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.

Gene Gruender
Rainbow Chaser