Ships Island

2022-09-18

To Georgia and Back Series: Part 8

We drive down through the length of Alabama, all the way to the coast. Lot’s of trees, lots of trees, lots of trees…

 

…We check into our motel in Gulfport, Mississippi and begin the quest for Cajun food. We picked the wrong day, everything is closed. There is a pizza buffet down the highway. It’s pretty good, but mostly the variety makes the fun.

 In the evening, we decide to check out the harbor and know where we’re going in the morning. We find our tour boat occupied, rented out to a group of drunken college age girls. They are lighting up the quiet night, belting out off key karaoke and rock anthems as they toast and gyrate.

 As the racket fades, the coastal lights on the water’s ripples, with its still, bring a peaceful ambiance, as we stroll arm in arm.

In the morning we’re taking this tour boat out to Ships Island and an unofficial nude beach.

We’ve planned this for Sunday, the day that there are two shuttles and we can stay out there for the extended hours, from 9 to 5pm, instead of 2:30. The plan is to turn east where most visitors go and walk until we’re away from that crowd. We don’t know how far, nor how long. We don’t want our visit to be rushed.

The pictures look like white sand and tall grass, a flat gulf coast island. We have been sure to pack umbrellas to ward off any chance of sunburn.  The word is that “the Ships Island sunburn” is famous.

The big boat pulls out of the harbor and into the smooth waters that head out a dozen miles to the barrier island. We’re entertained by the troop of sea birds diving and dipping off the stern of the vessel.

There are drinks to be had that are easy to handle, as the waters are relatively smooth. So goes the lumbering ride with its motorized droning.

We get up top and closer to the bow to enjoy the sea breeze and feel the warmth of the sun. We pass the time snapping a few pictures and considering the coastal landmarks that we are not familiar with.

I’m interested in the old fort, its construction and place in history. Its tall fortified walls rise above the island as we dock. The island has a feel, like we will be stepping off the boat and back into time.

It has the thick brick walls that were produced by a local contractor and ready for the naval artillery of the mid-1800’s.

There is a channel here that wraps around the western end of this island that allows deeper water vessels to not run aground and to port.  Because of this, this island was used to colonize the area, including New Orleans. Later, it was a staging area for conquest, with troops and supplies stored during the War of 1812. It had been strategic during the Civil War.

The fort was started during secession. The island was used to house confederate prisoners of war. My eyebrows do raise, when I discover that those prisoners were overseen and guarded by black Union soldiers. Tables turned, that must have particularly stung many of those previously captured defending slave states. It also brought things closer to home, when I read that this same black unit was later reassigned to Arizona, becoming the famous Buffalo Soldiers.

We are given a thorough tour of the fort. It is the highest thing around, probably 25, or 30 feet up and the best view. There are some relics.

There are the huge iron apparatus to turn the big guns and even an intact monumental monster of iron ingenuity.

It is explained to us that what looks like a pizza oven to feed a battalion was used to make cannon balls.

This Island was cut in two and then put back together more recently, during the occasional hurricanes and their tidal surges. Gazing from up high, I’m amazed by the picture of tidal water that my imagination produces. The entire fort was buried underwater. Where I am standing, on top, the steel storage door once held a couple of very lucky survivors of that storm.

If you are interested, there is plenty of this fort’s history to be found on the internet.

With our tour complete, we look down a three fourths of a mile long boardwalk across the marsh and a field of the tall grasses that vegetate the island.

A building at the far end is the snack bar. It is the last icy cool drink and the first upon return…free refills.

The ramp opens down to the sandy ocean side beach. There are a line of umbrellas and chairs to use. Excited families are arriving and setting up. Kids can hardly contain themselves, dads are cracking open cans of beer, inflatable toys are meeting bulging cheeks.

Our plan is to detour east of here and walk until there are no more people, or we find a population of obvious naturists. This is a seven mile long beach. It is just plain flat, everywhere. We have at least a mile of walking to get out of view of wandering activity, but that’s okay.

As we walk, we are getting away to a sense of a private island. There is no one to be seen. The waves are easy. The sky seems endless past the horizon, now in nearly every direction. 

Out in the east, not too far, there is a storm. The clouds show thunderheads. It looks dangerous, but I have checked the National Weather Service. It is all heading north, where we came from yesterday. Here we are safe in tranquility and peaceful seas.

There is more, seven miles of this. We are aware that there also can be seven miles back. We have a finite time limit. It is a shame that we can’t just stay out here, but there is no camping on the island. The stars, the solitude, the constant of the ocean waves, would make for an incredible evening.

We walk on the firm packed sand. It all feels pristine, other than occasional debris and knowing how this changes like a sandbar. With the crowd gone, we see a dark dot off in the distance, two more humans on a point of beach. We’ll have to walk to that dot and then past it that much more, to be out of visual range.

I ponder, “It’s nice to walk here, but it could be even better, nude, when yet another pair of walkers can be seen in the far distance.  As time passes, the figures appear as a birder, with a huge telephoto lens. The two women are dressed in naturalist like khaki uniforms. We have more distance to cover to escape that kind of telescopic scrutiny.

Eventually, as we are feeling kind of tired, we drop the kilt and sundress and truly begin to experience the sense of our freedom. Then, again in the very far distance, there is a black spot sitting on a far beach popoint. I squint, trying to identify it. If it is people, perhaps they are nude. Who else would walk this far?

They seem to be meditating on the beach, perhaps in a dark covering. We just can’t be sure.

At a point, we can see that it is no body, but what is it? A tent?

An old black executive chair, upon closer inspection, becomes a captains fishing chair. It is a lost fishing mishap. Barnacles are attached to the underside. I have to wonder how it may have sat with its post stuck in the sand long enough to gather barnacles.

We’ve had enough of this walking. The folding chairs come out of the bags, the towels are secured to not blow away. The cool water is about to refresh our naked bodies at long last…..

I head out of the water to rest in my chair. DF is more energetic, delighted with the beach.

I don’t remain there long, as I am invited out into the surf again. We wander out to where it is finally maybe waist deep. Suddenly something about three or four feet long zips between us. We stand stunned. It was brown. It reminded me of the dog sharks that we occasionally caught fishing in the sea up near the Chesapeake Bay, when I was a kid. It felt unnerving. I’m feeling entirely naked out here.

I head back to shore to grab a camera, while DF romps in the shallow water. She returns to “camp” grabs her goggles and runs back to the surf. I practically fall from my chair in laughter, as I watch her attempting a version of snorkeling.

She looks back to me, “What’s so funny?”

I grab an umbrella and begin a walk. The sun is intense. Even though we have good tans, I can feel the heat on my shoulders contrasting with the sea breeze, which has increased in velocity.

I explore the beach, feeling lovely alone under my mobile shade tree. I try a little personal dance, ala Fred Astaire, “Singing in the Sun.” The umbrella catches wind ala Mary Poppins.

As our plot in the sun begins to become a dot again, I decide to return. This time Robinson Caruso comes to mind.

I spot tracks in the wet sand, as I get back to the roost. This guy I’ll name Sunday, instead of Friday.

There is no one else but DF, who won’t ever be a sidekick, but as I sit, I do get a sense of being watched.

There in the sand a fellow is digging out a hole. It has stopped its labors to look at the strange being in its midst. I watch it, it watches me. It goes back to kicking sand out of its hole, occasionally stopping to watch in possible disbelief at the odd creature that has invaded its space.

After a while, taking in the moment, there is movement up the beach farther out. I thought that we would be alone. We sit in our chairs, our absolute nudity is covered by them.  Out of the corner of my eye, the coloring makes it obvious that there is a naked person in black boots coming our way. His movement seems apprehensive.

When I’m certain, I stand to welcome the stranger as a part of the club. He is looking down, as I wave. I just stand there letting him know that it is safe, that we’re alike, but he begins to walk inland into the soft sand and debris.

I continue to make my nonverbal announcement and he continues to walk around us. It is as if we are clothed and he thinks that we don’t see him, if he walks around us at ten paces.

We have made no friends. He just continues on, oddly enough. Some extreme standoffishness, covid, a desire to be alone, embarrassment, we’ll never be sure.

That old washed up, water logged fishing chair is heavy. We each grab an end and drag it slightly more ashore and set it in the sand. The post sinks well and we are certain that we have created a resting place to entertain travelers for a while to come.

Our beach chairs sink firmly into the sand. They won’t blow away. We decide to do a hand in hand, very bare in the elements, walk along the beach.

Seabirds fly, light and walk in their odd fashion on those stilty legs. A plover zips along, stops just as fast, and then moves away as we pass. Crabs walk sideways in the odd way that they do.

There are broken shells everywhere. Few are intact. There is that something about every beach, every coast, that I’ve ever wandered. It is just a good place.

We decide to make a dip. In the Pacific Ocean, we like to bounce, wave jumping, but this is a less tumultuous shallow place. We get on our knees and squat to feel the tiny waves jostle and float our bodies. It doesn’t compare, but the sensual joy, the rhythms, the occasional splash are all there.

DF timed our walk out and we need to get going to make the boat trip back. Gathering up our stuff, we hike. We have had plenty of sun today, but the umbrellas are difficult. The sun is in the southwest, our faces. The wind is from the southeast attempting to turn the umbrellas inside out. It all feels good. We just do our best.

Two jet skis go bobbing by…and I thought that we were out and away from it all.

It feels like it is about time to get dressed for the crowds, when a ranger comes by on an ATV. He is checking, making sure that nobody is left behind.

There are sodas and nachos at the snack bar and then a refill on the boat. We talk to that birder that we encountered hours before. She tells of 10,000 bird species and the 6,000 that she has found as she has traveled around the world. She has a goal for that tally before she gets too old, or dead. I think of a collection of nude outings….

Seafood tonight, as we watch the sunset.

I am on the forum of FreeRangeNaturism.com often, if you would like to converse.

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18 thoughts on “Ships Island

  1. Pingback: Ships Island | EcoNudes

  2. sassycoupleok

    Beach nudity has been a long favorite.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. furthur2go75

    Warm Gulf waters & white sand beaches are a nudist heaven. Traveling by boat to other remote island is even better and it only takes a takes a quick glance and wave to realize you among nudist friends. “Slap ya Mama’s” in Gulfport is great barbeque.😋

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Happy Nude Year!
    It’s a shame, as I’m told, that there is not one single official/condoned Naturist/Nudist/FreeRanger Beach on the entire USA Gulf Coast. Is that Your Experience? I thought this was “the land of the free”; so much space reserved for those who hide TheirSelves behind vapid vain garish overpriced body/self•shaming body•masks — so little for those of Us who Enjoy Life as We Were Created.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This beach has a fee for the ride to the island…not “free” range. The hours there are limited. BUT, it was relatively easy to be nude out there after getting away from the others. I found it mentioned on the internet as a nude beach. There was one other nude. There are other nudes. That makes a traditional known nude beach. Not officially condoned, but if nobody is there to watch, then it is a nude beach on the gulf coast.

      There is now one on the west coast of Florida, the resort belt and then nude areas on the east side.

      I have friends in Texas who find stealth nudity on the Gulf coast. They rent a place and use chairs, float toys, and sandbars to hide. They disrobe under water. They use sandbars to gain distance. They used time of day factors.

      Another friend was arrested in Texas, for being seen by a ranger who used distant binoculars to see him on a state beach.

      There are plenty of places to be nude on the gulf, but be careful.

      I like that “self-shaming BODY MASK” terminology!
      Jbee

      Liked by 2 people

      • We Nudists & Naturists sorely need a new legion of historically literate Civil Rights activists who aren’t cowards.

        Since Texas’ Hippie Hollow may be the ¿ONLY? state/taxpayer funded “adults only” Naturist park/lake resort in the entire USA, It’s amazing that rebel Texans — notoriously know for brazenly baring “arms” ( that are designed to kill folks in violation of God’s Commandments ) yet are so conditioned/shy/beat•down about baring Our Essential God•Blessed Life•Giving ProCreative bits — & haven’t mounted sufficient victories over vain nannie state statutes to carve out more Beach front havens.

        I’ve seen a few reports of rogue bully cop/ranger “arrests,” but I & friends who’ve actually toyed & jousted with “the system” with remarkable ease & success, confirm that such harassing “stops” by the Popo/pawns of ¿Our? legislators rarely if ever pass the muster test of US Constitutionally-dependent Judicial authorities who are averse to risking their cushy & expensive life-long polished leathered bench seats over petty bullying cops’ misdeeds & frivolous rules/laws & VICTIMLESS ( no harm, no foul ) “crimes” & easily surmountable 1st Amendment appeals; & ergo, “criminal records” — despite often parroted hysteria from outsiders & insider Nudists — rarely if ever result. I have intimate connections, mostly on the safe side & upper hand/arm of the US criminal in/justice vortex; so, IF your “friend” did not have his case dismissed before or after judicial triage arraignment & incurred some lasting “PUBLIC” record, I would love to read about how his inbred & over•paid criminal in/justice vortex attorney failed to mount a child’s play defense OR how ¿Our? checks&balances 3rd Division* of govt undermined or circumvented The US Constitution to edify laws & fears dictated via corporate memos by ( textile ) industry — as most US laws are ; which has ruled that portion of the continental US since before the Civil War when tranquil Gulf ports made it a booming center of international ( cheap “¿free?”/slave labor based ) cotton/textile/fashion trade & multinational economies.

        * US govt Founders strategically intended to sufficiently divide&conquer govt tyranny into three distinct ideally combative forces to minimize govt’s historic & intrinsic notorious penchant for dividing&conquering its Subjects ( nude v textiles, & by procreative organs, melanin quotients, etc etc ad nauseam ) & undermine & violate Our Inalienable Human Liberty. BUT they clearly F—— Failed Us, to put it mildly.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jbeegoode

    Something about if a ranger can see someone with binoculars, then so can a birdwatcher. He decided to take a fine and keep it simple. He may read this and respond.

    Yea, things ain’t right in the “Land of the Free.” Stuff sometimes gets me worked up, too.
    Jbee

    Liked by 2 people

  6. mTr

    JB, I have a question to clarify this excerpt.
    “It feels like it is about time to get dressed for the crowds, when a ranger comes by on an ATV. He is checking, making sure that nobody is left behind.”
    I assume you dressed shortly before this interaction, is that correct?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. “When” should have been “then” I suppose. Not knowing exactly where we were in relation to the textile crowd, we did have a sense that we were near and would soon need dressed. A very few minutes later, the ranger came by us, waved and smiled. Sometimes timing is luck, or premonition, or a blessing that things are working out perfectly.

      We don’t know what his reaction would be, if we hadn’t been dressed. I figure that it is always best to get dressed for an authority according to law. If one covers to comply and is minding ones own business, then there is no issue. It isn’t against the law to be nude, it is against the law to be seen in some declared state of nudity. That’s reasonable. Silly, but somewhat reasonable.

      Many years ago, I was skinnydipping with a beautiful young blonde lady at a pond in the mountains, when a ranger surprised us. He just stood there completely under her spell, with sort of glazed eyes, mesmerized by her, giving his complete approval.

      Forest Service workers generally understand. Many have bathed nude in remote areas, even as a group. It’s natural.
      Jbee

      Liked by 2 people

      • mTr

        Thanks for the clarification. My intuition is that their response might not be as understanding as a ranger in the mountain states, seeing as MS is deep in the Bible Belt, but who knows?

        I’m glad you got to enjoy your solitude as long as you did. Thanks for your continued reporting via this blog. Stay nude, stay happy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Speaking of the #BibleBelt, have Y’all been to its upper realm in Kansas where even some Republicans & other authorities defend ( if not endorse ) the Liberty to be Socially Publicly Nude as an Inalienable Right ? See: @NudistActivism’s 12 Jan 2023 clip from 2014 when Conservative @KansasGOP Rep @RamonGonzalezKS spoke on #PublicSocialNudism heroically & matter-of-factly — as “one of the FREEDOMS We All share” (!) in the msmSnews in clarification of Kansans’ state-wide codified ( KS§21-5513 ) Right to be Naked in Public : https://twitter.com/nudeactivism/status/1613789883381985280?s=20&t=qmeyj1LPxpI3AlcFNU6xMA

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve got family from Kansas. I addressed this incident and how my Kansas relatives were in a previous post. Still, when we told my mother (From Kansas) that we had been to St. Martin back in 1984 and there was a nude beach next door, she looked alarmed and asked if they were fenced in to keep us safe, like wild animals.

        There isn’t a state law, only a few local ones. Law can get intrusive, “He who governs the best, governs the least.”but there is social propriety that most people understand and adhere to.

        Here is the article:
        https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2022/05/13/nude-across-america-pt-25-west-of-the-mississippi/

        Jbee

        Liked by 1 person

      • What is Remarkable about this reportedly alarming incident, which several neighbors photographed & videoed — as Evidence — & reported to the Topeka, Kansas, USA Sheriff / 911 as a potential criminal offense, is that not only was the Gentleman Nudist NOT Apprehended, despite leisurely strolling — not Running Away at top speed like some dodgy criminal, NOT Arrested/Stopped by Police to interrupt His Stroll & Cuffed or Caged for Questioning or Psychiatric or drug counseling, but He was NEVER ID’d by Police or The Press — who surely could have sent out a hysterical APB to do a ManHunt to track Him down — BECAUSE their media & State Attorney’s Office or news Lawyers surely advised the Bureau or Sheriff that The Nude Dude could have filed a very Lucrative & easily winnable Harassment & Defamation or Reckless Endangerment LawSuit against The City, Bureau & any related affiliates or other Agencies who rebroadcast the incident His Name or whereabouts & put Him in fear for His Life.

        Hence, the inflammatory frivolous story fizzled out practically immediately. A great WIN for a Heroic Nudist who refused to Live intimidated by other’s baseless Fears & Bigotry or trumpet the opinions of others who are IRRELEVANT to how Anyone Chooses to Live their Life. Folks like the woman You mentioned, Jbee, could — in former eras — have just as easily sounded an alarm suggesting some “public safety threat” for a HighMelaninQuotient/AA/Negro “walking while black” in “the wrong neighborhood” “sitting in the wrong seat on a bus” or “drinking from a prohibited public water fountain” or “sitting at the wrong cafeteria counter to pay for food because he’s hungry.”

        Bigots gonna Bigot. Walking While Nude should not be a crime any more than Walking While Human.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There was a televised interview with the kid. He was stunned by the couple of people that complained to police and all of the hoopla. Essentially, “Gee, I just wanted to see what it was like to take a walk without clothes. Then all of this happened. I won’t be doing that again.” He didn’t like the notoriety. All he wanted to do was to take a walk.

        The town council was called. Of course some ignorant woman across the street shouted ” But what about the kids!” into the TV camera. A couple of women politicians wanted to get responsive to the call and make themselves look busy protecting the public welfare and produce an anti-nudity ordinance.

        Other members were told by me and I assume others, of potential lawsuits, that you must be very specific about how the law reads and basic much to do about nothing.

        The motion was tabled for later, when the hoopla calmed down. It was voted to “look into it further.” When the outcry and alarm settled down and there was no benefit to the politicians that had been milking the “OMG” wave. It never got raised again.

        There is no sense making a law, if nobody is going to break it anyway.
        Jbee

        Liked by 2 people

      • Please provide the link to the story to illuminate Your summary & assertions. I could not find the interview with the Nudist, but I would love to hear it in His vox. I want to include it in My online archive ( clips ); I’m an old newsman. Thanks!

        Like

      • Sorry, I saw this back when the incident happened. All that I have is some old correspondence that I had with the city council.
        Jbee

        Liked by 1 person

      • after working in the msmSnews media for decades & dating a main downtown hq office doj attorney for nearly a decade, I don’t believe ANYTHING I cannot triangulate ( at a bare minimum ) or verify with ev·i·dence MySelf — as an artist the field I know photos & even vids can be manipulated at the pixel level; so, … It’s dubious this marvelously sensational heroic notorious dude doesn’t even have a Name if any of Your remarkable memorable representations are verifiable.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Ships Island | EcoNudes – Starwide

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