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I last documented the Sullivan's Island and Breach Inlet sandbars on November 29th, 2023. Right after that on December 17th, a fierce nor'easter storm walloped our coast. Isle of Palms famously (or perhaps, infamously) lost a ton of sand from the south side. Approximately 20 ocean front homes' swimming pools were washed out and damaged beyond repair. Many wooden walkways and stairs were washed away into Breach Inlet. There were more minor storms since then that took even more sand away. You've probably seen the excavators and bulldozers working overtime from the Breach Inlet parking lot on Isle of Palms.


All that lost sand? Not surprisingly, it's in Breach Inlet and off Sullivan's Island. Many of our local Charleston Ocean Athletes play in these waters, so hopefully the following documented changes help give everyone an idea of where the sandbars are. This affects where and how we launch and where to play given the tide conditions. Boaters will also find this information helpful.


I wanted to document the sandbar changes but wanted to wait a bit closer to spring. I finally went back out with my drone on Thursday, March 14th at dead low tide.


Following are the results. The comparison photos are at dead low tide November 29th, 2023 and March 14th, 2024. As always, the changes are fascinating.



Station 28.5



Station 29



Breach Inlet



Isle of Palms side of Breach Inlet



Sullivan's Island from Station 27 to the harbor



Following are more photos and videos of dead low tide on Thursday, March 14th, 2024



wide view of Breach Inlet



slightly pulled in view of Breach Inlet



Station 28.5 and south towards the harbor



Station 28.5



Station 29 & Station 30



Isle of Palms side of Breach Inlet



outside Breach Inlet looking towards Isle of Palms



View of outside of Breach Inlet looking east (next photo to the one above)



view looking south from Breach Inlet - sandbars on right are just outside Station 28 area



Videos







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  • Writer's pictureMac

I last documented the Sullivan's Island sandbars at dead low tide via drone video/photography back in April of this year. You can review that here.


How is this relevant to Charleston Ocean Athletes? As I mentioned last time, the waters off Sullivan's Island have been a watermen's/waterwomen's playground for a long time. And those who've paid attention over the years know the sandbars here (and any barrier island for that matter) are always changing, which in turn is always changing the experience when playing on the water out there.


I went back out on November 29th and documented it again at dead low tide. The changes after just seven months are remarkable. The following are comparison photos from April 2023 (top) and November 2023 (bottom).


This is obvious to say but I should point out that it will look different again in another 6-7 months. Can't wait to document it all again in the spring of 2024 and see those changes. Always so fascinating!


Looking directly at Station 28.5


You can see the water area in front of Station 28.5 transitioned from a hammerhead shape to a birdhead shape. Interestingly, I walked by Station 28.5 at high tide on a different day and couldn't walk by the path and those trees just to the south of the path without getting my feet wet.



South of Station 28.5, looking towards the lighthouse


Wow, big change here. That big sandbar got smaller and joined the beach (shorter walk to the water). The former canal/cut of water that's used to have some depth to it has thinned out and is now just dry to ankle deep at low tide.



Looking at Station 28.5 (at left) north just past Station 30 (that rock jetty line in the sand about 1/4 from the right is Station 30)


Another big change here. That massive sandbar in front of Station 29 is gone. Its still a big sandbar there, just smaller than it was. It's still pretty shallow just outside that sandbar as you can see from the shoaling whitewater and color.



A closer look at Station 30


Notice how more sand is covering the rock jetty at Station 30. Looks like the high water mark at Station 30 is lower now too.




Breach Inlet


Again, notice the sandbar to the left in front of Station 30 has gotten smaller (but still shallow water there). The sandbars' shapes on the right of the inlet, on the Isle of Palms side, have also changed...looking smaller too.




Breach Inlet sandbars on Isle of Palms side


There is some difference in the camera angle with this photo, but you can still see the differences in the sandbars shapes and smaller size.



Here are a few VIDEOS. This first one is a pan left to right of the Breach Inlet outer bars --> Station 30 --> Station 28.5 --> Lighthouse...


This video is a 360 degree view from outside the sandbars...


This video is a pan right to left of Breach Inlet...



Here are some MORE PHOTOS of the Sullivan's Island sandbars at dead low tide on November 29, 2023...


A wider view of the sandbars on the Isle of Palms side of Breach Inlet



Breach Inlet - notice its still shallow under that water just off the smaller Station 30 sandbar.



A slightly wider view & different angle of Breach Inlet




A bit wider view of Station 28.5 to Breach Inlet



An even wider view from a little further out



wider view of Station 29 (right), Station 28.5 and to the south



A tighter view of the area of water that opens up into the ocean from Station 28.5 (just out of view to the right)



same angle, wider view from further out


Looking towards the Lighthouse and southern end of Sullivan's Island


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On Friday, November 3rd, the Carolina Surf Film Festival kicked off with the Charleston premiere of the new Charleston Ocean Athletes short film. Running 15+ minutes, it was received with many positive reviews from the community. If you haven't watched it yet, here it is below.




I really enjoyed creating and editing this short film. Most of the footage was captured in 2022 and the first half of 2023, but there's also some older footage from recent years past. I used everything from a drone for the aerial shots, to in water footage with a GoPro and an old waterproof point & click camera, and also a Canon DLSR camera and my iPhone for footage captured from the beach. There was also some footage provided by others that I was able to include.


This film is meant to showcase the amazing talented athletes who dare to get in the water when most other human beings run away from the water (when the wind comes up and/or the waves get big). Everyone in the film lives right here in the local Charleston area. There are so many talented men and women out there on the water. I wish I could have captured all of them for this film. It's difficult to do an edit with time constraints and narrowing down the best footage captured. A lot of really good stuff didn't make the film. Perhaps to be shared another time.


I was inspired by past surf/windsurf films I've always admired such as Brian Caserio's Chapped & Surface Tension windsurfing films (the Mustard Plug Beer Song in the final credits is an ode to Surface Tension), Dana Brown's Step Into Liquid, and the San Francisco Chronicles which was an early 2000s documentary showcasing the windsurfing, kitesurfing, and surfing talent in the Bay Area at that time.


Me introducing the film at the Mex1 West Ashley (Charleston) location of the Carolina Surf Film Festival. It was the first film to kick off the two night festival and everyone who was there was still standing in the back when it started. Photo by Cody Mathews


I want to thank Chad Davis, the co-creator and owner of the Carolina Surf Brand and Carolina Surf Film Festival for including this short film. It's rare for a surfing film festival, which is usually inclusive of only pure surf movies, to include a film that has other ocean sports that are an extension of surfing. It also played at the Wilmington location of the Carolina Surf Film Festival.


The Charleston Ocean Athletes Instagram and Facebook pages regularly showcase Charleston area pure surfing and local surfing athletes. In addition, the Carolina Surf Film Festival always has a great slate of pure surfing movies. For these reasons, I chose to make this edit about the other ocean sports that are an extension of surfing, such as kitesurfing, windsurfing, wing foiling, SUP surfing, outrigger canoe and surfski paddling, and prone foil surfing. Charleston is full of these different ocean sport communities.



A group photo with friends (who all shred on the water) who came out in support - the picture is missing a few other friends who were also in attendance. I really appreciate everyone who came out. Photo by Cody Mathews


I hope you enjoy this film as much as I enjoyed making it. I'm always open to feedback and creative ideas to make this website, the social media channels, and the films better. If you have content relevant and suitable for Charleston Ocean Athletes, please share with me...I would love to see it and I may even include it on Instagram/Facebook or in a future project. Please feel free to DM me on Instagram or email me (see email address in "About" section). Better yet, please say "Hi" to me on the beach and introduce yourself if you see me out there capturing footage.


Charleston Ocean Athletes short film credits:


Video & Editing by Mac Barnhardt


Editing Assistance by McIntyre Barnhardt


Other video provided by :

William Barnhardt

David Buckley

Jonathan Coleman

Brad Hyatt

Jess Mokuahi Key

Eddie Roedig

Justin Schaay

Scott West


Athletes (in alphabetical order):

Mac Barnhardt

David Buckley

Dave Cavanaugh

Charleston Paddle Club

Jonathan Coleman

James Corgill

John Cutter

Morne Diedericks

Darren Finan

Chili Graves

Peter Hess

Robert Hess

Morgan Hurley

Brad Hyatt

Scott Hyland

Jess Mokuahi Key

Bart Liebmann

Eric Mims

Josh Parker

Eddie Roedig

Ben Roth

Justin Schaay

David Schar

Grant Scheffer

Trey Sedalik

David Thorvalson

Scott West

Noah Zittrer


Music:

Buku Front to Back

The Kills Cat Claw

Cutty Gold Clean My Hands

Local H Heroes

The Power Station Get It On (Bang A Gong)

Levi Matthan Honey (B)

The Dead Weather I Cut Like A Buffalo

Mustard Plug Beer (Song)



A photo with my beautiful wife, to whom I owe a great deal of credit for her love and support. Photo by Cody Mathews


Aloha and Cheers, Mac





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