From the deck of the Salty Dog — the big catamaran, not the restaurant — it’s possible to watch families on the outdoor patio at the South Beach Marina restaurant enjoying their dinners and live music. Some partygoers on a recent Salty Dog Happy Hour cruise even waved goodbye to them as the boat slipped away from the dock and the voyage got underway on Calibogue Sound. Now in its third year, the adults-only cruises are a hit with visitors and locals ages 21 and older.
“When they first said they weren’t going to allow kids, I thought it would be [business] suicide. But people love it,” said Capt. Phil Smith, who has been at the helm since the first Salty Dog cruise.
Smith has more than 30 years’ experience as a boat captain, and aside from basic safety regulations, he only has one rule on the Salty Dog.
“Have fun,” he told the passengers. “That’s why we’re here.”
On a recent Thursday night, the catamaran left the dock at 6:30 p.m. The 90-minute trip spanned the magic hour as a brilliant sunny day slipped into velvety dusk. A combination of live music, a full bar and perfect weather lifted the spirits of everyone —both passengers and crew — on board. Couples embraced for photos on the top deck, where the breeze tousled women’s hair. Friends shared food from the galley, including baskets of still-warm potato chips and pimento cheese made from scratch. (“Pimento cheese? What’s that?” asked one woman from Wisconsin. “It’s a Southern thing,” her friend replied.)
On the lower deck and at Phil’s right hand, Trevor Harden of Bluffton played the guitar and sang. Lists of songs on the tables encouraged music-lovers to text Harden their requests. That night, the songs on demand ranged from Imagine Dragons to Hootie and The Blowfish, Bob Seger and The Beatles — something for everyone on board.
Sunset isn’t the only time the Salty Dog plies the waters around Daufuskie Island. The company’s chief operating officer, Tim Stearns, said other tours include brunch cruises, a longer full moon cruise that reaches the May River, and a new astronomy cruise (“Our astronomer’s name is ‘Bill the Sky Guy.’ Really,” he said). Capt. Phil is the skipper of all of them.
And no one has broken his just-have-fun-rule.
Salty Dog offers sunset cruises nightly, as well as special cruises including:
- Happy Hour cruise: Oct. 5
- The Brunch Boat Cruise: Oct. 7 and Oct. 21
- Dark Side of the Moon Cruise: Oct. 12
For more information, call 843-683-6462 or go to www.cruise.saltydog.com.