RACHEL ALLEN TAKES US ON AN EARLY MORNING RIDE ON THE BARGE FROM SAVANNAH TO PICK UP THE NEWEST EQUINE TEAM MEMBER
Early morning and it’s a warm and still. The gentle whir of machinery can be heard in the background as the ships gently rock on their anchors. It’s dark, the horse kicks the trailer wall anxiously. No one in the waking world is aware of what happens in these ports. Semi-trucks, haulers, back hoes and the occasional pickup make their way one by one down the dimly lit boarding ramp. At 12 feet wide, there is little room for error. Pallets are loaded. Unhook the trailer, secure the ball, back down the ramp perfectly straight and slowly so as not to frighten this unknowing animal. The Hutchin Island Tug, a full football field long. She is as ancient as she is calm.
I make my way to the captain’s quarters as the sun is starting to rise. Moving from the cargo area to the cabin is not for the faint of heart. The ledge of the ship is three feet wide with no railing and large gaping holes for hoses and hydraulics pepper the path. A set of metal stairs up then back down at a steep angle finally leads to the main cabin. A fear of heights or seasickness would not bode well on this ride. Truck drivers and crewmen sleep on the benches in the main cabin. No passenger is allowed to be with their equipment, Coast Guard regulations. The horse will just have to enjoy the ride solo.
The sun begins to rise. It’s dramatically beautiful. The cargo area in front slowly backs from the port, moving its way in front of River Street as the city begins to wake up.
It strikes me as strange how many of us have lived on Daufuskie Island for many years, myself 12+ years, and never once realized the monumental and majestic task that is required to move our everyday items on and off the island. The skill and patience of the barge crew is comforting, their stories impressive. The vessel is in good hands. She moves her way through the intercoastal water ways slowly, as if she moves on her own accord, gently and with little rush.
Full morning greets us as we approach Daufuskie Island. The birds are out, dolphins and the occasional ray break the water’s surface. I wonder how many of us stop to consider the skill required to place this majestic beast safely and squarely on the concrete ramp in front? It’s a perfect balance of windspeed, tide, and forward, reverse then back again. Leverage from the piers out front allow her to move into position.
The horse is calm, he has realized that it was best to settle in for the ride. He surveys his new surroundings through the small trailer windows. Two quick hours for the truckers, haulers and trucks to deliver their goods to on island then it’s back to Savannah.
I am grateful for this experience and appreciate the men and equipment who make it happen and make living here an even richer experience.