I just completed the same trip 2.5 weeks ago. We went offshore (see attached Spot track). We left Galveston Yacht Basin around 23:30 Thursday and were pulling into St. Andrews Bay (PCB, FL) 21:00 Monday (less than 4 days). The currrents helped us a lot more than they hurt us. The winds were good for the first 20 hours and then they got fickle so we motored quite a bit. As a result we stopped in Port Eads, LA for diesel
and ice; a nice stop at a fancy fish
camp just a few miles out of the way via the South Pass of the Mississippi
. That stop added about 4 hours to the trip
I have done the Harvest Moon race
a few times before (west from Galveston to Port Aransas/Corpus Christi) where you stay close to shore and therefore encounter many more wellheads, a few unlit and without horns. In comparison we encountered few rigs on our trip east; none were unlit or without a horn; all were quite large. It would have been different if we hugged the coast.
As we approached and rounded the SW Mississippi
pass (in the middle of the night) there was quite a bit of ship and barge traffic but nothing too serious. I guess I'd say it was similar to the shipping
traffic in/out of Galveston. We were only a few miles off at the SW pass and as we got into shallower water the swells shortened into steep waves and made for an uncomfortable few hours. Next time I would stay farther out. Crossing the shipping
lanes at the SW pass was no big deal but it was 02:00 so perhaps traffic was slow. In general, I was surprised how few boats servicing the rigs we saw.
There were hundreds if not thousands of rigs (many lit and I am sure many unlit) that are near shore in LA between the SW pass and the South pass. But we were no where near them and they are well marked on the charts
as a mass of rigs. The hundreds of lights actually messed with us big time as we came around the SW pass until we figured out what the lights represented. But once again, we were not remotely close to anything in shallow water.
The trip was excellent. Very glad I went offshore (had 2 crew with me) and not via GICW. I have radar (worked well for storms and rigs) but we could have done without it given the clear weather
. I don't have AIS (yet). The only issues were the very large t-storms we encountered (including three water spouts one of which was way too close and required evasive maneuvers). The t-storms quickly created 6 - 10' waves with very short frequency that were more than a little scary. The 8 - 10' waves were thankfully more rogue than regular but for a few hours Sunday evening it wasn't a lot of fun. Wind
hit 34 knots in the storms. Lesson: the Gulf turns nasty fast.
Lucky for us, things mellowed out well before dawn Monday morning. We sailed well (including a great aymm run) early Monday and motored when the wind died late Monday afternoon. The water was beautiful. It was an epic trip and I was quite pleased with boat and crew. We caught tuna west of the delta including a nice yellow fin that busted my rod so we could not fish
in the really great deep water east of the delta on our way to FL. The other two things that broke were my fridg and my pinky finger. And the finger issue happened in Clear Lake
, TX before we technically left on the trip.