Marina Boat Slips Hard To Find

It was difficult finding a vacant boat slip on the Mississippi Gulf Coast before Katrina. But now that task is nearly impossible.

The hurricane destroyed several marinas along the coast and heavily damaged others. While the City of Biloxi faces the complete rebuilding of one popular marina, another was spared much of the storm's destruction.

"I really didn't expect this kind of damage at all. I was totally shocked at it," said Frankie Duggan, as he looked out the third floor window at the harbor master's headquarters.

That view shows a battered Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. Katrina ripped apart piers and pilings at will, leaving the harbor unrecognizable.

"Small Craft Harbor is 100 percent destroyed. Of course, we've got plans for bringing it back better than it was before. They're already working on it. Engineers have looked at it already. They're putting together specs to go out on bids," said Duggan.

At Point Cadet Marina, the storm blew out the harbor master's office. But as for the marina itself, and its 290 boat slips, most of those slips sustained relatively minor damage. That's why boats from the small craft harbor will be temporarily relocated there, as the small craft harbor is rebuilt.

"It's almost impossible to find a slip," said Biloxi boat owner Eris Turner.

She's sub leasing slip number "46" at Point Cadet Marina. Her boat had been docked at the storm-destroyed Biloxi Yacht Club pier.

"There's very few marinas left for us to be able to dock in. And I was very fortunate to get this particular slip. And I'm sub leasing it," she said.

She'd like to keep her boat there permanently. But the demand for valuable boat slips is increasing daily as boat owners return their vessels from their "hurricane holes" up river.

"I've had people call me every week wanting a slip. And I can't accommodate anybody right now 'cause I have to take care of my permanent leases," said Duggan.

A "sonar survey" of the Small Craft Harbor is the first step in the re-building process. That underwater snapshot will let engineers know how much of the harbor needs to be dredged and what kind of debris must be removed before construction can begin.