Southern Boating

Classic Vessels Steal the Show

A classic Biloxi Lugger glides the shallows of the Mississippi Sound. Photo: Troy Gilbert

Many unique, historic classes of boats evoke the culture and lifestyle of particular regions in the U.S. simply from their appearance. From old Chris Craft runabouts with perfectly maintained brightwork on the waters of Newport to the Biloxi Schooners that plied the shallows of the Mississippi Sound for oysters and shrimp; an entire boating sub-culture dedicated to the preservation of these boats is flourishing—including festivals and events that celebrate them.

The Gulf Coast is home to several classes of boats (both sail and power) that are truly unique, although possibly not widely known. The Luggers were shallow, long trawling vessels converted to rustic, if not stately, yachts for cruising the shallows of the northern Gulf Coast. The Lafitte Skiff is another commercial fishing vessel that was transformed over the years into a smaller recreational fishing runabout. And while not unique to the Gulf Coast, the Fish Class dinghies were actively raced throughout the Gulf Yachting Association for decades. A determined few still actively race them in races such as the Fish Class World Championship on Mobile Bay at Buccaneer Yacht Club this month.