About Us

Naturalist Captains, Mates & Educators

Each person who works on the Bulls Island Ferry is a dedicated naturalist with a passion for the ecology of the Lowcountry. Each year, they participate in training sessions that includes lifeguard certification, first aid and CPR certification, kayaking instruction/certification and natural and human history.  They enrich the Bulls Island experience by sharing their understanding about this dynamic ecosystem.

Coastal Expeditions is now in its 23nd year of operation in the Charleston area.  We've had excellent guides over the years (many of them have gone on to start their own companies in the industry!) and we have always worked hard to provide a superior product.  
That being said, we think that the guides we have now are collectively the best we've ever had. They are smart, fun-loving, curious, adventurous and warm-hearted.


Commodore Chris Crolley
Captain Chris Crolley was the very first mate on the Bulls Island Ferry in 1994.  Working his way up the ranks, Chris earned his 50-ton Master Captain license, developed the Island Quest field study program and eventually became the steward of Coastal Expeditions.  He has led expeditions from the cold waters of Nova Scotia down to the blue seas of the Caribbean and has led trips for groups like REI, Linblad's National Geographic Explorer and private expeditions. Take a trip with Chris and see why Garden & Gun calls him "one of the state's most knowledgeable naturalists." Find Out More

Admiral Gates Roll
With a love for everything that crawls or swims, Gates grew up as a true creek rat in the woods of Georgia and the marshes of South Carolina.  Gates has worked on fishing boats in Myrtle Beach and on a sailboat in Spain, but he prefers smaller craft in the quiet backwaters of his stomping grounds, sharing his knowledge of the ecosystem he loves so much.  He is captain and naturalist on the Bulls Island Ferry, and our lead multi-day expedition guide.   Gates was chosen as one of REI Adventures's Top Guides for 2013.  Worldwide, only six guides are selected for this honor each year!

Captain Richard Stuhr
Capt. Richard Stuhr is a native Charlestonian and has fished and boated in the coastal waters of the Lowcountry for most of his life.  Since 1991, Richard has held a U.S. Coast Guard Masters License.

For 23 years, Richard ran his own fishing guide business specializing in in-shore light tackle and fly fishing.  An Orvis-endorsed guide, he has been recognized by Fodor's as a top choice for saltwater flyfishing in the Carolinas.

 



Captain Wil Christenson
As captain on the Bulls Island Ferry, Wil brings a deep understanding of Marine Biology and Environmental Education to our team. He earned an Master of Science (College of Charleston) by studying the species status of a group of coral reef fishes. In addition, Wil is a USCG-licensed Near Coastal Master and PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. During his career, Wil has led educational adventures in Charleston, the Windward Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys.  He has been a lead captain on the ferry for years and has expanded his role in the refuge as a volunteer, participating in weekly bird surveys in Cape Romain.

Wick Bouton
Wick has been with Coastal Expeditions for many years, starting after he completed his Honors Biology degree at Clemson University.  He is an ACA-certified kayak instructor with adaptive paddling credentials.  In addition, he is now the adjunct kayak instructor at the Citadel, breaking their dress code with long hair and a beard (ha!).

He has a easy going nature that makes him a favorite guide for students in the South Carolina Outdoor Education Program.

 

 

Caroline Bradner
Born and raised here in South Carolina, Caroline is no stranger to humid summers, college football, and thick southern drawls. In 2008, at age 17, she moved to and fell in love with the Holy City, and has since made Charleston her home. While attending the College of Charleston, Caroline studied the brains of marine mammals, including dolphins, seals, and manatees. As her fascination with these animals grew, her interest in protecting them and their habitats did the same. As a result, she is proud to be a part of the Coastal Expeditions team, dedicated to education and conservation of the Carolinas' beautiful marine habitats.



Henry Brandt
A Southern boy at heart, Henry was born in Savannah, raised in North Carolina, grew up in Charleston, and just moved from North Carolina, having completed his Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. His fondness for the sport of kayaking was fueled by a trip to Patagonia under the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and has since traveled across the country, exploring in the great national parks and forests. Henry is the manager of our Folly Creek outpost and he looks forward to seeing you on the water!

Chris Brown
A graduate of James Madison University, Chris has traded in the mountains for the beautiful and scenic lowcountry. Known as Storm by his fellow guides, he is an avid outdoorsman and has fallen in love with the Charleston area. On his days off Chris can be found exploring the secluded areas of the estuary and blackwater ecosystems, and thinks the best way to learn about them is to get out and experience them through the intimacy of kayaking.

 


Geoff Caruso
Raised in the lowcountry, Geoff has spent most of his life sailing, surfing, and paddling in Charleston. Educated at Wofford, He loves to spread his passion and knowledge of Carolina history, and of the natural world. He also makes a mean lowcountry boil, and is an excellent pluff mud diver.

If you're looking for a guide that is well-versed in plantation history, ask for Geoff-- he's a perpetual student.



Josh Driscoll
Having originally grown up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, Josh sought warm salty water and sunshine in the Palmetto state. Graduating from Coastal Carolina University with a degree in Marine Science, the draw of the oceanic environment led Josh to explore and surf in various parts of the world such as Australia, Tasmania, and Costa Rica. You can find Josh everyday outdoors and as near to the water as any air-breathing land mammal. He's become an important guide for the South Carolina Outdoor Education Program, a kayak and hiking field trip opportunity for Lowcountry students.

 

Rachel Jones
Born in the sunshine state, surrounded by more water than land, Rachel has always loved science, adventure and being outdoors. She recently graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of Central Florida and has now taken to the low country like a fiddler crab to pluff mud. Her love of nature shows as she excitedly points out the wildlife on her kayak tours. If you ask her she thinks life's just better from the seat of a kayak!

Rachel is a trip leader on the Dominick House Multiday Expedition to Bulls Island.

 

 

Eric Mills, Outreach Manager
Drawn by the pull of the Atlantic tides, Eric came to us by way of New Jersey and the Midwest. He enjoys sunsets, long walks on the beach and pina coladas, but he has especially fallen for the local ecosystem in the area. Eric believes that kayaking is the best way to explore the Lowcountry and enjoys sharing his knowledge about the estuaries with people on his tours. A true renaissance man, Eric is the author of the children's book Robots Don't Wear Sunscreen and is our Outreach Manager. He's a lead guide for our REI Adventures Coastal Kayaking Adventure.



Valerie Morris, Office Manager
A native of the Concrete Jungle of Brotherly Love, Valerie is in awe of the Indian summers and wild anoles native to the Lowcountry. She grew up in waders, collecting swamp samples for her fish tank and bringing home corn and milk snakes.  Cooking and photography are her passions outside of the natural world. You can find her in the forest with her dogs Nala and Pilof.

She keeps everything running smoothly from our headquarters on Shem Creek and is ready to answer your questions about Bulls Island!

 

Ian Sanchez
Not only is Ian one of the best historical interpreters you'll ever meet, he is an incredible naturalist with a deep understanding and appreciation for the Carolina Lowcountry.   An award-winning PBS documentary, Web of Water, followed Ian's kayak journey from the South Carolina mountains to the Atlantic.  For the last 10 years, Ian has been an integral part of Coastal Expeditions as both a kayak guide and education leader.

 

 

 

Bree Tomlinson
Bree hails from the Great Lakes State.  She came to Charleston almost a decade ago in search of saltier water, warmer weather and graduate school at the College of Charleston.  Since graduating with her Masters of Environmental Studies (and unofficial bird-nerd degree), she has honed her ecotourism skills working as an Environmental Educator for the SC DNR and as a licensed tour guide downtown. Bree is excited to be on the Coastal Expeditions team and looks forward to sharing her love of the outdoors with you on the Lowcountry waterways.



Olivia Wilson
A graduate of the College of Charleston in Biological Sciences, Olivia offers an educational introduction to Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge on our ferry service to Bulls Island.  Check out the TripAdvisor and you'll see how much she is loved on the ferry.  She's branching out this year into other areas of the Coastal Ex experiment, so look for her on kayak tours around the Lowcountry, too!

Nick Johnson
Nick is the first mate on Caretta and a naturalist for the Bulls Island Ferry service. Notably, he has swindled Captain Wil out of countless nickels with his ability to correctly identify Bald Eagles from afar.  An avid gardener, Nick loves the collard greens at the SeeWee Restaurant, and plans to start a self-sustaining aquaculture farm some day.

 


2012 Guide Training on Bulls Island


Who We Are
Coastal Expeditions is a small, family-owned business that was created in 1992.

Owner Chris Crolley worked his way up from First Mate on the Bulls Island Ferry twenty years ago and can still be found leading tours, washing the deck and tending the lines (although less often than he'd like!).

Over the years, Coastal Expeditions has grown into a group of dedicated naturalists using kayaks and boats to get people into beautiful places.  We love what we do and it is our mission to share the blackwater, rivers and salt marshes with you.

As Charleston's original outfitter, we have set the standard for environmental education and stewardship in this region of the country.  Our guides have an enviable collective resume that includes guiding for Linblad's National Geographic Explorer, educating students in the British Virgin Islands, advanced degrees in marine biology and more.

For more information about who we are and what we do, visit Coastal Expeditions or call our flagship store on Shem Creek at (843) 884-7684.

Our History within Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
In 1994, five years after Hurricane Hugo devestated Bulls Island with high winds and a 20-foot storm surge, Coastal Expeditions was awarded the contract for group services to Bulls Island.  Over the last 21 years, we have worked within Cape Romain as stewards, and we feel fortunate to be able to provide ferry service to Bulls Island and other areas of the refuge, educating visitors and students.

Coastal Expeditions operates under contract into Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, under the leadership and guidance of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to provide public access to the refuge. Our mission is to "provide educational, interpretive, and recreational services to the visiting public."