A Hilton Head St. Patrick’s Day ferry to Savannah is canceled. Blame the gov’t shutdown

A few scenes from Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

A bit of the scene of the St. Patrick's Day Parade held in downtown Savannah on Friday.
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A bit of the scene of the St. Patrick's Day Parade held in downtown Savannah on Friday.

There’s an unexpected victim of the 2019 federal government shutdown: One of two St. Patrick’s Day festival cruises between Hilton Head and Savannah.

The Daufuskie Difference notified guests via email this week it would have to cancel and refund their trips because the ferry wasn’t inspected in time by the U.S. Coast Guard.

“We have to go through a yearly inspection, and we weren’t able to get that date due to the government shutdown,” Daufuskie Difference manager Buddy Brinkley told The Island Packet.

Since the Coast Guard personnel who do ferry inspections were considered “nonessential,” they were not allowed to come to work for parts of the 33-day federal government shutdown that spanned from Dec. 22, 2018, until Jan. 25, Brinkley said.

“We’re very disappointed to not be able to do it,” he said.

This would have been the first year of the ferry service to the festival operated by the Daufuskie Difference company.

Other cruising options

Festival-goers who want to cruise to Savannah still have the option of taking ferry service by Vagabond Cruises from Sea Pines’ Harbour Town.

That service has scheduled two trips to Savannah: One at 8 a.m. and one at noon. The cruises cost $75 per passenger.

Although the 8 a.m. cruise has been full for about a week, marketing director for Vagabond Cruises Danny Pegg said the company has taken about 30 bookings for the noon cruise from guests who had to make alternative plans after the Daufuskie Difference trip was canceled.

As of Thursday morning, Pegg said there were about 27 seats available on the noon Vagabond cruise — which arrives in Savannah after the parade and returns to Hilton Head at 10 p.m.

Staff at the Daufuskie Difference are already looking toward next year, though.

“Hopefully the government won’t shut down next year and we can do it,” Brinkley said.

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Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.