Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Taylor Bayou to Shell Morgan Landing Days 9-14

This is a view from the front porch of the Bowtie Marina, Wand'rin Star is at the fuel dock for the night.

The Admiral finds plenty of birding to do right here.

This little Kestral, one of the smaller falcons, was sitting on the windex on a small sailboat right next to us.

This is a good look at our anchorage in the Menmentau River.

Looking back at the main part of the Mermentau.

The fall colors of the Cypress and other trees in the area.

The Leland Bowman Locks on the way to Intracoastal City and Shell Morgan Landing.

We noticed the more vibrant colors of the Rosette Spoonbills and other birds. The Admiral says it is due to a better diet, of course we have had a drought in Texas so the food sources are lean.

This Osprey is darker in color as well.

This is Shell Morgan Landing, the business is primarily a fuel stop for recreational boats, crew boats and shrimpers. They sell hundreds of thousands gallons of fuel here monthly, also he has a few transient moorings and We needed it!

Wand'rin Star tied up to the bulkhead, the stern was exposed to the wakes coming off the ICW, the tows provide a little rocking all night, but we are used to it and sleep great. This part of the ICW connects to the Vermillion River.

All the Shrinp boats are huge, they carry 28,000 gallons of fuel and are all 80'-130' feet in length.

The ICW here is lined with cypress and thick foliage.

This Alligator was hanging out in a drainage ditch allong the road we were walking down to find some local birds. I think he was 4'-5' long, most of him was under water though.

The Admiral loves the Shrikes, she says they have "Attitude".

Lot's of big Hawks, everywhere.

Day9: Taylor Bayou to Bowtie Marina Lake Charles

Underway 9:00hrs.,54.4 Km.,avg.speed 6.2, 65degrees,sunny,10-20 ESE winds

Well it took 30 minutes to retrieve both anchors. Both anchors settled deep into the mud/clay/grass bottom. I should have been a bit more patient with the Rocna, each time you anchor you learn a bit more. Having a really good wash down system is really important, other wise the bow and anchor locker would become a muddy mess, I guess a bucket would help wash off the deck but it would not help the anchor locker much. We again had favorable Tow traffic and our new obstacle was the Ellander lift bridge. We had to estimate our time of arrival there and call 4 hours early to let them know when we would be there and that our mast was 61'. We called the bridge when we got within eyesight to let him know we were approaching, he said "bring her on up, I'll get her open for you". As we got about 200 yards out he lifted the span and we started under, the Admiral was sure he had not opened it high enough so I called and he said he had it open to 85'...we went on through. It is difficult to judge height unless you are near the same level. The Admiral just had not looked up when we passed under bridges in the 73' range since the bridge heights are posted in the charts. We had a little current against us going up the Calcasieu River to Bowtie Marina, and the small tributary to the marina was very interesting as we had cypress knees stick out of the water on both sides leaving just a small bit of navigable water. We got there just 15 minutes before closing, I wanted to top off the fuel tanks and Lynn wanted a shower so we just had till 1600 hrs to get that accomplished. Fortunately we tied up quickly at the fuel dock where we would also spend the night and the Admiral jumped right off with shower bag in hand. We have 2 heads with separate showers on the boat but 1 shower is filled with provisions and the other is nice but a big roomy shower but having one with all the hot water you want is better. A boat bath is different, 1st a quick rinse, turn off water, then soap it all up, turn on water and rinse fast ,turn off the water quickly to conserve. We walked about 2 blocks and found a Dollar Store, the Admiral said she was amazed how small things would make you so happy, just to find a Dollar Store to get a few items. Back to the boat with just enough daylight to do some birding, a Kestral was on the windex at the top of a small sailboat next to us & several flocks of birds flying over.

Day10: Bowtie to Mermentau River anchorage.
Underway 7:36hrs,46.4Km., avg speed 6.1kts., 69 degrees, sunny, 5-10 ESE winds

No matter which way our bow is pointed on this trip it seems it is always right into the wind. I watched the shadow of our mast running down the ICW and thought perhaps I could go into the mast hauling business. Just sell ours and that would give a place to stick one in the hole, build a small rack where we could put 3-4 mast on either side of the one in the hole and haul them up and down the Gulf and Atlantic ICW's.

The guide books tell about the beautiful anchorages in and around the Mermentau River so I was ready for beautiful where the industrial south did not take up half of the view. This was it. This time I was patient with the Rocna and realized I needed to set it slowly in the mud /clay, no grass this time. We lowered the anchor and with about 50' of chain out slowly backed down with just 1100 RPM's, then I put out another 50' (I like to sleep) and backed down with about 1500 RPM's, let that sit awhile then give it the test, 2100 RPM,s...that baby was ready for a storm! The only thing I did different this time was to attach a retrieval line and float to the anchor just in case since we were anchoring in a river bottom and there could be stumps down there. Things got quiet, I got out my. Fishing gear with a wide range of lures that have never caught anything and the Admiral got out the binocs, lots of Great Horned owls were whooing, I saw one fly through the trees but I was unable to get the Admirals attention before it disappeared. We continued to hear them through the early evening. I tried 5 different lures but no luck. Getting dark and the skeeters were talking so I went to the cover of the cockpit and closed up the enclosure, lit the Citronella candle and had 1 more to sleep on.

Day11 Mermentau River to Shell Morgan Landing, Intracoastal City

Underway 6:28 hrs., 39.2 Km.,avg. speed 6.1, 70 degrees,cloudy, 15-20, 30 Kt. gust.

Winds stayed mostly 17-26 Kt. right on the nose, we had favorable current till the Leland Bowman locks. I kept the RPM's up around 2200 and we maintained our speed despite the winds. At least till the locks. The lock master told us to come on through and we entered as a tow was exiting West bound. He said he hoped we had a motor on this sailboat ...I knew what he ment, we would be facing some current in the locks, I replied "yes sir, & I got her souped up! I then pushed her to 2500 knowing he would not be kidding. Normally we would be doing 7.6 Kts. But the current was over 3 Kts., we slowed to just 4. I called the lock master and asked him how fast the current was, he said he did not know but it was rushing. The tow behind asked me what I thought & I said it had to be just over 3 Kts., he was doing 5.6 and it slowed him to 2. The locks are really long so it seems like it is taking forever to clear them. The tow behind us notified the one behind him.....he said he wasn't even going to try, he would just park till it calmed down.

It was blowing 27 and gusting 30+ when we got to Shell Morgan, the owner came out & helped us get tied up and he was great saving our hull from the steel bulkhead at least twice. We felt like we had dodged a bullet and was glad to be here to wait out the oncoming front. We went in and paid for 3 nights since we felt it would take at least that long according to the forecast. We looked forward to having a nearby grocery store and a couple of days of not traveling to just sleep late and rest.

Day 12,13,14 Exploring/Birding in Intracoastal City
We sleep late on the 12th, got up to a really nice day and wondered if we had made a mistake not using this day to get to the next spot. We walked down the main road dodging truck traffic and getting shots of raptors, shrikes, and other little birds. We had our mosquito repellant sprayed on but we still had to swat our way through . On the way back I spotted a small alligator in the drainage ditch, the Admiral got a pic of him before he slid below the water. From then on my attention was in the ditches. The only grocery store in miles was just a short walk away and they fixed hot breakfast and lunch plates. So far we have had 2 of those lunch plates and I have not been disappointed!

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