As the Bay St. Louis Harbor nears its first birthday, it has smoothly sailed past all projections for occupancy. Find out why the harbor is turning out to be one of the hottest boating destinations on the upper Gulf Coast.
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
“We’re not a stopping point on the way to somewhere else,” says Fortin. “We are the destination - and one of the most popular ones on the coast.”
Fortin points to the Bay Harbor’s unique positioning in the town as being the main appeal. Most harbors are separated from the town areas by busy four-lane highways, but in the Bay, only a narrow easy-to-cross beach road comes between the city proper and the waterfront. It’s easy to walk or bike while shopping or exploring the streets of the popular historic district. Cruisers can also rent golf carts from a local company. Brett Ladner, at Quality Custom Carts (228.671.9851) can even deliver and pick up from the harbor if needed.
The harbor has permanently set aside 13 slips for overnight transient boats. Any slips that aren’t currently leased are also used for overflow.
The Bay St. Louis Harbor contains 163 slips, with 150 open for annual leasing. In the first year, the facility has far exceeded initial projections for occupancy with 95 of those 150 under lease. The highest percentage of occupancy is with the forty and fifty foot slips. The harbor utilizes the unleased slips to accommodate transients during busy times.
Overnight fees are based on the footage of the boat. The $1 a foot charge includes electricity, water and Wifi. There’s a free pump out service, since the harbor is one of the first designated “Clean Harbors” on the coast. Diesel and non-ethanol gasoline are both available.
The harbor staff is taking reservations well in advance for major holidays, festivals and the monthly Second Saturday Artwalks. For this summer’s Bay Harbor Fest, slated for July 17 – 19, over thirty transient slips have already been reserved.
As the popularity of the harbor also grows with day-trippers, sometimes the courtesy dock along side the fishing pier fills up. Boaters who can’t find a space are asked to pull up to the fuel dock and the harbor staff will direct them into a slip that’s not rented. It’s still free and that way day-trippers don’t inadvertently tie up in a slip that “belongs” to someone else (who may be returning soon).
Fortin says that this summer he’s also seen a big uptick in the size of transient boats coming in and the number of people aboard.
“Some days forty or fifty people will jump on a boat somewhere else on the coast and come here just for lunch and to hang out for the afternoon.”
Click here for the Harbor's website.
A recent WLOX story about the Harbor and tourism (ad first).