We are docked at the Orleans Marina, on Lake Pontchartrain, in New Orleans, Louisiana (map). We're all settled in for the next week or so, and our friends from California will be arriving this afternoon to join us aboard.
Sunset over New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain.
The Industrial Canal lock, formally known as the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock, opened as promised Thursday evening, and Friday morning we weighed anchor and motored the two miles back upriver to the canal. We tied up at the little dock on the south bulkhead while we waited for a tow to lock through in the other direction, which turned out to be the Corps of Engineers' own boat. Then they got us right through, having cleared the traffic backlog overnight.
About to clear the Florida Avenue Bridge after leaving the lock.
With all the brouhaha about the lock, we had forgotten completely about the bulletin we received some time ago stating that the Almonaster Bridge, about mid-canal, would be closed for maintenance on Friday. In a stroke of pure luck, we pulled up to the bridge right at 11 am, which was the lone time in the entire day that the bridge was scheduled to open, if needed, for marine traffic. We were the only boat requesting an opening.
Good thing, because the CSX railroad, whose tracks cross the bridge and were being replaced, took a full hour to clear the bridge and get it open. We ended up anchoring twice and station-keeping for a half hour, due to several false starts. Apparently the maintenance work severed the track circuit, and they had to resort to the emergency opening procedure.
Almonaster bridge, with the I-10 high bridge behind it. Note the CSX trucks still on the bridge.
We made it through the bridge around 12:30, and a short while later tied up at Seabrook Marine, right on the canal, to have them look at our paint issues. We spent nearly three hours with Jeff, one of the owners, going over the boat, paint and deck options, and the like, before moving along. As long as we were already tied up at their fuel dock, we took advantage of the pumpout before dropping lines, and it was past 4pm when we crossed the Seabrook railroad bridge and out into the lake.
We ended up dropping the hook only a short distance from there, near the runway of the old airport (map). Winds out of the north had us bobbing around for a while, but they switched to easterlies overnight and we had a nice lee from the airport. Just before we anchored, we spent ten minutes or so running in a tight circle to let the "new" autopilot computer calibrate the compass; I had been steering by hand up to that point with the autopilot lacking good heading information.
Weighing anchor in the lake. The shank is coated in famous Pontchartrain mud.
Saturday we had a nice leisurely morning, blissfully free of ships, towboats, workboats, and their concomitant radio traffic. After coffee and catching up on news and email, we weighed anchor and came directly here, a full two days early for our reservations. We wanted to fill up on water to do laundry, and have an easy time of getting the boat ready for visitors.
Although spendy, at $1.75 per foot, this is a great location, with nearly a dozen restaurants in walking distance, as well as a nice grocery store, a Walgreens, and a few other services. A bus stop nearby will get us anywhere in town in two hops with a $3 day pass. And we have a good address for some deliveries. Still, for that kind of money the docks should be in better shape and there should be Internet, but there is not.
Vector, snug in Orleans Marina for the holidays.
Yesterday Hertz Local Edition picked us up, and we now have a car for the next ten days. We spent the afternoon at Home Depot and Walmart replenishing supplies, and this afternoon we will pick our friends up at the airport.
I'm not sure if I will have another chance to post while our friends are in town; it's a short visit and we'll probably pack the schedule. At some point I will try to post a summary here of our Mississippi River trip, with some relevant statistics for those who are into such things.
We wish all our family, friends, and other readers a very pleasant holiday season.