Galveston Bay Tues. 7.9.13

Folks,

We could not resist one more sail on the bay so today we went out. The mast comes down on Wed. The the boat goes on the trailer Friday. It trucks to Lake Travis on Sunday with launch Monday the 15th. It sounds simpler than it probably will be. Hope you enjoy these short videos.

 

 

 

Welcome Home #59

Saturday, June 15 –

We arrived at Seabrook Marina at 2 p.m. Our friends Steve and Sherry were waiting for us on the dock. Steve had been up at 4:30 a.m. tracking our progress and was the first to notice when the SPOT went off between 4:45 and 6:00 a.m. Apparently it needs to be reset every 24 hours. We had traveled through the night and Ralph did not remember to reset it until 6 a.m. They even noticed when our speed picked up to 10 knots later in the morning and began to move quicker themselves. Also at the dock was Dean, the harbor master at Seabrook Marina, showing us to the dock space that may be the home for Dolce Vitaville for the next month.

 

Steve and Sherry tended to our immediate needs. Priority one was to make a trip to the West Marine for an adapter to make our electrical cord work. AC is after all a priority item here in Texas where mosquitos are large and aggressive. Priority two was a trip to the liquor store for adult beverages. After that we were ready to go back to the boat, take showers, settle in and party for awhile.

Steve and Sherry brought numerous musical instruments and it was not long before we were jamming and singing. We had a blast. We made one recording and this one we would like to dedicate once again to the folks in Delcambre, Louisiana who were so very warm and welcoming to us. We still want to return to Delcambre someday when we can stay longer.

 

 

At some point we had to take a break and go seek food. We ate at Skipper's, a Greek restaurant that would become our favorite. We ate every meal there for the next three days except Sunday night when they were closed. After dinner we went back to the boat for more musical fun. Thanks to Steve and Sherry for bringing the instruments and the energy to make this possible. Ralph and Arlene taught us how to toast King Neptune for the successful end to a successful journey. We were pretty much glassy eyed after our all night adventure the day before, but it was a wonderful welcome home occasion. The aloha party had begun.

On Sunday more folks came to welcome us home. Our friend and neighbor Sharon came along with her son, Ray, and our son, Ben. They brought our van to us so we could now have land transportation. It was Father's Day and a great day to be celebrating. Our friends Eric and Alicia showed up and they ultimately took Sharon and the boys back to Austin along with six gerry cans that needed to go as well. What heroes. We have wonderful friends. We had eleven people on Dolce Vitaville. What an ahoha party it was. Alicia and Franci christened the boat by drinking a bottle of champagne. King Neptune appropriately got most of it as the glasses would spill in the wind sometimes before even a sip was taken. Early evening we all went to dinner at Valdos, a great seafood restaurant we like to go to when Skipper's is closed. After that the party dispersed and we went to bed early that evening. Ralph and Arlene were excited to be staying at a motel for the night. They had moved out so as to make the boat clear and ready for clean up the next day.

Monday we worked hard washing the boat and doing last minute things. Ralph installed another set of holders for the second boat hook. He also briefed us as best he could on things we will be needing to do for Dolce Vitaville. We have much to learn about properly maintaining our new water home. Arlene, Franci and Stephen washed the boat inside and out. It was a high energy day and everyone did as much as they could.

 

That evening we had our last dinner at Skipper's and the following morning we would have our last breakfast at Skipper's. We left at noon on Tuesday, June 18, to take Ralph and Arlene to the airport after which we drove home ourselves.

Blackened Fish of the Day

Gyro sandwich and Greek salad

Greek salad with chicken.
Spanakopita (spinach pie)
 

We arrived home to find house and yard impeccably kept. Our friends (our neighbors) had done a marvelous job with everything, There were flowers on the table to greet us. The house was spotless, at least until we off loaded all of our stuff everywhere.

The pool looked inviting.

The vegetable garden was absolutely incredible and is currently producing squash. peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, chard, malabar spinach, basil and other herbs and flowers. Tomatoes are just around the corner.

We are so very blessed. It's been a joy having each of you with us on this journey. The blog was created to document this adventure of a lifetime and there will still be one more chapter coming when we finally transport the boat from Seabrook to Lake Travis which is to be its final destination. Thanks for taking the journey with us. We look forward to many good times on Dolce Vitaville and hope to someday share it with you.

I awoke early this morning, looked up at the high ceiling above me and thought, “We must be sleeping in the cockpit.” Moments later I realized that we were back at our land home in Elgin. The washer/ dryer has run constantly since we returned. We are also catching up on office things that are behind and need to be done. We hope to get back to our new water home, Dolce Vitaville, by the weekend.

Life is good.

Fair winds,

Franci and Stephen

 

 

Homeward Bound # 58

Friday – Saturday, June 14-15

 

We left Delcambre at 5 a.m. This day was destined to be a long day of travel.

 

We stopped at Shell Morgan for our last fuel stop of the journey. We restocked with plenty of ice in both coolers.

We passed through the Leland Bowman Lock. The gates were open on both sides. No waiting there.

Later in the day we would pass under a lift bridge with only 50 foot clearance. Our mast is 49'. We proceeded very slowly. There was a four hour wait if you had to ask them to open it.

 

Here's Stephen making a video of the event.

We passed farmland with rice fields. We saw a few homes along the ICW. We saw lots of wildlife…..alligators, snakes and birds mostly.

We had a wonderful breakfast with scrambled eggs and the homemade sausage we received in our gift basket in Delcambre. Yum. The sausage was very good and very different…..sorta sweet but with a bit of a bite. Great breakfast.

All afternoon we just drove on through the marshes of Louisiana. We planed to travel over 130 miles on Friday. Our destination was close to the Sabine River near Orange, just across the border into Texas. It's the first marina we saw with electricity and water. We planned to arrive about 11 p.m. and take off again around 4 a.m. We were on the final push.

Everyone took a turn at the helm that day.

Ralph catches up on paper work.

 

Ralph refuels.
 

For dinner we had fried catfish sandwiches and French fries. We had bought an extra dinner the night before iin Delcambre just for that specific purpose. It was delicious. We were so hungry we forgot to take photos.

Just before sunset we went through a pontoon bridge and a lock. No waiting for either.

Around sunset we saw the most traffic we saw all day. We crossed the Calcasieu intersection of the ICW coming from Calcasieu Lake into the Calcasieu River headed north to Lake Charles.. We were glad to be there before dark. There were lots of barges and tug boats, many moving and even more parked. We saw another sailboat that had been anchored for four hours waiting for the 50 ft. bridge to open. We were happy to have made it under ourselves with inches to spare. Ralph helped the sailboat communicate with the bridge operators. They were anchored in a bad spot in a busy intersection. All were glad to see them get through the bridge.

 
 

Eight o'clock sunset and 20 miles to go to the Texas border. Yeee Haw!

 

Then the adventure began. First a storm hit with lots of lightning and winds up to 40 or 50 mph. Soon after that the decision was made to continue on through the night. We had only planned to stop for a few hours anyway and somehow the thought of messing with docking and lines in the rain was not appealing. We also had made friends with a tug, Miss Kelly, and had arranged to follow him through the night.

All went well until the mosquito invasion began. Hard to believe but we couldn't find any deet when we needed it. None of the herbal products we had were any help with aggressive Texas Mosquitos. We dug out the mosquito netting and crawled under. We looked like Casper and his sweetie. That seemed to work. Captain Ralph and Arlene just roughed it out.

There are no photos of any of this fun because it was night time.

Sunrise was spectacular.

 
 
Ralph gets a little well deserved rest.
 

For breakfast we had shrimp wrapped in bacon plus peas and rice with shrimp. The shrimp were all part of the gift basket we were given in Delcambre.

The last few hours we have been going down Bolivar Peninsula. We just passed Galveaton Island and turned right into the ship channel headed to Kemah (Clear Lake) where Seabrook Marina is located. We will be there in a mere couple of hours. This is the final stop for this leg of the journey. We will have traveled a total of 37 days since leaving Maine and covered over 2500 miles. Thank you Ralph and Arlene. We could not have done it withou you.

Icons of Texas…….pelicans and refineries.

The bank building in Galveston which is a landmark for us because the Old Quarter is located right across the street. The Hemmeridge Mountain Boys are having a reunion there this very evening. Wish we could be there……almost!

Life is good.

Fair winds,

Franci and Stephen

 

Welcome to Delcambre #57

Still Thursday, June 13

Delcambre rhymes with welcome and that is certainly how we felt. We were greeted at the dock by T Boy Fox, the harbor master. He was born in Delcambre and made us feel very welcome. We also immediately met the folks on the houseboat tied up next to us as well as a guy who is captain on a fishing boat

 
 

T Boy drove us into town for dinner at the Texaco station. The restaurant is located in the convenience store but is not typical convenience store fare. It was some of the best fried shrimp we've had anywhere. The owner of the restaurant came and talked with us. Everybody in Delcambre is very friendly. While we were there several people came up to say hello and welcome us to Delcambre.

Delcambre is a shrimping community. They also grow rice and sugar cane. They are very proud of their Tabasco factory. They also have the friendliest people you've ever met anywhere. Hurricane Rita hit them pretty hard and folks are still rebuilding and recovering from that one. We also learned of the 1980 Lake Peignour disaster that happened just north of them. The Delcambre Canal was very much. affected by the disaster. Follow the link below to see a great video about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddlrGkeOzsI

 

We met many of the folks who were tied up at the marina. Everyone made us feel like celebrities. They all wanted to say hello and find out who we were. If we had stayed longer we would have been hosted to tours of the local Tabasco factory and no doubt gotten to participate in one of their parties we read about. We met folks from Rockport who went there for a bag of ice and had stayed eight months.

A group of folks showed up with a welcome basket of goodies for us. Katherine and her husband, Jim, do this for all newcomers in the community. It contained rum cake, locally made sausage, bacon wrapped shrimp, several local products including Tabasco sauce, Steen's Cane Syrup, Cajun Power Garlic Sauce, Vermilion Hand Sanitizer, flowers and pamphlets about lots of local things we have yet to absorb.

 
 
 

We regret that we could not stay longer and will just have to come again someday. We made the following videos as our gift back to Delcambre. We certainly felt welcome in Delcambre and this is our way of saying thank you for your warm hospitality. We sincerely hope to return someday when we can stay longer.

 

 

 

The flowers have found a permanent home on our boat. They will always remind us that we need to return to Delcambre. We so enjoyed our welcome to Delcambre.

Life is good,

Fair winds,

Franci and Stephen

 

from Houma heading west down the ICW #56

Thursday, June 13

Yesterday afternoon was an event which did not make the blog because we needed to get on with our evening fun. However, at some point close to our destination, Manny,who had been following us with a barge for many hours, radioed and asked to pass us. We were happy to oblige. He said there was traffic ahead and he wanted to get ahead of it.

Boy, he wasn't kidding. We saw a couple of barges that were more like trains. They each had a tug at the front and one in the back. They were longer than football fields. There was a lead tug called the George W that sort of ran interference for them. Manny radioed them and said he was coming around. We kept up with Manny and passed them, too. It was exciting. I wish I had taken a photo of Ralph's face as we went around. I suspect he was smiling really big! It was a big thrill. And not scary like the thrill we had in the lock. Fun!

We pulled into Houma last night around 6:30 p.m. We docked at a lovely little dock site by a new park area they have built under the new highway overpasses. Very charming and only $25. They had electricity (for our AC) and water. That was everything we needed.

For dinner we walked a few blocks int the downtown area. The harbor master had indicated we could find a good restaurant there but we failed with that. But we recognized beer signs and headed to a local bar. We had drinks with the locals and they suggested a place called Al's. The bartender called us a cab. Arlene and Franci were thrilled to be able to take their cocktails with them. Louisiana is after all a place of its own. However Al's was closed when we arrived at 9:30 p.m. Our cab driver, Belinda, said she knew a good place and that she did. We had a seafood feast at the 1921 Seafood and Oyster Bar. We even got to visit with the owner who was proud to show us the award his restaurant recently won. If ever you are in Houma, it's the place to go.

Upon leaving this morning our first mission was to go through a basculle bridge. The bridge has what they refer to as a “curfew” which is to say that it does not open between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. giving morning car traffic the right of way. We had no problem getting there before 6:30 a.m. We left at five o'clock in the morning.

 

It was a peaceful morning ride though a gorgeous cypress marsh. For miles and miles both sides of the canal were lined with cypress trees. The debris cleared up and it was lovely. We saw no barge or tugboat traffic early on. We did see quite a few small motor boats. Was it the weekend already?

About 10:30 a.m. we arrived at the Bayou Bouef Lock. We lost no time there. We got to go in immediately. We were in there with a barge again but this time he was the one in the back. All went very smoothly.

Soon after the lock we arrived in Morgan City. The right side of the canal had turned industrial many miles before we reached Morgan City. Lots of industry, ship building, tugs and barges. The debris in the water returned. This would continue into and past Morgan City.

After that the canal became deserted again with forest on either side. This time it did not appear to be cypress tress but it was lovely just the same. We continued to see barges and tugboats.

 

At some point we saw this brown yuk in the water. We don't know what it was but it looked yucky.

At some point Ralph put in more fuel.
Stephen enjoyed a turn at the helm in the afternoon.

Our destination was a small community called Delcambre, pronounced “del come”, a place we learned about from Roger and Laurie, the folks we had dinner with at the Seabrook Marina the other night. They reported to have really enjoyed their stay there. It sounds authentically Cajun. It's a few miles off the ICW but sounds like it may be worth checking out. We arrived by early evening after having traveled 90 miles that day. We all took showers before our arrival so as to ready for a night of partying. We heard that they sometimes party pretty hearty there.

We hoped to get an opportunity to bring out the musical instruments. It would be fun to meet some authentic Cajun musicians and jam. More on all that later.

Life is good.

Fair winds,

Franci and Stephen

 

New Orleans to Houma #55

Wednesday, June 12

Today is our daughter Jenny's 26th birthday. She is big in our thoughts today. She lives in Portland, Oregon where she has completed her second year of law school. We are very proud of her.

We left at 4:20 a.m. this morning hoping to get through New Orleans before traffic got too heavy. It was a beautiful ride through the city.

 
 
 
At some point Ralph added more fuel.

We had two locks to go through….one before we got into the Mississippi River through New Orleans and one when we left the Mississippi and returned to the ICW.

The first one, the Industrial Canal Lock, we had to wait our turn behind a very large barge. Then we went in behind the next large barge. We tied up to the back of the barge. The excitement came when the barge started up his engines to exit the lock. He made an incredible wake and we found ourselves wheeling in circles, the captain driving excitedly forward and reverse trying to keep us from hitting anything. Stephen and Arlene ran from port to starboard with boat hooks also trying to keep us from hitting anything. We regret we did not get a video. It was more exciting than any amusement park ride. We, by the way, did not hit anything.

 

The next lock was less eventful. We got to go in immediately and had the entire lock to ourselves. However, after the lock opened we had to wait a long time on a railroad bridge that had opened for a train. Eventually the train came and our trip resumed.

One more basculle bridge to go.
 

By now it was 9:30 a.m. and we were all hungry. Arlene cooked a big breakfast with ham, fruit and pancakes. Before we got to eat there was a slight delay. We had picked up a stray line on our port prop. We had to tie up to a nearby parked barge ( no small feat) and Ralph got into the water to free the obstruction.

After that, breakfast was especially delicious.

We spent the rest of the afternoon motoring peacefully down the ICW. We know we're getting close to home. It's really hot in the afternoons now. We're again grateful that we have the shore powered AC for our evenings rest.

We traveled west through the swamplands of Louisiana. There was lots of debris in the water. Much of it was a plant named Hyacinth that seemed to be spreading everywhere. There were also lots of logs and sticks. We had to be careful driving through the debris as well as make frequent checks of the engines to be sure they were clear of the floating grasses.

We saw lots of industry and many cranes along the way.

We also saw many barges and tugboats. The tugboats all monitored Channel 13 on the VHF as did we. They all identified themselves, their location and the direction of their travel to each other. Ralph did the same, letting them know who we were and where we were going.

We were really happy to see a rain cloud appear before us. We welcomed the relief from the hot sun. The rain never came, but it was definitely cooler for the rest of the afternoon.

We passed several bridges. One of them was a pontoon bridge. It looked almost like a barge itself. This was the first bridge of this sort we had seen in our travels. We also went through a swing bridge.

 

We arrived in Houma at 6:30 p.m. It was a lovely tie up by a city park with electricity and water with a nice restaurant nearby.

Life is good.

Fair winds,

Franci and Stephen