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 Post subject: Our big summer trip from Freeport to Pensacola and back 2012
PostPosted: 27 Jun 2012 15:10 
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Skipper

Joined: 13 Feb 2011 21:19
Posts: 191
Location: Canyon Lake, TX
This is long. You might want to get a cup of coffee before you start. Very Happy

We actually started our trip to Florida with two side trips. We left Freeport on March 10th headed to Kemah to get a dodger installed on the boat. So We stayed a month in Watergate Yachting Center while Kemah Canvas built us a dodger. Except that the bimini we were adding the dodger to was 9 years old and Chuck said we would be replacing it in a couple of years so we ended up with a new bimini to go with our new dodger. Chuck offered to install the zippers for the sunscreens on each side and the back plus build a set of bars for our new hard solar panels. And the old mainsail cover had a rip in it and the sewn on letters were starting to degrade and fall apart. So Chuck built us a new mainsail cover too.

We left Watergate on April 6th heading to Port Lavaca. We took our time and 4 days to get there. Here at Port Lavaca, Charlie, Connie and I replaced all the wood in the cabintop sides due to rot from the leaking portholes. We added a leg to the dining table because the forward end of the leaf was unsupported and drooped everytime anyone leaned on it. We also tackled putting a shelf under the new stovetop in the galley. The big project was replacing the settee fronts and repairing the cabin sole from the previous leak of the port water tank. All this work took us about a month. I think Charlie could have finished it in two weeks if Connie and I weren't under foot all the time. But I enjoyed helping and learning about wood working from Charlie. We had a friend tune the injection pump on the engine to get it to stop smoking all the time. Connie and I installed the second solar panel and the controller for the batteries. Changed the oil and filter, changed the fuel filter. Put new zincs in the heat exchanger and the oil cooler.

We left Port Lavaca on May 6th headed for Pensacola. The diesel stalled right after we got out into the main channel but that was operator error. We found the fuel tank main valve was closed when we opened the inspection port to close it. Open the valve and the engine fired right back up. Stopped in at our home marina to load up the boat with clothes and food, attended a birthday party and a graduation party and then headed out again on May 13th. Due to north winds, anchored at Texas City Dike where we were rocked by ocean swells, crew boats and tankers. UGH!

Passed Miss Froggy just west of the High Island Bridge on May 14th. Made it to Taylor Bayou Outfall west of Sabine, TX and anchored. Glad we were in a protected anchorage because it stormed most of the night. May 15th we anchored up the Calcasieu River. Stormed again. Is there a message here or something? The next night was spent in Merentau River where it stormed again. The solar panel controller display crapped out. Called Morningstar and they are drop shipping me a whole new system to Pensacola. Yay, Morningstar. Something happened to the speeedlog, too. I have a signal from transducer all the way to connector but display indicates no sensor. Signet says it's under warranty and ship it back when we get home. Cool. Both gates open at Leeman Bowman locks so we motored right through. Stopped at Shell Morgan Landing in Intercoastal City. Refilled diesel tank and stayed the night. A/C and onshore showers.

Our next stop was Charenton Channel on May 18th. Anchored about 50 feet from shore in 12 feet of water. Hyacinths everywhere. Very pretty scenery but some oilfield traffic here. We headed to Morgan City for our next stop but were un-impressed with the docks there. Recrossed the river and stayed the night at the Berwick town dock. The dock planking is better but the pilings still stick out past the planking so you need good fenders or fenderboards to protect your boat. There is a local bar just past the concrete levee walls that is really friendly to strangers. It's called "The Lighthouse" and we enjoyed having a couple of drinks there. The river traffic never really slows down during the night AND the railroad bridge has an external speaker for the ringer so the bridge tender can hear it from the top of the bridge. After hearing it ring quite a few times, there is a quiet time and then the train CLACKS across the joints on both ends of the bridge.

We left Berwick early. A couple of miles past Morgan City all the industrial area gives way to cypress swamps. This is beautiful country. We cruised through Houma because it was really too early to stop for the night. The ICW in Houma is very narrow and you should be listening to VHF 13 to make sure you don't meet something LARGE in a turn. Saw an old housing barge for oilfield workers. The barge base was made of concrete. We stopped in Larose, La for the night, tied up to the shoring on the northwest corner of the Four Corners. During the night, a tug came past us and turned away from us at the corner. It sounded like he was backing into the boat trying to turn the corner. The next morning it seemed like every car in Larose came down the road by the boat going to work.

We left Larose early because I spotted another tug coming down the channel we were in and I wanted to be out of his way. Barataria is very scenic. The new floodgate south of New Orleans is just before the Harvey/Algiers canal split. Don't use an autopilot here. The steel plate under the gate is magnetized and spun our compass 180 degrees. The Harvey Canal in New Orleans is extremely commercial and narrow with all the "waiting to be repaired" tugs and barges on the sides of the canal. We were lifted six feet in the Harvey Lock to get to the Mississippi River. We got to the Industrial Lock just after they closed the gates to lock through a tug so we ended up tied up to the backside of the short starboard guidewall. A floating dock. Nice but with no breeze it was rather warm. We had to stay there until the evening rush hour curfew was over. Then we locked through and dropped about five feet to the Industrial Canal. We stopped this night in Seabrook Marina just south of Lake Pontchartrain.

The next morning we were talking to a slip neighbor who was going into town to pick up his wife from the airport. He said that she was flying in so that they could spend their anniversary in New Orleans. Connie and I were trying to remember exactly when our anniversary was when I looked down at the date on the computer and realized that TODAY was our anniversary. Met up with a local friend (Norm) who showed us around New Orleans and all the Katrina sites. Had lunch at the Napoleon House and met Norm's son who works in a different restaurant that was not open for lunch that day. So I set up this great day for my anniversary and didn't even know it. Smile

May 23rd, we left Seabrook Marina early and headed for the Mississippi Sound. Sailed across the Pearl River and into Mississippi finally. (Hey, it's my fantasy. I didn't know the border went way east of the Pearl River.) Stopped at Half Moon Island because the storms were brewing up again. Picked just the wrong place to drop anchor and the waves pounded us all night. We slept on the settees because it was so rough. The water tank under me was almost full and thumped each end all night long. I actually dreamt we were aground most of the night. The next morning the boat was sitting to the current and across the winds. Sailed to the west end of Horn Island where the first group of trees were struggling to survive. Beautiful location and clear water all around. Took the opportunity to clean the prop and knock a few barnacles off the hull. Found a huge mass of barnacles and oysters at and in the centerboard slot. Got a lot of them off but tool was too short to get all the crud out of the slot. Centerboard sits about 3 inches down but won't go up any more.

May 25th, Connie and I snorkeled up to the island to see what the "Keep Out" signs said in the finer print. The trees are off limits to tourists because the Ospreys were nesting at the time. The beach was still usable. You just weren't supposed to go beyond the signs. Saw a bunch of cow nosed rays. They look like mini- Manta Rays. Saw a horseshoe crab, too. After a wonderful day exploring the shoreline, we retired to the boat. The wind shifted to the northeast overnight and our anchorage was suddenly a lee shore, again. Argh! Left Horn Island headed for Navy Cove just past Dauphin Island. The weather forecast for the night lead us to bypass Navy Cove and go to Fort Morgan where we tucked up close to the west side for wind protection. Bon Secour Bay is real exciting to sail through. We had the depth alarm on and set for 3 feet under the keel. So we would be ghosting along at 5 feet, the depth finder would beep for shallow water and by the time you looked at it it was showing 5 feet again. I caught it twice making one reading of 2.4 feet then right back down to 5. I think they were washing machines from the shore after a hurricane.

May 27th, we left Bon Secour Bay and ran across 3 more washers on a different path out. Perdido Bay is no place to be in a sailboat on Memorial Day Weekend. Boaters everywhere you look and none of them going the same direction or speed. Passed into Florida finally. Anchored on the north side of Big Lagoon between the condo/hotel and the marina. Not very far from shore but in 15 feet of water. The pier extending from the hotel ends farther out than we are so we shouldn't get run over during the night. There is an osprey nest near the shore and she is not very happy with the tourists. The next day we braved the crowds again and went sailing out through Pensacola Pass. The water here is so clear that you can see the ripples in the sand at 20 feet. Sailed way to the east at a close reach so that we could turn around and put up the spinnaker and sail back. Got the spinnaker up and the wind DIED to nothing. Dropped the sock over it and started up the motor to get back to Big Lagoon. We anchored to the east of Redfish Point for the night.

May 29th, we headed to Bayou Chico and PMSC at a leisurely pace. Refilled the diesel tank at Bahia Mar just to make sure we had enough for the coming week. Docked at PMSC before lunch. The next morning we rented a car for two days to get groceries and do some sightseeing. Talked to wireless company about connecting phone to laptop but they were unable to do it. Drat.

May 31st, we drove over to Fort Pickens at the mouth of Pensacola Pass and took the self-guided tour. What a fascinating place! A federally funded project built with slave labor prior to the Civil War. There are over 21.5 million hand made bricks in there. We then drove to Navarre to have lunch. On the way, we stopped the car several times to take pictures of the nesting shore birds. The State of Florida marked off the nesting areas to keep people from disturbing the birds. We then drove north to come back into Pensacola from the east side. We turned on US90 south just because it runs by the marina area. Whoa! It's called the Pensacola Bluffs Highway and it is just gorgeous. Several spots along the way are a hundred feet or more above the bay. Returned to the marina and washed the boat down. It rained overnight, of course. The next day we returned the rental and several of our friends started showing up for the gathering. We invited the couple in the slip next to us and a young man from a boat in the harbor to dinner. A very nice evening with good company.

June 2nd, we spent some time with Shane and Renee from Patriot. Watched the mad house at the boat ramp. It was opening day of snapper season and everybody in P-cola was headed out for their two fish a day limit. TWO fish only? Way too much gas spent for 2 fish. The next day was more of the same. Drunks and boaters with a couple of trailersailers thrown in. It's very entertaining watching the powerboaters launch and recover their boats.

June 4th, we helped several friends launch their boats today. We had the captain's meeting and a nice dinner. The only bad thing was we didn't get the usual during the meal rain storm this year. A REAL BAD OMEN. The next day, everybody headed out of PMSC going west to Pirate's Cove. About halfway there, the fleet split up because the wind was blowing from the west at 20-25 mph. Some people decided to stop at Sailboat Cove and the rest of us continued on to Pirate's Cove. There was a massive storm that blew itself out before stomping us. Great fun at the restaurant with Bushwhackers all around. Just around sunset, a pod of dolphins cruised into the cove and swam around a while before cruising back out to the bay. And it rained again overnight.

June 6th, we had to winch the anchor out of the mud this morning from all the tugging we did during the rain storm. Sailed back east to Sailboat Cove. Had a wind event come up from storm to the north. We moved our boat because we were getting tangled up with Tickled Pink. Dinghy races from the beach was hilarious. And it rained again overnight. The next day, the fleet headed to the Pavilions in Santa Rosa Sound. We followed one of our party who had to go to work the next day back to the marina in case he needed a tow to the dock. After getting him to the marina, we headed back out to rejoin the fleet. The weather ahead of us looked really bad so we decided to stop at Quietwater Beach where the fleet was next scheduled to stop. Tried to make the pier at Flounder's Chowder House but water too skinny and we ran aground. We were unable to motor back off and after the first failed attempt to kedge us off we called for a tow. While waiting for the tow I carried the anchor back out and tried again to kedge us off. This time the boat would not even turn her head into the waves. The tow boat finally arrived and twisted us around several times to break the suction the sand had on us before towing us about 100 feet to deeper water. We were too tired to go any further and so we spent the night there being rocked steadily by the waves.

June 8th, I called Shane on Patriot to tell him to have the fleet go to Little Sabine because the water was too rough in front of Quietwater. He said the plans were changed and everyone was headed back to the marina and would carpool over to Quietwater for the evening. We sailed all the way to Bayou Chico before being wind shadowed by the buildings. Helped several people load their boats back onto their trailers before we headed out to Quietwater by car. Quietwater is a blast but definitely touristy. Slept great this night after not sleeping good last night and significant amounts of alcohol consumed. Woke up to pouring rain and high winds. Pensacola received 12 inches of rain this morning. Found several new leaks on boat due to amount of water dropped on her. The boat store at PSMC had their Grand Opening today but the rain cancelled the band. The catered in food was great. We had friends stay on our boat last night because their boat was on a trailer and they had nowhere to sleep.

June 10th, Crew morale is falling. Moods are blacker than the skies above us. Unable to get weather window to leave the slip. Everyone else with our group is gone home already. When I check the dinghy this morning I found that all the rain had caused the floor to separate from the air tubes. The next morning the skies were clear so we picked up our lines and headed out. Thought we could make Fort Morgan anchorage in Bon Secour Bay but a storm building over that area caused us to hole up in Pirate's Cove and ride out the weather. Checked the engine heat exchanger for impeller blades and found one. But also found the pencil zinc there was completely used up. Replaced it with a spare.

June 12th the overnight storm (again) put us lightly aground about 1am. We were able to power off and reanchored more in the middle of the cove. Back up and underway for a Mobile Bay crossing at sunrise. After motorsailing into the waves on Bon Secour Bay for a while, we decided to turn around and stop at Lulu's Landing for the night. While we were getting fuel, we met David and Johnna of Perserverance. In a strange quirk of fate, they know two good friends from our yacht club, Tim and Lisa. The sun rose over a calm day so we attempted the Mobile Bay crossing again. Once we get out to the bay, the wind shifts to on our nose and the waves pound us all the way across. We are supposed to have north winds overnight so we decided to stop for the night in Lake Yazoo in Pascagoula. Unfortunately, the depth finder says we can't make it into the mouth of the lake so we anchor out just south of town between the two channels. We were protected from the wind but a few of the tugs going by waked us pretty hard.

June 14th left Pascagoula after a leisurely breakfast because we were only heading to Ship Island for an overnight stay before attempting a crossing of Chanduleur Sound. Big storm to the west of us but far away so no worries, right? Wind shift before sunset to the west. And we rocked on the waves. Later on during the night, the wind shifted to the north and we rocked on two sets of waves. Still later during the night the wind shifted to the east and really got with it. The instruments indicated wind speeds of the high 30's and low 40's several times. We slept on the settees because it was too rough in the v-berth. I could hear things slamming around in the mast but couldn't figure it out at the time. No sleeping tonight except in naps. No rain all night but it sure was rough. At sunrise, we decided we were too tired to make good decisions while sailing in unprotected waters so we headed west for the ICW and New Orleans. We sailed hard today to get out of the sound and into the ICW proper. Ended up getting to Florida Avenue Bridge just as the evening curfew was ending. Locked through the Industrial Canal Lock and tied up to the back side of the short guidewall for the night. Tomorrow is Saturday so we don't have to worry about bridge curfews in the Algiers canal. I watched a couple of barges come out of the Industrial Lock from the backside of the guidewall or about 10 feet from the barge. Very pleasant place to spend a night aside from hearing the tugs go by.

June 16th picked up docklines and headed for Houma via the Algiers Canal. The Algiers Canal is a lot better than the Harvey Canal. The entire south shore is residential. Motorsailed with main and poled out genoa to keep our speed above 5 knots so we can get to Houma in the daytime. Made Houma at 1800 and paid for electricity and pump out. About an hour after we docked, a tug was towing a long string of dredge equipment the opposite way. I estimate the length at 1200 feet and it took up most of the channel in Houma. I'm glad we missed meeting that on the way. It's raining the next morning as we are getting ready to leave. Start the engine up and I notice that no water is coming from the exhaust. Revving the engine doesn't help any at all. Pull the cap off the heat exchanger and find another piece of vane. Pulled the hose off the raw water intake and it is free flowing. Get the plate off the raw water pump and there are no blade tips left on impeller. Just enough blade left over to pump as long as the engine was running but not enough to restart water flow. Installed spare impeller and got underway for Bay Wallace anchorage. Except we can't find the channel entrance to Bay Wallace and mush aground just out of ICW. Reverse thrust on engine slowly pulls us off the mud and we headed for Black Bayou instead. Anchored on the east side of Black Bayou just around bend from ICW. The bend is real gradual and anyone coming through can see us and slow down in plenty of time. Which they did. We heard several vessels go by but never felt any wakes.

June 18th motored all the way to Charenton Channel today. There was no traffic in Morgan City/Berwick area. But there was a traffic jam at the power station a few miles down the ICW. Stormy and rainy all day today. Anchored on the east side of the channel in 12 feet of water and out of the way. The only tug that came in was lost and turned around and left before he got to us. There were baby crabs everywhere you looked in the channel. Some were not much bigger than 1/4" that we could see. Couldn't get a picture of them, unfortunately. Waking up to calm winds and headed to Intercoastal City and Shell Morgan Landing for the night. Winds came up and we got to sail for a while. But that also made getting fuel and docking in the slip very interesting. I had to hold the bow line while Connie used the engine to move the boat forward without it blowing sideways.

June 20th, I am glad I had the fenders set up correctly for this slip as they were covered in paint from the steel wall next to us but no paint on the boat. Headed to Merentau River today. But first we had to lock through the Leeman Bowman Locks and get dropped 2 1/2 feet. We motored up the Merentau River to the back side of the first oxbow bend. The river traffic uses the cut through so there is no traffic in here. We anchored in 15 feet of water without a soul around us. Beautiful scenery with the cypress trees and the calm water. Underway the next day at 8am headed for Calcasieu River. Motored all day as the winds were light or on the nose. Stopped at Grand Lake Pontoon Bridge as they were working on the bridge we when arrived. Passed the Black Bayou Bridge and then spent nearly an hour circling in the channel waiting for the tugs ahead of us to get into the lock and through it. We got into the lock and idled down as the lock tender said not to tie off and sure enough the exit gates were opening before the entrance gates were fully closed. Called Louisiana DOT to schedule an 8:30AM opening of the Ellender Bridge as we need an additional 5 feet of clearance to get under it. Turned upstream out of the lock and ran about 3 miles up the Calcasieu River to the oxbow on the east side. Went to the very back of the oxbow and dropped anchor in 10 feet of water. Not as pretty as Merentau with the refineries on two sides but still protected from the crude tankers that ply the river into Lake Charles.

June 22nd we set the alarm so that we would not be late to the bridge. Underway at 7:30am and got to the Ellender Bridge at 8:31am. The bridge tenders were early and waiting on us and knew exactly which boat needed the opening. We didn't have to slow down as they were stopping traffic and opening the bridge before we arrived. Made the Texas border at 12:30PM and celebrated being out of Louisiana. Lots of traffic in the Sabine and Neches Rivers. We actually talked to the pilot on a loaded crude ship coming up the channel. Made it to Taylor Bayou Drainage Outfall and dropped anchor in the west "Y" in about 13 feet of water. Saw an alligator swim across the bayou just before sunset. Slept in a little today as we are only going to Crystal Beach, TX today. Raised the sails in the northeast breeze that slowly clocked to southeast during the day. Had to start the motor just west of the High Island Bridge because we can't sail THAT close to dead upwind. Tied up to the end of the dock at Stingaree's Marina and Restaurant. Good food upstairs with pizza and burgers downstairs.

June 24th, the wind shifted to northwest during the night so we untied the stern line and pulled the boat around to face the opposite direction before leaving so that we wouldn't have to back up into the wind and waves off East Galveston Bay. Picked up dock lines at 6AM and headed out under motor power until after sunrise. When we got the the Houston Ship Channel there were 3 ships outbound at the "Y". We announced our intention to cross the channel astern of the last ship so that they knew we weren't going to cause them problems. Hot today with heat indexes nearing 105. Saw several pods of dolphins at Chocolate Bay. They were staying in groups of 4 and 5 real close to each other. I think they were surrounding female dolphins. Arrived in our home port at 4:47pm. One of our dock lines has gone walkabout but we have a spare.

Home again, home again. Our journey from Freeport to Kemah to Port Lavaca to Freeport to Pensacola and back to Freeport took us 1416.5 nautical miles. The continuous trip to Pensacola and back consumed 44 days afloat. None of the things that broke on the trip were show stoppers but repairing the broken wire for the foredeck light will be "interesting". We have a couple of more short trips we want to make this year before we haul her out to have the bottom repainted this winter.

_________________
Wayne
Master and Commander of the Sailing Vessel Impetuous
Rider of Waleli Honda 1800 VTX
Subservient to no man except SWMBO
Any day without dock lines is a GOOD day!


 
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