August 2008

Chart Your Own Course: Palmetto Bay Water Sports takes you there

Author: By Linda S. Hopkins

What’s more fun than a day at the beach? A day on the water! Whether you are looking for a fast-paced thrill, a leisurely cruise, a few hours of fishing or a guided nature tour, Palmetto Bay Water Sports has a boat for you. Picture yourself zipping through the water on a wave runner, 19-foot runabout or Triumph outboard. Imagine cruising with family and friends on a 24-foot pontoon boat, sipping a cold soda or dropping a line from a 12-foot fun boat. Maybe you prefer to power your own ride. One- or two-person kayaks are perfect for exploring local waterways and taking in the natural attractions along the way.

New to Palmetto Bay Water Sports this season is the guided Dolphin Seafari. According to owner, Tim Trigg, the tour, which can accommodate up to 22 passengers, is a delight for families with children. Describing the interactive experience, which includes dolphin sightings, pulling up a crab trap, throwing a cast net and handling small sea creatures from the aquarium on board, he said, “The guides share a lot of knowledge about nature and give information about the island and surrounding area. The children love it. We let them sit at the helm and have their picture made on the way back in.”

The Seafari is also available for a fireworks cruise on Tuesday nights. Passengers get the full nature tour along with the explosive overhead finale—a great way to beat the crowds and enjoy the show.

Whose driving?
With the exception of the Seafari, at Palmetto Bay Water Sports, you are in the driver’s seat. Have your own party, your way, on the water. No experience? No problem, as long as you are at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. According to Trigg, customers are given detailed instructions along with clearly-marked boundaries and charts. “We go over the operation of the boat and the safety equipment—a pretty good orientation. We make sure we have their cell phone number and they have our number,” he said, adding that he encourages people to call in and ask questions about what they are seeing along the way. “When they tell us what they are looking at, we know exactly where they are,” he said.

Now in his fifth year of operation, Trigg’s success is based on customer service. “We try to gear our whole business toward families and kids. I have a really good crew and they know how to take care of children, be kind to them and make them feel welcome. We have a lot of repeat customers because of that,” he said.

When it comes to safety, he runs a tight ship. Age requirements, operational rules and Coast Guard regulations are strictly enforced. “Like anything else, if you use common sense and listen to the instructions, you are going to be fine. If people go against the rules, we stop the ride. It doesn’t happen often,” he said.

Rental rates vary, depending on the boat you choose and the time you wish to spend on the water. Half- and full-day trips are available. Palmetto Bay Water Sports can also supply all the gear you need, including fishing rods, bait, snacks, t-shirts, sunscreen, sunglass straps—you name it. Boat trips include a digital photo, taken as you depart the dock and presented to you as a souvenir upon return.

“We try to make everybody have a good time here,” said Trigg. When they walk away, they feel like they spent their money well and met some nice people they wouldn’t mind hanging out with again next summer.”

So, what are you waiting for? Whether you are on vacation or just wish you were, discover Hilton Head Island’s most exciting playground. For reservations and more information, call (843) 785-2345 or visit www.palmettobaywatersports.com.

Life in the Fast Lane
Now that I have passed the half-century mark in my life, I have decided that it is not too soon to start making my bucket list—all those things I want to make sure I do before I leave this world. Since I’m not sure if they have personal watercraft in heaven (or wherever my soul might be going next), I put a wave runner ride up near the top of the list. All these years living on Hilton Head Island, I was thinking it would be a shame to miss out on the action.

Then along came Tim Trigg, offering to make my wish come true. Before I could say, “lickety-split,” I was signed up for a creek run.

Playing tourist for the day, I donned my brightest swimsuit, coconut-scented sunscreen, cool sunglasses and favorite flip-flops and headed for Palmetto Bay Marina. Ever the lover of heart-pounding rides, I bravely approached what looked something like a motorcycle on the water. (I later learned that it was a Yamaha VX110, in case that means something to you.) Okay, so I was a little nervous…

The group consisted of a mom and young daughter, a dad with two energetic boys, several bikini-clad teens, a serious-looking old salt, and other assorted visitors. As I sized them up, I gathered that this was an adventuresome and experienced bunch. I almost chickened out.

After the deeply-tanned, svelte young guides gave their operation and safety spiel and shoved us off of the dock, I started my engine and slowly puttered my way through the no-wake zone along with everyone else. Once we got beyond the speed-restricted area, the real excitement began. The lead guide took off, full throttle, and my fellow waver runners followed fearlessly. I mustered up the courage to give it some gas, speeding up to about 25 mph, which was pretty scary for a rookie. (Thankfully, the second guide had me covered from behind.)

As I began to get more comfortable with the maneuvers (which were really very simple, much like driving a car) my initial trepidation turned into an exhilarating rush. Harnessing that energy, I gradually sped up to the maximum 40 mph. The hour and fifteen minute ride flew by—literally.

For all of you who are making your bucket list, add “wave runner” to the top, and don’t be afraid. According to Trigg, “It’s as wild as you want it to get. If you want to go fast and jump some waves, then you are going to have a rough ride. But if you just want a nice, calm ride, you can do that, too.”

Wave runners can accommodate one-three passengers. Drivers must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. Children must be at least six years old to ride, and their feet must touch the floor from the seat of the wave runner. Call Palmetto Bay Water Sports and reserve your ride today. (843-785-2345).

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