Far from the shops and restaurants downtown, Charleston’s tidal cycles bring food, life, and prosperity. Shrimpers, crabbers, fishermen, and a wide variety of tradesmen rely on the ocean, harbor, and rivers to raise families and to make a living for themselves. Long hours, changing weather patterns, fluctuating market prices, and rising fuel costs all take their toll. The people who choose this kind of life do it because they love it.

Wayne Magwood runs the Winds of Fortune out of Shem Creek and is a third generation shrimper. He first went out on his father’s shrimp boat at the age of four and was a captain in the Magwood fleet by 16. Thomas Backman has been shrimping for 47 years and is one of the last shrimpers in the Bowen’s Island area. Captain Wally Lyon has been driving tugboats for 27 years and has no plans to stop any time soon.

Few have the endurance for this kind of life, but we found some crewmen and first mates who are putting in the time, hoping one day to become captains of their own boats.
We cast a wide net to find people who work where the rivers and ocean meet. Here’s our first catch.