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Cruisin' for a boozin'

When I think of a booze cruise, I imagine a tropical island, college students dancing to steel drums and an unlimited supply of alcohol. That is one way to do it. Recently, a few friends and I were whisked away by a pair of captains that gave us a different booze cruise in Myrtle Beach.

We boarded a notable catamaran called The Catfisher at Dock Holiday's Marina in North Myrtle Beach armed with a cooler of frosty crafted beer and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Owner and Captain of The Catfisher, Steve "Scuba" Johnson, met us in the parking lot with a pirate's smile and helped us to the boat. Yes, this just may be the real Scuba Steve although he never revealed how he got his nickname. As we approached the boat, Steven Johnson, Scuba's son, was prepping the catamaran for our journey. Instead of a traditional greeting, Steven (the younger) whistled louder than most air horns and shouted "hey girls." Our significant others smiled and acted like they were about to get aboard the best boat on the planet as they strutted down the pier, which you could tell was doubling as a catwalk in their minds. After a short pause to process what was going on, we proceeded to the boat and were all very happy that we did.

As we got underway, Scuba prompted Steven into recounting stories of sailing in the Caribbean, Florida and right here on the South Carolina coast. These tales eased us into the fact that we were in very capable hands of well-trained captains. While they do enjoy joking around, a lot, you could sense that safety and caution were their primary concerns.

The waterway was breezy as the beverages were passed around. The Catfisher is a BYOB operation when it comes to adult beverages, which saves you money in the long run. It also will only cater to a group of six people at a time. So images of people you don't know getting out of control and making an awkward situation simply doesn't exist aboard the Catfisher. It's perfect for a small group of friends to do something different. We chose to start the journey by venturing to Barefoot Landing for dinner. We sailed south on the Intracostal Waterway before docking at Barefoot Landing. It was a very easy transition from sea to land given that the docks are within eyesight of most of the restaurants.

Once dinner was complete, we headed back to the boat for night cap sail up to Little River. The trip was leisurely and balmy in the summer air. There is, for one reason or another, something nostalgic about being on the water at sunset in the summer. It brought back a lot of memories of my vacations to Myrtle Beach many years ago.

We had originally planned to dock and do some bar hopping in Little River, but opted to stay on the boat and cruise a little farther instead, given that the night was so pleasant. It was perfectly relaxing as the sun was almost completely out of sight at this point.

Scuba says that his "waterway limo" service has become very popular among people staying on the north end and tourists who want to do something different with family or friends. Sailing groups to dinner or waterway bars and then heading out for a sunset sail has become almost as popular as the daily tours the duo embarks upon.

Maybe I'm showing my age a little, but this is a much better definition of a booze cruise than the images I had prior to boarding the Catfisher. While Scuba tells me that they can cater to either type of cruise, most prefer the laid back style over the raging party on the water. He says that Steven also runs a great fishing and sailing tours out past Bird Island, which I think may be next on my calendar.

This all came about through a recent conversation with a friend who was arguing that "there is nothing to do here." I wagered that there was a lot to do in Myrtle Beach if you just dig a little deeper than the neighborhood bar. The summer concerts, shows, events and activities on the water were all in my arsenal for that debate. After our trip with Catfisher Charters, I rested my case and claimed victory. The summer brings a lot of businesses out of hiding and, if you are in for something off-the-beaten-path, Catfisher Charters has my full recommendation.

Enjoy the water safely this summer and let someone else do the driving.

Cheers!

Kevin Hoover, a local foodie and beverage enthusiast, is dedicated to ultimate experiences involving food and drink. Check out his blog at lushlifeonline.com

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