Tour follows history of the Hunley

A local historian and a water tour company are now running harbor tours that visit sites important to the history of the Civil War-era submarine H.L. Hunley.

Michael Coker, an author, tour guide and assistant to the director at the Old Exchange, will narrate the 90-minute trip offered by Sandlapper Water Tours. The tours run at 10 a.m. Friday and at 12:30 p.m. Saturday through August.

"I got the idea to develop this tour because people, even those with little or no interest in the Civil War, want to see the Hunley and learn more about its history," Coker said.

Among the sites on this tour are a close look at the site of Fort Johnson, where an accident claimed the lives of five Hunley crew members; another area of the harbor where the sub sank; and a cruise along Sullivan's Island, where the Hunley's final crew trained and prepared for their final mission.

On Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic about four miles off Sullivan's Island. It was found in 1995 by a dive team funded by Clive Cussler, and it was recovered in August 2000.

Bryan Collins, owner of Sandlapper Water Tours, was intrigued enough by Coker's idea for a Hunley tour that he set it up.

"I love Charleston and its history, and think the story of the Hunley is a powerful one that people are drawn to," Collins said.

The tours leave from the Charleston Maritime Center. Tickets are $25, 10 percent of which goes to Friends of the Hunley -- the nonprofit organization raising funds for the sub's preservation and future museum.

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