The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 21, 2013

Gulf Coast Boaters Rendezvous canceled


Associated Press

ATHENS — BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Organizers of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Boaters Rendezvous have canceled this year's event.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources said the agency doesn't have money in the budget to provide the manpower to accommodate special events on the water.

Promoter Bill Holmes said organizers can't do the event without law enforcement. He says they will try again next year.

"We don't lay the blame on anyone. We can handle our end, but we gotta have marine law enforcement behind us for the safety of the people and having a really nice event. And making sure people don't get out of hand," Holmes said.

The event became popular at Ship Island, where it grew to several hundred boats and thousands attending. Then, after a weather scare, it stopped for almost a decade and resumed again at Deer Island in 2012. It was scheduled this year for the last weekend in June.

Rusty Pittman, interim head MDMR's Marine Patrol, said the Rendezvous was a major event that took as many as 80 full-time and part-time officers from a half-dozen agencies.

Last year, agencies logged more than 1,000 overtime hours in the one day of the event.

Pittman said it is a complicated event to patrol and required detailed planning to do it right.

"This is not anything little. It's huge," he said.

The MDMR assigned 11 boats to it and the Coast Guard had two that were fully staffed. D'Iberville had two men on personal watercraft. And there were four all-terrain vehicles on the island.