Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tales from the ditch

Well, Lake Charles was more of a bust than the just the raping that occurred at the Casino. Lake Charles is where I lost my crew. I was a little dismayed at first but this is not the first time I have been on my own on a boat.

I kicked the princess off and my crew gathered his things and climbed in the car with his parents and headed off. I tossed off the dock lines and headed out. No sooner than when I had turned the corner wham, I ran aground. Great way to start off on my own. All I can say is a big BLAH!!!! After about five minutes I had wiggled out of the soft mud of the swamp and am underway once again. Did I mention that this was a BLAH moment.

Next stop Bayou Lacassine. I have several obstacles to get through, a little over 50 miles to go, but I am ready for this. Next up the Calcasieu Locks. This day turned out to be a hurry up and wait day. I called up the locks and was informed that I would be number four inline and that I was to wait. An hour and a half later I was allowed to approach the locks and lock through. These turned out to be the easiest locks I would go through, since all they do is prevent massive amounts of saltwater into the swamps and marshes. I motored very slowly into them and they closed the doors behind me. I did not have to tie up. All I had to do was go slow and keep my general direction up. By the time I had made it to the other end they had opened the the other side and I was on my way. Life is good, at least that is what I thought.

Over the radio just after going through the locks I hear the Grand Lake Pontoon come on and inform everyone that they are entering curfew until 3:30. It's 11:50 right now. I look at my chart plotter and think well, that's not so bad by the time I get there I will not have to wait that long. How mistaken I was. It only took me thirty minutes to get there. It was a teeth pulling wait, all the while I was doing the ICW waltz. It was hot and sucked, a lot! I called in and got on the list so that when it opened I would be allowed through. At 3:30 I was on the move again.

Remember I am trying to make all of my anchorages so I do not have to travel at night, along the ICW. I would have been fine if I would not have lost hours waiting on these last two items. Now I am forced to go into an unknown anchorage. This is when my greatest fear is realized.

I went into the exact spot that was listed on both ActiveCaptain and Skipper Bobs. Right at the line where you leave the ICW I run aground. To make matters worse, I have a barge with tows coming from both directions an they will converge on the spot that I have run aground. This is becoming a very bad situation, very quickly. This is when I here one of the barge captains come on the radio and tell the other barge captain to avert his eyes cause he is going to light the skiff up that is between them.

He is talking about me. Oh, crap! I immediately get on the radio and let him know who I am and let him know what is going on. He then says ok and asks me to avert my eyes so he can take a look. (Just in case you do not know. The lights on theses barges are capable of giving you a sun tan on the darkest of nights. They make the sun look dim and could easily dry out steak for jerky). I avert my eyes just as he lights up the entire area with his 400 bazillion candlelight powered light. (You avert your eyes so that you won't go blind and so that you will not lose your night vision)  This is when I realize that there is no way I am getting into this anchorage.  I am tired and a little dismayed at this point in time.  I now have to go five more miles to the Mermantu Anchorage.

This anchorage proved to be an easy anchorage to hit in the dark and the next morning I realized why.  It was a broad expanse of deep water and i had anchored in the middle of it.  If I had wanted to spend a few days exploring this would have been the place.  With all of this open water I decided I would try to swing the compass on my autopilot.  It was a wasted hour, because it would not swing no matter how hard I tried.  Onward I must go.

The next two nights were fairly unimpressive.  The days consisted of muddy green, alligator infested water with trees as the never ending scenery.  I stopped at Intercoastal city and Morgan City.  Both of these times I arrived at night and left early the next morning.  All I had on my mind was getting to blue water.

Now, approaching Houma Louisiana all of the barges began pulling over and parking themselves on the bank.  Unbeknownst to me at the time a barge captain had run his barge up on the bank between the twin span bridges.  He did not mean to do this but it happened and it stopped all traffic from going through.  So I did what any prudent sailor would do.  I pulled in and tied up and went and had lunch.  When I got back out there I spoke with the police officers and they said the divers would be taking a break and I could move on through.  I took this as my cue and untied and left.  Next stop mile marker 15 or WHL15.  This is where I would anchor and prepare to goto through the Harvey Locks and Industrial Locks the next day.

Great the Harvey Locks are shut down.  Algiers locks are known to be bad for cruisers because hazardous cargo barges take priority above anyone else and it has been known for cruisers to wait up to 12 hours to get through.  I ended up waiting 2 hours.  Jumped out into the mighty Mississippi for a 3 mile upriver trudge.  JusCrewZen performed flawlessly.  As I pulled into the Industrial Locks I was told that curfew had just begun and I would have to wait until 5:30 to go through. (Curfew is where they will not open bridges because of rush hour traffic)  Another 2 hour wait, the only bonus was that this time I had a place to tie up and wait, stretch my legs and eat dinner.

Onward to rabbit island.

This is what it looked like the entire time.  Pretty to some, boring to others.

More of the boring

This is the Barge that ran onto the bank in Houma

JusCrewZen tied up in Houma

Inside of the Algiers locks

If you saw the movie Deja Vu then you recognize this car ferry

JusCrewZen tied up at the Industrial locks.

- Posted from aboard S/V Jus CrewZen

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