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Old 30-08-2010, 05:42   #1
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Location: Lafayette, La.
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Ultimate Test and Experience

Just moved new (to me) 30 foot sailboat from Kemah, Tx to Cyp pt., La. Took the ICW all the way and learned so many things while doing so. Gonna keep this as short as possible. A good friend and I took on this challenge to get the boat to its new home. We left on a thurs around 4pm and hit Galveston bay. got to the shipping channel around dark and had some wind..close hauled all the way down to Bolivar and entered the ICW. needing somewhere to tie off, we tried Stingaree marina. ran aground trying to enter marina, (local knowledge would have helped) got free and tied to a dock for a few hours to nap. hours later the marina opened and the guy who ran the place was cool about the situation, and advised that the boat was in shallow water over rocks( i got worried and we quickly got oputta there. The guy even offered to drive me to get diesel if needed, he was a good guy. We learned that the marinas on the guide were no longer open and had to motor against 15kt head wind 90% of the trip. 13 hp engine can only do so much in that wind and navigating those channels in total darkness slowed us down also. we experienced every human emotion on this journey from awesome times to wishing we could quit and be home. sleep deprevation is bad stuff, because finding places to tie off and rest was a huge problem. We did find an awesome ghost town of a destroyed marina called Adams bayou and got some sleep. Sunday morning we entered Vermillion bay and the water began to get rough, we thought it wasnt so bad. Then 10 min later i began to fear we wouldnt make it, we werent even close to the middle of the bay and we were in 20kt head wind and 3-5ft waves crashing over the bow. I turned around and got back to the channel to find another way. We found another entrance to the bay 4 hours later and proceeded with caution. Had good close haul again, steady 15-20kt and we ran, water was good as it was closer to protected side of the bay. we made it back. Learned so many things on this voyage. First, the value of finding a place to sleep was huge. Sleep deprevation can lead you to decisions you wouldnt even normally consider. Having several paper charts, gps and iphone were huge. My friend even had a device called gps spot, which allowed family to track our progress at 10 min intervals. And ofcoarse, learning several ways to get unstuck from this forum was HUGE, we touched bottem and stopped 8 times on this trip and got out easily each time. i think my impeller was struggling toward the back end of the trip, temp was getting hot and not much water was being discharged, but she got us there 60 something hours after leaving Kemah. This particular volvo penta is tough, we throttled back to keep her as cool as we could and averaged 4 kts....i did have spare impeller and fuel filter onboard and all those things will be changed asap. The ICW is tough, the leland bowman lock was the WORST! we were hit by a huge squall while waiting to enter and almost through anchor to hold position in what seemed like a parking lot of tug barges, but they let us cut in line. make serious plans if you travel this route because it will test you....and its not like you can just quit and go home, we kept going, and going....but we are home safe and have huge respect for life, and good old training, marine knowledge and education........oh, and ofcoarse, planning
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Old 30-08-2010, 05:57   #2
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Sleep deprivation when single-handed is always going to be a problem especially close to shore.

The same situation when there is more than one crew suggests that you needed to have organised your watchkeeping a bit better.
"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss."
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Old 30-08-2010, 06:44   #3
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Moving a new boat to you is always a crap shoot. I've had one easy one and one really hard one. You just get can't as organized to start with and the little things you don't know overcome all the wisdom you may have had from other boats.

Moving down any part of the ICW always sounds far easier than it turns out. Darkness, weather, sleep, and nagging mechanical problems are all the surprises waiting. Trips often have too tight a deadline and this forces actions that no normal sailor would try. Being in a channel of sorts forces navigation problems that you really have to see to sort out. Daylight just makes a big difference threading such passages. All the incentives can line up to make you do that darn fool thing you should have known better than to try. Estimates on destinations and speed suddenly make a serious problem.

Sounds like you did fine any way. Learning a lot usually means you can do a lot better in the future. A good understanding of what it takes to travel on the ICW is usually something you have to learn. The east coast ICW isn't that much better even if the shadow of Katrina still weighs heavy on the gulf
Paul Blais
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37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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