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CAROLINA SAILING

South Carolina Maritime Museum – a Timely Expansion South Carolina’s only all-encompassing maritime museum is taking some big steps forward.

The South Carolina Maritime Museum during the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show. Courtesy South Carolina Maritime Museum.

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here are many aspects of sailing to be cherished. As a pastime, it’s empowering. It connects practitioners more closely to the natural environment. It teaches skills, awareness, resourcefulness—and sometimes even history. Without a doubt, this pastime’s long heritage is one of those aspects to be cherished. Rooted in necessity and exploration, sailing has been a fixture among coastal cultures for millennia. Few other pastimes can make that claim. Golf reportedly dates to the late 1400s. Football began around the late 1800s. But harnessing the wind for aquatic transport has a history that some researchers claim stems back 100,000 years to when Neanderthals explored the Mediterranean under sail. In more recent times, sailing played a key role in the history of the Palmetto State. The first European settlers arrived here aboard sailing ships in the sixteenth century. As the modern era unfolded, exploration under sail—and later commerce under sail—were important drivers. The majority of the slave laborers who built so much of South Carolina’s early infrastructure and wealth were brought here under sail. Yet despite the important role that sail power plays—and the fact that South Carolinians characteristically revere regional history—not much attention has been paid to the state’s maritime past—at least not much official attention. That’s why it’s refreshing to know that right on Front Street in Georgetown, SC, you can take a stroll back in time and learn about many aspects of the Palmetto State’s mar52

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itime heritage. Want to learn about the country’s oldest intact sailing vessel? You can see a scale model of the 50-foot Brown’s Ferry vessel (discovered mere miles up the Black River from the museum) as well as some of the brick cargo that was on board when it sank. Want to learn about Robert Smalls, the intrepid former slave and harbor pilot who abducted the sidewheel steamer, The Planter, and ferried his family to safety across Civil War blockade lines in the dark of night? You can see an entire display about him as well as a scale model of The Planter on the museum’s second floor. These and many other exhibits reside in the renovated museum, which reopened late this fall. Where once it was a simple, one-room affair, the South Carolina Maritime Museum (SCMM) is now a two-story building with over 6,000 square feet of exhibits that range from ship models to drawings to photographs and artifacts. According to Susan Davis, a member of the museum’s board, the newly renovated museum represents a tremendous accomplishment. She and her SCMM colleagues secured a $1.7 million, low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase the property (including the building, the adjacent parking lot, and four boat slips that abut the property) and make the first phase of renovations. As impressive as all this is, it’s really only the tip of the iceberg regarding the museum board’s ambitions. “Most people, if they know of the museum, know us by way of the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show,” Davis says. www.southwindsmagazine.com

Southwinds January 2018  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds January 2018  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...