The Taconi family debated what to call the 36-foot sea skiff, one of the last wooden lapstrakes built by Chris Craft in 1959. They agreed on Sebastes, short for sebastes marinus, or ocean red fish.
The name suited August Taconi Sr., who bought the boat in the 1970s shortly before retiring from the VA to begin a second career as a charter boat captain.
The family believes the Sebastes, docked in the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, gave Taconi a new lease on life and he worked the boat until failing health two years ago.
As Katrina approached, Taconi's namesake son, Augie, fueled up the Sebastes and headed to safer waters, as is his tradition. With so many recent threatening hurricanes and so many boat evacuations, Taconi and two of his buddies were dubbed Geno's Navy.
That's for Gary Geno of the charter boat Quick Silver, who along with Jack Acevedo and Augie formed a three-boat navy headed to safer harbor. For Katrina, they settled in Parker's Landing in Woolmarket with about 15 others.
"People bring their boats up the Tchoutacabouffa, off the lakes and bayous and rivers, or even the Industrial Seaway and bays," said Augie, who with his wife operates the Biloxi Tour Train.
Geno's Navy left on Saturday and made advance escape plans for all aboard the 50-foot Quick Silver if necessary. Not everyone stays on boats, but these three were storm veterans.
"Ropes can fray, anchors can drag, and if you're there you can handle it," said Augie. "This storm just turned out to be the worst. The high surge coupled with winds produced a lot more wave action and caused boats to pull loose."
The Sebastes was tied to the Quick Silver. From daybreak for more than eight hours, the three and Geno's wife battled to save the boats, and at one point Augie realized he had to cut the Sebastes loose to save the Quick Silver. Acevdeo lost his boat, too.
The Sebastes floated above the trees and impaled on broken pines. Wind and wave action destroyed the decking and all above it.
Augie didn't get home for two days. When his dad asked, "Where's the boat?" he replied, "It's still up there."
"I didn't lie. I just didn't give the condition. And he didn't ask."
Two weeks later, a month shy of 85, the elder Taconi died. "The boat had lived a good life, like my dad," the son said.
- KAT BERGERON