The Tiki Bar & Grill at Waverly Marina

Story Cherri Golden

Review_Cherri_Waverly2Hidden away in rural Clay County, off Highway 50, in an inlet of the Tenn-Tom Waterway, is one of Miss Moon Pie’s favorite places — the Tiki Bar at Waverly Marina. Open for many years under various owners, old-timers simply call it the “Tote-n-Float.” It’s a place to re-fuel your boat, take a shower after a long day on the river, meet friends for a beer and a bite to eat, and hear popular area entertainers. It is also something of a love story.

A few years ago, a handsome master sergeant at Columbus Air Force Base ventured out to the marina to check out a small houseboat for sale called “The Drifter.” Lee Horn, who hails from Lexington, Ky., liked what he saw and bought the boat. During this period he was courting the lovely Mary Kirby, originally of Kosciusko, a civilian who worked at the air base. Time passed. Love blossomed. Lee and Mary married and embarked on a life of togetherness on “The Drifter.”

When the marina became available for purchase in the autumn of 2011, the couple bought the property and immediately began making improvements including the addition of removable heavy plastic “walls.” With the aid of outdoor heaters, the open-air structure is now able to operate even during our brief, but annoyingly brutal (at least to Miss Moon Pie) Mississippi winters.

The marina is a gathering place for a diversity of diners and drinkers. It’s a popular stop for motorcycle enthusiasts and, of course, “the boat people.” Summer brings a steady stream of watercraft gliding to and from the dock. Locals stop in almost daily to catch up on the latest news and gossip or to pick up a to-go order.

The Horns hope to become known to that particular breed of boaters called “loopers” who, taking advantage of downstream currents, travel from the Great Lakes to Mobile, Ala., via the Mississippi and Tombigbee Rivers, entering the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and arriving in Florida sometime in November. Before the summer heat and humidity set in, they travel north up the eastern coast and the ICW, crossing west on the Erie Canal to the St. Lawrence.

A few months ago, a gentleman from “up north” pulled his houseboat in to refuel and decided to moor in for the night.  Charmed by the location and the company, he ultimately stayed for a week. His visit was more memorable than most, for he serenaded many a fortunate patron each evening on his bagpipes. Miss Moon Pie has always been moved by the skirl of bagpipes and truly regrets missing his sunset rendition of “Amazing Grace” at the end of their dock.

Yes, well-behaved pets are welcomed. Resident “big dogs,” Yukon and Abigail, are beloved ambassadors of the establishment. For Miss Moon Pie, their presence adds to the comfortable, laid-back atmosphere. The dress code is super-casual and swimwear is abundant.

Oh, yes, the food! The menu at Waverly Marina features beer-battered mushrooms, hot wings, cheddar jalapeño spuds and, in addition to terrific hamburgers, you can sink your teeth into shrimp po-boys and a half dozen different kinds of sandwiches. Folks make a special trip there just for the onion rings. Cutting back on fried foods and carbs? No worries — several tasty salads are offered. The best part? Breakfast is available all day long on the weekend.

Tea, lemonade, soft drinks, frozen daiquiris, frozen margaritas and nearly a dozen kinds of beers are available. They even carry my favorite, Woodchuck Hard Apple Cider. Mary’s sister, Diane Callahan, operates Snowbirds, a little hut just steps away from the main structure. On weekends she serves refreshing slushes, milkshakes and ice cream treats.

To stay in the loop, befriend Waverly Marina on Facebook. Open Tues.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.-midnight; Sat., 8 a.m.-midnight and Sun., noon-8 p.m. 11018 Old Hwy 50, West Point. If traveling by boat, look for mile marker 338.8.