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About Our Crew & Fleet

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

Christopher Shoemaker

Owner & USCG Boat Captain

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.

Stephen Shoemaker

USCG Boat Captain

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.”

Matthew Shoemaker

USCG Boat Captain

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 with the family business he likes to crab, shrimp, flounder gig, or just ride around the May River like he did growing up. He now get to take his two sons on the boat to show the wonders of the May River.


USCG Boat Captain

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.


USCG Boat Captain

Fred was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He grew up with a passion for the outdoors by fishing or hiking every chance he had. He moved to the Lowcountry 20 years ago and never left. He enjoys relaxing on the beach with his family or fishing with friends in his free time. Captain Fred is a wonderful edition to our crew with his appreciation for the Lowcountry nature and history.


USCG Boat Captain

Alan was born and raised in Mississippi where his love of the outdoors began. He spent his youth and Ole Miss college days fishing, camping, and hiking. He moved to the Lowcountry in the late 90s and found his local wife whose family lives on the May River near the Shoemakers. Captain Alan is a perfect fit to our crew with all his local knowledge of the waterways and nature.


USCG Boat Captain

Branson was born and raised in Texas. Grew up fishing tournaments with my grandfather and that’s where his love for the water began. He just graduated from Ole Miss and knew the Lowcountry was the place for him. He is a great new edition to our crew and strives to make all his excursions a memorable one.


USCG Boat Captain

Clayton was and raised in Bluffton on the May River. He started swimming before he could walk so his love for the water and nature started early. Clayton is currently studying at Wingate University but he is with us during the summer sharing his love of what the Lowcountry has to offer and his local knowledge of the May River.

Our Fleet of Fishing & Tour Ships

Marsh Donkey

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.

It has now been retired.


“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

“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.

Pluff Mud

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.


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.

Sea Pro

The 24′ Sea Pro is used for inshore fishing trips of up to 6 people. The Sea Pro is a V-Hull boat and has a t-top as well.


The pathfinder is a 25’ v-hull boat with a T-top. It is used for fishing or backwater adventure days for groups of up to 6 people.

Fishing & River Excursions in Bluffton