Take a guided tour on the May River, stop for a spell in the Ship’s Store, or bump into Boo Harrell on a bike, and you’ll discover a fast friend. Boo, whose formal name is Andrew, is a master storyteller. Just ask him about his name, there is indeed a story. In fact, there is no island, creature, historical figure, or Lowcountry tidbit that Boo can’t weave into a tale, in a way that excites anyone aged five to 85.
Born in Savannah, his father’s career in the Army took the family from Hawaii to Germany, returning regularly to the Lowcountry for visits with his grandparents who had settled on Myrtle Island (Bluffton) in the 1940s. Upon retiring from the military in the seventies, Boo’s father made Myrtle Island their homestead as well. And Boo has fond memories reminiscent of a Conroy novel, of a childhood spent exploring the May, from sunup to sundown, on his jon boat.
For a brief while during his college years, Boo again ventured back to Hawaii and gained certification as a wind-surfing instructor but was ultimately lured back to Bluffton, the tides of the May River calling. After graduation from USC with his degree in tourism, he became a wind-surfing instructor with Outside Hilton Head. Over the years he shifted his focus to real estate, but always kept one foot in the water, literally.
When the opportunity arose for Outside Hilton Head to provide services at Palmetto Bluff, Boo enthusiastically stepped up to the plate. At the time, he was living on Myrtle Island and would make the seven-minute commute via kayak. His enthusiasm and joy for life are contagious; it is clear that he found his passion and followed it, and now we are all the benefactors of this gift.
We asked Boo a few questions, and while his tales tend to be grand and detailed, he was surprisingly succinct when asked about himself. Read on …
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being able to wear flip-flops every day and when the river is above 80 degrees.
What goes through your mind as you drive to work each morning?
I feel blessed every day to work at such a beautiful property. Driving in, I am always imagining what the river is going to look like and hoping it is going to be a perfect day with just the right amount of cloud coverage and a slight breeze. I also try to figure out what I am going to do to exceed the expectations of the group that is going out on the river with me.
And, on the way home?
After a long day, I find it nice to just zone out, relax and listen to NPR.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Stopping at RT’s Market and picking up a delicious pastry!
Is there a movie that you’d recommend to friends?
Senna. It is a documentary about Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian F1 driver. I feel anyone who has raced anything will truly appreciate this movie.
If there were a movie about your life, what would it be called? And, which actor would play you?
Huck Finn on the May… and Kevin Costner would play me because I think of Waterworld and the cool catamaran he sailed.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Easy question: my daughters Sydney Leigh, 16 and Drew Covington, 11.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Generosity. I always want to help others in need.
What is the last book you read?
Comeback by Dennis Conner. He lost The America’s Cup in 1983 to the Australians and tells his story of winning it back in 1987.
If you could have one “super power,” what would it be? And, how would you use it at work?
I would like to be able to control the weather. Every day would be 85 degrees with nice breeze in the afternoon.
When you’re not here, what are you doing?
I enjoy windsurfing, however, I haven’t been out much.
What word do you use most?
What makes you laugh?
Any Will Ferrell movie …
Top five songs on your playlist?
Talking Heads – Naïve Melody; Beautiful Day – U2; Jet Airliner – Steve Miller Band; Pride (in the name of love) – U2; Every song on the CD Tropical Update by The Mundahs.
Favorite spot on the Bluff?
The tree house at Moreland. I never get tired of scanning the marsh and creeks from above.
Best Palmetto Bluff Moment?
One evening I was out on the river at sunset, and we could hear the Hallelujah Singers performing on the porch at Canoe Club. Priceless.
Written by Christine Wrobel
Photography by Rob Kaufman