Thursday, April 28, 2011

S.C. Man wins DU photo contest

Scott J. McWatty of Lexington has won the Best Overall photo in the annual Ducks Unlimited photo contest.

Here is an excerpt from the May / June issue of DU magazine:

Scott McWatty had a problem. As a waterfowler and amateur nature photographer, he always liked pictures of hunters silhouetted against a rising or setting sun. He wanted to take one of these striking images himself, but he often hunted alone. Ultimately, he had to take one of himself.

He captured this winning image at dawn while duck hunting in his home state of South Carolina. 'When the sunlight began to crack the horizon, I began goofing around with my camera, trying to get a good shot of the scene and then it hit me! I had my tripod and remote wireless shutter release, so I set up the camera to attempt the shot I have always wanted to capture, me and my decoys silhouetted against the rising sun.'
The photograph required a long exposure, and McWatty remained perfectly still as the camera absorbed the scene's faint light. 'I ended up with a pair of drake buffleheads and a wigeon that morning, but the real prize was this image,' he says.

To view past blog entries about Ducks Unlimited in S.C. click here.

Use the link to see the full story:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District Awards

The annual Affiliate Membership and student recognition banquet was held at Longhorn steakhouse on April 26, 2011. The Colleton Soil & Water Conservation District hosts this event after the student contests are held to promote the outdoors. The students raise awareness through photo contests, essay contests and poster contests that focus on a certain subject. In 2011 nature's pollinator's were the subject the students focused on. CS&WCD chair I.M. Benton presided over the dinner and awards and thanked the affiliate members who attended the banquet. The photo contest had four categories including 1) Rural Life 2)Trees & Plants 3)Native Wildlife and 4) Landscapes. First prize went to Heath Fisk for his Trees and Sunset photo, while second prize went to Sarah McDonald for her Barn and Fence photo entry. Both students attend Colleton Prep and they each were given prize money for winning. The guest speaker for the night was Mr. Kirby Player with the Clemson Agricultural School. The 2010 Conservationist of the Year Award went to Mr Carroll Brown of Walterboro for his years dedicated to the management of his forest lands.

To view past blog entries on the CS&WCD awards click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Carroll and Jane Brown after the Awards dinner; a great poster depicting pollinators found on a farm; the awards program was also graced with pollinators; first and second place in the photo contest

Monday, April 25, 2011

Botany Bay WMA ; Edisto's Jewel

There is no time better than springtime to pay a visit to the Botany Bay WMA on Edisto Island because of the excellent birding and pleasant temperatures. Birdwatch for painted buntings and summer tanagers or walk along the private beach looking for the perfect shell, but be mindful that keeping a shell now equals a $470 maximum fine. The driving tour loop was recently closed from March 28 until April 16 in order to repair the water control device at Jason's Lake, which citizens can fish in. Nearly 5,000-acres comprise the property which was once three separate plantations, and Edistonians and Colletonians both agree that this WMA is a jewel of the Lowcountry. For a website with lots of information I can recommend for information like the 2010 bluebird hatch info or historical details and photos from the past.

For a past blog entry on Botany Bay WMA click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: The maritime forest of cedars, palmettos and live oaks are united and shaped by the continuous ocean breezes; a sand dollar or a lettered olive are some of the best shells to find on the Botany beach; a canopy of live oaks lines the dirt drive into the proerty; conch shells collected by others, but left for all to enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

NWTF Ultimate Turkey Hunt at SRS

Friday April 15th was the annual Ultimate Turkey Hunt at the Savannah Rive Site. The hunt is a partnership between the Dept. of Energy that owns the land, The U.S. Forest Service that manages the land, and the National Wild Turkey Federation whose HQ is in nearby Edgefield. Twenty-four disabled hunters went forth into the turkey woods with a caregiver and a guide in search of a turkey hunting memory. Sixteen toms were harvested on a day that saw low gobbling activity, although three lucky hunters ended up taking two toms each. The sharing of fellowship among the hunters and volunteers is what helps to make this event so great and NWTF supplies items for a banquet-style silent auction and raffle during lunch. Lots of folks pitch in to make the event a success but this year Scott Ray of the U.S. Forest Service was recognized since he has recently transferred out of state for work.

To view past blog entries from the NWTF turkey hunt at SRS click here.

To view past blog entries about disabled hunting click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Illana Burkhart of NWTF Wheelin' Sportsmen presents some custom made turkey slate calls to Scott Ray who has accepted a promotion and moved on to the Oceola National Forest in Florida; Hunters still clad in camo and some of the harvest from Friday April 15th; Look at the fine set of hooks on this SRS bird - wowie!! ; Another sign said 'Don't gobble your message' - Ha, ha

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Van Liew arrives in Charleston w/VIDEO

Brad Van Liew crossed the finish line outside of the jetties at 5 p.m. and was greeted by a flotilla of boaters and sailboats. The Velux 5 Oceans team had a finish mark in place and a cannon fired from the transom of a Boston Whaler to signify that he had completed Leg Four of the race. Van Liew is four for four in the five-leg race and politely corrected the AP reporter who asked him if he thought he would win the first three legs. "It's four legs as of now," said Van Liew. Charlestonians and South Carolinians need no such reminder as they have cheered on their local competitor since the very first talk of another around the globe solo sailboat race. Le Pingouin is now docked at Seabreeze Marina on the Cooper River and all of the Velux 5 fleet will stay there until Charleston Harborfest when they will move to the Maritime Center. Here is Brad Van Liew's blog entry from Monday, when he was grinding hard to get back to the Holy City. Stay tuned for the Rock the Dock party to honor Van Liew before the start of Leg Five of the race to La Rochelle, France. Should Van Liew complete that leg of the race, then he would finish first in this great test of a competitor's spirit while at sea.

For past blog entries on the Velux 5 race click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Van Liew is in complete control of his 60-foot sailboat; Nearing the finish line Brad was glad to visit boat to boat before reaching port; the bow of Le Pingouin has nearly rounded the globe; under full sail and approaching the shipping channel of Chalreston

Monday, April 18, 2011

Winning 2011 Charleston Race Week

Why Charleston has become the center of a great sailing event like the 2011 Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week is a great question that has a complex answer. Visiting with two couples from Ottowa, Canada that come to Charleston each year just to serve as race judges I was told the main reasons are 1)CRW supports a great cause 2)organizers aren't looking to make a reputation for themselves in a hurry and 3) some great racing conditions can be found in the port of Charleston. The SC Maritime Foundation is the cause that CRW supports, and board member Teddy Turner addressed the crowd at the Sunday Awards ceremony about how the Tall Ship Spirit of Charleston is being utilized to educate youth about our maritime heritage. With three inshore courses the CRW organizers are glad to have smaller classes of sailboats, which can translate into older boats and more affordability for visitors. The two offshore courses are where the more modern designed hulls are found, such as Big Booty's lighter kevlar make up, which excels in light wind conditions like the ones present on Sunday. When it comes down to the awards, winning at CRW is all about bragging rights and recognition by ones' peers, which allows everyone to come away feeling like a successful competitor.

To see the results from Race Week click here.

To view past blog entries for 2011 CRW click here.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 -2009

PhotosByJeffDennis: Sailboat hulls carry the CRW logo and ID numbers; Team Brickhouse won the Vineyard Vines best team award; Teddy Turner addresses the crowd on Sunday; Big Booty won first place in the PHRF A Division sailing on Race Circle three just north of the Charleston jetties and in front of Sullivan's Island

Sunday, April 17, 2011

CRW Sunday racing photos and VIDEO

PhotosByJeffDennis: the downwind run to the marina is a race unto itself; The Melges fleet face a long leg after the weather marker; Spinnakers on the offshore course; sailboats finish up by heading towards the Cooper River Bridge; an offshore race start calls for the sailboats to line up, but not to cross the line too soon

To view past CRW blog entries click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day One Highlights in HD - 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week

Sailing Suspended - Day Two at 2011 CRW / Gill video

With a forecast of severe weather that could possibly include tornados or hail, the 2011 CRW Race Committee elected to suspend all racing for Saturday. The inshore and nearshore waters will be filled with the sailing fleet again on Sunday morning with near-perfect racing conditions on tap before Sunday afternoon's 4 p.m. awards ceremony. Sailor John Cook of Atlanta took the day off in stride and told me that he would visit family that lives in Charleston, while another sailor from Atlanta told me he was heading to the beach for a while. The Charleston area will welcome all of the CRW participants while the races are temporarily on hold due to rough weather in our Lowcountry outdoors.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Weather conditions that caused the A-Dock at Charleston Harbor Marina to be awash in waves and sea spray are what led to Saturday's racing cancellation

To view past Charleston Race Week blog entries click here.

VideoByJeffDennis: David Prichard of Gill North America was in the racing village on Saturday and affirmed his reasons for being a major sponsor of Charleston Race Week to Harbormaster Stan Jones

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week - Day One

Sperry Topsider signed on as the title sponsor for Charleston Race Week as the preeminent early season regatta on the East Coast nearly doubled in size from last year. According to Harbormaster Stan Jones he has nearly 200 boats in port at his Charleston Harbor Marina and believes the combination of marina, beach and ample parking makes this venue unique. Media liason Dan Dickison said that the Melges fleet is the largest of the 2011 CRW. There are 20 Melges sailboats in the 20-foot class and their are an amazing 47 sailboats in the 24-foot class. Friday's racing included four Melges races, as opposed to the routine three races on opening day, because the CRW race committee was trying to get in an as many races as possible before the forecasted squally weather on Saturday. Full results from Friday can be found on YachtScoring. Friday night's beach party featured a live band, a mahi mahi supper and a Gosling's rum open bar. Kudos to Sarah Piwinski and her staff of the S.C. Maritime organization for putting on such a class event with flawless execution.

To view past Race Week blog entries click here.

PhotoBySuziDuRant: Melges class race from Friday 4/15/11
PhotosByJeffDennis: Fun images from the Shoreside Beach Party on Friday night, including the Sperry beach store!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011 Race Week begins and Velux 5 Update

Thursday April 14 marks the beginning of the 2011 Charleston Race Week put on by the S.C. Maritime Organization. Considered one of the largest and best regattas along the East Coast, the Charleston Harbor Marina will host the four-day event which culminates with an awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon after morning sailing.

Also, there is much excitement in the Holy City about the Velux 5 Oceans fleet that is en route now to Charleston, including Brad Van Liew. Sailing conditions have slowed down for his Le Pingouin here lately and here is his latest blog entry from April 12.

To view my past blog entries for Race Week click here.
To view my past blog entries on Van Liew click here.

PhotoByAinhoaSanchez: Van Liew sailing into Wellington, New Zealand

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wine on the Water at S.C. Aquarium

The semi-annual Wine on the Water event at the Aquarium offers seafood samplings and corresponding wine selections, to tempt those who would support the conservation and education programs. The media sponsor for the evening was the Charleston Mercury and a light breeze along the Cooper River made the outdoor porches of the Aquarium the place to be. Indoors, the guests were greeted with a commemorative wine glass at the first food table prepared by the Rice Market, new to Charleston in 2011. Their sake and soy braised salmon with rice noodles, bok choy, clams and truffles was a savory and salty dish that was paired with a red wine selected by Ben Arnold beverage company. Each offering was a Sustainable Seafood and High Cotton restaurant prepared Seared Pacific halibut with avocado puree that was paired with a delightful Canyon Road Chardonnay. Other local restaurants present were Pearlz and Anson, and the Aquarium welcomed Fishmonger to town from Surfside Beach. Chef Louis Gelormini prepared an ahi poke tuna tucked inside a squid ink coronet that was paired with an Argentinian sparkling wine, Taso Blanc de Blanc. Proceeds from Wine on the Water go to the conservation programs at the Aquarium.

For past blog entries concerning SSI click here. To view past events at the Aquarium click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Mercury readers Jay Millen and Ginger Mintz enjoyed viewing the sealife that makes affairs at the Aquarium so unique; Aquarium educators Shelley Dearhart, Beth Demas, Megan Saylor and Kate Hinman raise a glass of wine in celebration of the Mercury gift bags that were handed out; Chef Charles Arena of Rice Market and Aquarium p.r. manager Kate Dittloff served the salmon over rice noodles; Jonathan Shew and Audrey Wolfing enjoyed the touch tank and are standing in front of a driftwood sculpture

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is being commemorated today, 4/12, in the Holy City of Charleston. A 6:45 a.m. mortar round fired from Fort Johnson began a volley of shots from Patriot's Point and Fort Moultrie that were witnessed by a crowd on the Charleston Battery. Civil War re-enactors were present as were tourist and locals just out walking their dogs, but the setting in the Lowcountry outdoors was unmistakeable as the sun rose over Castle Pinkney and the distant Fort Sumter came into view - just as it came into view, and into range of Confederate batteries 150 years ago. Fort Sumter endured a 36-hour barrage before surrendering and going down in history as the starting point for the war between the states.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Johnny Rebel was back on the battery on the morning of the Sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War; an artillery captain attends his Southern Belle; the high battery was full of onlookers at the 6:45 a.m. ceremonies; Descendants of confederate soldiers pose at the monument dedicated "To the Confederate Defenders of Charleston"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bird Rookery in Western Colleton County conserved salutes Mr. Ted Ford of Edisto Island for placing a conservation easement on his property in Western Colleton County. The property lies alongside the Little Salkehatchie Swamp, and it has an old Mill Pond on it that is a crown jewel of the swamp. Populated with young and healthy cypress trees that are now growing in swamp water that is several feet deep, this rookery holds a near perfect recipe to attract wading birds and nurture their reproductive efforts.  A conservation ethic is needed in the western portion of the ACE Basin and Ford's easement will generate plenty of goodwill among his fellow Private Landowners of the ACE. The photos are from my visit to the rookery in May of 2009.

PhotosByJeffDennis: The sky is filled with wading birds returning to the rookery at the end of the day; Wood storks commune on a roost tree; ; cattle egrets flock to the mill pond in rural western Colleton County; a great egret stands over fuzzy young

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wozniacki is Champion at 2011 FCC

The world's number one seed held onto her first-seed status at the 2011 Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island, and then prevailed in the Championship match with Elena Vesnina in straight sets 6-2 and 6-3. In Head-To-Head match ups Wozniacki now holds a 5 - 1 advantage over Vesnina who is ranked Number 56 in the world rankings. Vesnina played well in the first set on Sunday and held an Advantage during a deuce game to break Wozniacki's serve, but the Danish blonde and Charleston favorite ended up winning that game and took complete control of the match. Vesnina upset the Number Two seed and 2010 Champion Sam Stosur earlier in the week and her strong ground strokes were on display in the Championship match, which was no doubt a building block for a rising player like the 24-year old Russian.

For more of my blog coverage from the 2011 FCC click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: The FCC is the best place to celebrate Chareston's title of Best Tennis Town in the USA; Caroline Wozniacki ready to return during Sunday's final; Elena Vesnia serves in the first set of the Championship match; A full stadium on Sunday at the world class facility on Daniel Island; Celebrity tennis pros Chris Evert and John McEnroe play mixed doubles during Saturday night's Game Set Rock exhibition