Port and Stb engines at 1594 hours. Fuel at 79%. Oil and coolant good on both engines. 6:34am when I started checks.
I left Lauberge Casino dock yesterday morning at 8am and headed East. Leaving the dock by myself with a slight wind was the first challenge. I untied the stern line first, and had made the bow line easy to release from the lower helm. The plan was to hit reverse and let the bow line trail in the water (I had a 6knot wind to my starboard side with a dock immediately to my port only 6 feet away.)
When I released the stern line it amazed me how fast the boat moved. By the time I got to the lower helm to even think about putting her in gear she was 5 feet away from the dock at the stern and the bow was approaching the dock! DAMNIT!
I released the bow line and hit reverse on the port engine and ramped up to 1300 rpm. It WORKED!!!
OMG…now, however, I was coming back toward the starboard side and was in danger of hitting the dock on the starboard aft…I added the starboard engine in reverse and moved the port to neutral, she straightened right out.
If you were watching from the smoking patio at laeberge you’d have thought I’d done that 100 times. The hamster in my head, however, was going apeshit from the onslaught of adrenaline.
Anyway – all’s well and I cruise on away from Lake Charles East-bound on the Gulf Intracoastal Water Way (GIWW). The engines were running perfectly and at 1600 RPM I was doing 8 MPH against the current at around 195 degrees (at the exhaust elbows where my bbq thermometers are) each.
The first problem of the trip showed up when I tried to pull over (intentionally ground) so I could do a couple of conference calls (I had 3 to accomplish from 10am until 1pm). As I looked at the chart I saw a fairly direct ascent from 19′ to 2 feet on the shore to my East. When I got closer, however, the depth finder alarm went nutts. Beep beep beep beep beep! The chart said I should be in 18′ of water, the depth finder read 2.5 feet. DAMNIT!
I was aground – again…spinning and slightly listing to starboard on what seemed like a shoal. I found out later it was a shoal created by the tugs as they negotiate that turn. Their massive engines and prop wash over the years digs up the muddy bottom and the louisiana clay creates a shoal where you would think there’s just gonna be a gradual slope toward land.
This freaked me out (at 10 minutes until 10am when I had to meet with a client!)
I powered off the shoal and decided to just drift on the other side of the channel for the duration of the call. This worked ok, but soon the current was taking me into a shallow area so I ended up having to start the motors and drive slowly during the call (luckily the client didn’t even notice).
My next challenge was the cut before the calcaseui lock. I had another two conference calls and didn’t want to be underway. I ended up finding an easy to pull up shore with soft sand and beached there for a couple of hours. Ahhh…the relief.
Calcaseui lock was easy – the rain from the three days where I was stuck at Laeberge meant that the lock was letting out water and easy to traverse. I just cruised through (although the current was CRAZY) without having to tie up.
The next thing I have to deal with is the pontoon bridge right after the lock. Turns out that the county sherriff had asked the bridge master to close the bridge (raise the ramps and put down the gates) because they were in hot pursuit of a runaway pickup truck.
Amazingly – I was on VHF 14 when the bridgemaster hails the lock master to say something along the lines of: “You’re not gonna believe this…sherriff calls to say close the bridge, I close the gates and bridge and this suspect comes up and decides to jump it! He lands half-way on the pontoon and then get’s out of the truck and runs! Just my luck – what a fricken day! You got anybody coming? Cause they gonna have to wait until this sorted out by the po-lice.”
Damn I wish I had that VHF convo on recording. I did get this one though:
Here’s the news story: http://www.wlox.com/story/33942969/traffic-black-bayou-bridge-closed
This is my conversation with the bridgemaster: