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by Pat Johnson - Pensacola, Florida - usa

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

Day 4 = 30 miles for "½ Fast"

Everyone had a great morning with ideal weather and folks discussed the day's plans.  Travis & John Votaw and Duff Basset planned to sail north to Biloxi and recover so they could begin their long trip back to Oklahoma.  Murray was running around the Biloxi area and land-camping at nearby Davis Bayou recovering from his mosquito attack.  The remainder decided that, while we were this far out on the Barrier Islands, we should take the opportunity to sail west to East and West Ship Islands and anchor for a while at West Ship Island to take advantage of the showers and explore the civil war era Fort Massachusetts.  The winds were from the southeast at about 10 mph, which made easy short hops to each successive island west and also making their northern shores a calm place to anchor.  I went ahead of the others after a few photo ops and skirted East Ship Island a hundred yards from shore on my way to the Ferry Pier at West Ship Island.  I anchored in the shallow waters just west of the pier and directly in front of the Fort.  I did a walking tour of the Fort before walking the few hundred yards on the boardwalk to the south side of the island. There is a beach with chairs & umbrellas (to rent), a snack bar, beach showers and real porcelain and showers in the rest rooms. 

The beach showers are open all the time but the other facilities/amenities are typically closed when there is no ferry at the pier.  The workers ride the 1st and last ferry to and from the island.  There are 2 ferries a day in the middle of the season and one in before and after that.  The ferries run between mid March and Mid October.  I took a nice cool freshwater shower and had an ice cold V8 drink from the snack bar.  I sat in the shade of the shelter house beside the snack bar while my phone charged using the outlet out front of the snack bar.  I almost took a nap on one of several picnic tables in the shade and cool sea breeze.  There were 50+ people and children (school field trip) from the ferry running around and swimming at the beach.  My fellow 110ers arrived, took a tour of the Fort, took showers and then we all ate lunch in the shade of the shelter house.  We could see dark rain clouds to the south, east and west and everyone decided we should head north and anchor at Deer Island again that night. So off we went.  We anchored in the same general area just south of the Hard Rock Casino and the Biloxi Small craft Harbor.

Everyone arrived well before dark and got anchored and situated for the night.  Harry Garcia demonstrated his anchoring technique as he arrived and all were amazed.  Harry comes in under sail bow first and drops the stern anchor enroute. As he nears shore he drops the sail in a flurry of activity and moves to the front to jump ashore just before it touches.  He fends the boat off the shore and quickly deploys a bow anchor and then adjusts its rode so it allows the boat to be pushed back offshore a couple feet.  Then he climbs back aboard and pulls the stern anchor tight to keep the boat offshore.  The speed at which all this occurs is a sight to behold and he is so good at it that no one can question his abilities.  Harry sails single handed a lot and this technique allows him to anchor without the aid of a motor (although he has an outboard).

We had a huge meal of everything left over. Steve Spanogle and Robert Hardin grilled tons of various sausage & corn on the cob while Travis & Kathy Rayner hauled out the chicken & dumplings and homemade jerky.  The rain clouds that had threatened all day began to close in, so we all retired to our individual boats.  The rain began just after dark and kicked into high gear with heavy rain and blowing winds.  My boat is open on the back and has tons of windows allowing me to sit far enough from the back opening to stay dry while still allowing me an unobstructed view.  I looked out to see Harry Garcia standing in his cockpit with a bar of soap taking a leisurely fresh water shower in the heavy rain.  Eventually, in a rain free lull, I helped Harry Garcia adjust some anchors to be sure no one was dragging or getting too close to their neighbor.  Then I hit the sack with a nice cool night that was 100% mosquito free and slept like a dog.  I was super tired after my previous sleepless nightmare of a night on Horn Island.

Day 5 = 25 miles for "½ Fast"

All of us had all decided we would finish and recover Saturday.  We discussed options for each other's recovery first thing in the morning.  Robert Hardin had already arranged to ride back to Pascagoula with me so he could get back to his vehicle & begin his long journey back to Virginia as soon as possible.  Duff and Travis & John Votaw had already recovered and headed back to Oklahoma on Friday.  Murray White was in the area camping on land, but had already recovered his boat. Steve Spanogle, Harry Garcia and Travis & Kathy Rayner had to get back to Pascagoula where their vehicles were located.  The weather forecast had heavy rains in it and the clouds were already forming.  To the east, where we had to travel, were dark and ominous looking thunder heads.  We watched them for a while and looked at the radar.  It appeared as though the clouds/storm was headed north and would pass us within an hour or so.  Still, as a  precaution I was to motor to Pascagoula with Robert aboard and recover, and then drive back the 20-25 miles to Biloxi and pick up Steve, Harry and Travis if they were still there.  I would drive them to the Pascagoula ramp and they could return with their vehicles to the Biloxi ramp and recover there.  As it turns out, after having watched the radar for a while, they all felt good about sailing back to Pascagoula which they did without incident. I knew the decision had been made because I could see them on the Smart Phone "Life360" app we were using to monitor each other's location during the trip.

Other participant's additions:

  • Kathy and I were delighted to be part of the Mississippi 110. When we made our after dark arrival at Round Island, we were quickly assisted, greeted and made to feel welcome! The next morning we met the rest of the participants that we would spend the next few days sailing and socializing with. Each day brought on a new adventure. On Thursday afternoon, I caught a few fish and prepared them for dinner and was pleased to be able to share some extra with others. On Friday, we had our best sail ever in our Macgregor; between Horn and Ship Island. Perfect winds, sort of trimmed the sails, set the autopilot and didn’t touch a thing for almost two hours! That night, we had a storm come through at our anchorage at Deer Island. Harry Garcia and Pat Johnson were kind enough to adjust our beach anchor since my boat was getting very close to Harry’s! We didn’t know anything about it until later. Our thanks to Pat and all the other participants that made this trip special for us. We will be back next year!

Travis & Kathy Rayner
Mobile, AL
Macgregor 26-S (classic)

  • Duff Bassett's addition.....While driving the 800 miles from Oklahoma City to Biloxi I had plenty of time to think about the weather forecast and the possible implications of being out on the open shallow bay in a small unprotected boat. I've been on enough outdoor trips where the forecast said terrible weather and what weather presented itself was vastly different, so forecast taken as a suggestion, one day at a time, road trip, with options. As I approached Biloxi from the north on Tuesday, the day I intended to launch, there were clear skies above me. All along the coast in front of me clouds were bubbling up. The question echoed from the back of my mind to the pit of my stomach, am I being a prudent sailor to launch into a storm forecast for a multi-day offshore trip on unfamiliar waters? Skies closed in darker and rain fell just as I drove into Biloxi. The black wall had blown over but drops were still falling when I drove through the Small Craft Harbor where I intended to launch. I looked around a bit at the choppy water, desolate beach and empty parking lot and decided to eat some lunch and perhaps rethink launching at all. I have relatives in South Alabama and while I did not plan to drive 800 miles with a boat, camping gear and 5 days of provisions just to see them, I considered what might be Plan B over a sandwich at Subway. I could skip the MS 110, drive on to see them, then return via Lake Ouachita in Arkansas for a few days of inland island camping. I checked the weather forecast for Lake Ouachita - 50% or more chance of thunderstorms for the week. Sigh. I pulled back into the small craft harbor to find Murray White, who I did not know previously, with his O'Day still on a trailer. We discussed the weather concerns, the event, and our respective sailing rigs while munching on persimmons Murray had brought along. Deer Island was so close to the Small Craft Harbor there wasn't much risk in launching there and spending the night on the island. One day at a time. Sail today, camp tonight, see what tomorrow brings. Checking the Life360 app, we could see Pat Johnson and Robert Hardin were leaving from Pascagoula and would be around before long. I launched before Murray, sailed on out into the lumpy bay and checked the balance and handling of my boat under this load. Oh yes. Sailing! That's what brought me here. A dolphin swam on ahead and eventually I could see Pat in his motor cruiser coming towards Deer Island. Murray sailed out of the Small Craft Harbor. We all landed and looked over the island. Travis and John Votaw arrived in Pilgrim, and later Robert in his Potter 15 just as a spectacular sunset only cloudy skies bring put on a final display. Then sleep. The next day repeat, discussions about the weather, sailing, island exploring, sunsets, shared stories, one day at a time. This was my second time sailing out of Biloxi. My first MS 110. Sailing adventure! Good People! Good Times! I'll be back. Soon I hope.

Duff Bassett – Hobie Tandem Island from Oklahoma  Bof 1
Biloxi. My first MS 110. Sailing adventure! Good people!
Good times! I'll be back. Soon I hope.

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