Saturday, July 9, 2011

In the home stretch

We made a lot of mileage today and stayed at the Stingaree Marina in Crystal Beach TX.  We were able to slide in at low tide skimming the bottom to get into the slip.  We got electricity and filled up all water tanks which was nice.  Best of all was a restaurant and bar right on property. 
We had a nice dinner and went to sleep at a decent hour.  I feel asleep before Deb and she was dozing when she heard voices.  When she peeked out, there were a few people standing next to the boat on the finger peer checking it out after the bar closed.

We realized we didn't have a long trip the next day so we slept late (7am) and were out by 7:30am.  We passed one of the coolest Tugs we had seen on the whole trip.
OLD GLORY - Liked the logos and name of this one

We were in Galveston in just a few hours and then up the very busy Houston Ship Channel.  We encountered the largest ships we had on the whole trip here where the ships come out of Houston and down the Houston Ship Channel out to the Gulf of Mexico.  One cool thing is that the dolphins love to jump in the bow wake as they push all this water along.
Dolphin in Bow wake of a ship

Dolphin in Bow wake of a ship

We tried to stay just to the outside of the ship channel and decided to take a pit stop at RedFish island to check it out.  This will be one of our more common anchor out locations for a nice overnight or 3 day stay.  It is only a few hours away from our home port.
A couple of boats anchored at Red Fish island which has been rebuilt after being blown away in a hurricane

We sailed a bit, but there was very little wind to do so.  We always see the "BoardWalk Beast" which is a custom built speed boat that seats about 50 people.  It hauls but around the bay and gets everyone soaking wet.  It is always a bit of a cool site when she is pounding into the waves and those teeth are painted on the hull to look like a "bone in her teeth".
Bone in her Teeth - Boardwalk Beast

We motored past Kemah Boardwalk and into Clear Lake.  We skimmed along Watergate Marina realizing that it was recently dredged and pulled into our isle at Legend Point Marina.  We decided to back in to the slip and while we didn't do it quickly, we again made it look like we knew what we were doing with our new vessel (always a good feeling at the helm when people come up to the edge of the dock to help but then realize there is not much that they need to do).

We tied up and then enjoyed a long, long, long shower at home.

The trip is over, it was quite a bit of fun, and filled with adventure.  We really enjoyed it and are also glad it is over.  In retrospect we tried to compare this to our dream of cruising, and the one thing that was not like what we expect crusing to be is that we would get to enjoy a spot for some time.  We spent some time in some really cool anchorages and locations, and I would have really liked to stay in them for a few days or a week or so.  But that was not our goal on this trip, it was all about ensuring 50 miles per day to get home on time.

Our boat did well, in the end, we had an electrical issue and have some sail repairs to make, but I have been pretty impressed with our 35 year old engine that ran 12-14 hours per day for 13 days straight.  I was afraid to say that at any point during the trip but with the boat safely tied in the slip, I will verbalize how thrilled I am at that fact.
I also have a slight diesel leak to repair, and I think it is coming from the secondary 2 micron fuel filter but just didn't want to dig into that project yet.

Since returning, I have cleaned the bilge and I must say it was a disgusting brew down there.  I found 4 screwdrivers, 2 metal scrapers, an old bronze thru-hull fitting, a bunch of electrical tape and about 20 cut tie wraps.  It is cleaner, but not clean yet.  As soon as I can dig out all that old sludge crap, I will be painting the bilge with a new coat of white paint, but I figure I won't waste the time doing that until the bilge and engine is cleaned.  Sadly, this ole' Perkins leaks oil so I have to get a bit more creative than just a bilge sock down there, so I may make a removable tray that fits under the engine with wire wrapped oil absorbant pad, so the water in the bottom of the bilge is just water.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Way up there

This morning we traveled to Sabin channel this has been one of the deepest ones so far.   We passed through the Port Arthur lot of ship work going on watched a couple of guys climb around a large crane type barge doing some repair work.   

As we went under the bridge that was also have some construction done on it as well.    

Pleasure cove was the next area we came to this is the spot for the RV’ers they have a camp ground that was packed full.  It also has a large Coast guard pressense, we passed 3 boats coming in and parking lot full of boats on trailers.  Time to remove the magazines.

 After going under the Port Arthur Bridge we entered into the 62 mile run through both marsh and pastureland with oil pumps on both sides.  It has been reported that you can see alligators swimming or basking on the shores we did not see any.  They have gator holes and crawls set into the shore and banks.  We passed through Taylor Bayou outfall canal one of the anchorage’s we talked about staying at we have made such good time we reached here earlier morning.  When we came to the East bay canal it was very swallow and narrow, we had to wait behind a barge to let Eastbound empty barges go through.  The current and winds were blowing them around the captain said it was like a large sailboat.  The Sylvia barge which we had been following for many hours called and ahead to a couple barges coming eastbound that he was waiting on to see if it was safe for us to pass.  He told us to go ahead of him; the other barges said it was good to go.  This saved us hours of waiting.  The current was ok we were able to get through it.  There is dredging operations going on throughout this canal.   We arrived at Stingaree Marina at 7:30 got tied up filled the water and got settled for the night, there is a restaurant right at the marina so we went in and grabbed dinner.  Around 8:45 the Sylvia barge finally passed by.  I am so glad he let us go ahead of him!!  We headed back to the boat Gil charted our course for tomorrow looks like we are only about 32 miles from home!!  

Texas Baby!!!

We just crossed into the great state of Texas!!!

Early Sunrise

Woke up this morning at 4:30 to the smell of fire they were welding on one of the large platforms by the ship yard.  At 5:20 we started to untie, a couple was just coming up to set up to fish we talked with them for a few mins while getting things ready to go.  They ask if we had met the “pet” yet, they have a 12 gator that hangs out at the pier and can be seen most days by the fishing cleaning area.  We headed to the lift bridge passing a lot of traffic both small fishing boats as well as large barges.  There were many barges that had run around to spend the night so it was hard to tell with all the light which barge was moving.   I was on bow duty with the spot light until the sun came up just after the lift bridge.  We are pretty sure this is the last bridge we will need open to get home, Texas has all 73 foot bridges.  We ran down a 20 mile stretch of a long narrow waterway dead into the wind.    This is the path that leads out of Louisiana and into Texas we can almost smell the lone star.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fishing pier delight

Headed to our second anchorage that had reported 12 depths hit bottom twice their as well in a bit of desperation heavy barge traffic at 9:45pm we tied up at the Calcasieu point landing a local fishing pier.  We need to set up a appointment for the Eleanor lift bridge with at least a 4 hour notice so we called in for a 6am opening.  We figured we would get woke up with the office at the fishing pier opened at 6 anyways.  The night watchman came by and talked with us said they would have to move in the am but for now he would let us get some sleep.  He also said the fisherman started coming in around 5 so to watch the boat for hooks etc from them.  We set the alarm for every couple hours to check lines with the tide.   

Shell Morgan

Gil woke up at 4:30 to tighten up the 12 volt negative bus which had come loose again, this time is was a  5 mins fix he was back in bed by 4:40.  Gil was up at 5:15 got ready and left the docks by 6am there is a lot of supply and crew boat traffic in the area.   I was having a hard time waking up note to self don’t take that medication again.  Approached the Leland Bowman locks at 6:25 we waited about an hour while waiting a small gator about 3  feet long was crossing in front of us then headed right up to the boat he got about 4 feet away after a few mins he swam away.  I think he I was waiting for us to feed him.   

We locked in with the Roger K tug he was kind enough to have us tie up in front of him so we could get out first.  The thrust coming off the back of the tug when they throttle up to leave the locks can cause us  to rock and bounce up against the walls of the locks.   The Leland locks help prevent intrusion of salt water into the farming areas of Mermentau basin we drop 1 foot today.  After going throught the locks I headed back to sleep for a much need hour sleep. 

A  9:15 got up fixed breakfast today we had scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes.  The ICW is long straight and narrow today it is losing the swamp marsh look as we are starting to see more farm land along the way.  Our intended stop today is Bell City drainage canal.  Intercostal was unbelievably shallow today must under 10 feet.  Arrived at our plotted anchorage, there has been apparently some shoaling going on we hit ground 2 trying to go in.  We then continued our travels to Grand lake pontoon bridge then traveled onto the and the Black bayou bridge and into the Calcasieu locks it is almost sunset so we will be looking for a good place to anchor for the night.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anchors Away

It was a restless night Gil was up a few times checking the anchor line I kept waking up to sound of what I thought was something (gators) hitting the bottom of the boat.  Most turned out to be wakes off the barges passing by.  I guess I have watched Lake Palcid on to many times.  The sailboat and barge have already left and we are doing the same.  At mile 129 we passed Cypremote a cable ferry at mile 134 we crossed under a 73 foot fixed bridge this marks the half way point between New Orleans and Texas.  At mile 137 we passed the Weeks island salt mine this is one of the largest salt mines in Louisiana.  At mile 146 we passed the cut off for Avery Island home of Tabasco hot sauce we opted not to go visit the factory we had storm clouds coming up behind us; although they do have boat parking for the water traveler.  We planned on stopping at Intercostal city they have fuel for the small watercraft; it has been 3 days since we refueled so it is a much needed stop.  We docked at Shell Morgan refueled with a light sprinkle starting.  We headed to one of the transient slips they offer it cost $20.00 with electric.  The rain was really starting to come down and the winds were not on our side as we tried to dock.  One of the workers from the gas station came over in a gold cart so we could toss lines to him; everyone here has been very nice.  We had a good heavy rain for about 30 mins which felt pretty good to me.  After the rain slowed down we headed out to Maxie Pierce a small grocery store within walking distance to get a few provisions.  It is noted in the water way guide they have the best po boy sandwiches around.  Gil had a Shrimp one, I opted for cooking spaghetti on the boat.  It was a early day we were docked and settled in by 4:30 both of us were really tired.  We looked at the videos and photos of the trip first chance we have had to really look at all of them.  We watch Sahara again, one of the only 2 movies we have with us.  My Veritgo was really acting up so I took the medication and was out like a light.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wax River

Coming up on Bayou Boeuf Locks.  There is one barge in front of us the lock is 1000 feet long so we should both get into easy.   The lock was pretty torn up broken in many places rotted in others.  When Gil tied off the one of the boards was loose has to change to another.  We lifted 3 feet then entered into Morgan City this is the second most populated commercial city since we left the Mississippi river.  Once leaving the lock we checked in with Berwick traffic control (think air traffic controller) we were told what was ahead of us and where to check in next.  In Morgan city the ICW merges with the Atchafalaya river went south bound 3 miles on the river before turning west on the ICW again.  Starting to notice a pattern the gators seem to hang out by the large barge ropes along the side of the river got a photo of a rather large one sitting on the bank.  When the barges hit the bank that make a ramp going up the banks from the river this makes nice slides for the gator to get back in the water fast.  Plus the bonus would be a man overboard, I am sure the left over dinner scraps are just as good.
We were able to make really good time doing 6 knots most of the way we covered 66 miles today even with the late start from the bridge opening.  Went through some s type curves in the river the tug captains kept referring them to the wiggles we got video of them talking on the radio quite entertaining.

As we approached the Wax Lake outlet (a deep drainage ditch from bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya basin) run off we were starting to see the current the books and signs along the banks warned off.    While the current was strong and the tugs went across at a 45 degree angle we did not have much of an issue getting across. 

Our travels took us through Bayou Sale which is a small commercial town.  We came across some homes built along the river banks in coves.   Our anchorage point for the night was Franklin canel it looked to be a small area that we could tuck up into.  After watching a Tug come ripping around a bend in a canal similar in size and shape of Franklin we called to the local tug captains to see if that is canel they used.  One captain said no that would be a safe place.  He told us we might prefer the Charenton drainage canel as a sailboat was anchored out there already.  We opted for this since it was only 2 miles away.  We dropped the hook with the sounds of thunder and wicked looking thunderheads with no rain.  Me and Gil sat on the bow watching the gorgeous sunset in a cool breeze with a cold beer while we waited to make sure the hook to set.

We popped out the Ipad and watch a movie on the bow until we could not take the mosquitoes any longer retreated to the cockpit.  Around 11pm we had a large spot light up the entire boat, this was a feeling of comfort as the tugs and barge could see us and the fact when ask we do show up on their radar made us feel comfortable.  The barge was looking for a place to park for the night so we watched him get settled in then headed to bed. 



Still waters

Traveling along the ICW at mile 75 through Lake Cocodrie Zero wind, lots of sun so we got out he tarp to help shade the back of the cockpit and now have the little fan going as well amazing what a difference it made.   

Passing a few small fishing boats and 2 barge’s not much traffic today.  Did see one gator swimming along about 5 feet long.  We have tried to get photo by the time you can see if it is a gator or log they go under. Today we finally got one he/she is about 6 feet long.

Not as many bugs as I expected just a few horse fly’s, dragon flies a few wasp.  Gil has been keeping up with killing the wasp for me can’t take the chance getting stung since I am allergic.  Today is one of the hottest ones so far, a frozen wet wash cloths are very refreshing.  Should be getting to the Atchafalaya swamp home of many of the swamp shows on TV.

Lots of channels coming into the ICW now, starting to look more swamp like seeing more cedar trees entering Cypress swamp coming up on some more lock.

Gods country

We have made it through the bride and heading out today through Morgan City we will be on the hook for the next few nights.  Right now we are traveling down ICW in marsh areas, it is very pretty still water slight breeze.  There are lots of little cannels off the ICW you could easily get lost going off path.

Wow a billboard never would have thought that would be here.

Waiting on a lift

We came up to the Bayou Delarge Bascule bridge ask for a lift they do not due lifts from 6:45 to 8:30am so we have to wait an hour.   Making breakfast taco’s to eat while we drifted around. 

Plane ride anyone?

Woke up at 6 this morning the Downtown marina has no fuel so we are looking up next place to refuel on our path.  While getting stuff ready to depart a water plane pulled into the marina area then heading back out along the ICW.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Houma bound

While heading down the ICW we came across a herd of horses that were in a wooden area drinking water.  There are no homes or fences around any of the land so not sure if they are wild or belong to someone.   

On our way into Houma we went through the Bayou Blue pontoon bridge this is a road on a barge with cables they swing open like a door to let you by.  As we were coming into Houma area we could see a few homes and a herd of cattle swimming; something else to watch out for on the ICW.  This part of the waterway took the brunt of Katrina you can still see the some damage and construction still going on to repair buildings and homes.  

One of the many new homes built up along the waterway.

At a local park there was a flocked of buzzards eating something large in the water could not get close enough to see if it was a fish or not.   

We docked at the Downtown marina for the night this is a park area with benches, play yard lots of shade trees they made this to accommodate transient boat travelers along the ICW.  No shower or bathrooms they do have running water and electrical.  They even have a local bus stop at the marina.  We were within walking distance to a few gas stations and a laundry mat so we were able to get the laundry done and restock our bread and cokes.  When we got back to the marina we order pizza.  There were another sailboat and a catamaran that also tied up for the night.  They were both coming from Texas and meet up with each other at Sabine pass and have stayed together since they are heading to Florida.  Gil talked with them and exchange information places to stay & things along the water way we have both found.   We had a great 4th, missed seeing fireworks through they are banned in this parish.  Gil was up and down a few times otherwise we slept pretty well.  Looking forward to tomorrow it is suppose to be a very scenic route.

Cedar trees and spanish moss

Our 5:30am wakeup call from same security guard letting us know we were still to close.  We explained to him last night approval from the supervisor he laughed and said he was not right he would have to tell him so.  We told him we would get ready and head out in the next 30 mins.  He was a nice guy he felt bad waking us up both times.   Started the engine heard a squealing noise, alternator belt was loose tighten that up gave the Perkins a quart of oil and we were off by 6:15am it was a hot muggy windless day.  Headed down the Crown Point and Lafitte named after Jean Lafitte of pirate fame.  We saw quite a few homes , an air boat ride company with 6 boats ready to go.  We entered the Barataria waterway came across a couple of gators swimming along. The waterway is lined with cedar tress draped spanish moss hanging down almost to the top of the large elephant ear plants growing into the water.  We have seen many waterfowl living in this area.  
Hydrangeas are so thick in some areas you have to zig zag around them, had a couple get stuck on the prop did a quick reverse to get them off.  Engine was starting to run a little hot.  We traveled into Larose where we crossed Lafourche “pronounced  LAH-FOOSH”  we passed several large ship yards and was surprised at the size of the ships in the yards.  Our plan is to stay in Houma tonight, do some laundry and update our route to see when we will make it home.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Locking Through

Locking through,Traveled down the intercostal waterway along the Rigolets came upon what looks like a wall with a door, must be something for hurricanes or salt and fresh water intrusions.   

 We entered the industrial canal just as a storm wall was starting up lighting was putting on a pretty good show, winds picking up.  We went under the Florida ave.  Bascule bridge immediately after that we passed through Sebert “Claireborne Ave” lift bridge approached the lock contacted the lock master on VHF 14 had to provide boat name, length, draft and beam.   He then instructed us to tie up on the starboard side behind the Barge.  We were then told to hold as the barge opted to wait out the storm before going through the lock he backed out of the lock.  We were starting to get a light rain, we were then told to tie up just behind the light boat.  We later found out a light boat is a tug by itself.  The lock master tossed us down 2 lines; tied off and lifted about 6 feet to the height of the Mississippi river.  As the doors opened we passed under the St Claude bascule bridge.   As we exited the lock the lighting and rain was starting to pick up.  We closed up the isinglass as we finished getting the last one on the storm then turned to the north west of us.   From here we entered the Mississippi river just east of New Orleans.  We went 5 miles upriver where we had a full view of downtown New Orleans, French Quarter at Jackson square.  We saw the New Orleans ferry, cruise ship and an old paddle boat.  We closed up the isinglass as we started to get a light rain, the storm then turned to the north west of us.  

Arrived at the Harvey lock and hailed the lock master on VHF with no reply multiple times.  When he did finally answer he told us we were in a restricted area and needed to move 200 yards down river.  Told him I was sorry he said don’t let it happen again pretty sure he was a little upset with us.   We waited down river for 2 ½ hours in time out as barges were unloading from the east on the intercoastal.  Finally another light barge heading west approached the lock after another 30 mins we were called to load in the locks behind him.   We dropped nine feet when the doors opened we went under a small lift bridge controlled by the lock which started to close as we were going under.  A quick u turn and a sorry from the operator and we were on our way again.  We approached the Harvey canal twin bridges, then the Lapalco Blvd bascule bridge.  I was amazed to see the cars running around the closed gate to get across the bridge before it opened so we had to wait for them.  The operator was kind enough to call the local tugs and see if they knew of a safe area for us to anchor out due to our time out it was getting dark and we would not make our destination Boom town casino allows boats to tie up allow the levy.  We called and were told where to tie up.  Around 11pm we woke to the sound of the security guard knocking on the boat.  We had to move the costal guard regulation would not allow us to be that close to the casino boat.  Moved the boat had the supervisor come out and check to make sure we were good upon his approval we headed back to bed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rigolets Marina

At the gas dock in Biloxi when it opened topped off fuel on the water again by 7am.  Headed west north of Deerr island and south to the west bound intercostal waterway.

We were able to sail most of today wide open water way not much land.  Sailing today was not like lake sailing we set the sails and went for hours with out adjusting lines.  Not much to see in the open water passage other than a few interesting tugs.  Like the one below reminds me of the little engine that could we was working his tail off for a knot and half of speed.  Turns out it was a dredging machine we ended up seeing him later along the route.

We planned on staying at the Rigolets went through our first swing bridge to get to the marina.  Called ahead to make sure they could accommodate us draft, elec etc said they could.

Turns out this marina was shallow, but they had the nicest people that work there.  We were dragging mud getting into the slip at near high tide.  .  They were trying to figure out another spot for us since we were already in we opted to just stay.  Went to hook up electric only had 50 amp power by our slip.  We located a west marine after them helping us try other options Stan from the marina drove us to the west marine so we did not have to get a cab.  After getting everything set up we sat in the office for about 45 mins talking.  Did you know shrimp boat leave at 4:30 to 5 in the morning?  We got up expecting we would be stuck till noon waiting for the tide to go high enough.  We were floating and sticking 6 to 8 inches of keel in the mud, we fueled up and did a heck maneuver to get out of the slip.  We had 3 foot clearnace on left and a fishing boat tied 1 boat length behind us on starboard (prop walk direction).  We tied to port mid cleat pivited out of slip like we knew what we were doing.

Around 9am approached Rigolets swing  bridge, called on VHF 13 for opening & waited for another boat and barge to exit with us.  Heading back into intercoastal heady towards the lock at Mississippi river should be exciting.

The marina owner told us about this house, they are filming a GI Joe movie here next week.

Biloxi Mississppi

While sailing into Biloxi we came across small bait fish boat with their nets out in the channel.

As we got closer there was a couple of small hobie cats sailing.  They were zipping along pretty good.

We stayed at the Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, had a fabulous shower before heading to dinner.  We helped another power boat into the slip next to us.  They had one engine that was not working, while helping them tie up the owner of the boat fell in after telling his wife to be careful not to fall in.  Gave the wife a tour of the boat, talked about the boat they stayed on for a week.  We decided to have a nice dinner in the casino.  The air felt really good we ate nice and slow good was excellent.   There was an older couple next the man was pretty funny they having a good time with the waiter.  We went into the casino for a little bit lost $20.00 called it a night and went back to the boat we were ready for bed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Life on the Hook

We went West from Pensacola to Mobile / Dauphin Island and it was a really cool trip.  The first part of it was where the last pictures were posted, then we hit Mobile Bay, just a wide open 25 mile or so trip across.  We did take 2 videos of the most common traffic we encounter.  The first is shrimp boats, some times shrimping in the middle of a channel and the other are barges.

They have all been pretty nice and welcome a call on the radio to discuss how each of you will navigate.  One guy called me this morning and said, "West Bound Sailboat, please don't run me up on the greens if you have enough water outside the channel, I am carrying 7 barges and have quite a bit of wind to contend with"  With that, I altered course.  Law of the larger vehicle takes over quickly.

We motored the whole due to wind on the nose and narrow channels.
After going under the Dauphin Island Bridge we were going to stay in a marina for the night but the I didn't realize until we were already past another place to stop that this place was on the other side of a 25 foot bridge so no go.
We went about 1/2 mile outside the channel in Aux Heron's Pass just each of Dauphin Island and dropped the hook for the night.  It was pretty warm, so sleep was not easy, but we did get some shut eye.  I was up every few hours checking to be sure we didn't drag anchor as this was the first time I had used the anchor on this boat.
Deb relaxing on the bow after anchoring for the night.

Pretty sunset over this area west of Mobile

All was good and about 5am Deb and I both woke up to lightening.  We had just enough time to get out of bed, close all the hatches (now it was really hot in the boat) and then get up in the cockpit to close up the isinglass.  The wind picked up and it poured for about 45 minutes or so, and it was a beautiful lighting show.  The lightning was just over the small narrow island between the InterCoastal and the Gulf and the storm started in the gulf, and then came into the intercoastal.  We sat it out in the cockpit and when it was over, figured we would weight anchor and take off for the day. So we had a good early start leaving by 6 or 6:30 am or so.
Sunrise over Dauphin Island Bridge, just after the Thunderstorm passed us by

We made it all the way to Biloxi today.

We talked to several Tug operators, Big Al and the S/V Cat's Meow that saved me about an hour off my trip with some local navigation expertise.
Here was the largest barge/tug combo we have run across to date.  7 barges, 1 tug.
Hard to see from this angle, but there are 2 rows of barges in front of the tug, 4 on the right and 3 on the left side.

So Deb and I have pulled into a marina, Air is running, Water tanks topped off, and we walked over to the Isle of Capri Casino for a nice Dinner.