Elderly Skipper Recalls Harrowing Hurricane Trip - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Elderly Skipper Recalls Harrowing Hurricane Trip

A grounded boat that served as a backdrop for network news stories is no longer sitting in downtown Biloxi.

The "Luna Sea" was loaded onto a semi trailer Thursday morning and taken to a boatyard at Point Cadet.

The slow trip down the highway was nothing like the harrowing journey that slammed it ashore.

A creaking of the steel hull made it seem the "Luna Sea" was unwilling to leave downtown. The 48 foot boat had become a post-Katrina attraction. But not everyone knows its captain was aboard when it crashed ashore.

"Very sea worthy. If this had been any other boat, whether wooden or fiberglass, I wouldn't be here. But it's a steel hull, built in Biloxi," said Harvey Shows.

Eighty-year-old Shows never planned on getting caught in the storm. Fuel problems interrupted a storm dodging trip to Mobile. He got stuck in Biloxi.

"I stayed out behind Deer Island. Kind of hid behind the island and put my anchor down with my engines running on slow. I couldn't get more than slow anyhow because of the fuel," he recalled.

He also couldn't get into Back Bay since the bridge was already locked down. Shows steered the vessel behind Hard Rock instead.

"I was making a calculated risk. The other choice, if I lost the engines out where I was, I would hit the bridge. And that would be worse," he reasoned.

What followed was bad enough. Storm surge pushed the boat through the Hard Rock garage, battering both boat and captain.

"Sometimes, I could hardly get up. When you get knocked down like that, you've got to make a real conscious effort to get up and go back and hang onto the wheel," he said.

"I looked down on the top of the Exxon service station there, and the wind was so strong, it blew me north while the current was going out," said Shows.

While some might rush to sell their boat after such a harrowing journey, Harvey Shows isn't about to.

"I'm going to fix it up. I put a year of labor into this thing. And if I have to put in two more, I'm going to ride the boat," he said.

He's also keeping the name.

"I was going to name it Katrina, but I thought no, they made such a fuss out of the name, I'm going to keep it out of spite," said Shows.

Shows is anxious to get his boat repaired and back on the water. His home in Bay St. Louis did not fare as well. It was destroyed by the storm.

By Steve Phillips

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