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See the Grand Strand from Jet Ski, kayak

By Steve Palisin
spalisin@thesunnews.com

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  • More water-sports options

    Rates vary by site.

    Action Water Sportz : 1525 13th Ave. N., North Myrtle Beach. Rentals of personal watercraft. Details: www.actionwatersportz.com

    Atlantic Watersports: On beach at 29th Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach, next to Baywatch Resort. Rentals of kayaks, paddleboards and surfboards; parasailing and banana boat rides. Details: www.atlanticwatersports.net

    Bike Doctor of the Carolinas: 315 Sea Mountain Highway, North Myrtle Beach (Cherry Grove Beach). Rentals of kayaks and surfboards. Details: www.bikedoconline.com

    Bob’s Watersports: 2208 N. Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach (Cherry Grove Beach), Parasailing and banana boat rides. Details: www.bobswatersports.com

    Capt. Dick’s at Crazy Sister Marina: 4123 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, S.C. Rentals of personal watercraft, kayaks, paddleboards, and pontoon and fishing boats; parasailing and banana boat rides. Details: www.captdicks.com

    Coastal Scuba: 1901 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. Scuba diving scheduled through mid-October. Details: www.coastalscuba.com

    Downwind Sails Watersports: 2915 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach (beside Damon’s Oceanfront Restaurant). Rentals of personal watercraft, kayaks and Hobie sailing vessels; parasailing and banana boat rides. Details: www.downwindsailsmyrtlebeach.com

    Express Watersports: 4042 U.S.17 Business, Murrells Inlet. Rentals of personal watercraft, kayaks and paddleboards; parasailing and banana boat rides; scuba diving. Details: www.expresswatersports.com

    Hydrofly Now: 5843 Dick Pond Road, Socastee, S.C. (south side of Socastee swing bridge. Flyboard rides and sales. Details: www.hydroflynow.com

    Island Adventure Watersports: 5835 Dick Pond Road, Socastee (southwest corner of Socastee swing bridge, beside River City Cafe). Rentals of personal watercraft, kayaks, paddleboards and pontoon boats; wakeboard lessons. Details: www.islandadventurewatersports.com

    Myrtle Beach Watersports: Activities at five sites across Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach area. Rentals of personal watercraft and pontoon boats. Details: www.myrtlebeachwatersports.com

    Island Inspired Surf Shop

    8500 S.C. 544, Socastee. Surfing lessons. Details: www.islandinspired.com or www.myrtlebeachsurflessons.com

    Myrtle Beach Jetpack Adventures: 2915 S. Ocean Blvd. Myrtle Beach (beside Damon’s Oceanfront Restaurant). Jetpack rides. Details: www.myrtlebeachjetpackadventures.com

    Ocean Watersports

    On beach at Third Avenue South in Myrtle Beach (near Family Kingdom’s Splashes Oceanfront Water Park). Rentals of personal watercraft; parasailing and banana boat rides. Details: www.parasailmyrtlebeach.com

    Palmetto Parasail

    1508 Waccamaw Drive, Garden City Beach (two miles south of The Pier at Garden City). Parasail rides. Details: 843-651-5544.

    Sail & Ski Connection: 515 U.S. 501, Myrtle Beach. Lessons in kiteboarding (kite surfing), paddleboarding, wakeboarding and Hobie Cat sailing; kayaking tours. Details: www.sailandskiconnection.com

    Surf City Surf Shop: 6303 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach. Rentals of surfboards, body boards, skim boards and paddleboards; lessons. Details: www.surfcitysurfshop.com

    Thomas Outdoor Watersports: 2201 Little River Neck Road, along Intracoastal Waterway in North Myrtle Beach (between Little River and Cherry Grove Beach). Rental of personal watercraft; pontoon and fishing boats. Details: www.mbjetski.com

    Waterway Power Sports: 5790 Dick Pond Road, Socastee (southeast side of Socastee swing bridge). Rentals of personal watercraft, kayaks, paddleboards and power boats. Details: www.waterwaypowersports.com


  • MB H2O

    Captain Channing’s Watersports & Rentals: 4065 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, S.C. (across from Creek Ratz). Rentals of personal watercraft, kayaks, paddleboards, pontoon boats, fishing boats. Details: www.captainchanningswatersports.com.

    Coastal Kayaking program: 9-11 a.m. Mondays in August, 10 a.m.-noon Mondays September-October. Meet at Huntington Beach State Park nature center, off U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, across from Brookgreen Gardens, then caravan one mile north to Oyster Landing in Murrells Inlet. Cost: $35; free for 7 and younger with paying parent. Register at 843-235-8755 by 4 p.m. the previous Sunday. Details: www.southcarolinaparks.com/huntingtonbeach



As a whistle buoy proved the meaning of its name mid-afternoon, outside the Murrells Inlet, S.C., jetties, about one mile from the coastline, a brown pelican dove for a meal, something fishy for sure.

About 12 miles of visible shore stretched northward into Myrtle Beach. The guided Jet Ski journey from Captain Channing’s Watersports & Rentals in Murrells Inlet to this scenic, serene spot afforded views of jellyfish dangling from the top of the water, and dark circles on the surface, actually, schools of menhaden, said Channing Strickland, calling the fish by their nickname: pogy.

Jetting around on personal watercraft such as a Jet Ski, or engaging in other sports such as surfing, parasailing, kayaking, paddleboarding and boating, bring great ways to enjoy the water that lines and crosses the Grand Strand.

The other guide, riding in the back of our single-file line, paused and looked seaward to the south, acknowledging the power a Jet Ski has locked on his life for leisure and love of a marine lifestyle.

“Ever since high school,” said Rodney Grambo, “I tried to quit a few times, but I always came back.”

The ride back to the marina came with other aquatic scenes, including pelicans and cormorants resting atop buoys, as well as mullet swimming, tarpon taking flips out of the water for a second, and scores of fiddler crabs on the move along marsh edges.

Since welcoming this rookie on a personal watercraft for this group excursion in late July, Strickland asked kindly on the way out if my pace could be picked up a tad past 30 mph, so the vessel – a triple-seat, 10.5-foot-long, Yamaha VX Deluxe – could ski on the water as it’s meant to do once reaching that speed. With patience from the guides, confidence gained, and steady, sure seating and footing, that benchmark wasn’t a hurdle to pass. On the return route, on flat water inside the jetties, the speedometer climbed to 43 mph.

The faster the ride, the larger and longer the rooster-tail stream of water spewing from the vessel’s rear.

Kimberly Johnson, manager and co-owner at Captain Channing’s Watersports & Rentals, said the season for personal watercraft tails after September, but the season for surfing and boating extends into autumn.

Many people might like Jet Skiing into the ocean for wildlife observation. A female manatee gave Johnson her greatest memory from an excursion and that dolphins are “like children” in a playful nature. Other Captain Channing’s staff members chimed in on their favorite moments from a personal watercraft. Clint Johnson can’t forget seeing a ray with a 5-foot span jump from the water, Grambo recounted a 12-foot-tall ocean sunfish, and Brittany Ozment said since taking her post in April, she’s felt at home pretty quickly on the water.

The kayak option

Mike Walker, an interpretive ranger at Huntington Beach State Park, said its Coastal Kayaking program for two hours on Monday mornings from April through October has stayed popular since its inception in the 1990s. This system lets beginners try their hand at paddling in a calm, saltwater marsh.

“From the vantage point of a kayak,” Walker said, “you’ll see things that you won’t from a bike, from walking or in your car.”

A kayak gets people closer to marsh life for “great views” of wading birds and with frequent bald eagle sightings of late.”

Bottlenose dolphins and a manatee have even made uncommon appearances, he said.

Walker also said the tour guides and coordinators, Black River Outfitters of Pawleys Island, has been “phenomenal” with this program, donating use of equipment and time, and with park campouts and beach cleanup efforts as well.

With increases in the numbers of youth taking up paddles in Coastal Kayaking the past years, children 7 and younger gain free admission with a paying parent, for whom the fee is only $35.

For the small children who join in these excursions, Walker said “we try to catch some fiddler crabs” for an entertaining observation of these salt-marsh denizens.

Walker said outings this year “have been filling up ahead of time,” so make reservations – which are due by 4 p.m. on the Sunday before an outing – “as early as you can.”

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