Previous Port: TX Border to Morgan City, LA
March 14, 2005
City Docks: N 29041.837,W091012.705 (approximate)
This was not a place we wanted to stop. We had planned on stopping at Shell Morgan Fuel Dock but a large boat was already tied there. It would have been way too much of a challenge to tie our two boats to the bulkhead. The next possible anchorage was too far to make in the daylight. That left Morgan City.
Before entering Morgan City, it is necessary to check-in with Berwick Traffic Control at mileage marker 102. Once they finally answer, you are given instructions to check in again at mileage marker 99; then check in at the high lines, and so on. Again, it takes forever for them to respond because this is a very busy port.
We were finally given clearance to proceed to the City Docks that lie between the two highway bridges; but first, you must go under a railroad bridge. This bridge has to be opened by Traffic Control. Once through the railroad bridge, it is a very short distance to the first highway bridge. This bridges is suppose to be something like 70' but the tide marker indicated it was only 55'. We began a desperate call to the T.C. folks again. They assured us that the 70' was correct but never explained that the 55' actually referred to the second highway bridge. This makes for a very scary situation. Do you trust these folks and the charts or do you go by the tide marker? Anyone that has gone under a bridge with a 62' mast knows it never, ever looks like you can make it. So, I lay on the foredeck trying to judge if we really could, prepared to give Capt'n Bob the signal to put on the brakes. At that angle, I could tell that we were indeed going to clear the bridge; the captain still didn't trust it and proceeded at a snail's pace.
There are five slips available between the city bridges in Morgan City. We left the slip furthest from the bridge for Noname. He was waiting for us to tie up in order to assist him when the current carried him under the low section of the bridge. This impact took out all the instruments and lights mounted atop his mast. The tow captains were getting very nervous after that because Noname kept driving around with his anchor hanging down (couldn't get it back on the roller that morning). After several attempts to come into the slip, he gave it up and pulled along side the fishing pier. The three of us secured the boat and it stayed in the "no docking" spot all night. The repair work on the mast done in New Orleans exceeded $2K.
Bayou Bouef Lock
The lock tender told us to follow a crew boat into this lock and "just float" (no lines attached); Noname behind us and a tow behind him. That pretty much filled up the lock. Of course it's almost impossible for a sailboat to "just float". The crew boat in front of us was either having a heck of a time floating himself or just trying to make our lives more difficult because he began throwing up all kinds of a wake. We were soon bobbing all over the place and took a few bumps against the pilings. Escapades' captain, with no other choice, did a 360 in the lock to keep from taking too many bumps. The crew on the crew boat was so amused, or maybe they were so impressed, that they came on the radio and asked us to do it again so they could take pictures. Captain Noname was on deck and didn't have that choice. He soon lost his bow light to Bayou Bouef Lock.
March 14-17, 2005
Dock: N 29035.935, W090042.674
Texas cruisers seem to love the city dock in Houma, LA. I'm not sure why, and I'm one of them. There are no grocery stores, laundry, or much of anything else you need, in walking distance and the $20.00/night is a little steep for cruisers. I guess it must be the dock master, Bill & mistress, Velma. They are such great folks; in their 80's but you'd never guess it because they are so lively. While we were there, Velma brought warm sweet potato turnovers to all the boats docked.
You tie to a bulkhead just a few feet off the ICW. Just guessing, it will accommodate only 4-5 boats. The dockage fee includes water, electricity, and free pumpout. It's a good place with nice docks, pretty park adjacent, and several restaurants. Besides, there is really no other safe choice, that we've found.
March 18, 2005
Anchorage: N 29047.889, W090003.453
This is not a highly recommended anchorage. It is a very narrow channel and even though barges don't typically go through, there is always the chance they will. The only good thing about it is that it puts you at Mile marker 7. That shortens the stressful trip the following day.
This lock takes you from the ICW into the Mississippi River. This was the second closed lock on the trip.
What a great crew!!!
The gate tender came on the VHF and gave very explicit instructions. We tied on the starboard wall, they passed us a line to which we tied our dock lines (35 feet length), they pulled our lines up and secured us to the top for the 6 foot rise. No surprises because they explained everything to you. Two crew members stood on the wall to encourage and/or assist us. Once the lock gates closed, they stayed to visit with us. How pleasant is that.
After the experience with such great folks at the Harvey Lock, we weren't dreading the Industrial Lock so much. This time we were to tie to a barge with them taking our lines. Again, Escapades was to tie up first. The young barge attendant took his time in getting our bow line and then pulled it in so tight that the stern was impossible to control. By time we finally got to the stern line secured, Noname was desperately needing assistance.
Captain Noname really lost his cool and began yelling at the barge attendant. That proved to be a big mistake-Southern folks don't take lightly being screamed at, especially in an Upstate N.Y. accent . The attendant refused to take Noname's line or offer any assistance. We even pleaded with him to help but still he refused. We ask to step off our boat onto the barge to help him. That request was denied. The lock tender began calling for security because "a captain that doesn't have the crew to handle his boat is verbally abusing the tow captain". The lock crew refused to intervene or offer any assistance. After bouncing between the tow and the cement wall a few times, Noname was persuaded to come abeam of Escapades and we secured his lines. Luckily, no serious damage was done that we know of.
Back to top
Next Port: New Orleans