Friday, April 21, 2017

Runnin' the ditch

We are anchored in the Mermentau River, in Cameron Parish, Louisiana (map), just a mile or so off the ICW channel. This morning found us docked at Shell Morgan's Landing in Intracoastal City, Lousiana (map), the center of Vermillion Parish's offshore industry.

Vector at Shell Morgan's Landing. Tan building to the left is the store. Shrimp fleet in background.

Long-time readers will know that we much prefer to anchor than dock on these kinds of travel days. But anchorages are few and far between on this stretch of waterway -- none of the side channels or canals has enough depth for Vector -- and so we spent the last two nights at commercial docks that were little more than a safe place to stop.

Yesterday morning we left the seafood dock without incident before the shrimping fleet returned, and motored out of the port. We had our sights set on the Vermillion River, which looked like it might present some anchoring opportunities, with the backup option of Shell Morgan's just a little bit further if it did not work out.

Our charts for the Vermillion proved incorrect, showing a nice 12'-deep oxbow that is now completely silted in. The main channel of the river is a poor choice, because the river is lined with commercial berths for the significant offshore oil industry here.

Angel was relaxed the whole day. Here she sleeps on Louise's hat, right next to her on the pilothouse settee.

After poking around the river for 20 minutes we gave up and proceeded to Shell Morgan's, where dockage is a flat $25 for the night and includes 50-amp power. And while there is absolutely nothing else in this town, there is a small grocery store within spitting distance of the dock, so we were able to walk over and pick up a couple of items.

This morning we walked back over to the store because they have a small counter serving breakfast and lunch. We got egg sandwiches on toast as our last meal out for a while. The water level had dropped more than a foot overnight, and we left the dock in less than seven feet out to the main channel.

Shortly after clearing out of town we came to the Bowman Lock. As with the last lock we transited, this one only operates when necessary, and today they had both ends open and were passing traffic straight through. We were behind a giant tow, who slowed for the lock, so we putt-putted through behind him. The lockmaster called on the radio as we passed through to express his appreciation of our motor scooters on deck.

Approaching Bowman Lock in the wake of the towboat Native Dancer.

The rest of the day was more or less an endless chug down a narrow, featureless canal. We do like this sort of remote coastal landscape, but you can look out the window once every half hour and not really miss anything. Our new AT&T mobile hotspot stayed connected the whole time, and we occupied ourselves with various online chores.

For me that included making calls to the city docks in Houston and Beaumont to try to arrange dockage, as well as a call to the L'Auberge Casino in Lake Charles. The cities have not returned my calls, but we are booked at the casino for Sunday and Monday nights. We'll be in the neighborhood tomorrow, but the rates double on the weekends, so we'll anchor for a night before tying up.

We're looking forward to a couple of nights at a resort, complete with pool, lazy river, restaurants, and entertainment. They even have a spa, and we might spring the princely sum for resort-spa massages, just because we are both overdue.

Our lovely anchorage on the Mermentau, looking south towards the gulf.

We are enjoying being anchored here, only our second night at anchor since leaving the yard. Further up this river is Lake Arthur and the eponymous town thereon. My charts don't show whether the lake carries enough draft for Vector, or we might have gone all the way and tendered ashore for dinner. Instead I have a nice pork tenderloin on the grill.

Tomorrow night we should be anchored off the Calcasieu River, not far from our casino destination.

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