GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The damage left behind by Hurricane Nate is putting a hold on one of the Coast's most popular tourist attractions. Ferry trips to Ship Island are now canceled for the rest of the season.
At the Ship Island ferry headquarters in Gulfport, crews are busy working to repair Hurricane Nate damage.
"We had 3 feet of water in our ticket office behind me and it just ruined a lot of our merchandise and computer equipment," said Louis Skrmetta with Ship Island Excursions.
Nate's biggest impact for Skrmetta is on Ship Island. Normally the ferries would run until the end of October, but with the boat dock and Cross Island boardwalk now needing extensive repairs, trips to the island aren't going to be possible for the rest of the season.
"This is the prettiest time to be on the barrier islands, it really is pretty because it cools off with a lot of birding activity out there this time of year," Skrmetta said. "It is a shame we can't land out there."
Skrmetta is optimistic the National Park service will make the necessary repairs by March of next year; just in time for the 2018 Ship Island Ferry season to start on schedule. Hurricane Nate was just the latest tough break for the ferry service following a summer that saw unusually high amounts of rain fall.
"We were down almost 6,000 people in the month of June alone," he added.
While the excursion boats can't take passengers to Ship Island until the repairs are made, they will still be out on the water offering dolphin cruises.
"During the Ship Island runs we see a lot of dolphins in route to Ship Island. So we feel like there should be a lot of dolphin activity still in the channel," said Skrmetta.
The dolphin cruises are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday's for the next several months.
Plans are underway for the city of Gulfport to build a new Ship Island Ferry Terminal including a pavilion and pier for Skrmetta to use. Bids for that project are scheduled to be taken in November.
For more information on the dolphin cruises and private charters opportunities visit: http://msshipisland.com/.