Captain Stephen is the patriarch of the Shoemaker family. He was born in Switzerland, South Carolina and his family roots are the oldest in Beaufort County. Stephen’s career on the sea started with the Navy then progressed to commercial shrimping where he met his wife Kathleen who ran the docks at Hudson’s Seafood Restaurant. He then ran the Haig Point Ferry to Daufuskie Island before retiring to work for his son Christopher and May River Excursions full time with his two first mates “River” and “Marsh.”
What We're About
May River Excursions opened in spring 2011 with Captain Chris doing river tours along the May River in the six-passenger “Marsh Donkey.” Over the years our operation has grown into an eight-boat fleet with a brand-new retail store operated by family and friends!
Our main goal when starting May River Excursions was to show new folks, old folks, and visitors to the area the beauty of the May River and all it has to offer. Once on the river our goal is to educate people about the ecology of the river and to teach people how fishing, shrimping, and crabbing have been performed by previous generations.
Meet the May River Excursions Crew
Captain Chris is a Bluffton native who attended local public schools in Bluffton and Hilton Head. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of South Carolina-Columbia. He spent his early years on his father’s commercial shrimp boat and his teenage years fishing, shrimping, and crabbing along the May River. When he’s not out running trips, he can be found at the May River Sandbar and fishing with friends.
Captain Matt is a Bluffton native and the youngest of the Shoemakers. He is also a graduate of the University of South Carolina- Columbia and now works for the Georgia Port Authority in Savannah. In his free time when he is not helping out May River Excursions he likes to crab, shrimp, flounder gig, or just ride around the May River like he did growing up.
Captain Allick is a Bluffton native who grew up fishing off his grandad’s dock on the May River and at his home on the Colleton River. He graduated from the University of South Carolina-Columbia and moved back home because the Lowcountry was the only place for him. Allick only works part time for us now after Hurricane Matthew, he has found a good use for his engineering degree in building and repairing docks.
Captain Lucy is from Florida and grew up spending her days outside where she developed her love for nature. She moved to the area when she was 18 and can’t seem to stay away from the May River. When she isn’t working for May River Excursions she can be found doing woodworking and arts and crafts.
Captain Tom was born on Hilton Head and grew up on Mackey Creek in between Bluffton and Hilton Head. Thomas grew up fishing and crabbing off his father and uncle’s shrimp boat until he was old enough to build his own boat with his father so he could explore the local waterways himself. He is currently a student at the University of South Carolina-Columbia.
Captain Matt is a Hilton Head Island native with family roots in the Lowcountry area for 50 years. He has always been on the water fishing or exploring all the creeks and marshes rather than sit on the beach. He is currently attending Clemson University and spends his free fishing the fresh waters around the Clemson.
Captain Buddy is a great new addition to the crew. Born and raised in Savannah on the marsh and water. This Lowcountry man is an army veteran and after his service he traveled the world for a decade, including backpacking through Africa and Asia. Buddy has visited 42 countries. He decided to come back home to the Lowcountry and moved to Bluffton where he met a Bluffton native and May River rat named Casey whom he married last year. Occasionally his first mate Ozzy, the fluffiest goldendoodle, entertains our guests during crabbing trips.
Austin is a new local addition to the crew. He is native to Bluffton, with family roots that have been here for over a century. He grew up fishing and exploring the May River as well as surrounding waterways, barrier islands, and marshes. Before graduating from Bluffton High School, Austin received his captain’s license so he could begin a career doing what he loves.
Our Fleet of Fishing & Tour Ships
The “Marsh Donkey”, named for all of the long hours running through the back creeks of the May River. It was the first boat in the May River Excursions fleet, with a custom-made T-top by Capt. Stephen. It is a multi-purpose boat but is primarily used for fishing/crabbing/shrimping excursions between 1-6 passengers.
“Boondocks” is the second boat in the May River Excursions fleet and its name is inspired by the Bluffton Capt. Chris grew up in. It is a coast guard inspected 23’ used for all excursions. It is an open setup with cushion seating that makes it perfect for big groups of up to 12 passengers and a comfortable ride through our local waterways.
“Marsh Tacky”, named after the South Carolina state horse is also a coast guard inspected 23’ Carolina Skiff primarily used for river excursions and water taxis for groups of 6 people or more. It can accommodate up to 12 passengers and is an open boat with cushion seating.
“Softshell” got its name from the popular blue crab that is caught on the May River. Although Softshell is not used for the crabbing excursions its name is appropriate because of the importance of the blue crab harvested on our trips. It is a coast guard inspected 25’ Carolina Skiff with cushion seats that can accommodate up to 12 passengers and is used primarily for river excursions and water taxis.
The 21’ Tidewater boat is used for fishing trips of 4 passengers or less. It was the first V-Hull boat in the fleet. It can be used for inshore fishing trips and offshore fishing trips of 15 miles or less with low wind conditions. It is a smoother riding boat but less spacious than the Marsh Donkey.
The 26′ Everglades boat is primarily used for inshore fishing trips of up to 6 people and offshore fishing trips of up to 4 people max. It was our second V-Hull boat to the fleet and just remodeled in 2017. It has a t-top and comfy seating.
The 24′ Sea Pro is used for inshore fishing trips of up to 6 people and can go offshore with 4 people up to 15 miles or less. Sea Pro is more spacious than the Tidewater and a V-Hull boat as well.
Pluff Mud is our newest edition and should complete its coast guard inspection by April 2019. Named after that Lowcountry marsh smell that is so vital to our ecosystem, it is a 27′ Carolina Skiff that can accommodate up to 17 passengers. This boat is our only inspected boat that is not open and has the cushion seating covered by a top.