Thursday, April 30, 2009

Criterium Racing (Cycling) in downtown Walterboro





The 2009 USA Crits Speedweek Race Tour came whizzed through downtown Walterboro on April 29. Criterium bicycle racing is defined as a race on a circuitous track. Walterboro has hosted this event for five years, which boasts amateur and professional races. Walterboro's main street (Washington) is blocked off and a riding course is set up around its straight stretch complete with start / finish line. Lowcountryoutdoors.com likes a bike ride as much as anyone, but these men and women racers competed at very high speeds, not for the average biker. An entire culture of riding enthusiasts turned out for this event, and a little celebration of the cycling lifestyle just happened to blossom in the warm and sunny weather.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Racers cross the finish line with timer clock keeping pace, cyclists pass the newly renovated Colleton County Courthouse with old live oaks, speeding racers make a steep turn onto Washington Street, riders strain to make time on the straightaway

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District Awards




Longhorn steakhouse in Walterboro was the setting for the Colleton County Soil and Water Conservation District (CS&WCD) Annual Affiliate Membership and Recognition Banquet. The featured speaker for the evening was Will Haynie, Executive Director of the Lowcountry Open Land Trust (LOLT). The banquet has a dual purpose to recognize conservation-minded youth who participate in CS&WCD contests, and to thank affiliate members (private entities) that support the group with membership fees. Each county in South Carolina has a Soil and Water Conservation District and these districts fall under the Department of Natural Resources. DNR Conservation District Chair Marc Cribb attended the banquet, as did DNR rep. Jennifer Majors. A poster contest with the theme of "Trees are Cool" was held for students from kindergarden through fifth grade while an essay contest with the same theme was held for students in grades 6,7 and 8. A nature-based photography contest was held for Colleton County students in grades 9 - 12. The three top entries in each category was recognized with a plaque and check at the banquet, and the topic of conservation was introduced in all levels of school thanks to the CS&WCD. District Commission Chairman I.M. Benton was re-elected to serve another 4-year term, which is a non-salaried position.

To view my first blog entry on the CS&WCD click here.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Heavy competition in the essay contest is proof that young people are concerned about conservation, L.O.L.T. speaker Will Haynie is presented with a walking staff made by CS&WCD commissioner Marion Rizer, the winning entry in the poster contest gets a blue ribbon

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Salmonella killing Southern songbirds?


With the peak of neotropical migratory songbird migration upon the Lowcountry, birders rejoice at this time when they can view colorful migrants plus reproducing resident birds at the same time. Bluebird boxes and wood duck boxes are already busy with new arrivals and carolina wrens are using hanging baskets from the piazzas of Charleston all the way to the rural lands back inland. With swine flu all over the news, it is not hard to believe that salmonella infections are presently killing some birds in association with "dirty" feeders. The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at UGA has confirmed that Salmonella Typhimurium is indeed the culprit. SCDNR bird conservation coordinator Laurel Barnhill suggests taking feeders down if you see sick or dead birds around. Disinfect the cleaner before returning it to use, but be sure not to do so in your kitchen sink. When replacing the feeder it is wise to change locations periodically in order to keep the area under the feeder more clean. So far pine siskins, goldfinches, cardinals and others have died of salmonellosis, a pathogen that can be spread by direct contact or via contaminated water and food. No birder wants to have songbirds congregate at this feeders and then become sickened, so Lowcountryoutdoors.com urges readers to add bird health to the list of things that we must be extra vigilant to identify in these trying times.

Photo By Jeff Dennis: This yellow-breasted chat did not die due to salmonella, but the mortality of such a beautiful bird gives birders pause

Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Charleston Inshore Anglers - Sheepshead Tournament








The Charleston Inshore Anglers fishing club held their annual April Sheepshead tournament. Organizer Robert Olsen said everyone had good luck fishing, and his Knot At Work charter managed to catch 100 sheepshead for the day, with one fishweighing 7.62 pounds, good enough for 10th place for angler Allen Ford. The first place sheepshead went to Gary Wilson for a 10.68-pound brute. Second place went to Lloyd Green for a 8.80-pound convict fish and third place went to Steve Joy for a 8.22-pound sheepshead. Olsen's Knot at Work charter also "won" the dogfish division with angler Eric Smith weighing-in a 1.74-pound specimen. The tournament had 142 entrants, and lots of fish were caught by everyone, though most of the top ten fish seemed to come from the 4KI reef. Olsen said, "After the first place fish was decided, the next nine spots were all within about a pound of each other."

Photos by www.lowcountryfishscales.com: Gary Wilson (red shirt) with the first place fish worth $1048 plus a $415 calcutta, second place fish worth $524 with a $773.00 calcutta went to Lloyd Green. Congrats!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

S.C. Aquarium Achievement Awards Gala




The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston held its third annual Achievement Awards Gala to honor one individual, a brother-sister team and one organization. The black tie event took place at the Aquarium which allowed viewing of its Penguin Planet exhibit during the social hour, before attendees enjoyed a seated dinner. The Legacy Award went to the children of Phillippe Cousteau Sr. (and grandchildren of the explorer Jacques) since Alexandra and Phillippe Cousteau Jr. are following a path of conservation in their careers. Besides co-founding EarthEcho International with his sister to restore and protect our oceans, Phillipe Jr. is also the Chief Ocean Correspondent for Animal Planet television channel. The Achievement Award went to Charles Lane for being one of the founders of the ACE Basin Conservation movement. The Leadership Award went to the MeadWestvaco Corporation for their long history of commitment to the environment in South Carolina and other Southeastern states. As a leading global packaging manufacturer MeadWestvaco is know as a champion of environmental accountability, integrity and stewardship. Much has been made of MeadWestvaco's intentions to develop the East Edisto tract but until the property is actually developed, there can be no doubt that wildlife has benefitted from their timbering practices over time. Almost ALL of MeadWestvaco's timber tracts are presently for sale (just go over to ESPNoutdoors.com to see  their flashing ads) and while the lands have benefited in the past from MeadWestvaco's stewardship, today it is basically a crap-shoot what the highest bidders will choose to do with the properties. Lowcountryoutdoors.com salutes these award winners for their contributions towards the enjoyment of the great outdoors for the average citizen.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring Fling Boat Show at The Bristol





The Bristol Marina in the Ashley River was host to the Spring Fling Boat Show. This event was in place of the 2009 Charleston In-Water Boat Show that was set to take place this weekend at Brittlebank Park. Due to the current economic environment, Maritime Events director Robbie Freeman decided that conducting the 2009 In-Water Boat Show would be too much strain on an already reeling maritime industry. Maritime Events remains committed to their 10-year contract to present the In-Water boat show, and hopes market conditions will be greatly improved in future years. The Bristol marina Spring Fling welcomed the public to view offerings from dealers like Sea Ray of Charleston, Cape Romain marine of Georgetown and Coastal Carolina Yacht Sales. Boats by Maritomo, Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Tiara and more were on display and the music of Jimmy Buffet could be heard while walking the docks and enjoying the light breezes. A 38-foot Cruiser Esprit was aptly named Five O'clock Somewhere, reminding folks what Lowcountryoutdoors.com already knows - that spending some time on the water makes one feel a bit more relaxed from the daily grind of today's hustle and bustle. Thanks to The Bristol Marina for bringing folks out to the docks to enjoy the day.

Photos by Jeff Dennis: The Spring Fling sign directs folks to the boat dealers locations, The Bristol Marina is located right next to the Ashley River Bridge, moored dragon boats with The Bristol reflection in the background, a 52-foot Maritomo yacht for sale by Coastal Carolina Yacht Sales

Friday, April 24, 2009

Horry County wildfire continues


The South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) continues to fight the Highway 31 fire in Horry County today, a fire which has charred nearly 20,000 acres. Approximately 77 SCFC personnel are on the scene working long shifts to get the fire contained, in warm weather approaching 85 degrees. The SCFC team works to ensure the safety of its employees, but a the same time taking an aggressive approach to fighting the fire. When two employees has their motorized equipment bog down, they survived a close call with the wildfire by deploying their fire tent and riding out the tempest. Lots of firebreaks are being plowed ahead of the fire, which is moving in a northerly direction, and the SCFC is also setting back-fires to choke out available vegetation ahead of the wildfire. Of course so much depends on the winds in that area today, so its with a wait and see attitude that the SCFC pronounced that 50% of the fire is now contained. Also, today it was made official that the wildfire came from someone burning yard debris in Conway over the weekend without the proper permit, and they have been fined by the SCFC. Lowcountryoutdoors.com extends sympathies to those affected by this tragic wildfire.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wildfire strikes Horry County



Strong winds on Tuesday and Wednesday sparked a coastal wildfire in Horry County near North Myrtle Beach, forcing residents to flee approaching fires in the middle of the night. Governor Mark Sanford declared a state of emergency for the area Thursday, which has consumed 10,000 acres. All North Myrtle Beach schools are closed due to the thick smoke in the area. As the wildfire runs through Carolina Bays, which are filled with dense vegetation, the fire burns very hot and is hard to control with firebreaks. S.C. Forestry Commission spokesman Scott Hawkins said, "Once you get a fire in a bay, it's very very hard to put out." Lowcountryoutdoors.com has stated on numerous occasions that South Carolina is not immune to the types of wildfires that have occurred more regularly in Georgia and Florida, and endorses a strong S.C. Forestry Commission as the vanguard of our fire-fighting efforts. Most people do not know about the aging equipment the S.C. Forestry Commission uses on these fires, due to years of tight economic times which have left this state agency with little surplus funds. Unfortunately for the homeowners who have lost everything in this current wildfire, it may take a signal such as this to restore the S.C. Forestry Commission to its proper status as friend to the public and defender of our homes from wildfire. Controlled burning like prescribed fire is one solution to head off wildfires, and the public needs to be more informed about the benefits of this land management tool - and accept that the occasional smoke from a prescribed fire is always better than the terrifying reality of a wildfire in our Lowcountry outdoors.

For more blog entries about prescribed fire click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NWTF Wheelin' Sportsman hunt at SRS 4/18/09





The National Wild Turkey Federation's (NWTF) Wheelin' Sportsman program hosts their "Hunt of a Lifetime" once a year in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, S.C. The two-day event allows wheelchair hunters to take to the pristine woods of the SRS on Friday afternoon before a dinner banquet at the nearby University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL), building the anticipation among the handicapped hunters for the next morning's hunt when turkey activity is peaking. Lowcountryoutdoors.com applauds the Aiken Sertoma Club, Wackenhut Services and all the DOE employees that donate their time to make this hunt a success - because when those with special needs derive so much confidence and joy from participating in our hunting heritage, everyone who is willing needs to come together and sustain these type of sporting opportunities. Sporting?? Did I mention that these hunters are confined to a wheelchair! Sometimes during a turkey hunt it is wise to move a bit to where the gobblers are heading, but when you hunt from a ground blind this is not likely. Each hunter has a guide with him to call to the gobblers and this increases their chance for success.  Success?? Twenty-seven hunters went to the SRS woods on Saturday morning and they brought back 27 longbeard gobblers!! Not everyone tagged a bird, but they reached the same tally because several hunters were able to take two birds on the same hunt - which is quite a feat. Hunter Jamie Spears from Inman pulled off the "home run" of turkey hunting by taking two longbeards with one shot from his 12-gauge Benelli. The Winchester extended range #6 shot easily found the target at 38 yards, and caller and NWTF friend Dave Wilson of Lexington quickly walked over and retrieved the birds for Spears, and they could head back to the SREL for check-in and a celebratory lunch. This hunt is in its 6th year and this was by far the most hunter success ever recorded with the 38-degree morning temperature really helping to fire up the gobbling activity. All types of camo attire was used by the hunters but McConnell Hall Outfitters is working on a variation of their Buff Tuff jeans for use by mobility impaired hunters - www.mhoonline.com. The SRS hunt is part of the "Making Tracks" program that is a memorandum of understanding between the NWTF and US Forest Service. Ted Schecnk with "Making Tracks" told me, "this is a national program and we partner to put on hunts in almost every state in the county." Perhaps the best part of this event, and similar hunts, are the smiling faces spawned by the fellowship after the hunt when the Wheelin' Sportsmen share their stories of outdoor adventures.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Hunter Jamie Spears shows off his "home run" birds next to a beautiful wildflower, UGA's SREL hosted the social events for the hunt, a group photo shows some of the hunters and their harvested wild turkeys, the commemorative turkey call given to participants was made of black walnut and sycamore by Jody Rohm of Pennsylvania

Monday, April 20, 2009

Charleston Race Week - Fun Photos




Photos by Jeff Dennis: Mo Regnier and Fannie Watters are cleaned up for the shoreside beach party after Mo sailed on the 41-foot Island Flyer made by Wauquiez Centurion boatworks; an incoming bocci ball during a "bocci tournament" kept the competition going after daily sailing events; if one drinks enough Gosling rum you might even buy a Vineyard Vines whale hat from the Charleston Race Week merchandise tent.

To view another blog entry from Race Week click here.

Charleston Race Week - Wrap Up




Sailing teams completed Charleston Race Week by one p.m. on Sunday in beautiful sailing conditions that are sure to spread word to other sailors about our fine Lowcountry waters. Some division races went down to the wire, while some results were not too surprising, but everyone joined together again at The Charleston Harbor Resort for fellowship and the awards ceremony that got underway about 4:30 p.m. Brad Van Liew with the Maritime Foundation announced the daily race winners for Saturday and Sunday, awarding low ball glasses etched with the Charleston Race Week logo to the top three places in each division. Race Director Randy Draftz proceeded to give out the cumulative awards for the three-day Race Week, with the first place prize of an etched glass bottle and glasses with a bottle of Gosling Rum. Two special awards were saved for last with the awarding of the Palmetto Cup and the one-design perpetual trophy. Merchandise sales during the event were very strong, and the quality of the entire event from the far-flung field of competitors to the first-class shoreside events, demonstrates that sailing may well be "recession-proof." One example is William Hellings and crew sailing on the White Flash, home-ported in St. Augustine, Florida. Mrs. Linda Hellings said, "They sailed the boat here for Charleston Race Week and experienced terrible ocean conditions. My husband and I have been sailing together for 21 years and we have it in our blood. It is a good and healthy sport, and I enjoy the lifestyle because we get to see a lot of different places. The people associated with sailing are great and the parties are even better." White Flash started well on Friday but dropped to "mid-pack" by Sunday, but the Hellings still enjoyed the event and the adventures just the same as if they had won their division. All results can be viewed at www.charlestonraceweek.com.

To view more blog entries from Race Week click here.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: a sailor all the way from Norway takes home a fine sailing print, the first place award in each division was a vessel of distinction etched with the Charleston Race Week logo, Captain Robin Team and the crew of Teamwork accept the Palmetto Cup perpetual trophy for the first overall winner in the PHRF class plus Raymarine electronics and a bottle of Gosling Old Rum. Congrats from Lowcountryoutdoors.com to Teamwork!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Charleston Race Week - Photos




Photos by Jeff Dennis: a "shorebird" landed on the cleat of the Race Week media boat Frolic in order to rest and watch the sailing, Sailors round the buoy at Castle Pinckney on the inshore course, hard working media Raymond Owens and Peter Finger recording the day's events onboard Frolic.

To view my blog from Saturday at Race Week click here.

2009 Family Circle Cup - Champion crowned



Sabine Lisicki beat Caroline Wozniaki in in two sets to become the latest Family Circle Cup champion. Lisicki proved that her earlier defeat of Venus Williams was no fluke, and she took her 16th-seed all the way to the Finals. Wozniacki showed signs of being tired after a three-set match against Dementieva the day before, and only lasted 28 minutes before the first set went to Lisicki. A more contested second set did not alter the course of the 19-year old Lisicki from winning her first WTA Tour event, and the championship match perhaps offered a glimpse of more great tennis to come in the future from these talented teenagers.
Lowcountryoutdoors.com is glad to promote the FCC because tennis is a worthy outdoor pursuit that just about anyone can get out and enjoy. Whether they have access to the wonderful Daniel Island facilities or not, tennis provides great exercise both for those who play competitively and those who play just for fun.

To view my blog entry from the 2009 FCC semifinals click here.

Photo By Chris Smith / FCC : Sabine Lisicki, 2009 Family Circle Cup Champion

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Charleston Race Week - Saturday with Video




Day two of racing saw warmer conditions greet the sailors, and the early variable winds were a big change from the 22-knot winds on Friday. Cumulative point totals from all three days will be used to determine a winner after Sunday's racing.
On the ocean course Hans Schultz from Oxford, Maryland reported that he crews on the 25-foot Crazy Bob, which likes "light air." Schultz said that after the first race on Friday they headed back to land to play golf instead, and with the wind conditions eased up on Saturday they got back into the swing, completing all three races.
Local boat owner and sailor Steve Lezniak has a crew of 14 on his 50-foot Beneteu Celadon. Jackie Adams is one crew member here from Atlanta and he told me that for Saturday's first race they were DQ'd because they did not cross the starting line within the allowed five minutes due to windless conditions, but that the other races of the day were fine. Mary Ann Becker of Celadon told me, "It was a wonderful day to spend on the water in Charleston sailing."

Photos by Jeff Dennis: Sailboats race downwind in the harbor course, Gosling rum drinks are one of the important sponsors for Charleston Race Week

To view my very first blog from Race Week click here.

Video: Watch sailors round a buoy on the inshore course for a downwind leg
video

2009 Family Circle Cup - Semifinals


The fifth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki upset the first-ranked Elena Dementieva at the stadium court on Daniel Island today. The three-set match that went to the 18-year old Danish star at 6-4, 5-7 and 7-5 continues her hot streak of very consistent play, where she seems to return just about everything. The other semifinals match pitted Marion Bartoli and Sabine Lisicki, with the 19-year old Lisicki winning easily. This sets up a match between two teenagers that assures a "new" champion for the Family Circle Tennis Cup.

To view my blog entry from a 2009 FCC night match click here.

Photo by Jeff Dennis: Elena Dementieva ready to return a serve,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Charleston Race Week begins - with Video




A total of 174 racing sailboats took the the harbor and nearshore waters of Charleston today to begin what will be three days of racing. Three races per day will with a time sheet and scoring schedule will help decide the eventual winner, who will be awarded prizes on Sunday afternoon. The official home for Charleston Race Week is the Charleston Harbor Resort just past Patriot's Point. Each night a "beach party" complete with bocci ball tournaments, fellowship and something that all sailors seek - grog. A tournament sponsor is Gosling Rum and the bar will be pouring "Dark & Stormy" drinks (Gosling rum over Bermuda ginger beer) for racers to enjoy while telling their tales of maritime adventure. Two tales that Lowcountryoutdoors.com witnessed involved the Viper-class sailboat Playstation which ran aground and suffered keel damage at 10:30 a.m., and the offshore-class Blueprint which ran into another boat in crossing traffic during heavy seas and suffered minor bow damage - both boats returned safely to the marina. The weather forecast for weekend racing is excellent so be sure to get on the water to watch these races, or turn out to the battery with a pair of binoculars to take in what is sure to be a picturesque scene.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: The Charleston Race Week logo can be found on all sorts of merchandise for sale at the Charleston Harbor Resort, The crew of the Orange Crush at the Captain's meeting on Thursday night, and the spinnaker-filled sailing course shows that the steady winds of 10 to 12 knots kept the fleet moving well.

Video: Captain Rob Robertson aboard the Frolic talks about Charleston Race Week

video

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2009 Family Circle Cup tennis - Night Match




The weather has taken a turn for the better, and watching the remainder of the tournament under bright skies and mild temperatures is virtually assured. Wednesday night's match between Wozniacki and Kudryavtseva was played in front of a three-quarters capacity crowd at the stadium court, followed by a doubles match. Wozniacki served first, and despite a few 99-m.p.h serves she lost her first service game. Wozniacki is the shorter, stockier player that reaches WAY back for her two-handed backhand, and she entered the FCC having won the last WTA Tour event. Kudryavtseva possesses a more more lanky or athletic frame, and her ball toss for each service saw her pose like a statuette before delivering her serve. Unfortunately for Kudryavtseva a bug flew in here eye near the start of play, and this bothered her for a game or two, and her play varied between clay-court sliding drop shots to powerful forehand shots. Both players settled into a groove during the fifth game of the first set, which lasted over 20 minutes and saw something like six deuce points. The number five seed Wozniacki won the hotly contested game and proceeded to win both sets at 6 games to 3. Tennis fans delighted in the sharp play and the crisp temperatures during this evening match.
Today's matches will shore things up for the Quarterfinals which begin on Friday.

To view my blog from FCC second and third rounds click here.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Danish up and coming star Caroline Wozniaki shines after winning her match against Kudryavtseva, both players take a break from the action in between sets, Lee Brockman and friends hosted the USTA junior tennis clinic

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2009 Family Circle Cup - 2nd and 3rd rounds




Venus Williams, the tournament's number two seed, survived against Sania Mirza in three sets 6 to 1, 3 to 6 and 6 to 2. Their noon-time match on the stadium court at the Family Circle tennis facility on Daniel Island was the most anticipated match of the day. American Bethanie Mattek-Sands was dispatched from the Althea Gibson court today by Russia's Anastasia Rodionova 6 games to 2 and 6 games to 4. The tournament's eight-seed Swiss star Patty Schnyder has a test on the stadium court during the afternoon versus Russia's Elena Visnina. Tonight's feature match at 7 p.m. on the stadium court is Alla Kudryavtseva versus Carolina Wozniacki, followed by a doubles match. Wozniacki is from Denmark and just 18 years old, making her debut at the FCC. Kudryavtseva calls Romania home and is 21 years of age, making her second appearance at the FCC. The third round of competion for the Family Circle Cup is set to be completed on Thursday.

To view my blog entry from the FCC LaCoste fashion show click here.

Photos by Jeff Dennis: Fans fill the stands to watch ladies professional tennis at the FCC, a plaque describing the contributions of Althea Gibson, and folks taking a minute to enjoy the social side of the Family Circle Cup.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 Family Circle Cup - Lacoste Fashion Show





The fourteen Monday matches at the Family Circle Cup were all completed before heavy rains passed through the Lowcountry, causing the outdoors fashion show to be moved indoors. In tennis news, American Vania King defeated number 14 seed Olga Govortsova in a three-hour three set match - marking the first seeded player to be ousted from the competition. Tuesday's first and second round matches are under threat of more rain, but the weather for the remainder of the week looks very conducive to spectacular tennis conditions at the Daniel Island FCC facility.
Tournament sponsor Lacoste conducted their fan favorite fashion show for the fourth year, with a last minute venue change to the Riviera Theatre after rain interfered with the King Street location. A long runway flanked by seated dignitaries was surrounded by a dynamic group from the public that turned out in support of the event. Music throbbed as models strutted and cameras flashed in what was a fairly brief but captivating show. Bathing suits, tennis attire and summer fun clothes were all on display courtesy of Lacoste. The Family Circle Cup tournament has several events each year like this fashion show, to round out the outstanding tennis play that is the focus of the tournament. Tonight is Girl's Night Out at the tennis center, so make sure to grab some girlfriends and head over to see these professionals play.

To view my blog entry from the 2009 FCC first round click here.

Photos by Jeff Dennis: the Lacoste logo, a model struts down the runway, two models in preppy attire, and the entire ensemble receiving applause from the audience after the fashion show