The Folly Boat is gone. What will it take to bring it back?

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – A major hurricane dumped the Folly Boat along the highway about 28-years ago. Now the famous boat has been washed away by the latest storm to bruise the South Carolina coast.

The Folly Boat turned into a makeshift billboard over the years for anyone in the community with a paint brush. A hard to miss landmark along the route to Folly Beach, the boat sitting abandoned on the side of the highway became a place to announce marriage proposals, celebrate birthdays and was even used as a creative way to ask a date to prom.

On Monday, Tropical Storm Irma swept the old boat off its usual post and plowed it into a local homeowner’s doc. The boat is a World War II relic and cement weighs down its bottom, along with years of paint that accumulated since it washed ashore in 1989.

“We were just surprised it moved anywhere. It was a real shock,” said Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin. “The surge was high enough to pick it up, and then it moved out as the tide receded.”

While he’s already fielding private messages from those who want to help finance the Folly Boat move back to the highway, he said his main priority is cleaning up the beach and dealing with the erosion from the Irma storm surge.

Those wishing to return the boat to its original spot will face two main obstacles due to the fact that the original area where the boat once sat is near a state highway and wetlands.

Goodwin said he wouldn’t stop any residents from obtaining the necessary petitions, but there are hurdles, aside from funding, to get access to the area where the mural-like boat sat.

“The problem anyone would face, no matter who it is, would be the encroachments that you would have to get to move it back there,” Goodwin said.

First, a permit from the South Carolina Department of Transportation is needed, according to the mayor. Then, officials at the Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) would have to provide a greenlight.

For the Wilson family, frequent Folly Beach visitors, they can already feel the void. A tradition for the family is annually taking a picture at the boat.

“We wanted to take a family picture next to it so that when our kids grow-up and get older, we can show them,” Autumn Walker said.

Yet on the 10th year of making the trip to the beach, the boat won’t be a part of their vacation.

“You miss it when you drive down the road and don’t see it there,” she said.

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