Page 13: Historic boat returns to Biloxi

Buddy Jumonville and others are refurbishing more catboats in an effort to preserve our coast's rich maritime history.
Buddy Jumonville and others are refurbishing more catboats in an effort to preserve our coast's rich maritime history.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A series of specially designed boats helped make Biloxi the seafood capital of the world. The sailing vessels were called catboats and an effort is underway to restore some of the original wooden boats.

Like so many water lovers in South Mississippi, Buddy Jumonville enjoys sailing along the Mississippi Coast.

"It's a nice, peaceful experience," said Jumonville as a gentle wind filled the sail. "You get to see wildlife. We get dolphins swimming alongside us. A big thrill for me is to sail down Deer Island."

A very special boat has come home to Biloxi. She's called the Fat Cat. Crafted by legendary Biloxi boat builder Joe Sholtes in 1957.

The catboat has been on an interesting journey. The classic 20th century wooden boat now belongs to the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum thanks to the generosity of its last owner, a man from Chestertown, Maryland.

"After Katrina, the guy from Maryland saw on the news how the museum was destroyed. He donated the boat," said Jumonville.

The Fat Cat arrived in pretty rough shape. Jumonville, whose grandfather was master boat builder Jackie Jack Covacevich, restored the catboat and made her seaworthy. Jumonville said boats like these are a big part of Biloxi's seafood heritage.

"They were very versatile. You could fish from them. They would tong oysters off these boats."

The cats were also part of exciting races on the coast.

Jumonville and others are refurbishing more catboats in an effort to preserve our coast's rich maritime history.

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