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Technology offers a look at beach conditions

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Technology offers a look at beach conditions

file/DAVE MUNDAY/STAFF The new web cam at the top of The Tides Hotel at Folly means that would-be beachgoers can check on the action near the pier.

So you are sitting in Goose Creek with a hankering to go to the beach. You know it is going to take you an hour or more to get there, depending on the traffic headed out through Mount Pleasant or Folly Road on James Island.

So how are you going to figure out if it is really raining, or blazing hot, or just plain crowded at your favorite spots. How do you see how far the tide is actually up on the beach?

Technology helps us here, with surf cams, a beach bar cam and even a volleyball cam. Folly Beach has had a surf camfor a number of years at the Washout, the favorite area for surfers to check out the height of the waves, and how many of their buddies are actually hanging five.

That one has been the reason many a surfer has ditched work for the morning and headed out for a couple of hours, or let them know, like last weekend, that the surf wasn’t rideable so they might as well figure out that spread sheet.

But now there is a new one atop the Tides Hotel that gives a great view of the beach in front of the hotel and the pier at Folly at

The new Tides surf cam is capable of 720p HD images with 15 frames per second, and pans and zooms 24 hours a day. By going through a series of presets starting at the pier and moving its way west, the camera is able to provide a wide range of viewpoints, from blankets on the beach to surfers careening too close to the pier.

Because it rotates and zooms, you can check out the number of people already crowding the area, and hunt for a quieter blanket spot.

Over at the Isle of Palms, the Windjammer lets everyone see the action inside and out.

They have the bar cam, to see who’s hanging on the stools; the beach cam, which gives a comparable view to the Tides surf cam; and then there’s the volleyball cam.

The Windjammer doesn’t charge for the pick-up beach volleyball games, but regulars can check out how the games are hitting or if it looks like the nets are empty.

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All the cams can be found at

Or, of course, if the boss won’t let you off for the afternoon, there’s always just watching and longing from afar.

Now in case you are wondering what the traffic is like getting to the beach, you can get some good information in Mount Pleasant, mainly because the South Carolina Department of Transportation has installed a number of traffic cams along the route . You can get a good look at traffic on the Cooper River Bridge and along the Highway 17 connector. But once you get closer to the beach, you are out of luck.

There’s no way to tell just how backed up the morning beach traffic is on the way to Sullivan’s Island or the connector to the Isle of Palms.

The same is true of James Island. There are no traffic cams to let you know how long it will take you to get through the traffic maze that Folly Road has become, especially as everyone tries to get errands done or go to lunch. You are stuck with everyone else crawling along.

Once you finally get to Folly and have picked out your blanket spot, there is one more service through technology. If you happen to be settled on the beach and decide you are hungry or thirsty, you can order from one of 50 restaurants through

The delivery company has signs up at certain entrances to the beach, and you can just wait there for your order to be delivered. No more packing everything up and losing that valuable parking space just because you want to grab a bite to eat. They deliver Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Just remember the sunscreen, and enjoy the sand between your toes.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or

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