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Coast women living life to the fullest

The Coast is a magnet and a playground for adventure lovers. From sailing to hog hunting, these local ladies enjoy some extraordinary pastimes:

Patti Jane Golden

For nearly a half-century, Patti Jane Golden has sought adventure on the high seas.

The Biloxi native, who now lives in D’Iberville, started her sailing career as young adult, volunteering to crew on other people’s boats. Fast forward to 2021, and she crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a 46-foot vessel with her husband and four other people.

“We followed Columbus’ route from Gran Canaria to Cape Verde and ended in Grenada,” Golden says. “Prior to that experience, I logged over 10,000 miles across the Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico, in the Caribbean, in the Mediterranean, in the Adriatic Sea and along U.S. coastlines.”

Her experience earned her membership in the global Ocean Cruising Club, and Golden also is active in the National Women’s Sailing Association, which will be meeting for the first time in New Orleans on June 8. Her insights have been deemed so valuable that Seaworthy Publications, known for its waterway guides, recently published “A Woman’s Guide to the World of Sailing” — in which Golden recounts her unique experiences and adventures.

In addition to sailing for the pure pleasure of it, the seasoned sailor also has crewed on races, both local and regional. She has owned many sailboats over the years, the most recent being the Gypsy Lady — a classic Hinckley Bermuda 40 vessel that she and her husband often charter for enjoyment.

Throughout her almost 50 years on the water, Golden has noticed that women tend to love sailing most when the engines are stopped.

“The quiet, along with the lapping of water as the boat moves through the water under large white sails, recharges them in a way only sailing can do,” she says. “It is an experience that accounts for the large growth in women sailors over the last decade. My goal is to encourage local women to see the Gulf Coast as the optimum sailing experience — a place which makes it safe and accessible to everyone.”

Nicolette Murphy

Whether she’s boating, fishing, crabbing or scuba diving, Nicolette Murphy loves being on and in the water. But the Bay St. Louis native is equally adventurous on land – especially when it comes to hunting.

She started by going after small game like doves and quails, and then about 13 years ago, she took up hog hunting — shooting her first one when she was with her uncle.

“Once he saw how much I loved it, he sent me to hunt with the Wounded Warrior in Action Foundation …,” Murphy says. “Now I take (the dogs) out every year for the first week of November for Veterans Day.”

While hog hunting is her “favorite game of cat and mouse,” and she’s also fond of alligator hunting, Murphy is most enthralled with scuba diving these days, which lets her explore the open ocean. Whatever activity she’s undertaking, bonding with family and friends in the great outdoors is what feeds Murphy’s soul.

“I enjoy the tactics and strategies of hunting and fishing,” she says. “I love the smell of a big boar barbecue, saltwater, firewood and the warmth of the sun on my skin, but also the challenge of staying warm during the winter.”

Although her track record of daring exploits is extensive, Murphy still has several items on her bucket list: noodling for catfish, skydiving, frogging with her hands, fishing in Alaska, crawfishing and scalloping. She urges other women to follow their own adventurous hearts, reminding them that safety is key and there’s no such thing as being overly prepared. Make sure to check the law, she advises, and always pack a sharp knife and a first aid kit — “you’re going to need both.”

“Knowledge is power — listen and learn,” Murphy says.  “Don’t be intimidated by the boys; show ‘em how it’s done.”

Piper Barney

Coming of age on a self-sufficient farm gave Piper Barney a strong connection to nature, as well as an appetite for adventure.

“I would lead my brother and cousins on adventures before lunch, walking stick in hand, day pack hanging down my back filled with a notebook, a faded sharpie I wasn’t allowed to have and some broken binoculars,” the Poplarville native recalls. “It was no surprise to anyone in my life when I began traveling after college.”

Finally able to afford adventures farther afield, Barney saved her vacation days and paychecks to take small trips every 90 days to a mountain, forest or beach. As she said “yes” to every invitation and opportunity that arose, she became more and more encouraged with each new experience.

Before Barney knew it, she was hiking 14 miles on a mountain trail straddling the Continental Divide in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness and having to emergency land in someone’s backyard while skydiving in Cleveland, Ohio.

Even more memorable was her 30th birthday, which she rang in with a dozen friends in a treehouse village deep in the jungle-covered mountains of Playa El Valle, Dominican Republic.

“On my birthday I danced around a fire the locals were hesitant to make so large. The house musician carried a guitar around him and provided background music for the occasion,” she says. “The locals, along with my boyfriend at the time (now husband), created beats and serenaded birthday songs to me late into the night as we all sat next to the rushing waterfall.”

The unconventional celebrations continued with her wedding, for which Barney flew in on a World War II aircraft before exchanging vows on the runway. She and her husband once built and lived in a tiny house together after Barney sold her possessions and spent seven weeks learning carpentry and plumbing.

Her words of wisdom: “Do all the things, without needing a reason to; wanting to is a good enough reason.” Someday, she hopes to secure a permit and hike the Havasupai Indian Reservation to Havasu Falls and experience the great monarch butterfly migration in central Mexico.

“Adventures in nature fill my soul with a nostalgic playfulness …” Barney says. “Like being a child fearless on that back road, exploring shows me that I have the entire world in front of me.”

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