Recently, seeing what’s left of the Round Island Lighthouse near Highway 90 in Pascagoula, Mississippi where I lived in the 1970s brought back a boatload of memories of sailing out to it as a boy. In my “12-foot yacht,” a Singing River Pram called the New Moon, I made lots of trips out to Round Island. Often I went by myself and sometimes a friend would come along. The skipper and crew capacity of that small, wooden, low-freeboard boat was a total of two because of how low additional people made her ride in the water. More people than that could be the demonstration of how a sailboat could become a submarine if even a medium-sized wave came along.
Round Island isn’t very far from Pascagoula and the north side of it was within plain sight from any place along the beach. Back then, we could easily see the northeast side from our kitchen window on Farnsworth Avenue, a short street about a half-block from the seawall, behind the homes on Beach Boulevard.
Sometimes I would sail all the way, heading west, just north of the “Mud Lump,” before turning south toward the island. The Mud Lump was land created when the deep ship channel was dredged and what was removed from the channel path was piled
up on the west side of it. Other times, I would cheat and sail down along the ship channel, then pull the boat across the Mud Lump and head for the island from there. Either way, the lighthouse was the prime reason for my trips.
In those years, the lighthouse stood at its complete height, though the outside was a faded white and the inside was charred black by many bonfires. The spiral stairway was long gone but the rail around the top just outside the lens was still there. That’s the way I remember it.
In 1988, after I had moved to Tennessee to pursue music, I wrote a song about the lighthouse. I remembered how much I enjoyed the solitude of knocking around that
island, going into the lighthouse and having it all to myself. Of course, others had it all to themselves as well, but I don’t recall ever seeing anyone else near the lighthouse on any of my trips to Round Island. To this day, I keep a picture of it above my desk. Looking at it or singing the song always takes me “back to excursions on a twelve-foot yacht; Destination: Gulf of Mexico.”
Destination: Gulf of Mexico– Words & Music © 1988, Les Kerr. From the CD Southern Sound Sessions. CDs available at www.leskerr.com. Downloads available on Itunes, CDBaby.com (http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/LesKerr) and BeachFront Radio (http://www.beachfrontradio.com/leskerr1.cfm) .
Blog text and photos Copyright 2011, Les Kerr