FROM: Gene Gruender
Rainbow Chaser on the move.
Our next stop after leaving Houma, La. was Lafitte, where we planned to
spend the night before going through New Orleans. We got to Lafitte late
in the afternoon and planned to fuel up. We'd forgotten it was Fat Tuesday,
the big Mardi Gras day. Nothing was open, not even the restaurants. We tied
up to the fuel dock to spend the night. After a trip to the grocery store,
I was sitting on the boat when a local fellow who was getting gas (It takes
credit cards when closed) started talking to us. He was curious what we
were doing and all. Before long he and his wife invited us all to his house
for drinks and food. By the time we got back to Rainbow Chaser at 10 pm,
we'd had drinks, supper, samples of tamales and hot sauce to take with us.
All from people we'd just met. Ron hasn't been off on his boat before, so
he's never experienced this. We have, but the people in Louisiana take friendliness
to a new extreme.
The next morning we headed out for New Orleans. We had about a dozen bridges
and 2 locks to go through. We also had about 5 miles of the Mississippi
to go down. We've heard many horror stories about this particular part of
the trip so we were pretty anxious.
We cleared the first bridge in the Harvey Canal about 9:30. After an hour
wait on a barge being loaded with some huge equipment, we got to the Harvey
locks. They asked if this was our first trip and when we told them it was,
they got us on a working channel and explained it all to us. Once we knew
how the whole trip would go, they began to raise us 12 feet. The dock opened
and we were off into the churning Mississippi. If we thought we'd seen most
of the Mississippi water spilling over west of there, we were mistaken.
The current was running about 5 knots - fortunately, we were going downstream
- and we took off. Not only is it fast and wide, it is very deep. I would
never have guessed it would be 100 to 150 feet deep the whole way.
Pulling into the Industrial locks, the ones on the east side of the river,
we had to wait about an hour for some commercial traffic. Once they got
us in, they took their time and lowered us slowly, slower than with commercial
traffic. They have a reputation at this lock of being uncaring and very
rough on pleasure boaters, but we must have caught them on a very good day.
We couldn't have been treated with more care as we were dropped back down
12 feet. By 2 pm we were heading east out of new Orleans.
We took off east in the ICW and made it to an anchorage at about mile 33
eastbound. We're anchored in an oxbow that goes into Rabbit Island, a great
place to anchor. (89 39 00W, 30 08 50N) There is room here in 12 feet for
a dozen or more boats, all pretty well protected. Mark your charts if you
ever plan to come this way.
If all goes well, we'll make it to Biloxi tomorrow and get to send this
from there. We're eastbound and moving on now. Hope to be in Mobile, anchored
at Dolphine Island right off the Circle K Friday night. We've got enough
parts and mail that has been sent to a friend there that we might have to
rent a truck to get it all to the boat.