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Old 31-03-2016, 12:53   #1
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Galveston to Atchafalaya River Inlet coastal

Hi All,

I've been very busy with a major refit on Cavalier over the past couple of years, so I haven't been a particularly active member.

I'm looking for feedback from anybody who may have sailed the non-ICW route from Galveston toward New Orleans. I've only ever taken the ICW, and the idea of doing it again isn't exciting me.

I'm specifically looking at sailing early September from Galveston to the Lower Atchafalaya River Inlet located 35nm east of Trinity Shoal in the southern section of Atchafalaya bay. The plan is to follow the channel up river to the ICW just south of Morgen City and onward to Harvey Locks. We'd run dawn until dawn (24 hours) such that we'd arrive at the outer markers for the channel at dawn.

Clearly, the planned route will take us south of Trinity Shoal and any other charted obstacles such as rigs etc. staying in 50ft+ water at all times, and fair weather would be part of the start-out conditions.

I have a good radar and AIS onboard, and plan to run the route with 4 crew, 2 up at all times.

My concern relates to legacy obstructions, such as old wellheads. Logically, the wellhead casings which would have been capped near to sea-level should be very prevalent in the much shallower coastal waters nearer (and in) the swamps. I'd be surprised if the DoE and USCG would permit structures (especially standpipes) to be removed without cutting back to at least 50' below sea level (or to seabed) once they've been decommissioned [as per OSPAR conventions]. Does anybody know if random standpipes out in the gulf is a real thing in 50ft+ water depths? Evidently, the existing abandoned yet charted platforms and structures should light up well on radar.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Phil
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Old 31-03-2016, 18:24   #2
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Re: Galveston to Atchafalaya River Inlet coastal

I can help with this!!

Wells that have been properly P&A'd won't present you any problems, the problem wells/platforms are those that "disappeared" during katrinaritaike.

Without naming names, one particular platform caisson was felled (during Rita I think) and left. There was a small orange bouy marking the position of the wreckage, however this wasn't particularly visible at night nor on radar.

Sections of pipe were still attached haphazardly to the platform, one just a few feet below surface. As one may suspect a vessel struck the pipe and nearly sank, saved by watertight compartments.

However the location of the platform still appeared on NOAA raster charts from that year, and the vessel ran right over the top of the charted platform location.

Moral of the story is use a combination of older and newer charts in the area and stay clear of charted platforms even if they're not physically there on the surface. This simple precaution should keep you out of trouble.


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Old 31-03-2016, 18:54   #3
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Re: Galveston to Atchafalaya River Inlet coastal

Sail Monkey,



Excellent answer and sage advice. I may even go as far as plotting my route around the multitude of pink birds all over the charts! .



I, like everyone else, have no desire to find out what a 26000lb boat feels like slamming into a submerged structure at 2am doing 8knots.



Thanks for the response!



Phil
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Old 02-04-2016, 22:47   #4
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Re: Galveston to Atchafalaya River Inlet coastal

It's really not as bad as it looks on the chart! I have made this trip numerous times on commercial vessels and a few times under sail as well. Don't sail too close to the platforms at night, sometimes there are mooring bouys and other unlit stuff very close to them. There is a lot of traffic on the river so it is very well marked, you will have no trouble going up at night. Timing your arrival to ride a flood tide up the river can save you a lot of travel time as there is a strong current there. Don't hesitate to check in with Berwick traffic, they will advise you of approaching traffic and let others know of your location.

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