Friday, March 20, 2015

Houma, LA to Pensacola, FL

It has been hard keeping the blog updated since the boat keeps us busy, and we've had limited cell service. Here is everything that we've been up to since the last post.

After leaving Wax Lake Outlet in the morning of March 8th, we motored a short way to Black Bayou and anchored for the night. We arrived in Houma, LA the next day and tied up to the city dock. It was the first town that we had been to since leaving Kemah, and it was nice to have a few luxuries, like shore power (without it we have to rely on a small propane heater to keep us warm) and access to restaurants. Up to that point, our anchorages had been in remote areas, and we hadn't seen anyone except for the two times we filled up with diesel. We decided to stay in Houma for two nights since we had to do a few necessary chores, like laundry and re-supply the galley, and we were waiting for the weather offshore to calm down a bit.

We left Houma on March 10th with Port Fourchon, LA as our destination. We motored until we reached Terrebonne Bay, and then we were able to put up the sails and kill the engine. After two weeks of continuous motoring, we were finally able to sit in blissful silence and enjoy the ride. Soon after the wind piped up quite a bit and the seas got really rough. We decided to take the sails down and go back to motoring since I wasn't comfortable sailing in those conditions. Halfway from Cat Island Pass to Port Fourchon the engine slowly ground to a halt leaving us drifting in the bay. Without the sails up or engine on, the ability to steer is basically non-existent. Usually drifting isn't a big deal, but it was nighttime, the boat was constantly slamming down over big waves (giving both of us a touch of seasickness), there were large commercial vessels in the near distance, and we were a good two hours from land. NOT FUN, and I was way out of my comfort zone. David assumed that the rough seas had stirred up debris in the fuel tank and had clogged the fuel filter. He went below to try to unclog it while I tried to keep us pointing in one direction. It only took five minutes or so for him to clean out the filter, and then he was able to get the engine running again. My hero! We made it to the port around 2am and anchored by some very large commercial vessels.

We stayed anchored in Port Fourchon two extra nights since another round of bad weather rolled in. Our alarm was set for 6am on the 13th to get up and get ready to leave for Grand Isle, LA. Around 4am I got up to use the restroom and noticed a bright spotlight shining through one of our port lights. I looked out and saw a large vessel (200+ feet) a mere 50 feet from us. He had pulled in next to us to park sometime during the night and didn't seem to care that our boat could swing on the anchor and hit him. David radioed the captain, and he basically told David that he's not moving and to go anchor somewhere else. Jerk! There could have been some serious damage to our boat if we had hit him so in a matter of few minutes, we pulled up the anchor and headed to Grand Isle. There was no point going through the trouble of finding another spot to anchor. We arrived in Grand Isle around noon and docked at Sand Dollar Marina for the night. We enjoyed a dinner at Star Fish and a drink at Island Daiquiri before heading for bed.

The next morning we left for Port Eads, which was a couple miles up the Mississippi River. We reached the mouth of the Mississippi around 10pm and had spotted the buoys that marked the channel. As we are about to turn into the channel, fog suddenly enveloped us and the buoy lights that were guiding us disappeared from sight. At this point, we had been through so many trying situations that it didn't even bother me. David turned back around to open water and luckily found a shallow open water anchorage. Although it wasn't protected from wind or waves, the seas were calm that night, and we only experienced some mild rolling.

We left for Dauphin Island, AL the next morning, which was our first overnight sail and would be our first beach anchorage. Everything went smoothly, and we arrived in the afternoon on the 17th. I was pleasantly surprised to see white sand beaches when we arrived. We had spent so much time in Louisiana and the swamp, and I didn't expect Alabama to have pretty beaches. Things were definitely getting better! The next day we took our dingy ashore for the first time, had breakfast at a nearby restaurant, and headed for a marina a short distance away to pick up a package we had shipped to them.

On the 19th, we left for Fort McRee Cove near Pensacola, FL and enjoyed a great sail about a mile from the beach. There was literally a line in the water that we crossed over that went from murky brown water to clear blue water. We could see the bottom when we were sailing in about 10 feet of water. Since we were in clear open water and our tank of fresh water was low, we decided to see if our watermaker worked. It's a reverse osmosis desalinator and produces 3.4 gallons of fresh water an hour. I cleaned out the hoses since there was some mold/algae growing in them, turned it on, and hoped for the best. The watermaker came with the boat, and if it didn't work, we wouldn't be replacing it since the price tag of a new one is around $4000. It's not necessary to have, but it makes life a lot easier not worrying about running out of fresh water. It thankfully worked, and the water it produced tasted great. We arrived at a serene anchorage around 7pm and had the company of a couple of other boats and a few dolphins.

This morning, the 20th,  we woke up to white sand beaches and clear pretty water. There were people out on the beach enjoying the sun rise and looking for shells. This is what I had been waiting for! We had crossed LA, MS, AL and were finally in FL. We are currently at Lost Key Marina in Pensacola and plan on leaving in the morning to go to Destin, which is about an twelve hour trip. I can't wait!!!!

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