The skinny strip of sand bluff is a place of tides, and the people who live there are in tune with the water's ebbs and flows. They have to be - Boats are the only way on or off.
Ethel Nepveux and her husband, Felix, first stepped foot on Goat Island in 1960, lured by an ad selling affordable waterfront lots. They found a lot where the front porch view would be the sandy beach and waterway across to Isle of Palms, and the back porch view would be live oaks, palmettos and the beach out to Gray Bay. And people they had never met walked down and invited them over.
"The people," Nepveux says a half-century later sitting on that front porch, "make Goat Island."
Goat Island is the quirky enclave motorists see to the north as they climb the Isle of Palms Connector bridge over today's Intracoastal Waterway. It's two and a half miles of nothing, in places barely wide enough to support more than a home, well and septic tanks. You barely see the homes, tucked away in the trees. You see the docks.
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The island is legend. Its early 20th century settlers were goats moved off Isle of Palms, and then, a man and his wife who simply squatted amid the feral herd and lived much of their life au naturale - the "goat people" who would scream at intruders.
A lot of the houses are summer places. A handful of people are "full-timers."
It takes scrappiness to live on Goat Island. When the tide was too low to get her boat freed from the muck, one commuter would swim to her car on Isle of Palms, holding her work clothes above the water.
It's hard for Nepveux to go there now since Felix died last year. But she looks out at the shining water and her eyes light up. She gestures across the waterway at Isle of Palms. "The breeze is better over here than it is on that side."