January 2, 2004
A 30-minute car ride north to the North Carolina border, Sea Thunder leaves from a dock next to Capt. Nance’s restaurant near Calabash. As we waited in line, we were reminded many times, "You WILL get wet. We highly recommend you place all valuables, especially cameras, in your car." After several such warnings, my husband got sufficiently spooked and decided to heed the advice.
The Captain explained to us that he would take us either north or south, whichever direction we desired. However, one direction would be considerably rougher than the other. Dolphins were more likely to be seen heading north this time of day, and it would be an easier ride to begin with, but coming back in two hours it would be very rough. He said he’d take us for a sample ride and we could make a determination. He headed north for a brief while to give us an idea of an easy drive. When the test ride was over, we were all gasping for breath, saltwater-soaked hair plastered to our heads and saturated clothes clinging to our bodies. Dolphins or no, we opted to go south to get the rough stuff over with now and have an easier trip back.
Sea Thunder is a 100,000-pound vessel that at high speeds goes THROUGH the waves, not over them. Fortunately, most of us were wearing our swimsuits under our clothes, which had been recommended to us when we phoned them earlier that morning. The awning we had been seeking for shade turned out to be an issue, but not the one we expected. We wanted desperately to be out from under it so we could warm up in the sun! Plus, it constantly dripped seawater onto our heads.
Would we do this again? Probably not. My husband and 12-year-old son enjoyed it much more than us girls. We did get to see dolphins for several minutes, and that’s always a thrill. The captain admitted in a private conversation with my husband that this was about as rough as it gets. If it had been any rougher, he likely wouldn’t have taken the boat out that day. This ride is not for the faint of heart, especially when the sea is at all rough. As I commented in the car on the way back to Myrtle Beach, it was certainly an adventure!
From journal Myrtle Beach--a family vacation