Monday, November 23, 2015

Made it to Houston

We arrived in Clear Lake on Friday at about noon. We are glad to be stopped. It was a long but enjoyable trip.

44 days
1123 nautical miles
1302 statue miles
300 gallons of diesel
210 engine hours
3 nights in a marina
1 night tied to a wall
1 night underway
39 nights at anchor

The trip from the Keys up to New Orleans was very enjoyable. The 350 miles from NO to Houston area was semi-enjoyable but was work with all the barge traffic. We only found one really nice anchorage along the way from NO and two pretty good ones. The rest were just someplace to stop for the night and leave at first light. That makes the trip a little more stressful as there are not many nice places to rest. We are considering a different route on the way back.

This is a link to a map of our trip.
Houston Trip 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Time for a Break

     We are anchored in the Mermentau River. We have been moving pretty good but it is time for a break. This is the best place we have found to anchor since Destin Harbor. We will stay at least one more night if not two. It is so nice to be stopped. It is also nice to only have to use one anchor. On Wednesday night the only place we could find to anchor was in the mouth of a little canal off the ICW. We used four anchors to hold us in place. It was not fun pulling them all up the next morning. It was so nice to just relax yesterday afternoon and enjoy the anchorage. I think I might take the dingy out today and look around.

     We are not near much of anything here which is good. This is the kind of anchorage that I like. The funny thing is that we do not have cell phone service but did find an unsecured wifi to connect to, so we have internet but no phone. That is a first.

     We have been running 9 or 10 hour days and not making bad time for a slow trawler. 958 nautical miles so far. It has been a little over 5 weeks since we left the Keys. I have thoroughly enjoyed the trip all the way up to New Orleans, but honestly the last 220 miles have just been work. Don't get me wrong some of it has been nice. It does seem that the further west we get the better it gets. I can not wait to hit Texas.
     Five years ago when we went down the Mississippi River to New Orleans people told us we were crazy, that we were going to get run over by a barge, there were no services, and it would be a dangerous and horrible trip. I would venture to say that we have already seen more barges in the last 200 miles of the ICW than the entire 800 miles that we were on the Mississippi. I would rather do the Mississippi again than New Orleans to Galveston. I do think it will get much better once we pass the Calcasieu Lock.

Sunrise this morning.

Mess after pulling up four anchors.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Made it through New Orleans

We are anchored near mile 15 by Lake Salvador. Yesterday was a bit of a stressful day. Five years ago when we came down the Mississippi River to New Orleans we dreaded it the whole trip because of all the stories we had read and people telling us we were crazy. It turned out to be very anticlimactic. We were hoping that this trip through would be just as anticlimactic. Although we did not have any real problems it was still a stressful day. We had to wait at the industrial lock about an hour and a half to get locked into the Mississippi. Once four miles down river we had to wait another hour and a half at the Algiers lock to get out of the Mississippi. At least at the industrial lock there were pylons to tie off to. The Algiers lock had nothing to tie off to and signs on the bank saying “Cable Area No Anchoring”. After about 20 minutes of just trying to stay in one place I decided to just barely nose Walkabout into the mud bank. I did and we just sat there still. We could feel the boat rock a little from the river wakes so I knew we were not so stuck that I could not back off of it. We sat there for another hour before being told that it was our turn. Actually they were putting us through ahead of the 15 barges that were waiting to lock through. I put Walkabout into reverse and gave her some throttle thinking she would just slide right off. She did not. I gave her some more throttle, still no movement. We began walking back and forth on deck to try and rock the boat. That is when we noticed she would no longer rock. The wakes had settled us into the mud. Well now I am worried, they are calling us into the lock ahead of 15 barges and we are stuck. I kept increasing throttle until we were at full throttle. After what seemed like an eternity she finally slipped off the bank. I will have to rethink that strategy next time.

We traveled 15 miles west and anchored about 4 pm. It started raining steady about the last 20 minutes of the run. We pulled into the mouth of Lake Salvador and dropped the hook. Glad to be stopped, we started to relax. Just before dark a small east bound sailboat came in and anchored next to us. Not a problem until an hour later when the wind direction changed and then they were almost directly behind us. Noah was predicting 15 to 25 knot winds for the night. We got every bit of that. It howled all night. I could hear the halyard slapping on the sailboat. Although the anchor did not move at all we still did not get much sleep for worrying about how close the sailboat was.

Considering today’s forecast and the fact that good anchorages are not a dime a dozen here we decide to just stay anchored today and have a rest. Tomorrow looks like a better traveling day. Today I will just sit here looking out at the dark clouds listening to the wind generator and drinking coffee.

Leaving the industrial lock entering the Mississippi River.

In the Mississippi.

Algiers lock.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Goodbye Florida but We Will be Back

We are now in Ocean Springs Mississippi. This was our favorite stop on the way down to the Keys. We will spend 3 nights here. We are at the Ocean Springs Small Craft Harbor, $21 a night and includes water and electric. That is what a mooring ball costs in Boot Key Harbor. We like the town of Ocean Springs. It is a quaint little town that is beautiful to walk around and see the sights in. This is our first marina since leaving the Keys and will probably be the only one. We plan to leave (weather permitting) on Friday so we can cross the Mississippi river on Sunday.  On our trip down the Mississippi river in 2010 we were dreading the New Orleans part. It turned out to be very anticlimactic I hope it does this time as well.

Never get tired of seeing dolphins or sunsets.

This is my kind of weather.

Starting to see barges now.

The Intracoastal Waterway between Pensacola and Mobil Bay.

A change of scenery is nice.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Anchored Near Pensacola Bay

Since the last post we ran on the outside from Panama City over to Destin.We spent one night in Destin harbor and went to Whataburger which is across the street. My favorite fast food place. I had not been to one since 2014 when I was in Baton Rouge. We left Destin at 7 am this morning before all the crazies woke up. Today we took the ICW from Destin to just past Pensacola Bay and found a nice little anchorage just off the ICW. The wind is blowing pretty good but we are anchored in the lee of Perdido island so we are not getting any waves to speak of, just some wind.

We ran 53 miles today and stopped at 2:45 pm. It started to rain and we did not see any reason to continue on when we had a good anchorage at hand. Once we stopped and got anchored the rain quit and although it looks like it could start at any time has not rained since (I am not complaining). The forecast for tomorrow is 90% chance of storms and rain so we will check the forecast again in the morning but probably just stay put. It is beautiful here, so not a hard decision to stay.

We are very close to the Alabama/Florida border. We have 175 miles to the Mississippi River. We will time our crossing of the river for a Sunday so as to have the least amount of traffic.
Destin harbor at sunrise this morning.

Captain Sharon driving from the flybridge.

Perdido Island.

Perdido Island.

Sharon driving from the lower helm. The auto pilot is on a long cord so she holds it and maneuvers through the channel markers using her two thumbs like she is playing a video game (her favorite past time only this is a 23,000 lb video game).

Monday, October 26, 2015

ICW from Apalachicola to Panama City

We had planned on stopping at Apalachicola for a couple of days after leaving Dog Island but then when I looked at the weather forecast we changed our mind. They were predicting the remnants of Patrica to hit Panama City starting tonight so we opted to only stop in Apalachicola long enough to go to the Piggly Wiggly and get some grub. We then continued on with the plan to anchor in Lake Wimica in an area charted at 6' deep so we could get an early start to PC. When we got to that area we eased out of the channel it quickly dropped to 5' and we were at high tide. Scratch that idea. Well what to do now. I usually have a backup plan, but this time I did not as the area marked 6' was a large area and I did not anticipate there being any problems. We did not want to run at night because of floating debris, we saw a wide spot just off the channel north of the lake and decided to anchor there for the night. I set the bow anchor and then set a stern anchor to keep us from swinging into the channel. All went well till 1:30 in the morning. The wind picked up and the bow anchor drug. We tried to reset it but could not get it to set. I pulled up the stern anchor (a Fortress FX37) and moved it to the bow. It set right away. It was very muddy in this area and the Fortress is an excellent mud anchor. We kept an anchor watch the rest of the night but did not move at all.

We were underway at first light to make it to PC as quickly as we could. Originally the strong winds were not supposed to be here until tonight thus our plan for bypassing Apalachicola and pressing on to be here by noon, unfortunately they arrived much earlier than predicted. When we left this morning I set the rpms at 1700 to make some time. We were able to run at about 7 3/4 knots the whole way. We got to our anchorage about 11:15. This time I had picked out 3 possible anchorages just in case. We got to the first one and decided it would do. 7.5' of water and land nearby to keep the sea state reasonable. There are not many trees ashore here so we are still getting some wind but not waves. The other two anchorages were further away and may have been better but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Plus it was starting to rain. They are predicting up to 2" of rain today so we opted for this anchorage. We set the anchor and let out 85' of chain. So far we have not moved at all.
It has been really windy. Predictions for today are 25 to 30 with gusts to 40. We are just happy to be in a large enough anchorage to be able to let out as much chain as we want. Tomorrow is supposed to be about like today and maybe a little worse. No plans to pull the anchor until Wednesday or Thursday.

Nice to see trees other than palm tees again, but I Know it won't be long till I miss them.

This part of the ICW is wide and beautiful.

This is why we did not want to travel at night.

I like it.

These are some floating houses in a little offshoot near where we anchored. I assume fishing camps.

Walkabout at anchor Dog Island.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Life's a Beach

We decided to take the dingy out and explore a little. Sharon loves to Geocache and of course saw that there was one here on Dog Island so we took the dingy for a 2 1/2 mile (one way) ride to the other end of the island to find it. It was an easy find. She was happy so in turn that made me happy. We then took the dink to the east end of the island and went for a walk on the beach. This is a beautiful place and has some beautiful beaches. We love the Keys but there are not many beaches there.

Sharon geocaching

She found it.

I love a fast dingy.

It is a beautiful island.

Sharon's day at the beach.

It's a rough life, but someone has to do it.