03/19/2012, New Orleans
Our trip across to New Orleans has been full of adventure - yeee har! I have often heard that the ICW is just an industrial highway- but, dat ain't so! We have had a great time and been to some wonderful place and seen some amazing things - we have not dropped the anchor once, but stayed at docks or marinas all the way over. I have attached some photos of the various places we stayed at.
We did manage to get boarded by: US Coast guard, Immigration and Homeland Security waiting for a bridge to open outside Houma, Louisiana - what the f....? Anyway, we had nothing to hide and they searched the boat from one end to the other. I was asked if I had been arrested and then he asked me if Kathy had - the Homeland Security guy said - 'Hmmm, this might not be a good time to find out!!'
Between Houma and New Orleans we managed to get a tree between the hull and the propeller - much clunking and juddering and we eventually cleared it, so we will need a haul out or I/Kathy will dive on it in Florida, if the water is warm enough.
I had one of the best meals of my life in a little restaurant in Morgan City called Jo Jo's - at first I had some reservations about the place, as it was boarded and shuttered with iron bars on the windows - but once inside it was like Aladdin's Cave! I cannot recommend this place highly enough - it is worth taking a detour for! Also, Bow Tie Marina on Lake Charles is a delight and a pleasure to go to. It is also the local Coast Guard base - very secure.
On our passage from the ICW to the Mississippi, took us along the Industrial Canal and I had an argument with the bridge master at the La Palco bridge - the man was so rude and angry - the bridge had electrical problems but he did not let us know what that meant or how long it would take. After 1 hour of standby, I asked him if he knew when we might transit, as there was a weather front moving through - he blew a fuse and shouted at me to go to a marina! As we all know I do not take kindly to people losing it with me, so I call the office of the Director of Transport. Eventually they shut the bridge down and we had the transit via the Algiers Canal.
Anyway, we did get to Seabrook Marina on the Industrial Canal and had 3 nights there. I need to say that outside the tourist areas of New Orleans, it is a dangerous dump! So much is still in ruins 7 years after Katrina and there is a general lethargy about the place which is depressing. We had originally planned to stay here for a couple of months - but we got out as soon as we could - we had to travel 30 miles to Slidell on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain to do our laundry as all the others were to unsafe!! I am re-reading a book called The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley - which tells the real story of Hurricane Katrina - well worth a read!
Some of you may be asking why we stop overnight at marinas? We have two reasons for that:
1. We like our creature comfort and to see the places and sites; and
2. We need to 'Empty the Fuzzle'- eh? We recently read a book called 'Bumfuzzle' by Patrick Schulte ( Another recommended read, even if you are not a sailor) and we decided that the name Fuzzle was much more suited to India's (our Boston Terrier dog). So, I am sure you work out what 'Emptying the Fuzzle' is? We have to do this at 12 hour periods - hence, the lazy way we are making it to Florida.
Next: Florida or bust!
03/09/2012, New Orleans - Part 1
We had heard all the horror stories about heading east on the ICW and up until today were wondering what all the issues were. We left Houma at approximately 6:15 AM . We arrived just outside New Orleans at approximately 12:30 - and tied up to the Seabrook Marina which is located in New Orleans at 9:45 that night. We transited the Bayou Blue Pontoon Bridge, had quite a wait at the West Larose Bridge which was incorrectly labeled SR21 in Active Captain. One thing that you need to know about bridge handlers - if you don't know the name of their bridge - they will not answer. If you get no response use VHF 13 and call a barge captain to get the correct name. It will save you tremendous time and frustration. When we finally found out the correct name of the bridge - we had hit curfew. This is a time that some bridges will not open - usually due to traffic conditions - not a coffee break - although......? While we were waiting for the bridge to open a small boat filled with large uniformed persons and bright flashing blue lights approached us - that's right - we were boarded by the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard brought their friends from Homeland Security and Immigration and ATF. The only group that didn't participate in the boarding and subsequent search of our boat was the DEA. They found nothing - no surprise - but it emphasized the need to have your paperwork, your safety equipment and your plumbing up-to-date, on board, and Y-valves in place and locked. If you don't know the regulations necessary - take the time to read up on them. This could have been a very costly stop had we not been prepared. Instead it was very interesting, and had its funny moments - at one point I had one of these very professional and strapping young men carrying up my purse so I could get out my ID as I was busy steering the boat in circles at the time. While they were searching the boat and questioning my "alien" I asked the young man who remained in the cockpit with me filling out the paperwork - Why Us? His reply was that the decision had been made to target Houma and we were the only pleasure boat out in this weather - Hmmm - does that make us intrepid or idiots? This little delay - while interesting - cost us about an hour and a half.
We left Morgan City at approximately 7:35 - had to wait for the RR bridge again but it didn't take long. There was very heavy barge traffic around Morgan City today but I have to say that barring one barge that we had to deal with twice, all were very courteous, friendly and helpful. There appears to be an unmarked/unlabeled ferry just before you reach Bayou Boeuf Lock (VHF 14). The lock was open so we passed through this one quickly and easily. The trip to Houma was relatively easy and definitely through the swamp. Saw a 3 foot alligator today but Martin says that it doesn't count because he didn't see it. This was the one and only alleged sighting on the whole trip. Passed though the Bayou DuLarge Bridge without issue (VHF 13/16) and arrived at the Houma City Dock at about 4:15. Backed the boat into the canal and tied up to the pilings. Houma City is a nice stopover with water, power and pump out - all for $25.
Our plan was to stay in Morgan City tonight. We left Shell Morgan landing at 6:15 and had a beautiful and relatively uneventful trip. Reached the Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge (VHF 13 or 11 it there is no answer). The RR bridge was closed so we put a line around a barge that was parked along the side of the channel and waited for approximately and hour. The Morgan City Marina is basically one long pier between two bridges. If there is room you can tie up close enough to have power /water. We weren't that lucky. But we had a REALLY great meal at Jo Jo's just across the road. I would highly recommend this one.
03/06/2012, Intercoastal City
We left Lake Arthur at approximately 8:15 and were back in the ICW by 10:15. We reached the Leyland/Bowman lock at about 3:15 and had a long wait due to barge traffic. We ran aground while trying to find somewhere out of the way of traffic and had an interesting time getting off. Fortunately we made it before it was our turn to transit the locks. We arrived at the Shell Morgan Landing in Intercoastal City at approximately 3:45. This is another little gem in the rough. Diesel/power/water are available and service is great - all for 20$.
03/05/2012, Lake Arthur
Left Bow Tie Marina at about 8:00 and enjoyed our trip down the Calcasieu as much as we did the first time. The Calcasieu lock (VHF 14) was open and there was no wait for traffic. The tide was coming out and it was a little bumpy going through the lock but Martin handled it like a pro. Right after the lock we transited the Black Bayou Pontoon Bridge (VHF 13). We had no wait at this bridge either - it was down for repair. Our plan was to go up the Mermentau River, stay at the City Marina in Lake Arthur, and have dinner at the new restaurant there called Regatta. I would highly suggest that if you have the time, you take the trip up this river. It is absolutely breathtaking and we had depths that ranged from 19 ft to 39 ft all the way. We arrived in Lake Arthur and couldn't find the city marina - they haven't built it yet and the Regatta is closed on Monday - hmm. We tied up at the end of the Regatta docks and walked to the police department. We let them know who we were and what we were doing and they said just go ahead and stay where we are. Extremely quaint and friendly town. There is a lovely city part adjacent to the Restaurant where the future City Marina will be started sometime in May??.