Harrison County

Legend and lore of Deer Island to come alive on cruise

Each Biloxi History Cruise aboard the Pan American Clipper has sold out, so this fall two cruises are scheduled in September, and this time the tour will get a theme of “Dear, Deer Island.”

History buffs can ride back in time on the historic boat and meet some of the people who lived on the island just off the coast of East Biloxi.

Identical cruises will depart at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, with boarding a half-hour earlier at Pier E in Point Cadet Marina.

Laurie Rosetti with Biloxi Main Street, who pulls together the Old Biloxi Cemetery Tours each October featuring people buried there, now is also at the helm of the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber Culture and History Committee. She’s taking over for Errol Bradley, who launched the History Cruise and spearheaded several programs to honor lesser-known people who had a big part in the city’s history.

One of those was erecting a grave for John Guilhot, the Hermit of Deer Island, who will make an appearance on the new history cruises. Actors will portray the Hermit and Capt. Louis Gorenflo, who gave Guilhot his mystique, Rosetti said. Gorenflo was original owner of Sailfish, now used for the Biloxi Shrimping Trip out of Biloxi.

“Who’s that fellow?” people would ask Gorenflo when they saw the Hermit and his scraggly beard on Deer Island. Rosetti said Gorenflo would bring the Hermit supplies and newspapers “so he wouldn’t have to leave the island to go to the mainland.” In turn, Guilhot would jump aboard the boat and entertain the passengers at times with a song and a couple of bawdy jokes, she said.

These actors who portray the Deer Island legends also will tell their tales in this year’s Biloxi Cemetery Tour, “Hospitality and Tourism: Greetings from Biloxi,” she said.

The speakers who will share the history of Deer Island are Jennifer Frey with Coastal Preserves program at Department of Marine Resources; Kim Ross with the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum; Beverly Moran, telling about the Moran Family; and Capt. Louis Skrmetta with Ship Island Excursions and the Pan American Clipper.

Rosetti will interview Alvin Baker, who grew up on Deer Island and commuted to school with his brothers on a row boat, lending to what Rosetti said is “an endless source of intrigue.”

The cost is $55 per person, which includes food and beverages, the entertainment and the boat ride

Tickets are available by calling 228-435-6149.