Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On to Lake Charles 12/12/08 - 12/15/08

After being tied to a bridge abutment for 3 days waiting for our propeller to be repaired, we were anxious to get going. The diver wrapped things up about an hour before dusk so we decided to head off early the next morning.  The next morning we got up a few hours before dawn, brewed our coffee, dressed in our warm clothes, walked the dog, looked for a break in the traffic and headed on down "the road".

It was a little strange motoring down the ICW/GIWW in the early morning dark but we had lost so much time and were in danger of not getting to Corpus Christi by Christmas which was not acceptable as we had already bought a ticket for Julie’s daughter, Ashley, to fly in for Christmas at Julie’s sisters house in the hill country west of San Antonio.

We chose a spot about between 2 tugs that were about 1/3 mile or 15 football fields or 20 seconds at 60 miles per hour apart but we were all going about 6 miles per hour so there was 200 seconds or a little more than 3 minutes between the 2 tugs, so we tucked in between them and headed west.

We brought the propane heater up into the cockpit and placed it behind the pedestal (the thingy that the wheel is attached to) to warm our feet. We also used it to toast cinnamon bread for breakfast.

Heading off before dawn with a full moon

We motored throughout the day gazing at washed out riverbanks with tree roots dangling in the air holding on to the remnants of the earth that once fully embraced them.

There were more shipyards, home after home along the canal, resorts, casinos. There was even a floating hotel that was built on a few barges that apparently traveled from event to event along the waterways to wherever they could charge for their rooms.

We charged along at a snails pace for the rest of the day. But we were moving again and this was a good thing.

Ho, Ho, Ho
Mid afternoon we were looking for a place to spend the night but there were no anchorages to be found. We did find a diesel dock earlier in the day and they had said that we could stay somewhere on their property,

We felt obliged to buy fuel from them since we were taking advantage of their offer of putting us on a dock for the night so when we arrived we pulled up to their fuel dock.

It was after 5:00 pm and the front door of the facility was locked so I walked around to the back side of the building and found an open door. I talked to the kid about buying some fuel and spending the night. He told me they would have to recalibrate the pumps but they could top off our tanks (about 25 gallons) but we would have to pull up and around to their fuel barge to get fuel.

As always the wind was starting to howl, after all it was time to dock for the night. I walked up with a couple of 5 gallon jugs and asked if I could just get them filled and transfer them to the boat and come back for 2nd’s. They seemed a little confused but agreed to do it.

When we were done fueling up I asked him about tying up for the night. Unfortunately the dock we were tied up to was the main dock that was used by supply boats that brought goods out to oil rigs and freighters throughout the night. These boats came in late at night, switched crews, loaded up with food and other supplies and then headed out to any number of offshore oil platforms or ships.

So we were offered 2 spots. The first was up the canal a half mile on the left where there was a small canal with a barge sunk next to the bank as a makeshift dock. Unfortunately there wasn't much draft ( it wasn't very deep ) and there was no place for us to turn around.

Another worker suggested that we tie up next to the tug across the small bay since they were staying put for a few days for repairs. We chose this option.

We asked the kid to help us shove off of the dock as there was a 29 mile per hour wind pushing us against the dock. He didn't believe that we needed help at first but I convinced him that, unlike tugs which have two 1,200 horsepower engines, we only had one 100 hp engine and the boat steered like crap at low speeds.

So with a big heave ho, the kid and I shoved the boat away from the dock and Julie, at the helm, hit the throttle, turned the wheel for a right turn and started to pull away from the dock. A little detail that I may not have mentioned earlier was that the pier jutted out about 6 feet a mere 25 feet in front of us and not hitting it would require a bit of luck under normal circumstances.

As I mentioned before, these were not normal circumstance, we were being pushed against the wall and towards the wall in front of us. About 5 seconds into this maneuver Julie was afraid we wouldn't clear the wall in front of us and started to throttle back. I yelled to her, “full throttle baby” and she responded immediately. I hopped onto the boat and ran forward in case I needed to push off the wall but we cleared it with 3 or 4 inches to spare.

We kept going right and 150 feet later we were next to the tug boat, facing directly into the wind. Julie had gotten the boat into the wind and throttled back so that I was able to jump onto the tug and tie us off.

The tug was tied off with its flat bow tied to a pair of pilings onshore so we were able to step off of our boat onto the tug and walk forward and step up onto shore. This may seem like a simple thing to most of you but after the grief we had been thru with swamps and other stuff this was like showing up at the Ritz Carlton in the back of a stretch limo.

Off of the bow of the tug was a big field and Ziggy went crazy running around in circles with a great joy to be on terra firma again.
Our "big boat" tied to a relatively small tug.
Sometime in the middle of this night I woke up feeling strange and it suddenly occurred to me that I was sick and going to throw up. I had caught the flu that Julie had two days ago.

Ziggy was sleeping in front of the door to our head so I decided to go to the forward head. I didn't make it and settled on the sink in the galley. I hadn't been this sick since I was a kid and several minutes later when Julie came out I had started cleaning out the sink.

I said don’t worry, I’ll clean up, she muttered something about no problem unless I wanted to clean up after her too. I woke up sick later in the night but made it to the head this time.

The next morning I felt a lot better so we walked Ziggy and hit the road again.

We motored all day up the channel heading west. Around 3:30 we started looking for a place to spend the night, I was still running a fever and I was fading fast.

We looked at the maps and once again there was no place deep enough for us to stay that wasn't in the channel until Lake Charles and because this was a busy commercial port the prospect of anchoring was a little iffy.

We used Google Earth to scope out the area and there weren’t any real marinas in the area but after zooming in as close as we could we found out that there was a park on a jetty where a river met the main channel with a dock on it, so we decided to check it out.

The city park had a pavilion on one end where people were fishing, right beside that there was a boat ramp with a set of docks next to it. Just beyond the dock was a 200 foot research vessel tied to a dock with it’s bow toward us and it’s bow line tied to a mooring ball a mere 40 feet away from the dock we were eyeing. I figured the ship had a draft of over 15 feet so we should be OK at the dock right in front of it.

Julie was concerned about staying here since there was a large sign that said “No Overnight Docking” . She didn’t want to stay here but I told her I couldn’t go any further and I would lie to the best of my ability if a park ranger came by to chase us off.

We docked easily and tied up, ever since Julie started docking the tension level went down dramatically and the confidence level went up exponentially.

By parking where we did we completely covered the “No Overnight Docking” sign with our boat. Problem solved!

City Pier - Lake Charles, LA

1 comment:

lee said...

But officer...?... What sign?