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Spirit of Lake Murray

July 4th celebration

In 2009, two large trucks pulled into Charleston Harbor, while two large sections of a boat were loaded, then hauled up I26, and eventually to Lake Murray Marina.  Those trucks were each carrying a portion of what would when put together, change the tourism industry on Lake Murray.

Built in the mid ninety’s the eighty-foot-long Skipperliner vessel then named the Jacksonville Princess, spent the first fifteen or so years of her life off the Florida Coast.  That is until a retired Veteran and his family saw a vision to run a dinner cruise boat on The Jewel of South Carolina.  She was sailed up the ICW, had her top decks separated, so that she could fit under the bridges on I26, and made the 100-mile journey to The Midlands. 

Over the next several years, The Spirit sailed well over a thousand voyages on the Lake, allowing people, a hundred at a time, to experience sunsets, Purple Martins, fireworks, and even make memories that still exist today.  In 2019, The Spirt was transformed into a music venue in her home port in Leesville.  Unfortunately, like so many hospitality businesses, she became a casualty of lockdowns, and the inability to host guests.

 Over the next couple of years, she sat on her dock, waiting for her next chance for service on the Lake.  That came in the fall of 2022, when four long-time Lake area residents had the vision to give her a facelift and return to the business of sharing the Lake with thousands of people.

Norm Agnew (Yes, THAT Agnew), and Captain Rick Crout, who has been on and around boats for decades, formed Lake Murray Tour Partners, purchased The Spirit, sailed her to Ballentine, and began the argus task of the major overhaul of this amazing Lady of the Lake.

Joining Agnew and Crout on the Leadership Team, long time restaurateur and hospitality expert Steve Price, who serves as General Manager, overseeing business operations, and running interior guest experiences, and Captain Tyler Ryan (Yes, that weather guy), who has been tapped as the First Officer, responsible for deck operations, and Entertainment Director.

Over the last several months, to say that there has been a facelift is an understatement.  Years of salt water will do damage to the strongest of steel, and The Spirit is no different.  The interior of the boat has all been cut away and replaced, and the majority of the hull will also be new when she sets sail in July ensuring the safety of guests above all else.

The “Spirit Boys,” as they have become known, promise that she will be like no other experience on the water, and say that returning guests may not recognize her, with the installation of a full kitchen, dance floor, and 25-foot full-service bar.  In addition to upgrades inside, she will have a whole new look outside and will be something amazing to see crossing Lake Murray.

“It is an exciting time,” says Crout, noting that calls for information are coming in from not only all over the state, but as far away as Tennessee, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Ryan says that “the influx of guests not only from the Midlands but from other areas will have a major impact on local businesses all around the Lake and beyond.”  The spirit, whose capacity is well over 100, has an expected return to service in July 2023, offering sightseeing, sunset, and dinner cruises, as well as large private events.

For more information, check out SpiritofLakeMurray.com.

The “Spirit Boys,” as they have become known, promise that she will be like no other experience on the water, and say that returning guests may not recognize her.

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