Boat House? Bait House? Both…and Much Much More!

Dear Reader:

For as many years as the Ya’s have been going to Pawleys Island for our winter retreat, it has been the little building directly across from Carolina Corner that has intrigued me.

Each year Libby and I have the same conversation…It starts with me asking, “Now what is that little place called, how long has it been there, and what was it originally?” 

Libby always responds with “A boathouse of some kind I believe and I think it might be under some kind of historical registry or protective status that ensures its permanence there. Linda and family are just happy to have it across from them because it is low to the ground and provides spectacular views (from their porches) of the creeks and inlets.. They won’t ever have to worry about somebody building a taller house and blocking their visual imagery of the marsh and water.”

This conversation is usually followed up by us skimming through books on the history of Pawleys and trying to ‘google’ information…all to no avail. So this year, Libby told me she was calling Skip Clarkson…her brother-in-law…“He will know something about it, she told me, or at least he will know somebody who does…I guarantee you. ” She was right on both accounts.

Meantime, as I look back at old pictures I have taken of the boat shed over the years, I realize I have become somewhat obsessed with it and the mystery held within. These are just a few pictures taken over the past retreats…in fair weather, rainy weather, sunrise, sunset, and even posing in front…It is like a ‘mecca’ calling out to me.

There are stories within that building that want to be heard…all stories want good listeners.

*( Is that a cat in the road?…Hummm?)

Yes I LOVE the little mystery building, for whatever reason, across the street. The other day I was watching the old movie “Magificent Obsession” with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman; I took time to write down the famous line spoken in the movie about obsession and using it wisely…

“Once you find the way, you’ll be bound. It will obsess you, but believe me, it will be a magnificent obsession.”

With Skip’s information…I now know that the little “shed” across the street has seen much laughter and camaraderie over the years. It, once, provided a place for outdoors people to gather and tell a joke or two… or mostly tall tales about the size of fish they caught.

I believe it is that same warm spirit that lingers and radiates inside outwardly…even until today. A magnet that draws me closer with each visit.

Skip replied to Libby’s request for more information quickly…He, too, had heard different stories about the origin of the boat shed… so he went to a friend who gathered the information for him and passed it along.

It was Walter McElveen who steered Skip to the right place to find the ‘story behind the story’of the unique boat shed. Similar to Tom Hudson’s situation with a historical family cemetery coming with his house/property…neighbors who live in a house just north of the boat shed actually own it today. And like Tom…they, too, feel a responsibility to maintain its “lineage” for residents and tourists alike, who remember this special place with much fondness.

“Bill’s Boat Shed”

Our story begins with a family by the last name of Doar…It is a father-son love story of shared interests and a deep-burning passion for boats and the sea. For many years the boat shed continued to be looked after and tenderly cared for by the Doar family until it was finally sold. Bill Doar, an attorney with the McNair law firm in Georgetown, recognizes the parallel between the story of his father’s boat shed and the evolution of the island, itself. He remembers: “It holds its share of island memories, not only for our family, but for everyone else who has seen it stand through the years.”

“My father, W.W. Doar, a World War II retired Navy veteran, built the shed, simply called “Bill’s Boats” in 1950. Tourists would rent a boat from him for a few hours or even a day to explore the rivers and creeks around Pawleys. I worked there for a summer or two when I was 17-18 years-old. I would rent boats to fishermen (and women) who wanted to try their luck at the abundance of trout, bass, and crab found in the creeks and marshes. These are some of my fondest memories…’the magic and memories of growing up on Pawleys Island.’

Bill remembers his father never wanted to be far from the water and would work the boat shed from his summer house which stood on the creek at the north end of Pawleys.

A friend of the family and Pawleys Island resident, Chip Lachicotte, recalls, “As a young boy I remember the little building beside Myrtle Avenue that everyone knew as Bill’s Boats. “Mr. Doar operated it for years as a boat rental business, but also as a home for his own passion…fishing. If I remember correctly it would be just before Thanksgiving when Mrs. Doar would have to practically drag W.W. back to town, kicking and screaming, to live out the winter until he could do it again the next year.”

*W.W. (Doar Senior) captained  a U.S. Navy landing which made eight to ten trips to the beaches of Iwo Jima with Marines and equipment. Perhaps it was this dramatic episode in his life that drove him to a follow a quieter life style as a civilian after the war.

Bill (Doar, Jr.) concludes…“He loved the shed, the peace of Pawleys Island and the enjoyment both brought him.”


William W. Doar Senior, poses in 1952, in the doorway of Bill’s Boats...his boat rental business on the north end of Pawleys.

The building and boat slip remain on Myrtle and Second Avenues. For two summers, W.W. Doar and his son Bill, a Winyah High School graduate, rented out orange Jon boats, trailers, and crab nets. They also sold minnows, tackle and cokes at 6 cents a bottle!

Bill Doar wrote a small memoir of his life growing up on Pawleys Island, sharing his father’s love of the sea and fishing, called The Magic of Pawleys Island (Published in 2006)

Update: Bill Doar Jr. just recently retired from his law practice in 2016. Maybe, like his father, he, too, will find the “peaceful and quiet life” his father so sought, after the war.

(*Personally, I would love to hear more stories that stemmed from the boat shed over those wonderful years spent together…father and son.)

So until tomorrow…For me, the mystery is solved. I now understand why I am drawn to the ‘little boat shed’ each year I come to Pawleys. It is a “magnificent obsession” with me because I have been bound to that boat shed since I first saw it. It stirs something within me.

It is love.

Love never dies and there is still so much love within the walls of this boat shed that it spills over, while simultaneously luring us over to it, to come hear the stories again.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


Thanks Honey for my beautiful piece of ‘Honey-produced’ pottery – a wall flower holder…decor for my deck.

Thanks Luke, for drilling nails into the brick for me to hang my special decorations…I got this letter sign while at Pawleys!




About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Boat House? Bait House? Both…and Much Much More!

  1. bcparkison says:

    Honey’s new art piece is delightful and looks pretty smart on your wall.
    What I can’t believe is how long it took the Ya’s to find out about the boathouse.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      The neighbors who own the boat house are only there infrequently and keep to themselves mostly…so the little information going around about it was just bits and pieces of neighborhood speculation…so glad Skip knew who to ask. I LOVE Honey’s pottery vase and can hardly wait to change it out this weekend when it finally warms up. It has been burr cold lately.

      Liked by 1 person

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