Whatever Floats Your Boat
All aboard for the Salty Dog Happy Hour cruise, Hilton Head Island’s hottest floating experience. BY BARRY KAUFMAN
Hilton Head Island is home to a lot of happy hours. There are happy hours on the beach, happy hours at the clubhouse, happy hours surrounded by wall-to-wall sports… essentially if it’s 6 p.m. around here and you don’t have a drink in your hand, you’d better have a good reason why not. But there is only one happy hour that takes you out among the serpentine tidal waters of Hilton Head Island, plying the waves in search of the ultimate sunset view. That honor falls to the Salty Dog Happy Hour Cruise. “We’re playing with a loaded deck,” said Phil Smith, Captain of The Salty Dog. “The Lowcountry is beautiful, so you have these stunning views. And as the boat moves, the scenery is always changing. You’re not near the water or overlooking the water, you’re on the water. You don’t have that anywhere else.” The 63-foot catamaran takes out as many as 70 people a night, 364 days a year (the crew takes Christmas off) depending on the weather. “We only go out if we can have fun,” said Smith. And once guests climb aboard, those lucky few enjoy delicious food and refreshing beverages on a double-decker party boat, with live music from Trevor Harden on Thursdays and David Kemmerly on Saturdays through November. The on-board kitchen offers up a smorgasbord of happy hour eats, ranging from beer-steamed shrimp and crab cakes to their signature Jolly Roger’s Rolls and quesadillas. It wouldn’t be happy hour without a few libations, and the drink list doesn’t disappoint. Local draft beers, wine and sangria and a list of specialty cocktails as long as your arm fill the drink list. Be sure to try the captain’s namesake drink: Captain Phil’s Mule, served boat-style in a plastic cup. “Our crowds are just really happy, fun people,” said Smith.
Indeed, every voyage begins with a simple, straightforward message from the captain. “We have one rule over the next hour and a half – have fun. If you don’t want to have fun, I’ll refund your money.” Part of that fun comes from chasing the sunset – The Salty Dog disembarks at varying times throughout the year to make sure happy hour hits right as the sky blazes in the signature Lowcountry palette of purples, pinks and blues. The route also changes to get the perfect sunset. “We have about four different routes. Usually it’s captain’s choice; wherever we can get the best angles on a sunset since the sun moves north to south over the year,” said Smith. Along with the sun, the wind tends to shift from summer to winter, prompting course corrections. “In the summer we try to find the breeze, in the winter we try to stay out of it.” And don’t worry if you haven’t got your sea legs: The Salty Dog stays ultra-stable thanks to its catamaran design, bobbing only slightly if it hits some wake. “Plus, we don’t go fast, so we don’t spill drinks,” noted Smith. Depending on the tide, The Salty Dog cruises along at a relaxed 6-10 knots (about 7-12 mph). But thanks to Smith’s intimate knowledge of area waterways, attained through 30 years as a captain, The Salty Dog actually covers more ground than a lot of the island’s sightseeing ships. The Salty Dog is also available for private parties, rehearsal dinners and even weddings, with Smith doing the officiating himself. “I’m a captain and I’m also ordained, so we can make that happen.” So whether you’re tying the knot or just want to soak in the island’s most scenic happy hour, head to cruise.saltydog.com. Happy Hour Cruises are $19 per person on days without live music, $24 on Thursdays and Saturdays.
SALTY DOG BOAT CRUISE
cruise.saltydog.com • 843.683.6462 call or text • firstname.lastname@example.org 14
The Best of Dining, Nightlife and Entertainment on Hilton Head Island.