Internet Access – Solutions Available Today

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We get a lot of questions about Internet access on the island: and what we are using at our house, whether it’s bundled with land lines, DSL or satellite, etc. Improving Internet speed has been identified as a priority at our annual meeting. There is a group of volunteers working on Internet solutions, and one step in the process was to have a sharing and brainstorming session about what solutions were working well for people. Here are some of the outflows of those discussions.

Existing Solutions

  • AT&T DSL
  • Cellular Data from one of the 4 major carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint
  • Satellite Internet — HughesNet, ViaSat – reviews

Newer Solutions

The new solutions in the market are trying to overcome 2 types of problems:

  1. A business model that limits data usage by “throttling” or dramatically slowing down data (to almost unusable speeds).  Even when you get an “unlimited” plan from a major, it doesn’t feel unlimited in practice.
  2. A weak signal

Let’s address them one at a time.

New Cell Data Plans — Overcoming Data Throttling

Cellular resellers are buying data in bulk from the major carriers and reselling it under terms that aren’t available directly to consumers.  These new plans offer unlimited, unthrottled, no contract plans.  Most also offer brief free trial periods.  However, they still have one potential limit — if the cellular tower you’re connected to becomes overloaded, even temporarily, then your service can be “deprioritized.”  Effectively your data goes to the back of the line.  This might cause a dramatic reduction in speeds, buffering, or even an interruption of service.  The providers I talked to promoted the idea that your service would return to full speed as soon as the cell became unloaded.  This means that on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and other days that attract lots of people to the cellular towers closest to us on IOP and in Mt. Pleasant, our service is likely to be suboptimal.  Some of these resellers require you to buy a wireless cellular modem/router from them or a third-party; some bundle the hardware into their monthly fee.

Several people on Dewees have been experimenting with plans where the underlying carrier is T-Mobile, AT&T or Sprint.  All three seem to work on parts of Dewees.  Verizon should also work as many people on the island use it for their mobile phones.  But for Internet data Verizon’s plans through these 3rd-party resellers are so expensive (as of 2/13/2018) that most aren’t finding them attractive.

So far, I’m aware of people trying these resellers

  • – examples:  David M. and Alicia R. – modem bundled into monthly fee $149/month plus startup fee for T-Mobile based plan
  • – examples: Reggie F. and Mike L. – $55/month
  • – examples: Reggie F. – $80/month
  • Dynami Wireless – examples: Faith and Fred S. – $80/month

The iPad plans limit you to 15 devices whereas the router hotspots can usually handle 32 devices.  Either should be plenty of connections for most Dewees household.  Instead, the limiting factor will be the overall data speed.

Running an iPad hotspot is a little clunkier than a dedicated cellular hotspot.

The deals the resellers offer change.  So what makes on “the top provider” now might be bested by a competitor later.  You can find more options by Googling.

It’s highly likely that you can order one of these plans and setup the equipment inside your home on your own.

Quantitative Measures of Improvement

  • DSL on Dewees tests on at a maximum of about 1.1 Mbs.  Individual results vary based on location, time of day, etc.
  • New Cell Data Plans. It’s early and we’ve only been testing in the off-peak winter season so far.  We’ve seen speeds ranging from 5-25 Mbs for both upload and download.

Qualitative Measurements

  • DSL on Dewees the signal regularly just “isn’t there”.  In many cases DSL isn’t sufficient to watch a movie without lots of annoying buffering.
  • New Cell Data Plans. It’s early and we’ve only been testing in the off-peak winter season so far.  We’ve seen speeds ranging from 5-25 Mbs for both upload and download.  Generally, the signal is plenty good enough to watch 1 or 2 or more movies at the same time.  Gamers still say that some times the signal “fades out” and then “comes back”.  In the mean time your game character might have been killed.

Cellular Antennas — Overcoming a Weak Signal

Another issue is a weak cellular single inside your home.  Signal strength on Dewees varies widely based on carrier and location.  Some of the factors affect signal strength are:

  • distance from the cell tower(s) being used by your carrier — homes towards the eastern edge Pelican Flight tend to have less signal
  • construction materials in your home — homes with metal roofs, certain types of glass and home wrap (such as Tyvek) tend to have less signal
  • environmental factors — homes in heavily wooded areas, especially those with lots of pine trees, tend to have less signal
  • and so forth

The first step try is a directional yagi antenna or two and wire them into the back of your cellular modem using ultra low loss coaxial cable.  This brings the stronger signal from outside your home into your modem.  Several people on Dewees have had good luck with them.  The direction you should point the antenna(s) depends on where your home is on the island and which carrier you’re using.  There are cell towers on IOP and near the intersection of highways 41 and 17 that you might want to point the antenna towards.  We believe the towers on IOP are best for Verizon and Sprint; the towers near highway 41 and 17 are best for AT&T and T-Mobile for most locations on Dewees.

If you’re going to use 2 antennas, then they should be set up at 90 degrees polarization from each other.  Some experts suggest angling them at 45 degrees relative to the earth and then 90 to each other.

At least one person on the far east end of the island is experimenting with a parabolic antenna.  We don’t know the results yet.

Cell Phone Booster — Another Way of Overcoming a Weak Signal

If the antennas alone aren’t enough, you might want to try a signal booster.  Home Cell Phone Signal Boosters can reduce or eliminate dropped & missed calls and increase voice, text and 4G LTE signals for all mobile devices inside your home.   They catch the signal from the best location outside, amplify it, and bring it inside.  Two of the leading vendors (as of 2/13/2018) are

  • weBoost – examples: Mark P. and Faith S.
  • SureCall – example: Mike L. is trying one

The online retail UberSignal has a more detailed description of how these devices work.  In all likelihood, you want to order the kit with a Yagi (or directional) roof antenna.  The omnidirectional ones are used for RVs and other mobile applications.

They can be purchased online from Amazon, UberSignal, weBoost, SureCall and others.

The systems come with an inside and outside antenna plus an amplifier and cabling.  They require a power source and should be properly grounded to reduce the risk from a lightning strike.  You can learn how to install them from online videos and training manuals.  Some people may want to employ a professional installer.  The devices cost $400 – $900 and I’ve been quoted$700 to $1,320 for installation.  I tried to get a group rate, but installers are in demand and I wasn’t able to get anything special.  If you do, please let other Dewees owners know.

Some installers to try:

  • Reed Worrell, Smart Wire Solutions, Phone: 843.222.WIRE (843.222.9473) — Reed is a coastal SC guy who comes highly recommended and has done work at Marcia D’s house.  He’s very busy and sometimes hard to reach.
  • Jake Stack, Powerful Signal 866-912-3444 | Direct: 435-634-6800 | — they’re a national concern who contracts with “local” installers.  They quoted $1,320.00/home for labor because their local guy would come over from Atlanta.  Powerful Signal was recommended by weBoost.
  • Others found with Google searches, such as “cell phone booster installers in South Carolina”:

Overall Recommendation

These solutions can work in combination.  Just one might be enough.

Start with an unlimited, unthrottled, no contract cellular data plan and wireless router.  Rough cost is $80/month plus the router at a one-time cost of $250.

If you don’t have enough signal at your home, then consider installing two yagi antennas.  If that’s not enough consider a Cellular Booster or a parabolic antenna.  If you’re comfortable with technology and climbing around on your roof with tools, then you can probably install the antennas and/or boosters yourself.  If you’re not, hire a certified professional.  Rough cost is $500 for equipment and $700 to $1200 for installation.

End Dead Spots

Once you have a high-speed cellular data signal, you’ll want to be able to distribute it to all parts of your home and put an end to WiFi dead spots.  New mesh WiFi networks are making this much easier than in the past.  The top offerings as of April 2018 are:

Cutting the Cord

Once you get your Internet data running at a decent and reliable speed, you might wan to consider “cutting the cord”.   You might be able to save a bunch of money by disconnecting DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T DSL, etc.  Then reuse a portion of that money on services like Sling TV, Netflix, Hulu, DirecTV Now, and Amazon Prime Video.  When you’re ready Google “How to cut the cord and still watch live TV”.  New articles are being published regularly.

It Takes a Village

The ideas in this write up came from an number for island residents and online sources.  Thanks should go to David M., Faith S., Michael L., Marcia D., Mark P., Keith M. and others.  If you have more suggestions please share in the comments below.

The Future

The POA is continuing to look at ways to bring even faster signals to Dewees.  Perhaps 5G Cellular will meet our needs in a few years, perhaps not.  It’s too early to tell.  Again, if you have suggestions, please let me know.


Summer Internships on Dewees

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Apply now for summer internships on Dewees!

Our community is immeasurably enriched by the energy and scholarship of young interns who spend the summer on Dewees in several programs.  Here is a full description of some of our intern programs.

Our interns live on the island in a two-bedroom apartment, and depending on their job, might assist with arriving rental clients, walk for the turtle team, spend several nights a week up in the Cape Romain National Wildlife turtle program, or even (new this year) assist with Coyote Research.


Dewees Island summer interns often go from here to jobs in the hospitality field, or to DNR, the SC Aquarium, and even farther afield.  It’s our goal to provide them with a great base of skills from which to apply for the job of their dreams.


Here is more information and how to apply for the coyote internship.

The Dewees Island community wishes to better understand how many coyotes are on island, how they utilize the island, are they impacting the mammal population, how are they integrating into the existing ecosystem and how residents can coexist. A Coyote Intern position funded by the Dewees Island Conservancy will assist in answering these questions. The Coyote intern will be responsible for conservation and educational activities on Dewees Island relating to coyotes & associated habitat as well as interactions with other mammal species. The Intern’s responsibilities will include coyote research (monitoring trail cameras, scat surveys, potential impacts on other wildlife, etc.), shorebird and wading bird surveys, wildlife spotlight surveys, sea turtle nest monitoring, caring for animals in the nature center, creating educational displays, leading interpretative education programs relating to wildlife, and other resource management projects as needed. Ferry access from the Isle of Palms, dormitory housing and golf cart transportation will be provided while on Dewees Island by Dewees Island POA. Send letter of interest and resume to by January 26.

Here is more information and how to apply for a hospitality internship.

Looking for two smart, energetic, entrepreneurial interns to join our vacation rental business on gorgeous Dewees Island during the summer months. We are a small local business and manage 10 short-term vacation rental homes and 4 suites. Our interns live on the island and are our eyes and ears on the ground. It is important to have excellent communication and problem solving skills. As a rental business, we never know what the day has in store, so we must be flexible and ready for anything that comes our way! Our interns must have a strong work ethic and excel at working independently. They must have a willingness to assist in all situations. Interns must be comfortable being surrounded by nature. Dewees is a wonderful mixture of forest, marsh, and beach. Bugs, snakes, alligators and mosquitoes are all a part of life on Dewees. We are on an island after all!  Send resume and letter of interest to

Here is more information and how to apply for a sea turtle conservation internship.

Dewees Island is a privately developed ferry access barrier island south of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and north of Charleston, SC. The Dewees community has a strong environmental focus, with approximately 64 homes, native landscaping, sand roads, and golf cart transportation. There are no commercial interests such as stores or restaurants on this isolated barrier island. Dewees Island is home to an abundance of wildlife including white tailed deer, American alligators, wading birds and shorebirds. Cape Island, SC is an undeveloped remote barrier island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge which
averages well over 1,000 loggerhead sea turtle nests each season. Sea turtle activity accounts for almost 1/3 of all nests in South Carolina. The lack of access to the remote island makes it challenging for federal biologists and volunteers to do beach patrols, nest relocation, nursery maintenance, predator removal, nest inventories, and nesting turtle research. Early morning small boat access is required during the summer nesting season.

A Naturalist / Sea Turtle Technician Internship funded by the Dewees Island Conservancy helps meet the needs of both islands. Two-three days per week on Dewees Island is required to assist in leading interpretative education programs, shorebird and wading bird surveys, trail camera surveys, wildlife surveys, sea turtle beach patrol, animal husbandry, creating educational publications and other projects as needed. Ferry access from the Isle of Palms, dormitory housing and golf cart transportation will be provided while on Dewees Island by
Dewees Island POA.
The Intern will also spend 2-3 days per week helping the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge conduct sea turtle beach patrols, nest relocation, and nest inventories; dormitory housing is provided on the mainland (Awendaw, SC). Boat access to the Islands with Refuge Biologist and seasonal staff is provided. Transportation is not provided between the Isle of Palms and Awendaw.
The intern shall report directly to both the Dewees Island Conservancy Program Director on Dewees Island and the US Fish & Wildlife Chief Biologist on the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge The full-time seasonal position runs May 7 – August 17, 2018.
The Naturalist/Sea Turtle Intern will receive housing and a stipend of $1650 for the 15-week internship.

• Minimum three years undergraduate work in resource management, marine biology, wildlife ecology or
related science.
• Minimum 9 months of experience leading interpretative or environmental educational programs.
• Outgoing, self-motivated and independent personality; strong communication and leadership skills
• Prior sea turtle nesting management experience preferred (additional training provided).
• Basic knowledge of shorebird and wading bird identification strongly desired.
• Basic knowledge of South Carolina flora and fauna; knowledge of barrier island ecology strongly
• Ability to work a non-standard work day, including weekends, holidays and night shifts.
• Ability to endure extreme summer and outdoor conditions (heat, bugs, salt, sand, etc.).
• Ability to carry heavy equipment (up to 50 lbs.)

• Ability to operate an ATV vehicle (training provided).
• Ability to work and live independently in an extremely remote island lifestyle.
• Boating experience preferred.
• Ability to provide own transportation between remote work sites.
• Lead interpretative educational programs to guests and residents on Dewees Island.
• Conduct early morning or late evening beach patrols on assigned day to identify sea turtle nests and/or
stranded sea turtles.
• Conduct early morning or late evening wildlife surveys.
• Provide care and maintenance of animals and displays in the Dewees Island Nature Center.
• Create educational publications and displays relating to conservation and post information in the Nature
Center and on the Dewees Island Conservancy web site and Facebook page.
• Promote and practice stewardship of the all barrier island facilities, properties, and research equipment.
• Assist in facilitation of research projects by visiting scientists as directed by the Refuge Biologist or the
Dewees Island Conservancy Program Director.
• Understand and agree to dormitory and shared housing regulations. Housing at both locations is a
shared co-ed living space and personal effects are NOT provided (linens, toiletries, etc.).
• Ability to provide your own transportation between Awendaw, SC and the Dewees Island Ferry Landing
on Isle of Palms (approximately 20 miles). Remote locations; public transportation is not available.
Email cover letter, resume, and names/phone numbers of three references to:
Dewees Island Conservancy at
Please list Naturalist/Sea Turtle Internship in the subject line.
Deadline to apply: Friday, January 26, 2018



Isle of Palms Farmers Market

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For the first time ever, Isle of Palms has their very own farmers market, located at the county park on Thursday’s from 4-7 through the end of October. Since I started reading about this (and hearing about the variety of vendors!) I couldn’t wait to check out the IOP farmers market. This past Thursday, after the boys and I decided to have a delicious dinner at the 450 Pizza Joint followed by their fantastic homemade ice cream, we figured we would do a walk through to get a feel for what the market offers.

First things first, there is an option for free parking. So if you don’t want to spend $10 per vehicle, you can pull into the municipal parking lot and quickly walk right over. It took us less than 5 minutes and we got to glimpse a good size kids park with lots of slides and swings that we will spend some more time at on our next visit. We got there about 5 pm and it was not very crowded (it was also about 90 degrees, so that might explain the lack of people!)

 IOP farmers market

There were a few stands that had some great looking fruits and vegetables, a couple of local food trucks, and even a grocery store on a bus!


We also saw a few vendors selling meat and seafood and one that only sold popcorn (Cole’s favorite food!)

Ian and Cole thought this was the coolest part of the “carnival” and went through the school bus several times thinking it was a game. Thankfully, the people who worked there were extremely pleasant and sweet about it!

We definitely can’t wait to go back again and bring some of the local goods back to Dewees!

Editor’s note: Welcome Alicia Reilly to the blog writing team.  When she said she was headed over to check out the IOP farmers market, I thought I would get her to write up her experiences here.  Interested in being a guest blogger or reviewer?  Shoot me a quick email/



Dewees Island Webcams During Hurricane Irma

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We installed 2 webcams on the island, roughly 35′ or 40′ above sea level.  One faces Southeast over the Impoundment (aka Old House Lagon).  The other faces West-Northwest over Chapel Pond.

Dewees Chapel Pond Webcam

Dewees Impoundment Webcam

These cameras may go up and down during the storm and its aftermath.


Resident Peter Cotton appears on Channel 4 Friday Morning

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fred the snake bookDr. Peter Cotton, aka the chair of our social committee here on Dewees Island, is scheduled to be interviewed on Lowcountry Live! this morning from 10 – 11. He’ll be talking about his books, his distinguished career as a gastroenterologist, and living on Dewees Island.

Peter’s books include 2 children’s books about “Fred the Snake” and “
The Tunnel at the End of the Light: My Endoscopic Journey in Six Decades”.

Check it out on local ABC channel 4.

You can also check out his website and his Facebook Page for Fred.


Dershie McDevitt’s Novel Has Just Been Released

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Need a great last minute Christmas gift? Buy Dershie McDevitt’s novel “Just Holler Bloody Murder.” It just became available on and will be coming out in local bookstores and on Kindle soon. The book follows female lead Callahan Banks as she returns to her beloved Timicau Island near Charleston, South Carolina. The imaginary island is based in part on Dershie’s experiences on Dewees Island.

If you order from Amazon, you can easily get the book before Christmas. I ordered a copy today and it will arrive on Wednesday.

Please follow Dershie’s book on Facebook at

There’s a press release for the book on her website at

Here is the cover of the book.

Just Holler Bloody Murder Book Cover
Book Cover


Tropical Storm Sandy Predicted to Stay Offshore

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The current models from the National Hurricane Center indicate that Tropical Storm Sandy will stay offshore and Dewees is unlikely to feel significant winds. There may be unusually highly tides as the path of the storm pushes up the coast of Florida toward Myrtle Beach before turning and heading up the North Carolina Coast.

Dewees is hosting a Palmetto Pro Birder Training session this weekend. Perhaps some unusual tropical birds will be pushed our way.


Living on Dewees

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The Dewees Island Blog is focused on “Nature, News and Neighbors on Charleston’s Natural Barrier Island Community”.

The Fairchild clan moved to Dewees Island, Charleston, SC full time. To document our experiences, help others get a feel for island living, and hopefully encourage you to join us, we’ve started a new blog called, “Living on Dewees“. It’s focused on “One Family’s Adventures in Living on an island Just Off the Coast of Charleston, SC”.

Today’s post is about how island life makes us so much more in tune with the weather.

We hope you’ll subscribe and enjoy reading our new blog.


Roundup of News Coverage of Dewees Island Fire

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UPDATE: Andrew Knapp from the Post and Courier wrote another good story. It starts, “Yell “fire” here, and people don’t run away. They jump into their golf carts, then into action.”

Special thanks to all the news crews and islanders who got the word out that no one was hurt, the fire was contained to 2 buildings, and the community pulled together to do what needed to be done.