Folly washout will have a new place to wash up

— The washout, one of the hottest surf spots around, is getting its first restrooms and showers, courtesy of the city.

“I think it’s awesome,” said surfer Bates Hagood.

Wave riders will have one changing room with a sink, cold-water outdoor shower and toilet for men and another for women.

Usually, surfers take off a wetsuit next to their cars parked on East Ashley Avenue where the washout is located. They use a towel to cover themselves, said Hagood, manager of Ocean Surf Shop on Center Street.

“There’s a lot of unplanned nudity going on out there. You go all nude and naked up under that wetsuit,” he said.

The east end of the island where the surfers go has no public facilities.

“I can’t tell you how nice it will be to have a toilet,” Hagood said.

The changing rooms located in the 1500 block of East Ashley Avenue are equipped with ramps for handicapped access. Four parking spaces there are designated for the disabled. In addition, there is a new boardwalk to the beach that is wheelchair friendly.

The city and state split the cost of the $35,000 project that will likely be open sometime in March, said Eric Lutz, city building official and facilities manager.

The public facilities have been five years in the making. City Council tabled the project a couple of times for budget reasons, he said.

“It’s been a community push for a long time,” Lutz said.

There were no surfers at the washout during the early afternoon Friday when the waves were light. Some beach walkers said the changing rooms and boardwalk were a good idea because the amenities make the east end of the island more visitor friendly.

“The real push is coastal access. We’re always trying to improve access,” Lutz said.

For now, the changing rooms are bare plywood. How they will be decorated has not yet been determined, he said.

The center of the island has public beach access, showers and restrooms at the pier. The west end offers the same amenities at the county park.

Lutz predicted the new east end facilities will be popular.

“It’s probably going to get a whole lot of use. I can see it being useful for a mother with a child,” he said.

The washout is named for the damage done there during Hurricane Hugo in 1989. It is a narrow half-mile stretch of beach that draws hundreds of surfers when the waves are good. It is also home to island surf competitions.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.