Wooden boat show provides floating history lessons

Wooden Boat Show

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - This event is for dreamers.

Katherine Nesshoever and William McCown come to the Billy Creel Memorial Gulf Coast Wooden & Classic Boat Show every year.

“Every year, we talk about those wooden boats,” Nesshoever said. “We may be getting a wooden boat, but we haven’t done that yet.”

McCown is the realist.

“The heavier the boat, the easier the ride, the money to fuel,” he said with a laugh.

Nesshoever is the artist.

“It’s how it’s made, and that you can take a piece of wood and literally make something that’s beautiful and floats and works and, it’s just beautiful," she said.

They both keep coming back to dream.

“That’s a built-in vacation right there, you know?" McCown said.

About 50 boats are registered for the show, ranging in size from 6 feet to 76 feet and going back to 1928.

Visitors are invited to walk on board the water craft to examine the classic wooden craftsmanship.

The boats are floating history museums.

“I’m a fan of Turner Classic Movies and Humphry Bogart movies, and I see the boats and it takes me back to the ’30s and ’40s,” said visitor Buddy Socks. “It’s really a lot of fun.”

Mitch Eymard’s boat, Wyoming, is an oyster dredger built in 1940.

“The reason why I come is so that everyone else that doesn’t have the experience of getting on these boats can come and take a look,” he said. “Especially the little kids. They come and they sit in the captain’s seat, and you tell them, ‘Yeah, drive the boat and let’s go.’ That’s the reason why I come.”

With a tour aboard the 1939 motor yacht, Loan Wolf, owned by Joy and Charlie Fournier, you learn more about its Cuban connection.

“The story we hear is that when Fidel Castro took over and overran the island in 1959, some of Batista’s family actually escaped the island on this boat,” Charlie said.

The Fourniers said they will never sell the boat and likely not miss another boat show here.

“It’s like a family of all these wooden boat owners,” Joy added. “We get together from year to year and become really good friends.”

The show continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Biloxi Schooner Pier Complex.

Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for students 13 to 18, and children 12 and younger get in free.

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