Inlet charter captains seek a little extra space – Coastal Observer


Inlet charter captains seek a little extra space

John Sconyers, a fishing charter captain, says the amended ordinance comes up short.

A group of Murrells Inlet charter boat captains says Georgetown County’s plan to allow limited commercial activity at its boat landings comes up short.

For John Sconyers, that’s 4 feet short.

“It’s the length issue for us,” he told County Council last week.

The council deferred final reading on an amendment to its boat landing ordinance that was first introduced in October. 

“We want to do it right the first time,” Council Member Raymond Newton said. “Do not think that this is a bad thing, but we will get everything hashed out.”

He and Council Member Everett Carolina sought a deferral in December so they could draft language that would allow a 40-foot tour boat to load and unload passengers at the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.

Supporters of Rover Tours have pressed the council to change the ordinance since the boat was enjoined by a Circuit Court judge from using the East Bay Park Landing in the city of Georgetown. The boat had leased a slip behind the S.C. Maritime Museum, but was forced to move when the museum need the dock space for its own programs.

Rover Tours moved to the Campbell landing, but was told by deputies that it was violating the county ordinance adopted in 1991 after a tour boat began operating out of Hagley Landing. The ordinance prohibits all commercial activity at the landings, but was rarely enforced.

Deputies cited six fishing charter boats at the Murrells Inlet Boat Landing last summer. They were found not guilty in Magistrate’s Court, and the county drafted an amendment to the ordinance to allow boats up to 30 feet long whose captains have a Coast Guard license to carry up to six passengers to operate from its landings.

Last week, Sconyers, who operates Aces Up Fishing Charters, asked the council to drop the length requirement, but keep the six-passenger limit.

“You’re really killing these small businesses by just a couple of feet,” he said, pointing to a group of charter captains in the audience.

Sconyers operates his 34-foot boat from Murrells Inlet.

“This will actually be 20 years that I have been using the boat ramp without a problem,” he said.

When the county adopted its ordinance, the Murrells Inlet landing was owned by the state Department of Natural Resources. It was deeded to Georgetown County in 2016. Last summer was the first time the commercial ban had been enforced.

Sconyers said that running his boat from a marina isn’t an option because there isn’t any space available. If there was space, it would be too expensive.

He estimated it would cost $30,000 a year to operate his boat from a marina, including the dockage, a 10 percent cut for the marina and the higher fuel cost.

“We will be out of a business, flat out, unless we trade our boats in for a smaller boat,” Sconyers said.



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