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S/V Hello Texas
Holy Shit!!!
05/12/2007, Mouth of the Mississippi

We've had a very good trip so far. Just a few things broke. And, no major anchoring or navigation errors.

Our previous day and night anchoring behind the Chandeleur Islands provided minimal protection during Monday's 25 knot blow. Most of the Chandeleur Islands are awash and simply knocked down the big waves, but left enough of the confused seas to rock and roll us all day and all night.

Louisiana has very few hiding holes for anchoring on the Gulf side. So, transiting across Louisiana means at least 1 over night sail, through one of the busiest commercial ports, littered with oil rigs, dozens of crew boats criss crossing the area, and if that weren't enough commercial fishermen seem to like to fish around the oil rigs.

To make a long story short, I hit a poorly lit oil rig on Tuesday night (Wednesday early morning). It snapped the mast above the spreaders and pulled the bow sprit up and over, while sheering the dolphin knocker bolts which are below the waterline when Hello Texas is in forward motion.

Unlike the other rigs which were lit up like christmas trees, this huge rig had 1 little dim flasher on each corner. My night vision being what it is and it being past midnight, I interpreted them as being far away and not connected to one object but several smaller objects, so I motor sailed on. Holy Shit!!!

The picture on the left shows how the mast snapped cleanly and the top part of the mast is still hanging by the cables and halyards that run to the top. The picture on the right shows how the bow sprit was bent up and to the starboard.

The mast continues to stand with only the baby stays holding it. The genoa furler has been destroyed. The staysail stay snapped its bolts at the deck. We lost our VHF antenna, and wouldn't you know it, our backup handheld VHF picked this moment to have battery troubles. The back stays and genoa continue to hang on to the dangling top 8 ft of my mast.

Nobody was injured. The oil platform is no worse for the wear.

Within 2 minutes of hitting the rig and backing away from it, there were two boats within 300 yards of us. Neither understood our prediciment and our VHF was out. The fishing boat had nets deployed and could not assist even if he were willing. However, a crew boat did understand our flashlight signals and came over to investigate. They were very helpful and patient. They contacted the Coast Guard on our behalf just to let them know that Hello Texas was partially disabled and damaged. However, no assistance was required. We needed to know where the nearest boat yard was, since we could not leave the mast head dangling. If/when it fell it could do some more damage. The nearest ship yard was up the mouth of the Mississippi river.

Oil Rigs and More Oil Rigs
05/05/2007, Mobile

We had a great sail today. The freshly painted bottom is so smooth that we made an easy 60 nautical miles today. The new propeller really made a positive difference, although we didn't motor much today, just to get out of Pensacola bay and going into Mobile bay.

From here on, we expect to be dodging oil rigs for the rest of the trip. Some people look upon the rigs with comfort because they are not out there alone. Personally, I view the rigs as a hazard to navigation and would find it to be a much safer trip home without them.

There is a blow (20 to 25 kts) from the East forecasted for Monday, so we decided spare the equipment (and ourselves) and anchor through the blow. Then we will try to get as far West as possible before the wind shifts from the West on Thursday.

We hope to get to the Chandeleur Islands on Sunday (about 15 miles off the east coast of LA), and will anchor in the lee of that chain for the blow on Monday.

05/04/2007, Bayou Chico

Hello Texas is back in the water!! At last, it was a long week and big kudos to Richard. He did all the sanding and did not make me brake my sanding strike. We scheduled our haul in a day and half prior to and hoped that we would not have to postpone. Par for us, we did our last coats of paint in the dark. Taking turns rolling, we finally finished by 2:30am Friday morning.

After getting about four hours sleep, we got up and quickly finished up some details. Richard had the guys move the stands so he could paint underneath them and I washed the black dust off the boat and rushed in one more load of laundry. We were more than ready for our scheduled time slot, but the yard guys were behind schedule, so we drank a beer and BS'd with Jerry and Wesley.

The haul in was uneventful, as expected. Richard checked the new thru-hulls and all was well so we were unstrapped and set to float. We made the long journey of about 300 yards and anchored once again in the bayou.

We will get an early start in the morning. We would like to go straight through to Texas from here. Will have to see if the weather agrees. It is looking a little stormy in a few days. We are trying to get home, Robyn! We still miss her very much, but since being back in the states, it has been easier. We get to talk to her and Ray when ever we want now. :)

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Who: Richard & Nicki
Port: Fort Worth, Texas
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