"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

October 31, 2014

Oct. 31 – Matagorda, TX

Matagorda Harbor Marina
Miles to Rockport, TX – 79

“Unless you walk out into the unknown, the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low” –Tom Peters

We're getting close...tonight we are docked close enough to our home town that friends, Joan and Jim Auld drove up and had dinner with us. They travel in a RV and have tried to meet up with us several times in the past years on the east coast, but timing just hasn't worked out. It was fun having them aboard and going out to eat. We also had time to visit with an old high school friend and his wife who are moving their sailboat back to the Houston area. This trip has definitely been different than the trip going east on The Pearl in 2011On that trip we didn't see any other boaters on the docks until Tarpon Springs...this trip we've met people at every stop. I'm not sure if that's because more people are boating again or the time of year, but it's been fun meeting new people.

Tomorrow we'll be back in home waters as we cross Matagorda Bay. Our plan is to stay in Port O'Connor tomorrow night, which is right on the ICW. Our home is at the upper part of Lavaca Bay, which flows into Matagorda Bay. Stan grew up fishing these waters...so we will technically be home tomorrow. What a great feeling that will be.

This is DOW Chemicals in Freeport...I like their lighthouse
These are Rosette Spoonbills...most had their heads down and hiding from the wind.
This guy had his eye on us all the way past the bridge
We've had several lock that were having work done on them...all barge traffic is held up at them during the day, but we've been allowed to pass. Not a lot of space but at least it didn't hold us up.
The ICW is very close to the gulf here.
A little bait camp on the ICW
This looks like a fun little place
A map of our home area

Oct. 30 – Galveston, TX

Offatts Bayou – Anchorage
Miles to Rockport, TX – 164

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life." –Steve Jobs

The ICW from Port Arthur to Port Bolivar is in a man made canal...wide, plenty deep and very busy. Barge traffic was heavy again today...if this is any indication, the economy is doing well. Once we passed Bolivar we were in Galveston Bay and crossed the Houston Ship Channel. It's also a busy place, but after dealing with New York Harbor this seemed mild.

We are anchored in Offats Bayou, which is a well protected bay close to Galveston. Last night we were out in the boonies...pitch black and the only sounds we could hear were the chirping of cricket and the buzzing of mosquitos. Tonight we can tell we're back in civilization we're surrounded by lights and we can hear the traffic on the highway, trains passing and helicopters flying overhead. What a difference a day can make.

Just a little traffic on the ICW today
The coastal plains of Texas are pretty flat...you can see for miles, making sunrises and sunsets fantastic.
Shrimp boat on Bolivar Peninsula 
Point Bolivar Lighthouse
The Houston Ship Channel
Moody Gardens in Galveston is located on Offast Bayou 
Pretty homes on Offast Bayou 

October 30, 2014

Oct. 29 - Port Arthur, TX

Taylor Bayou - Anchorage
Miles to Rockport, TX - 231

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ―Albert Einstein

We're home...well almost. Just being back in Texas feels like home. We could be in Rockport by Saturday, but may take an extra day depending on the wind coming in with another cold front. We have quite a few large bays to cross before docking in Rockport.

We left the bayous of Louisiana today and entered the VERY industrial waters of the northeastern coast of Texas. Orange, Port Arthur, Houston, Texas City and Freeport are full of petrochemical production facilities and boat traffic is substantial. Now in addition to the heavy barge traffic, we have large sea going tankers to deal with. It's definitely not a cruisers paradise. Although there are petrochemical plants all along the Texas coast the scenery will improve once we get closer to Matagorda Bay, where shrimping, crabbing and oystering are big industries. The scenery will also improve as we pass through five national refuges on our way to Rockport.

Our morning began with heavy fog, so Stan had a chance to put the radar to the test
We saw this BBQ in the ICW this morning. Just bring your own meat or maybe kill it in the woods, tie off and barbecue. No telling what you'll find in the bayous of Louisiana.
This was typical barge traffic today.
Our first view of Texas, not the prettiest, but typical of this part of the coast...it will get better.
A few of the ships we past this afternoon
This ship looked like he was pulling a dinghy. Not sure why it was pulling the tug.

October 29, 2014

Oct. 28 – Lake Arthur, LA

Mermentau River – Anchorage
Miles to Rockport, TX - 319

“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” ―Oprah Winfrey

We left Morgan City at sunrise and traveled 110 miles west. The only signs of civilization today were a fuel dock and small grocery in Intercoastal City, where we stopped for diesel (we paid $2.97 a gallon). There may not have been any towns, but we saw plenty of barges and smaller boats that check the gas wells that cover this part of Louisiana. Our youngest son worked the wells in this area the summer after he graduated from high school.

Yesterday was a great photo day, but today there just wasn't a lot to focus on. Pretty much the same all day...barges, tows, shrub trees, and a canal. We did spot seven eagles, but even they were hard to get a good picture of today. We have seen more eagles in Louisiana than anywhere else we have cruised.

We finally got to our anchorage just after the sunset as it was beginning to get dark and the misquotes were beginning to swarm. We decided we’d relax and have dinner inside this evening. It looks like we'll be back in Texas tomorrow, but the anchorage we are headed for is on the Louisiana side of the Sabine River, so one more night before we actually sleep in Texas on the Texas Pearl.
I love these little red tugs...they remind me of the tug that could in the children's story book
Typical scenery today
It's beginning to look like fall even in the bayous of Louisiana
Watching the sun set before we got to our anchorage
The captain

October 28, 2014

Oct. 27 - Morgan City, LA

City Dock
Miles to Rockport, TX - 430

“For one minute, walk outside, stand there in silence. Look up at the sky and contemplate how amazing life is.” – Author Unknown

We left Houma later than normal since we were just going 38 miles today. At one time we considered that to be a good day’s travel, but the past few years we've gotten used to longer days. We had a chance to visit this morning with Kathy and Terry off of Green Door again and enjoy our coffee as we waited for the fog to lift. The scenery today changed from swamps to woods and was a lot less industrial. It was a beautiful remote area of Louisiana and we spotted 20 eagles along the way...a new personal record for us. Today was a great day for pictures, so I'll let them show the rest of our day.

A picture of the City Dock in Houma. It's located between two bridges along a nice park. Right off the ICW.
Just a few pictures of the 20 eagles we saw today. Most were in pairs and some were juveniles. So amazing. 
I guess they don't want you to get lost in the bayous
The ICW in Louisiana is lined with shipyards...so many shipyards. Building ships, tugs and barges of all sizes. Some of them dismantle old barges and ships and some....
build casinos on barges
and others build oil platforms
One of the different looking ships we saw today...look close...very close.
This guy was working over the edge while they were cruising along. No reason to waste time in any of these shipyards!
Southwest Reef Lighthouse located in Berwick across the Atchafalaya River from us. 
A few of the other boats on the city dock in Morgan City
The view from our boat this evening

October 27, 2014

Oct. 26 – Houma, LA

Houma City Dock
Miles to Rockport, TX - 468

“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.” ―Henry David Thoreau

We had a long day filled with locks, barges and industrial lined shores. Our first lock this morning was the Industrial Lock that raised us up to the Mississippi River. Once out of the lock we cruised past New Orleans...the best view of the day. We exited the Mississippi about six miles up stream at the Harvey Lock. This lock isn't used by commercial traffic, so there isn't usually a wait. We found out a few days ago that it will be closed for maintenance for three weeks starting tomorrow. We lucked out...the alternate route wouldn't have been fun. After crossing the river we had about a 58 mile cruise to Hoama.

There are few options in this area for docking or anchoring. This part of the ICW is a man made cut which is either very commercial or very remote. Most of the commercial areas have something to do with shipbuilding or repair...barges and tugs in all stages of life are everywhere. The barge traffic is very heavy, even if there was a small cove to anchor, it wouldn't be safe because the barges travel day and night along the river. There's constant chatter on the VHF radio...totally different than what you hear in Florida or on the east coast. It’s kind of entertaining…what you can understand of it.

We had to wait for the first lock this morning with another large pleasure boat, tied off to some pilings. Kathy and I visited as we waited and discovered we were headed to the same dock for the evening...not a big surprise since it's all there really is in the area. After securing the boats we had a chance to relax and visit for awhile. They live aboard full time and are on their way to Texas...although on a much slower pace than us.

Approaching the Industrial Lock
Waiting at the Industrial Lock
There were four tugs locking down before it was our turn.
New Orleans
One of the barges we saw today
One of the larger, nicer shipbuilding facilities we went by today.
Can you tell we're in the back bayou country of Louisiana?

October 26, 2014

Oct. 25 - New Orleans, LA

Miles to Rockport, TX - 529

We usually plan our day the night before. How far we travel depends on the weather, the way we feel and in this area what anchorages or marinas are available. The choices are limited right now. Our plan was to go to an anchorage (Rabbit Island) about 25 miles from the locks we have to do to get across the Mississippi River in New Orleans. There isn't anything else available except two small marines south of Lake Pontchartrain.

Since our plan meant we'd only have 40 miles to do today we slept in a little and took our time having breakfast and filling our water tank. It was another beautiful day and the closer we got to our anchorage the more we thought we should keep moving. So we called the marinas and made a reservation. Our short day now became a late day...we arrived a little after 5:00. It was a good decision to keep moving...we're just a few miles from the first lock and we had a chance to enjoy a good meal at the on site restaurant. If we wanted to enjoy New Orleans this would be a great place to stay. The French Quarter isn't that far away and the marina offers a shuttle service, but we're on a mission. So we'll keep moving.

Tomorrow we have two commercial locks to deal with...definitely not like the small ones on the Rideau Canal. These locks are used by tugs and barges to access the Mississippi River and pleasure crafts are not a priority, so we may have to wait awhile. I’ll be glad when tomorrow is over.

Not a photographic day. This is I10 going into New Orleans
Our view for dinner...looking towards Lake Pontchartrain.