Hurricane

Fundraiser hopes to keep ‘Lady Bernice’ shrimp trawler working after Hurricane Matthew

It took three tow boats working in concert to refloat the shrimp boat Lady Bernice after it was driven aground by Hurricane Matthew.
It took three tow boats working in concert to refloat the shrimp boat Lady Bernice after it was driven aground by Hurricane Matthew. jkarr@islandpacket.com

The Lady Bernice shrimp trawler was set free Monday after Hurricane Matthew wedged the 80-ton shrimp boat in the mud of Hilton Head Island’s Skull Creek.

But all is still not well with the Lady.

There was other damage that may risk the future of one of the few shrimp boats still working near Hilton Head.

After the boat was freed, longtime shrimp boat captain Charles Abner discovered that his trawler lost all electronics and that the radar system needed to navigate on the boat was damaged. The boat also suffered a broken propeller, shattered window and cosmetic damages to its side.

Capt. Abner hopes the boat is still able to go on short shrimping trips, but knows it would be unsafe to go out longer.

“I still fully intend to go out shrimping on Thursday,” Capt. Abner said. “We’ll see if it works then.”

Abner has to keep shrimping in order not to lose the Lady Bernice, where he also lives. Now in his 60s, Abner has been shrimping since he was in sixth grade.

“I didn’t think this was going to be this bad. I thought the storm was going to swerve,” Abner said. “I guess we’ve got to change all that good cooking here in the Lowcountry because even a hurricane wants to come.”

Abner’s friend, Linda Peterson, decided to set up an online fundraiser Tuesday to help the captain keep his trawler working. The fundraiser’s goal is $25,000 based on estimates to fix the damage to the boat.

To donate to help keep the “Lady Bernice” runnning, go to the “Save Lady Bernice” page at GoFundMe.com.

Erin Heffernan: 843-706-8142, @IPBG_Erinh

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