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!
02/29/2012, Kemah - but not for long!
Scene:- Recently arrived 'alien' (human kind) in Houston talking with Texan about sailing......
Texan - 'Yunnow that you can put you boat on the Eyeseedublyah and go all the way from Mexico to Canada'?
Alien - Thinks ' Ah - the eyeseedublyah must be a train that you put your yacht on to move it around the country - wow! they have everything in the US - what a place'
So I searched the internet for the 'eyeseedublyah, yacht, train' - I got no hits! Then Bingo - the ICW = the Inter Coastal Waterway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intracoastal_Waterway) - now I get it.
Well, if I thought I had trouble working out what the eyeseedublyah was - I was in for an even bigger surprise when I tried to talking with the barges on the radio - with statements like 'comeonbyand Iwillseeyouontheone' - translation = 'You are free to pass me on my port side' - Oh, by the way, don't even try to call them on the radio with a British/Australian accent - they don't understand you! Thanks God for my Kathy - she is multi-lingual and can speak barge and a form of English called American! (I will pay for that last comment!)
Anyway - 2 more days and we be making our epic first voyage on the eyeseedublyah, with a distance of 28 miles, to a seafood restaurant where will spend the night, before heading off on the next taxing leg of the journey!!
02/22/2012, Kemah - Still!
Having grown up on a diet of:
• Joshua Slocum
• Sir Francis Chichester
• Sir Alex Rose - my hero
• Robin Knox-Johnson
• Donald Crowhurst - not my hero!
I have been inspired by long, epic voyages, with huge roaring seas......... People are constantly asking us - How far are you going to travel across an ocean?
Here is my reply. Have you seen what happen to Popeye when he eats spinach? - Well, it is the same for me - but with Tea. This is one of the last vestiges of my being a pom (British) - apart from this rotten accent - I must have PG Tips tea bags, with sugar AND fresh milk. Once I have consumed this nectar of the Gods I can leap tall buildings in a single bound and solve middle east peace problems........
So, the maximum distance we can travel is - until the milk turns sour - minus 1 day, approx. 4 days (although we have a fridge/freezer, there is a built in safety margin to ensure supply). Or about 400 miles, unless I can get replenishment at sea, by a passing milk tanker - Hmmm, somewhat unlikely!
Also, the longest voyage I have completed was on a BP crude oil tanker from Kwinana, Western Australia to Doha and Jebel Dhanna in the Persian Gulf back to Kwinana - 11 weeks without seeing land, apart from 4-5 hours anchored off Singapore. My observation of this voyage is 'mind numbingly boring - a sociologist paradise, 'cause each day repeats, just like Ground Hog day'!
I hope this clears up this matter!
NB. All decisions are subject to approval by Kathy!
02/12/2012, Kemah, Texas
Sitting in the cockpit of our boat 'August Sun' sipping on an iced margarita, having just come up from a scuba dive on an old wreck, in clear azure blue water, looking out at the scantily clad, nubile bodies of the females on other yachts nearby....................................... But, I am not there yet!
I am sitting in the salon with a cold/flu in Kemah, Texas, it's as cold as a witches tit outside, and even India (the communally owned Boston Terrier) can't keep me warm - poor me!
BUT, we are within striking distance now - 21 days to go until we set off to New Orleans, via the Intercoastal Waterway, that extends across the eastern side of the US. Why, do you ask, are they not sailing straight across to New Orleans? 'Cause it to dangerous and I am a coward - so, now that we have that cleared up, I'll tell you why. From Galveston to New Orleans takes you straight through the 'oil patch', which is predominantly where the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas\platforms are. A yacht that recently made the passage encountered a 7 mile long tow! After many hurricanes, that latest being Ike, many rigs have been abandoned by their owners and have no lights and might not be on the chart. With only Kathy, my good lady wife (2 brownie points), and myself we took the longer, easier option. The dog is no great help either - all she does is say 'I told you so' after an incident has happened - she has poor navigation and people skills!
We moved on board on the boat on the 31st march last year and have spent the past year fitting out for cruising. I have had supertankers in dry docks and had less trouble! Our boat is a 40' Jeanneau, built in France; and we have fitted her out in the US - metric/imperial - Aghhhhhhhhh......! I could have scuttled the 'Old French Trollop' many a time - two steps forward, one step back.
We are now in Pier 13, Waterford Marina, Kemah, getting all the last minute stuff sorted out, like mosquito netting and a year's supply of PG tips tea bags and bristling with electronic gismos, which I am not sure what they are, in fact in some instances where they are (AIS transponder/receiver being one that springs to mind!) but I have been given good advice that I need them. I started sail 50 years ago in Royal Navy whalers and cutters and my memory must be going, 'cause I can't remember seeing a single Raymarine plotter on them!
Anyway, back to my bed to spend some time reading about my hero, 'Flashman' (should be compulsory reading for all boys) and pretend that the last mouthful of Nyquil was in fact margarita and that India does not actually keep breaking wind when she is on the bunk with me......! Ho hummm.