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The Ursula C. had a long service on the Coast

The Biloxi Lugger, Ursula C. had a short career as a shrimp boat and then as a charter boat, and later as a shrimp boat again.
The Biloxi Lugger, Ursula C. had a short career as a shrimp boat and then as a charter boat, and later as a shrimp boat again. Photo courtesy of Paul Jermyn

The unidentified persons in this July 1915 photo are on board the Ursula C. waiting for a trip out to Ship Island to begin.

In 1912 the Bordon-Castenera Packing Co. commissioned Biloxi boat builder Casimir J. “Boy” Harvey to build the Ursula C. The Biloxi Lugger measured 52.6 feet by 18.4 feet by 3.8 feet, weighed 20 tons and cost $3,000. But she remained in the seafood industry for only a short time. By June of 1913, the Ursula C. had become a charter boat.

The Ursula C. docked at the Texas Oil Company’s wharf in Biloxi, and from that point she brought fishermen, individuals, and pleasure parties out to the islands and up the Tchoutacabouffa Rivers. The Daily Herald newspaper told of school teachers bringing their classes, along with the parents, up the river for picnics. She brought passengers out to Dog Key Island (later the Isle of Caprice) where “surf bathing was the best in the Gulf.” The charge during the earlier years was only 50 cents per round trip. It later could be chartered for reasonable rates.

The day after the Sept. 29, 1915, category 4 hurricane, the Ursula C. distinguished itself as a rescue boat. With short notice, the Biloxi mayor and city alderman outfitted it with oil, provisions, clothing, blankets, etc., and she set out for the Louisiana marshes. The five-man crew stated to the newspaper that they had a “desperate time” locating survivors. But they were able to rescue three different crews from sinking schooners, and from a makeshift raft they saved five men, who were exhausted from fighting “wind and wave.”

The Ursula C. served the same purpose after the July 5, 1916 category 5 hurricane that hit between Ocean Springs and Pascagoula. The Biloxi Lugger was operating out of Gulfport by 1937, when she came through unscathed after colliding with another boat, the Olivette, which sank.

At some point during its 80-odd-year tenure, the Ursula C. had been reverted back to a shrimp boat. In 1965 she was owned by the Buquet Canning Co. in Homma, Louisiana. The last Coast Guard report was in 1999.

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