“Judy appreciates the natural beauty of the docks and the sense of community they provide. “Dewees Island has a bunch of ‘accidental meeting places’ that build community, including the ferry dock, crabbing docks and waterway docks. They give us a great space for impromptu meeting places where nobody has to clean up in advance and we can all take in the beauty that surrounds us every day.”