At the base of the dune on Hutaff Island, the entrance to the hidden camp is visible
in the yaupon, wax myrtle, dwarf palmetto, cedar and other flora when you know
where to look.
The Tractor Hub
They brought the heavy hub over by jon boat one bitterly cold
winter day. Wearing full waders, the two men unloaded it and
carried it through the frigid water and over the frozen marsh and
oyster beds until they reached dry sand. They took turns rolling
it several hundred yards to the base of the big dune, where they
both had to push it up over the rise that led into camp.
When a fine sleet began to blow, stacking up on the brims of
their caps, they looked at each other and smiled. “Our kind of
weather,” commented one in a long-running joke between them.
They had an uncanny history of finding themselves in the most
miserable of boating conditions. They wrestled the hub to its
final resting place.
The weather was deteriorating, and the tide was falling so the
men had no time to admire their work or to dream. They hustled
down the trail back to their boat.
Over the next 20 years the hub — salvaged from a termite-
ridden family pack house in Columbus County — would serve as
the official hearth of the place. During that time, many a drink
would be shared, and stories told around the fires burning in that
18 january 2022
The camp itself was a simple affair. It consisted
of an 8x20 foot deck built on grade, planked with
5/4 boards nailed on 4x4 sleepers. On either end
were work stations. On the sides were benches
wide enough to sleep on.
The men who came here thought of the plat-form
as a little ship. She had standing rigging, and
when canopied provided shelter for the entire
deck below. The rigging consisted of 24 feet
of galvanized cable spliced around thimbles
and clamped on the ends. It was attached to
6x6 posts at the bow and stern. The cable ends
were secured by turnbuckles to bolts threaded
through the top of the post. The posts were then
back stayed by cable in a similar fashion to tie
downs augured into the sand. Running outside
the benches were two rows of 4x4 posts with
2x4 rails nailed flat across the tops.
The men brought two superb nylon tarps with
sewn-in brass grommets fashioned by a sail-maker
in Maine, which they pulled over the main
cable and then down over the side rails. They
tied parachute cord through the grommets and
cinched them tight around cleats nailed to the
outside posts. Thus secured, the top cable could
then be tightened by the turnbuckles and tuned
like a violin. With the slack taken out and the wire
tightened, the tarp served as a fine roof, render-ing
the structure as a seaworthy little cabin.
A generation of fishermen had sheltered in
this contraption, riding out every type of weather
imaginable. In all regards, it was a second home
to them all.
WBM FILE PHOTO