Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tour Daufuskie premiers Native Gullah Tour with Sallie Ann Robinson

 

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Sallie Ann Robinson, a sixth generation native of Daufuskie Island, is joining forces with Tour Daufuskie to debut the Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour. This is the FIRST TIME EVER weekly-offered Gullah tour led by a native professional guide on Daufuskie.

Robinson is known as an authority of Gullah culture and cuisine, having been a featured favorite in programs such as QVC, The Food Network, and The Travel Channel. As a child, she was a student of the famous author Pat Conroy and is remembered in his critically-acclaimed novel “The Water is Wide”. Sallie Ann’s historical and cultural knowledge of Daufuskie Island is unparalleled, and her tour will unearth Gullah stories and give insight to growing up on this bridgeless island.

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Sallie Ann with Pat Conroy, author of Daufuskie-inspired novel “The Water is Wide”

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Robinson is the author of two Gullah cookbooks, “Gullah home cooking the Daufuskie Way” and “Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night”

 

The Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour is offered four times a week; Tuesdays and Saturdays at 9am and 2pm. The debut tour is Saturday Nov 5 at 2pm. Tour duration is 2.5 hours and the cost is $65 per person. These intimate tours have limited spaces available and reservations are required. To book a tour call Tour Daufuskie at (843)842-9449 or email at tourdaufuskieguide@gmail.com.

Daufuskie Island Community Farm

written by Renee Harding

Pat Beichler started the Daufuskie Island Community Farm (DICF) 7 years ago on “a dream and a dollar”.  The farm now houses over 20 Nubian goats which provide delicious milk for the volunteers, some of which is made into yogurt and cheese.  A garden and an orchard grow organic fruits and veggies.  Every morning, eggs from free-ranging chickens are collected and taken home by community members.  Many other animals live at the farm, each with their own purpose and personality.  DICF is completely volunteer-ran, and locals may share in the bounty by purchasing a farm membership.

When the 9-acre land was leased in 2010, the farm volunteers certainly had their work cut out for them.  In order to convert the heavily forested landscape into farmable land, the entire area had to be clear-cut.  Operating under the principles of self-sustainability and local harvesting, the farm used an on-site saw mill to convert these trees into fences and buildings.

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The Goat Barn, the first building established on DICF

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“Poulet Chalet”, one of the three chicken houses

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The saw mill continues to be used on DICF

Anyone who has taken a stroll through DICF has probably enjoyed the company of some unlikely walking partners – the goats.  These free-ranging Nubian goats are surprisingly social; they’ll follow visitors around the farm waiting for a free handout.  On hotter afternoons, you will find them lounging in the dirt, kicking the occasional fly off.  Volunteers offer the goats organic food and a lot of love, and in return receive fresh goat’s milk every morning.

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Each goat has his or her distinct personality, and many of Daufuskie’s locals have formed bonds with them.  The baby goats are especially popular – in May and June of this year the farm welcomed 14 new goats into the world!  Visitors flocked to the farm to take a peek at the kids.  Goats can be “sponsored” by anyone in the community; the sponsor pays a quarterly fee for the goat’s food and gets to name the kid.

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the first two kids born this year, “Mo” and “Allie Lou”

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Baby goats will climb on just about anything, so be careful where you crouch!

The farm is also home to two Jersey cows; Bagel and Muffin.  They’ve been out of commission for a bit, but will be bred soon.  Farm volunteers are getting excited to have delicious cow milk again!

Muffin

Muffin

Bagel

Bagel

Ducks, chickens, geese, and guinea fowl also call the farm home.  The ducks and geese provide eggs and eat pesky insects that bother other farm animals (and volunteers!).  Guinea fowl especially love to eat ticks, so their contribution is much appreciated.

DICF's gaggle of geese

DICF’s gaggle of geese

Guinea fowl are a favorite for visitors

Guinea fowl

 

The garden at DICF houses a wide variety of vegetables and herbs such as collard greens, okra, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, corn, rosemary, lavender, basil, sage, thyme, peppermint, and parsley.  Extra help in the garden is always welcome; fighting off weeds and cutting back bolting plants are ongoing battles.  Large blackberry and blueberry patches toward the back of the garden offer a delightful treat for passerbys.

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DICF’s garden-to-be (2010)

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today’s garden has over 20 beds, with more to come

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The farm’s orchard has come an impressively long way in one year.  Once an empty landscape, the orchard is now covered in trees that produce apples, plums, peaches, figs, and pomegranates.  Blueberry bushes are dotted throughout, and the ground is covered in edible plants such as squash, watermelons, and cantaloupes.  Keeping these plants sufficiently watered was one of the biggest issues for the orchard, so large swales were dug across to help establish a water table.  Planting a lush ground cover also helped retain water by diminishing evaporation.  Conservation of water is key on this farm!

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the orchard at its beginning

watermelon serves as part of the orchard's ground cover

Watermelon serves as part of the orchard’s ground cover

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Pomegranates are one of the many fruits produced in DICF’s orchard

 

The largest motivation for creating the Daufuskie Island Community Farm lies in the title itself: “community”.  Pat Beichler and other key players wanted to foster a sense of togetherness on Daufuskie Island, connecting folks toward a common goal.  It continues on that thread to this day, with volunteers from all over the island coming together to support the farm.  The main goal is simple: to provide the island with local organic food.  To reach that goal, the farm needs more help in the form of donations and volunteers.  If you are interested in volunteering at the Daufuskie Island Community Farm, contact Pat Beichler at (843)842-8999 or email at bowwow@hargray.com.  To donate, visit the farm’s website.

 

Daufuskie Island Guided Tour Options

Taking a guided tour with Tour Daufuskie is a great way to get a local’s perspective and insight into our rustic and quirky island.  Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, we have a guided tour for you!

 

History and Artisans Tour

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The guided History & Artisans tour is a classic favorite!  If you’re looking for a great overview of the past and present of Daufuskie Island, this tour is the one.  While we can’t possibly cover everything in this 2.5 hour guided golf cart tour, we can tailor the tour to each group’s specific interests.  Common historic stops include the First Union African Baptist Church, Maryfield School (where famous author Pat Conroy taught and wrote a novel based off his experience), Billie Burn Historic Museum, Gullah Learning Center, and a number of original Gullah-constructed homes.  Evidence of Civil War, Native American, and Gullah history can be found throughout the island.  A handful of artisans practice their craft on Daufuskie, and this is your chance to visit their galleries.  Chase Allen at The Iron Fish creates unique coastal sculptures from rusted metal, while Lancy and Emily Burn spin Native American inspired pottery at Silver Dew Pottery.  “Daufuskie Blues” dyes fabric with blue indigo, creating eye-catching patterns and designs.  Jan Crosby offers her luxurious hand-crafted soaps with an island flare at Daufuskie Peach.  At “Wine and Woodworks”, Mike Loftus creates hand-carved wooden kayaks and canoes.  Not only will you get the chance to visit their galleries and view their work, but you’ll also learn more about each artisan from your local guide.  There’s no better way to get to know Daufuskie Island’s past and present!  $45/person, 2.5 hours

 

Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour

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Sallie Ann Robinson is a 6th generation native on Daufuskie Island.  As the only native professional tour guide on the island, Sallie’s tours are highly sought-after and are available Tuesdays & Saturdays at 9am & 2pm.  In this 2.5 hour guided golf cart tour, Sallie will provide personal insight into what it was like to live on Daufuskie Island as a native Gullah.  One of her more notable experiences is that she was a student of Pat Conroy at the Maryfield School; she is remembered as “Ethyl” in his book The Water is Wide.  Sallie’s enthusiastic, humorous, storyteller style will leave you both entertained and informed about the history of Daufuskie Island and its people. $65/person

 

Kayak / Paddle-board Tour

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Tour Daufuskie’s Kayak & Paddle Board Tours are a hit among outdoor enthusiasts, athletes, and nature lovers alike!  Whether you want to cruise slowly and enjoy the scenery, or push yourself to exercise, these paddling tours are a great option for your group.  The tour can embark from two places, offering two different experiences.  For an ocean-front paddle, we start at the Kayak Shack near the Melrose-on-the-Beach Pool & Restaurant.  We may also leave from the County Dock, which offers more creeks and inlets to explore.  Either way, you’re in for a scenic and memorable ride.  $55/person, 1.5 hours

 

“Wild Daufuskie” Eco-Tour

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Daufuskie Island’s ecology is unique, to say the least.  Wood storks and egrets roost in trees above ponds inhabited by alligators.  Dolphins are a common sight on the shore, along with pelicans, osprey, and bald eagles.  Marine life is evidenced along the sandy beaches in the form of shells, turtle tracks & nests, and the occasional horseshoe crab.  In our “Wild Daufuskie” Eco-tour, you’ll have the chance to get an up-close look at some of these creatures.  You will also hear fun facts about these animals and conservation information from our naturalist guide.  Plant life can’t be forgotten – Daufuskie is known for its lush and untouched landscape.  Learn about both the flora and fauna in this exciting eco-tour! $35/person, $25/children under 12.  Kids under 5 are free!

 

Self-guided Golf Cart Rental

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Don’t forget – Tour Daufuskie also offers golf cart rentals!  If you are more interested in a self-guided adventure, this would be the choice for you.  A Tour Daufuskie representative will set you up with a detailed map and orientation, and then you’ll be sent off to explore the island on your own.  A 4-seater golf cart costs $75 for a 4-hour period.

Getting to Daufuskie Island by Water Taxi or Ferry

With the number of water taxi and ferry ride options to Daufuskie Island, it’s no wonder that visitors get overwhelmed with the logistics of their trip.  Tour Daufuskie is here to help you determine which ride best suits your group’s needs!  From a large ferry to a semi-private taxi, there is an option for everybody.

 

From Hilton Head or Old Town Bluffton

May River Excursions (843)304-2878

Offering arguably the most scenic ride to the island, the May River Excursions water taxi is a joy ride to say the least.  They operate out of Old Town Bluffton, which is just a short drive from Hilton Head Island.  In this 25 minute boat ride, you will wind through rivers and creeks where shorebirds and dolphins are a common sight.  Your captain will drop you off at the Public Dock (also known as the “County Dock”), where the beloved Marshside Mama’s Cafe sits.  Make sure to set enough time aside to explore the historic Old Town Bluffton before or after your visit to Daufuskie!  With art galleries, a pottery shop, restaurants, and a farmers’ market on Thursdays, Old Town Bluffton is a great way to extend your daytrip.  Water taxi tickets are $45 round trip.

 

 

Daufuskie Island Ferry (843)940-7704

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The Melrose Landing on Daufuskie Island

The public ferry leaves from the Bluffton Oyster Factory and arrives on Daufuskie at the Melrose Landing.  They provide dollies for transporting luggage from your car to the dock, and friendly staff are always happy to help load up your bags onto the boat.  Keep in mind that you must arrive 30 minutes early!  For those folks craving some fresh air, a few seats are available outside on the back of the boat.  Alternatively, the ferry offers indoor air-conditioned seating with plenty of windows to get a great view of the waterway.  A round trip costs $35, and each way takes about 1 hour.  There are four scheduled arrivals and departures each day.  Departure times vary depending on the day, so check out the D.I.F. website for these details.  They highly recommend reserving your seat after the purchase of your ticket; this is especially important during the summer and holiday weekends.

 

Nautical Elite (844)200-4500

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Located at the lively Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head Island, Nautical Elite provides a top-of-the-line trip to Daufuskie.  Their “nautical limousine” has comfortable indoor seating in a climate-controlled cabin.  There is also outdoor seating available on the bow of the boat where you can chat with a knowledgeable first mate about the local area.  No matter what, you’re going to have a luxurious ride.  Round trip to Daufuskie is $79 and the ride takes about 1 hour one-way.  The captains are flexible in regards to your drop-off location, but the most popular is the County Dock where famous Marshside Mamas sits.

 

From Savannah, Tybee Island, Wilmington Island

Bull River Marina (912)897-7300

Bull River Marina in Savannah, GA

Bull River’s water taxi costs $45 per person round trip or $225 total for a 6-person ride.  The water taxi to Daufuskie departs three times a day from Savannah and takes about 30 minutes.  They drop-off at a handful of docks on Daufuskie; County dock, Freeport Marina, Bloody Point, and Haig Point.  For those of you on Tybee Island who want to check out some quieter sands, Bull River also offers beach drop options.

 

Once you arrive on Daufuskie

If you are just visiting for the day, you are going to need a golf cart for transport around the island.  Your cart can be delivered to any of the public docks on the island.  Most of the sights on Daufuskie are located on sandy roads, so biking can be very difficult — carts are the way gain a full perspective of the island.

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If you’re staying overnight on Daufuskie and have luggage with you, you have one more piece to the puzzle.  Golf carts are not built to carry the weight of a group of people and their luggage, so you need to make arrangements to transport luggage to your rental.  Try Daufuskie Transit at (843) 338-2570 or email at DaufuskieTransit@gmail.com.  They will meet you at the dock, load up all of your luggage onto a trailer, and shuttle it to your rental home for only $20.  If any of your group will be traveling to the rental home with Daufuskie Transit, you will be charged $20 per person.

 

Figuring out the logistics of your trip doesn’t need to be stressful- just give yourself the time to plan ahead!  Trust us, when you arrive to the island you will be glad for it.

Hurricane Matthew on Daufuskie Island

written by Renee Harding

On Daufuskie Island, the sounds of howling wind and plummeting rain from Hurricane Matthew were quickly replaced Saturday morning by the sounds of running chainsaws and bobcats.

About 100 of Daufuskie Island’s residents stayed to weather the storm – this is about a quarter of the population.  Many of them chose to stay as to not abandon their animals, such as Erica Veit with the Marsh Tacky Society, Pat Beichler with the Daufuskie Island Community Farm, and Laura Winholt with the Daufuskie Island Cat Sanctuary.  “We did research about hurricane survival, watched the local weather carefully and planned for the worst,” Winholt said, “and staying was calculated carefully.”  Others felt safer hunkering down at home than dealing with the hectic and sometimes dangerous process of evacuation.  No matter what the reason, these folks agreed on one thing: they hoped the storm was not going to be as disastrous on the island as the media predicted.

At a press conference on Friday morning, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley warned that Daufuskie Island would be “under water”.  This statement may have served as a final plea for Daufuskians to evacuate, but most of the residents could not be convinced.  Daufuskie is on relatively high ground compared to surrounding barrier islands; at 15-17 feet above sea level in the middle of the island, a storm surge of 7-9 feet would have a hard time submerging the island.

A view of Daufuskie Island on Sunday, Oct. 9 after Hurricane Matthew.

credit: Daufuskie Island Marsh Tacky Society

The “Daufuskie 100” did their best to secure themselves with food, water, gasoline, and shelter as they waited for the arrival of Matthew.  He hit overnight to early morning with 50-60 mph winds and torrential rain.  Some slept through the entire ordeal, while others were kept up all night by the sounds of their vibrating houses.  Once the winds died down enough to assess the situation, the Daufuskie 100 stepped outside to hundreds of down trees.  “You couldn’t walk more than 75 feet before you find another fallen tree”, one local explained.  Some folks closer to the edges experienced flooding in their yards and basements; one couple even had an alligator spend the night in their front yard.

 

 

down trees covered the roadways early Saturday morning

The passing of the storm was quickly followed up by a massive clean-up effort by the Daufuskie 100.  There was no meeting or coalition beforehand – everybody just got to work.  Backhoes, chainsaws, and bobcats were running from sun up to sun down in an attempt to clear down trees and debris.  By Sunday, the majority of the roads have been effectively cleared.

A view of Daufuskie Island on Sunday, Oct. 9 after Hurricane Matthew.

Some homes suffered standing water in yards and basements (credit: Daufuskie Island Marsh Tacky Society)

Winds were strong enough to pull trees out of the asphalt (credit: Janet Adams)

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One house in Haig Point lost a corner to a potential tornado touch-down (credit: Lynell Linke)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The overall consensus among residents is that the island was relatively spared.  A handful of folks weren’t so lucky – Lynell and Rob Linke lost a corner of their house to what may have been a tornado touchdown.  Another couple is now dealing with the aftermath of a fallen tree on their home.  Many residents have likely lost their boats.  However, most of the island remains intact.  By some miracle, Daufuskie’s horses and farm animals made it through.  The biggest issues the locals are dealing with are still down trees and fallen power lines.  And, of course, nobody has power.

 

What’s Next

Palmetto Bay Marina (credit: Scott Kohn)

Getting back to Daufuskie Island anytime soon could prove difficult for the residents.  One of the major ports on the mainland that provides passage to Daufuskie Island is not in good shape.  Palmetto Bay Marina on Hilton Head Island took a severe beating; most of the dock has been destroyed and many of the boats can now be seen stranded on land.  Not to mention the main bridge back to Hilton Head failed inspection and it could take days or weeks to get it back to working condition.  Folks who have attempted to drive back to Bluffton have been turned around by officials.  The Beaufort County Operations Center determined it could “easily be two weeks” before folks can return to their island, and power could take weeks to be restored.  It is during this time that the locals’ patience will be tested, as everyone is eager to get back to help clean up the island and reunite with their Daufuskie family.

Palmetto Bay Marina faces structural damage (credit: PBM facebook)

 

Relief Efforts

The Daufuskie Island Fire Department is back up and running – they are working alongside locals to help clear the island and restore safety.  They’re providing both potable and non-potable water at the Fire Department, and have brought some food provisions for the residents.  One local has started the brilliant idea of a “Daufuskie Island Food Bank”.  Hundreds of residents left their homes with refrigerators and freezers full of food – food which is better off eaten by the Daufuskie 100 than left to spoil in the house.  With permission, fridges and freezers are being raided to help keep the island well fed.  A Daufuskie Disaster Fund has been receiving donations to aid the clean-up effort.

**UPDATES***

  • Daufuskie Island’s power has been restored thanks to the hard work of SCEG
  • Most businesses are back up and running and tourists are welcome to visit. Call 843-842-9449 for more info!