Saltwater in His Veins, Charleston in His Heart"There's so much beauty here, so much scenery and charm and history. I've been some places and they have some pretty spots, but Charleston has everything."
Wayne Magwood likes to tell people that saltwater runs through his veins. His grandfather was a fisherman and his father built his own boat and became one of the first shrimpers in Charleston. Eventually, Magwood, his two brothers and his father each had their own shrimping vessels and the family was covering the coastal waters of the East.
"We grew up on the boat and my father taught us from the time we were 10 years old how to use the boat," he recalls. By the time Magwood, 59, was a teenager, he was plying the waters off South Carolina solo.
"I love the scenery and being out with Mother Nature one-on-one. It's peaceful," he says. "It's nice to be your own boss and it's a challenge, because you never know what you're going to catch. It's like Forrest Gump says — life really is a box of chocolates."
Although there are good days and bad days in the shrimp business, there are few days you won't find Magwood on the water in his vessel, Winds of Fortune. He confesses that he spends more time on the water than on land. "I work in everything short of a hurricane," he explains. "Many people don't, but I do because I love it and I like a challenge."
In the summertime, when the fishing is lively, Magwood is up by 3 a.m. in order to leave the dock at 4. By 5 a.m. his nets are in the water. In the afternoon, the day's catch is removed from the boat, washed and put on ice so the shrimp are ready to ship the next day. Many of these prime crustaceans will reappear at the local Whole Foods or on plates of Charleston diners at restaurants like Art's Bar & Grill, Red's Ice House and the Italian eatery Bacco, where they're fried with the head on.
Magwood's mother was a celebrated cook recognized in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the best cooks in the Southeast. "My father used to say she could make hot-water soup taste good," quips Magwood. She left behind a legacy of recipes for shrimp that keeps them on the table at least three times a week in the Magwood household. Jars of pickled shrimp made according to her own special recipe — boiled, then marinated in ketchup, vinegar, Tabasco sauce and onions — are coveted Christmas gifts each year.
When he isn't harvesting shrimp, Magwood uses Winds of Fortune to help relocate sea turtles away from dredging projects that would otherwise prove deadly to the creatures. It's a job that's taken him up and down the East Coast, but he always looks forward to returning to his home waters.
"There's so much beauty here, so much scenery and charm and history," he explains. "I've been some places and they have some pretty spots, but Charleston has everything."
Check out Wayne's Charleston.