New Dewees Island App is ready for Download

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We are excited to announce the roll out of the Dewees Island app.  We’re still adding things every week, but it is ready for download on both IOS and Android devices. The app should replace the old texting system to stay up on events, as well as provide helpful information for you and your guests while on the island: things like weather, a field guide, tide information, the ferry and emergency phone numbers, etc.  Now, if you have a guest coming, you can have them download the app, and they will have handy information (like the ferry schedule and phone numbers, tides, fishing tips, etc.) right at their fintertips.

Dewees Island App screenshot


To download on your device, just click the button on the bottom.

We have a few options we haven’t enacted yet. For example, you don’t currently have to register. We may add registration in the future, because that lets you opt in (and out) of specific types of notifications, like real estate listings or calendar events, orientation for renters, or a field guide to the birds. Is registration an unwanted hassle? Or would you rather be able to specify content just for you? We are eager to hear from you.

And we’d like to know how you think it could be improved~ what needs to be added? Are there some features you would rather see on the main screen?

Our vision is that you’ll use the Dewees Island app to find out what you need to know while on the island, and you’ll share it with guests, especially if you’re sending them to Dewees unaccompanied.

Island Living

Property Owners Annual Meeting: Great times in bad weather

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dewees island poa property owners association In the coldest POA weekend we can remember, hardy souls braved the elements to turn out for a great meeting on the island.  We treasured a chance to spend time with neighbors from near and far, and conduct the business of the island: electing directors, learning about the progress of island projects, balancing budgets, etc.

Festivities began Friday afternoon with a hike through the conservation area, led by island Ecologist Lori Sheridan Wilson.  We got to see firsthand how the area is recovering with natural wetlands as a result of our tallow eradication program.  A pair of great horned owls was flushed from the roost and startled a roadside participant.  We then continued Friday night with a cocktail party at the community facilities at Huyler House, with spectacular flowers arranged by island owner Kathy Warren.  The evening is one of the only events of the year that is completely catered: all owners could relax and enjoy the night without worrying about the responsibilities of being the “host.” Winners of the fishing Rodeo were announced, with Dave McIntyre’s team taking the grand prize once again.  New owner Geraldine DeRooy Key got a kick out those of us in mittens for the evening, but appreciated the warmth of the community:

“It might have been cold by SC standards but it was 20 degrees and snowing in Montana! We feel very privileged to be a part of this community of people and the island sanctuary. We have called our new home, ” Heaven’s Door” and look forward to meeting all of you more personally on the beach or over a shared meal. Thank you for your warm welcome.”

On Saturday morning we began early with a presentation from the Dewees Utility Corporation. DUC Chair Pat Wilson explained the new single stream recycling program that we are piloting with Charleston County. Paul Conover explained some of the whys and hows of our state-of-the-art water treatment, and reiterated that the new system has been highly efficient, with none of the challenges that have faced other nearby islands in the face of all this recent rain.  One of the main water wells now has new pump and fittings, which has increased our water supply by 40 percent.  Paul also pointed out that when you hear an alarm sounding outside your house, the pump is trying to get your attention, and you should stop using water and call the Dewees Utility asap.  Edmund Frampton graciously agreed to serve another term on the board of the Utility and was elected to the position.

dewees island poaAfter a coffee break, we moved to the manager’s report, where we learned about the impoundment restoration progress, the new ferry, and our multitasking staff.  POA board Chair Dave McIntyre and Treasurer Bill Easterlin presented the financials, and we proceded with elections.  Dwight Plemmons, Faith Schwaibold, and Larry McDevitt are now members of the board (Faith is returning for a second term) and we thank them for their willingness to serve.  (We also thank outgoing board members Dick Robinson and Alex Kliros for their service.)  In addition, the size of the board grew to nine members, with the community voting to add Anne Anderson and Bill Duncan (ARB and EPB chairs) as full voting members.  New owner John Gilles was impressed with the professionalism of the meeting:

It was the most professional one I have attended: so organized, and professionally run. I really appreciated getting the 2012 actuals vs budget, and the budget for 2013 ahead of time.

While the votes were tallied, Environmental Program Director Lori Sheridan Wilson gave an update on recycling, the impoundment project, our invasive species programs, and other environmental issues.  As the recipient of the birding big year award for the most recorded birds, I was blown away by the prize: a beautiful sculpture of a shorebird by Larry Warren.  Great catering by the Noisy Oyster restaurant led the lunchtime festivities: with oysters, burgers, and sides, we gathered with neighbors to celebrate the strength of our community with one another.oysterscleaning oysters

On Sunday, we were treated to a reading from Dershie McDevitt on her porch.  Even though almost 4 inches of rain fell over the two days, wreaking havoc with the roads, the islanders who showed up on Dershie’s porch enjoyed candlelight and rain on the roof, and her gentle cadences reading from the book as we looked out over the pond described in the novel.

Lila lived in that hammock those last weeks of her life, absorbed as always in the behavior of the wildlife teeming around the swamp pond thirty feet below: a thirteen foot male gator, his mates and offspring, egrets in full breeding fettle, newly arrived, raucous, squawking moorhens with their flashy red facial feathers.

All in all, POA weekend was a celebration of the people who make this community what it is: neighbors who work together for the common good, who support one another and enjoy each other’s company. Rain and cold weather couldn’t dampen the fun!


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.

Island Living

Dewees Island featured in Charleston Style and Design Magazine

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Dewees Island’s pristine beach is featured as the backdrop for a photo shoot in this month’s Charleston Style and Design magazine. In May, we were delighted to host a crew of local and imported talent who put together a fashion photo shoot on our beach. Anne and Jim and I helped with transportation and learned a lot. We really enjoyed getting to know the editor of the magazine and the group of photographers, stylists, make-up artists, directors, and photographers who were here. Dewees Island has an ad in the magazine, as well. The magazine’s art director used one of my photos, our new logo, and text compiled by communication committee members Anne and Christel, to produce this ad (scroll down for the big version):


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.


Charleston Magazine Rediscovers Natural Paradise on Dewees Island

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Dewees Rentals hosted Stephanie Hunt and her wonderful family on Dewees this weekend. Stephanie is working on an article about Dewees for Charleston magazine, due out later this year.

In a quick blog post today, she described the experience as detoxifying. Within arm’s length of Charleston, Dewees blocks out the light pollution, the noise pollution, and media pollution that keep us from finding our inner peace. She says it better than I ever could. Read her words, at Charleston Grit, the new blog from Charleston magazine.


Catching up with Jamee Haley, of Lowcountry Local First

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My new BuyLocal card

When their oldest child was six months old, Jamee Haley moved to Dewees Island with her husband Jim, who was then Island Manager.  At that time, the island manager lived on the island, in the house that is now owned by Henry and Kathleen.  Fast-forward fourteen years, and Jamee is a major driving force behind the successful and influential Lowcountry Local First, a local non-profit organization committed to “educating and encouraging the public to invest in their local economy with their dollars, their voices, their votes and their hearts.”

I asked Jamee to meet me for coffee at the Old Village Bakery so I could learn more about Lowcountry Local First and her experiences on the island. I hadn’t realized that Jamee was in charge of the hospitality service on the island: from managing rental homes to the suites, and she and I shared some common experiences about educating renters about what to expect from this unique island before they get here.  I am sure her warm enthusiasm made many an island guest feel right at home.  (In fact, if you have a story to share, feel free to do so by commenting on this post!)

After leaving Dewees, Jamee and Jim lived in Jacksonville for a while before returning to Charleston County.  When a group of local businessfolks and activists began kicking around ideas for ways to encourage people to shop and support local farms and businesses, Jamee was intrigued and came on board.  For two years, Jamee worked without pay, building traction and growing the Lowcountry Local brand.  They now have several employees, 500 business members, and major campaigns of Buy Local and Eat Local. Individuals can get a Buy Local card, which replaces all sorts of coupons and provides the user with discounts at all local stores.  I got mine for $20.00 at Country Bumpkin, my favorite local craft store.  Then I could use it for 10% off my total bill.  You can also get a list of local merchants and businesses that participate.  Businesses can join, so long as they meet certain criteria for being local, and they can then be listed as a local business on the website and in the Lowcountry Local First directory.

Jamee filled me in on some recent initiatives.  The Mom-and-pop-up shop provided King Street Space for local merchants who could not otherwise afford the overhead in that great shopping district and gave them a presence for the holiday season.

Eat Local is a

sustainable agricultural initiative designed to grow and support local food systems by connecting local farms, producers, and apprentices to the local restaurants, institutions, and people with a hunger for farm fresh food and goods. Through a variety of education, outreach and apprentice programs, we’re working to get good people to good food and ensure that our agrarian culture continues to be an integral part of the Lowcountry economy and way of life. (from Lowcountry Local First)

When I first moved to the lowcountry, there were NO local farm shares, or CSA’s to join.  Now there are many, but Jamee is worried that an aging population of farmers and market pressures against farms will put even more out of business.  The number of Charleston area farms has decreased by 20% over the last four years, despite an ever-increasing preference for fresh, locally farmed food.  So LLF has created some fascinating partnerships to encourage the next generation of farmers: Internships where apprentices can take 8 weeks of classes in sustainable agriculture and partner with Clemson as part of their farm entrepreneur programs.  Next year they will be opening a farm incubator on Clemson property on Highway 17, offering an entry point for new farmers to use 1-2 acres, share equipment and expertise, and build a market for their products.  Then they will help them find available land and move onward and upward.  This is the first program of its kind in South Carolina.  I can’t wait to see more of what they are doing!

I asked Jamee to reflect on any connections exist between her time on Dewees and what she is doing now.  Her enthusiasm for both endeavors is visibly apparent.  “For me, the connection is all about preservation,” she said.  “On Dewees, it is preservation of the environment and a way of life that connects neighbors to each other and the land around them.  Lowcountry Local First is also about preservation: preservation of local businesses, family farms, a sense of place and all the things that make Charleston a unique, special place to live. It’s those things that make us #1 on Conde Nast’s list, and those things that need to be preserved and protected.”


Fly Fishing Event a Great Success

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The Dewees Island Conservancy‘s fly fishing clinic was a great success, despite the crisp hint of fall. The Dewees Island Conservancy and Charleston Waterkeeper teamed up on Friday, November 18th, to host a fly-fishing clinic for island residents and guests.  The event was very well attended; golf carts lined the shell paths of Dewees as residents came to learn more about fly-fishing in salt water.  

The original scheduled speaker was Baker Bishop, a professional fly fisherman out of Sullivans Island who divides his time between the waters in the Charleston area and Islamorada, Florida.   He is currently serving on the board of Charleston Waterkeeper.  Baker comes from a family of fly fishermen, including his mom, who taught him at an early age to tie flies, cast and clean fish!

It was our good fortune to have her along and able to lead the workshop when Baker had an unexpected delay in getting to us!  Sandie Bishop, Baker Bishop’s mom, who has been his mentor and inspiration in fly fishing all his life, recently won the fly division of the Red Bone Tournament held in Islamorada Florida! She fished with Captain Tim Klein and caught a Bonefish on day one and a Redfish on day two, to complete the Redbone slam, and take top honors!

Sandie began by thanking the ladies for bringing their husbands to “tag along with our clinic today,” providing a few chuckles.  Soon the crowd was casting flies out over the clear water, undeterred by the cold and wind.  One onlooker described the graceful casting of lines as a “sort of ballet.”

The event was followed by a complimentary lunch featuring the remarks of Charleston Waterkeeper Cyrus Buffum, who discussed the challenges of specific point source and non-point source pollution management issues along our waterways.  He describes the Charleston community as fortunate because we understand the value of our local rivers and creeks for quality of life issues.  Cyrus and his team aim to celebrate, educate and protect the public’s right to clean water.

To date, there are 113 active permits allowing the legal discharge of pollutants into the Charleston Harbor watershed alone. Charleston Waterkeeper is currently undergoing the task of reviewing all permits designated within its local jurisdiction, while working to highlight the vital component of public participation in the fight to protect the public’s right to clean water. As an advocate for environmental law, Waterkeeper aims to ensure industrial polluters are compliant with mandatory regulations and that necessary enforcement is administered. The organization will examine the past five years of discharge monitoring reports to determine which polluters within the local watershed have been and are in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and also to evaluate how well state and federal agencies are able to enforce current laws.   (

click any photo to go to gallery, or watch the quick slideshow/movie set to music here.

Dewees Books

New Book Features Dewees Island Sub Tower

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Local author Mary Gordon Kerr has written her third book for children, again with the help of second graders in Sue Hopkins’ second grade class at Mount Pleasant Academy.  And yes, that’s the Dewees Island Submarine tower on the cover.  Kerr, whose daughter was in the class, came regularly to meet with the students, allowing them to suggest plot and character developments.  Over the course of the year, the students learned about crafting a story, making the details seem real, connecting events plausibly, and editing and rewriting.  “The students kept me honest and nudged me into writing faster,” Kerr said.  “When Frances told me it was getting boring, we added action.  When the other kids asked me when I was coming back, I knew I had to get the next section done for class.”  Veteran teacher Sue Hopkins has experienced this project three times in the past six years.  “To have a parent come into the class, creating a love of literacy and helping students learn about the creative process is a really special thing,” Hopkins said at the book launch at Barnes and Noble on Saturday October 29th.  “And they have experienced just what goes into writing a book and how long it takes!”  Now in the fourth grade, the students were delighted to sign copies for patrons, friends, and family.

The Dewees submarine tower got into the book after the group decided that they wanted to set the book in Charleston and include both time travel and history.  Kerr had just been to the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, and was fascinated by the things she learned there.  Ted, who was in the class, suggested the Sub Tower as part of the setting, and all the pieces came together for a Charleston historical novel about World War II and Operation Drumbeat.  The actual history of the tower is fascinating, and we will share more about that later. Kerr’s video trailer for the book uses footage of the submarine tower taken by Reggie and local photogenius Adam Boozer when they were shooting footage for

The class will probably have a book launching party on the island, perhaps in January, where they can get a first hand look at the tower.  In the meanwhile, the book is available locally at Barnes and Noble, on Kindle, and at Hopefully, we can get a few copies to place in our bookstore.

Behind the Grave of Robert J. McCloud opens with an unusual snow day in Charleston, where Alice and Henry Burton find themselves cooped up inside.  Their grandfather gives them a deck of playing cards that turn out to hide a puzzle-like map of downtown Charleston.  Alice and Henry embark on an incredible adventure while trying to solve this riddle, a quest that will lead them into danger and heroics, asking more of them than they can imagine.


Volunteers needed for Barrier Island Ecothon on Sunday October 23rd

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It’s that time of year again: the Barrier Island Ecothon.  If you haven’t seen this before, it’s really amazing.  Competitors start at the IOP marina, kayak to the south end of Dewees, run to the north end, swim to Capers, run to the north end of Capers, and turn around (if they are racing as a relay, they can switch in another person here) and to the whole thing backwards to the IOP marina again… and then get on a bike and ride it to the southern end of Sullivan’s at Fort Moultrie, returning again to Morgan Creek.  Volunteers are needed at both the North and South Ends of Dewees: to spot swimmers, to clock times, to help land and launch kayaks, and to cheer people on.  In previous years, we have been some of the only cheerleaders, because the island isn’t exactly easy for spectators to get to.  If you think you can volunteer, email Brett Carlson, the organizer, at  You don’t have to be an experienced volunteer.  Here’s a link to the website.  If you are a non-Dewees reader and you want to help, send me a note or comment below, and we’ll try to get you involved.