Economic Struggles Send One Ship Island Ferry Sailing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Economic Struggles Send One Ship Island Ferry Sailing

The owners and employees of Ship Island Excursion are thankful for every smiling face they see. But these days, they're not seeing nearly enough of them. Captain Louis Skrmetta knew business would be slower after hurricane Katrina.  

"I tell you, it's been rough," says Skrmetta. "We knew business was going to be bad but we didn't realize it was going to be quite as bad as it has been."

But dropping from an average of 65 thousand passengers a year, to an estimated 30 thousand this year, has forced the Skrmetta family to take some drastic measures to keep their 80 year old business afloat.  

"We see the handwriting on the wall," says Skrmetta. "During the next 3 to 4 years we can get by with 2 vessels, so we have to sale one of the boats so we decided to go on and sale the Captain Pete."

Skrmetta sites the lack of hotel rooms, which were destroyed in hurricane Katrina, as the primary reason for the dismal tourist season.  

"They have to have hotels down here. Folks just aren't going to come unless we have overnight accommodations for them."    

Skrmetta says the only thing keeping their 2 remaining boats filled is relief workers.  

"Our Business would we non-existent if it weren't for the visitors down here helping folks."

Skrmetta says all they can do for now is cut costs, and await a return to smooth sailing.

The Captain Pete is named for Skrmetta's Grandfather, who started the business in 1926. The asking price is one million dollars.

by Don Culpepper

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