The Dataw Island April 17 Town Hall discussion of the future of the Dataw Marina is a very important upcoming event. At our last DIYC Board meeting, we had an extended discussion of the issue.
The DIYC believes that the Marina was and should again be a part of the beating heart of Dataw Island. We represent the spirit of the boating-oriented community on Dataw, and it is no surprise that there is strong support among our members and leadership for rebuilding the Marina. We all remember the grand days of an active and thriving boating scene and the Marina docks busy with boats. We remember the beauty of the masts against the sky and the fun of being a part of the life at the Marina. With or without a boat, it was a vibrant social experience and a scene of compelling beauty. Remember those sunsets?
The Marina was our doorway to one of the last great places in America – the ACE Basin and Low Country waterways. Our waters, marshes, rivers and creeks and the ready ability to be on them is a part of the very nature of Dataw. So, too, are the many opportunities that a marina provides for sharing this treasure with our Dataw friends, whether on a boat, at a dock, at a DIYC social event at the Marina, or just hanging out with our friends on a beautiful day by the water. Ever sit at the back porch at Sweetgrass, on its deck, or on a boat with friends, enjoying a drink and good company at the end of a beautiful day? Remember showing the grand scene off to friends and family? Losing that was losing something we all loved.
After Hurricane Matthew, many assumed that despite the horrific destruction at the Marina, things would return much as they were. Marinas are lost or damaged from storms often. The losses at Hilton Head and most other areas were overcome. Dataw had an opportunity to purchase the Marina a year ago, but chose not to act, in part because there was another buyer, and many believed then that a buyer likely would bring our Marina back. The hope was that someone would rescue us from our loss without much effort or any cost on Dataw’s part. That proved untrue. When that rescue failed, another buyer appeared, and we were again optimistic that we would see relief. I have to admit that I was supremely optimistic on this one, a perfect buyer with extensive marina experience and already a presence at a nearby successful marina. But that, too, vanished.
It is clear now that Dataw cannot sit by and await a no-cost, no-effort deliverance, hoping that someone else will bring back what was so dear to Dataw. Dataw must prepare to take advantage of any opportunity to help itself. If a chance comes for Dataw to capture the property and revive the Marina, we should know what to expect, what our undertaking will require and be prepared to act.
The purpose of the April 17 Town Hall is to prepare for that opportunity. The DIOA directed that Dataw seek that opportunity and act, and not continue to let its fortunes depend on the unknown. The Marina Advisory Group is supporting the direction to prepare to control the Marina property. The DIYC is active in its support of these efforts.
Should the Marina be owned by Dataw, it will be up to Dataw to decide specifically how the property will be used. DIYC supports a full marina operation, but recognizes that the issues are many, and it may take time and staging to reach that goal. It is critical, however, that a rebirth begins and Dataw has returned to it that lost core of its identity.
There is great DIYC news, too, of course. The Kayaking group is continually adding exciting opportunities. On April 5, a much enhanced kayak facility was opened, with new kayak storage and an EZ Launch. The ability to get in the kayak, out on the water, and underway is enormously easier at this facility. It is especially a great addition for those less skilled, like myself. Moreover, that facility is an entrance to the Jenkins Creek area at Dataw that provides a wonderful low country, marsh-life experience.
The New River kayak cruise in March was a sold out, great start of the spring kayaking season. Nancy Schulte has announced the upcoming trip to the ACE Basin on May 4. It is a perfect time to see the early spring flowers and foliage.
Our power boat cruise to Downtown Beaufort was another success. We had eight boats and 48 DICY members on the cruise and lunched on the deck at the Q Restaurant. Out next outing is April 23. It will be a cruise up the Coosaw River, into the Whale Branch, past plantations and dolphin active areas, finally coming out at the Broad River. We will beach up and enjoy lunch at Cotton Island.
The DIYC is strong and enthusiastic. Our membership is growing, and we have launched into another great season.