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    At South Island, ferry carries 2 cars with stops for tides

    By Jackie R. Broach
    Coastal Observer

    While Georgetown County Council was discussing the possibility of a car ferry to transport Sandy Island residents to and from the mainland, another car ferry in the county was out of service.

    Wind and tides kept the South Island ferry docked Tuesday afternoon, said its captain, Ben Franklin.

    Owned and operated by the state Department of Transportation, the ferry runs to and from South Island at an annual cost of about $450,000. That includes fuel, salaries and maintenance, said Kristen Moore Lominack, DOT’s director of state governmental affairs.

    It’s a costly venture and one the state can’t really afford right now, she said, but operation of the ferry was part of the deal when the island was given to the state Department of Natural Resources by the Yawkey Foundation.

    The ferry runs on demand from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., averaging about 13 trips a day. It’s mostly used to transport employees who work at facilities on the island, and occasional tour groups. The island is private and Natural Resources has to approve trips before they are made.

    Lominack estimates the distance the ferry travels to South Island is about 100 yards.

    “You could shout across it,” she said.

    Natural Resources will take over operation of the ferry in July.

    Beaufort County contracts with two vendors to provide passenger ferry services to and from Daufuskie Island.

    DOT annually provides $50,000 in grant funds toward its operation and Beaufort County Council provides an additional $75,000 for the service.

    Passengers pay a small fee that ranges from $1 to $5.

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