Fun in the Water with Miss Judy Charters

Fun in the Water with Miss Judy Charters

Some know her as Judy Helmey, others know her as the crazy lady with all the boats, but there is no denying she is the Captain of Savannah.

As she sits in her modest house overlooking Turners Creek, Helmey says, “I’d bet a first-time fisher my life that they’ll catch something within seconds with our boats and knowledge.” With over five decades of boat chartering experience under her belt, Helmey has yet to skip a beat.

Miss Judy Charters has prided itself on quality and care since the company’s creation. Whether you are a veteran or a newbie looking for a good time, Miss Judy has you covered. She is widely known and highly respected by locals and visitors in Savannah, and she has seen how much the island has changed over the years.

Topping over a thousand boating trips a year has created countless connections and has significantly impacted the community. “We’re not just selling fishing trips, we are selling memories,” said Helmey.

Helmey has taken what she knows best, fishing and storytelling, and has established a business. Her fishing charters include inshore, offshore, and Gulf Stream options, including state-of-the-art equipment. Miss Judy Charters boasts a stock of nine boats reaching up to 31 feet in length. Her love of the business is contagious, evidenced by generations of returning customers.

“I’ve seen some of these boys and girls when they were little kids to now bringing their own children and even grandchildren on my trips,” said Helmey.

Her father, Sherman Helmey, was recognized in the American Prohibition Museum at City Market for his significant impact in the community. He started the business by nothing more than taking some friends out on his boat. They couldn’t get enough of the water and wanted to come back time and time again, eventually offering to pay for these excursions. This idea sparked a plan for a business, that quickly spread like wildfire throughout the island, attracting more customers daily.

Sherman met some interesting people throughout his life , such as Al Capone. Judy claims that her father worked for him between 1930-1933 customizing cars for bootlegging purposes.

“Al Capone looked to the Savannah garage owner, Sherman “Moose” Helmey, to make his rum-running cars, by adding secret compartments and adjusting the suspension to make the cars appear to be running light with a full load,” says Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.

After Helmey’s mother passed away when she was just five years old, so her father’s boat was her daycare in a sense. Although her father married eight times, the one constant was his boat, which she started running at just 14 years old.

While most children were trying to make sure that they got to school on time or had their homework turned in, Judy was learning how to build relationships with customers and maintain a boat. She became a captain at a very young age, all in the unpredictable Atlantic ocean. From driving the boat and setting up the fishing gear, she learned how to become a skilled and efficient boat captain.

Fortunately, Judy has chosen to stay on the right side of the law and hasn’t met much resistance until Covid-19 struck, and like the rest of the world, she was forced to shut down. This was short-lived. After cautiously reopening, she realized that she has the best facility for something such as a disease that spreads through contact.

“While everybody went virtual, we just went offshore,” said Helmey.

If anything, the pandemic attracted more business including people and families that weren’t very familiar with fishing or being on the water. In the midst of the pandemic, people were stepping out of their comfort zones and into the water.

In the latter years of her career, Helmey has teamed up with The Flying Fish, a local seafood restaurant, allowing customers to have their catch of the day prepared on the spot. This tradition was implemented when both companies realized they could profit from one another back in the early 2000s. Helmey is not just the daughter of a notorious man or just a fisherwoman, but a leader in development for the Wilmington Island community.

To learn more about Miss Judy and the highly rated services her company provides, visit Miss Judy Charters webpage.