Horn Island & Keep Ocean Springs Weird

After a long weekend in Ocean Springs, Mississippi and then an overnight scouting trip to Horn Island, I’m now in Stockholm to cover the  ÅF Offshore Race for SailingCatShipFlora World – quite the culture change. I’m fully jet lagged and sipping coffee at 3am in the hotel lobby looking out on a Stockholm night that at best, because of this latitude so close to the Arctic Circle, can be described as “shady”.

Ocean Springs is a quaint little arts community right on the coast and is undergoing a renaissance. Sustaining relatively moderate damage in the storm, like Bay St. Louis most of its historic charm has been left intact and restaurants, bars and little boutique shops are popping up and renovating the little downtown. In fact, there is a sort of issue that was expressed by a few people I talked to, the sentiment being that O.S. may be reaching more towards Austin for its future. I could see this in that last Saturday, every venue on the strip of restaurants and bars on Government Street had live music and was hopping, but O.S. is way too unique and is becoming a must visit on the Gulf Coast. If you visit, check out the Inn at Ocean Springs for accommodations, and don’t miss the Government Street Grocery or Tato-Nut.

Ocean Springs Yacht Club on the edge of Biloxi Bay is one of those rare clubs in the GYA that exists for baby cat racing as opposed to big boat PHRF racing. Hobie cats are a near prerequisite for membership and they have a beach running along the clubhouse that has allowed them to become a serious venue for national Hobie championships. The club itself is a full rebuild from the storm that was completed in 2009. Relaxed and friendly, this full service club has found its niche and is flourishing.

Ocean Springs also has a great little protected marina, Ocean Springs Small Craft Harbor, that is filled with shrimp boats, recreational fishers and theOSWeird errant sailboat. The harbor is very transient friendly and a quick five blocks from downtown. More on Ocean Springs will be published in the fall in Southern Boating magazine.

Horn Island, part of a chain of small barrier islands along the coast of Mississippi that comprise the Gulf Islands National Seashore, is… well… no other way to put it, stunning. Made famous by the artistry of Walter Anderson who spent large portions of his life on the island as a near recluse and is a well known destination by boaters from Mississippi and New Orleans. I spent a couple of days on the island with the BBQ king of Pascagoula, Matthew Mayfield, and artist Billy Solitario getting the feel of the island for an upcoming feature for BoatU.S. magazine and a PBS documentary that we will be filming in July.

More later from Stockholm and distance racing in the Baltic Sea.

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