Hurricane

Did Matthew blow your boat onto Beaufort County Airport’s runway?

A large catamaran was deposited by floodwaters of Hurricane Matthew onto the middle of the runway of the Beaufort County Airport on Lady's Island on Oct. 8, 2016. The storm roared through as a Category 2, causing damage across the county.
A large catamaran was deposited by floodwaters of Hurricane Matthew onto the middle of the runway of the Beaufort County Airport on Lady's Island on Oct. 8, 2016. The storm roared through as a Category 2, causing damage across the county.

The catamaran landed where planes usually do, on the runway of Beaufort County Airport — “Frogmore International” — on Lady’s Island.

The white, double-hulled boat sat on the tarmac Saturday morning. With it were four sailboats, just off the runway near a berm.

Nearby, the airport’s orange wind sock was fully extended — a sign that while the worst was over, Hurricane Matthew wasn’t quite done toying with the county.

Casey O’Connell, a member of Beaufort Water Search and Rescue, found the catamaran when he was making his post-storm rounds. He’d heard from a colleague that Dataw Island Marina had been hit pretty hard. Based on that report — and the boats’ positioning, and the direction of Matthew’s winds in the predawn hours — he theorized the they’d been blown straight across the creek — a portion of the Morgan River — that separates the marina and airport.

“Dataw is almost a straight shot from where the wind was blowing,” he said Saturday afternoon.

O’Connell ventured out onto the runway to inspect the boat. He took it’s number, and noted that it didn’t have a name.

“It looked like a seaworthy boat,” he said. A boat someone cared about — not a throwaway vessel someone might hurriedly stash in a creek just ahead of a big storm.

“Usually when you see things like this,” he said, “it’s a derelict vessel.”

Not so in this case — the catamaran and its sailboat companions were the type of boats people tied down in a marina.

O’Connell rang the marina, but couldn’t get answer.

He tried a maintenance man who works at Dataw. No answer.

So he continued about his day, inspecting waterfronts in the county.

But by late afternoon, he had no leads.

“This is somebody’s boat,” he said.

“They’re going to be wanting it back.”

For now it sits, just another boat blown ashore by the storm.

Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

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