SC Singer-Songwriter Edwin McCain Gives Old Boats New Life

By:Page Ivey

Date:9/16/2015

South Carolina singer-songwriter Edwin McCain says it wasn’t by accident that his new three-song EP was titled “Phoenix.”

He says the title was inspired by his newest venture — pulling old boats out of decay and getting them back on the water for folks who might not otherwise be able to afford a new boat. Like the legendary Phoenix rising from the ashes, he helps old boats find new life.

“People have these boats and they just can’t get rid of them because they are attached to all kinds of family memories,” McCain says. “They are invested emotionally in these boats and they can’t just throw them away. So they just let them sit, and there is always the thought of, 'One day I will fix it.'”

For owners of these crumbling treasures, that day could be today.

McCain’s business, Boats Have Souls, started out as a hobby that paid for itself but is now a moneymaker.

“We find that a lot of the boats that were built in the ’70 or ’80s are really solid,” he says. “If you’ve got a really solid hull, you can build it up from there and make it personal for the family that wants to rebuild their boat.”

McCain, his business partner and a handful of employees guide the rebuilding, and boat owners can be as involved as they want. A new motor, new upholstery and for a fraction of the cost, folks can get back on the water.

“Basically, you end up with a new boat and it ends up costing less than a new boat would cost,” he says. “It’s just fun for us. We like hearing the stories. Everybody has a story.”

For McCain, his restoration interest started with an old Chris Craft that had been abandoned in a warehouse.

“It was a perfectly sound boat -- it just needed some work,” he says. “I got it running and got the boat for next to nothing, and spent a little bit of time on it. I still use it with my family today.”

It was his second project; however, that led to his reality TV show, “Flipping Ships.”

“I took on a huge project, a 70-foot Hatteras, and was in way over my head,” McCain says. “At that point, I realized that it was kind of funny and we started filming it. Then we pitched it around and had a couple of production companies get excited about it, and we ended up on Animal Planet.

The show ran in the spring and summer of 2015. He says he is too busy with the business and playing shows to think about filming another season, but he is open to it.

Meanwhile, that Hatteras, which was put on hold as a potential show subject, is still awaiting its day back on the water.

“Now we know that it is not going to be a subject on the show, so I am in the process of re-energizing the restoration. I predict somewhere between six and 10 months, it will be back in the water.”

If you want to find out about restoring an old boat, check out McCain’s Boats Have Souls online and on Facebook.

“Even if you don’t have a boat and you’re interested in restoring a boat, we can get together and go to any number of the boat graveyards that are out there, and pick up a hull for $200-300 and start there,” he says.

McCain will be returning this year to another love of his, the Euphoria festival in Greenville. McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski founded the culinary and arts festival 10 years ago. McCain will be performing again this year in honor of the 10th anniversary at the

Songwriter's Recipe and Taste of the South.

"We started this thing 10 years ago; we were just trying something out and off it went," McCain says. "The idea of putting music and food together is not new. The Aspen Music Festival is our template. But pairing chefs and songwriters, and putting them together on stage, that was my idea. We didn’t know how it was going to work, but it turned out good, and chefs and songwriters get along good, and there’s a lot of the same humor. It’s been fun."

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