Boat Slips Scarce Along Coast - - The News for South Mississippi

Boat Slips Scarce Along Coast

"We've got a waiting list of about 200 people waiting on slips in the harbor," said Ocean Springs Harbor Master, Johnny Hughes.

Some boaters have been waiting for a slip at Ocean Springs Harbor since 1994. Katrina lengthened the list here and created a coast wide slip shortage.

"We get calls every day, someone looking for a place to tie up their boat. Gulfport of course hasn't re-opened. Biloxi is re-doing one of their harbors. They've got Point Cadet open, but they don't have power, electricity back in their yet. So, there's a real shortage there," said Hughes.

The shortage of "wet slips" bodes well for David Harris Jr.

"Business has been fantastic," he said, smiling.

His dry dock warehouse is packed with boats. The hurricane interrupted what was then a seven-month-old business. Post-storm demand created a boom.

"The bottom is for the larger vessels. And for the top, it's a height and a weight requirement for that," Harris said, pointing to the high shelves of boats, "We have a waiting list for the big boats. The small boats, I can still take a few. It's a puzzle at this point. We have to see what the size of the boat is and see if we have a spot to fit it."

Harris maneuvers boats with a $160,000 fork lift. Boaters who rent storage space pay for a service. Their boats are lifted and moved to and from the water.

"Sometimes before daylight or right at daylight we'll put in a few fishermen, and then two hours later we'll get another five or eight boats all at one time," Harris explained.

He's building a harbor shop across from the boat barn. It will further enhance a recovery that began right after the storm.

"As soon as it was over with, we needed to get back to work. We couldn't sit around. So, this is where I'm gonna be," he said.

The director of the Biloxi Port Commission says progress is being made on restoring marina space at Point Cadet and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

Frankie Duggan says engineering plans for electric service are being reviewed. Construction work should begin later this year.

By Steve Phillips

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