Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pride goeth before a storm

We have again escaped the boatyard, shoving off this morning after a quick stop at the pumpout dock. I am typing under way in the ICW, eastbound toward the Rigolets, retracing our steps out of lake Pontchartrain back in January. Yes, it really has been half a year.

New Orleans Pride.

Much has happened since I last posted here nine days ago. The yard plugged along, touching up all our rust spots and rebedding much of our hardware. They also touched up the couple of scratches we managed to put in the paint ourselves. The new bedding is more generous than the original and we are hopeful this will keep the rust at bay a bit longer.

Our view from Dat Dog. A lone guitarist is playing light jazz.

Summer is upon us now and that means full-on tourist season in New Orleans. After my last post we rode down to Frenchmen Street for a casual dinner at an old favorite, Dat Dog, where we again sat on the wrought-iron balcony to watch the goings-on on the street below. Live street music was the order of the day. This place has great dogs, great drafts, and great people watching. What's not to like?

Moments later he is eclipsed by this drum-and-brass combo. He just played right along.

The timing of our visit had us in New Orleans for a couple of festivals, and last Saturday afternoon we made dinner reservations at The Italian Barrel in the quarter, and headed down to the French Market to catch part of the Creole Tomato Festival.  Examples of every sort of dish made with Creole Tomatoes were available from several stands, and they had music on a stage by the Old Mint.

Main stage at the Creole Tomato Fest, near the Old Mint.

We did not sample any of the tomato dishes, but we did wander around the festival with a draft Abita in hand. It was good people-watching, and the live music was right up our alley. This, however, was just the relatively tame start to our evening; the festival ran from 10am to 7pm and we deliberately arrived toward the tail end of that  window.

Head end of the naked bike ride, just behind the police car.

On our scooter ride into town to our customary free parking spot, along a series of normally empty back streets, we had noticed an unusual backup of traffic. Glancing down the side streets we could see the police escorting some sort of bicycle ride toward the quarter, a few blocks away from us. We guessed it to be an event associated with the New Orleans Pride Festival, going on at Washington park.

This from-the-rear shot is the only other that was not NSFW.

As we stood near the stage at the Creole Tomato Festival, however, we were amused to find it was actually the annual World Naked Bike Ride. It was a hoot, and we were sorry we did not learn of it until after the fact -- we do have a couple of bicycles aboard Vector ;-) Like many other tourists (and locals), I took dozens of pictures, but this is a PG blog so you only get the tamer ones. Worth noting, though, that many children did get to watch it roll by -- a teachable moment.

A stand at the French Market. Tourists are in season.

After the ride whizzed by, we had enough time before dinner to walk a few blocks around the quarter and take in more of the festival and the typical summer weekend crowd in the quarter. And while I had not requested it when I made the reservation, we scored a nice sidewalk table for dinner, with a good view of the festival stage as well as the parade route for the main event.

Our dinner view, the side of the stage. Off-camera to the left is the parade route.

That event would, of course, be the annual Pride Parade. While small in comparison to events in, say, San Francisco or New York, New Orleans fields a respectable parade for Pride, and this town knows a few things about throwing a parade. Just like other NOLA parades, there are "throws" from some of the floats, and while I studiously avoided catching any beads (we have loads), I did score a pair of fuzzy dice from the Krewe of the Rolling Elvi, and we also landed a vuvuzela and a small pride flag.

New Orleans Pride, sponsored by Walgreens. This is the lead float.

We were happy our return visit coincided with Pride. It was particularly moving this year, coming, as it did, just two days before the anniversary of the Orlando nightclub shootings. That date, incidentally, was also the 50th anniversary of the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision. It's hard to believe it took 48 years for the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to extend the same protection to same-sex couples.

Grand Marshal.

Sunday we got a few things done around the boat and then went to dinner with our new friends Jana and Tom from Adagio Gul. We took the scooters, a familiar mode for them since they spent some time living in Taiwan. They immediately recognized the brand of my scoot, a Taiwanese model. It was the first time we've broken out the passenger helmets that we carry aboard Vector for just such an occasion.

Microsoft. A lot of hate gets posted via computer, but Google and Apple are also LGBTQ supportive companies.

Early this week we borrowed the yard's truck and did some provisioning. That included ten gallons of white vinegar to try to dissolve the crud in the black tank crossover pipe; we put all ten gallons in after pumping out this morning. We also used the truck for a hardware store run; I bought some fittings to make a holding tank vent filter, and a piece of plywood to try to make a more ergonomic sewing machine table for the quilt room.

This little bear that I caught as a parade throw at Mardi Gras is still "seated" in the truck's cupholder, where I left him.

Notwithstanding the yard's prediction that they would be done mid-week, it was the end of the day Thursday when they finally declared it. As such things often go, our own walk-around revealed several missed items that they needed to then address Friday. Things finally wrapped up around three o'clock yesterday afternoon.

Very happy to see our denomination represented.

Running so late in the week means we will miss the nice weather window we had to get across the gulf to Florida this weekend. So instead we are cruising more slowly eastward along the gulf coast, hoping for another window in perhaps a week. Also, you will note we are on the ICW instead of the river; we were advised that sections of South Pass might be too shallow for Vector without good local knowledge. The last thing we want to do is run aground with three knots of current astern.

As much as I would have liked to have done the last hundred miles of the Mississippi, I'm equally happy to be going this way, because the stretch of ICW between the Rigolets and Mobile Bay is the only section of waterway in the entire country that we've not done. So a week from now we'll be able to say we've done the entirety of the Intracoastal Waterway, a claim few boaters can make.

Transiting the Almonaster bridge, for, we hope, the last time.

Most of our readers are aware that hurricane season officially started on June 1, and runs through November 30. The busiest part of the season comprises September and October. Knowing that dangerous gulf cyclones are rare in June and even July, we made a calculated decision to remain in the gulf through June, to cruise Texas. We extended our stay by a couple of weeks to return to New Orleans for warranty repairs.

This sternwheeler is being refurbished just across from the boatyard; we saw it arrive back in March.

Odds are just that, odds, of course, and as it turns out we already have a probable gulf storm. Right now it is Investigation Area 93L, with an 80% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone. It's way too early to predict landfall, but the model runs vary from Port Aransas, TX, all the way to Appalachicola, FL, and everything in between. In other words, right where we are.

You don't outrun a tropical storm in a seven-knot boat, and so now we are in the process of developing a panoply of contingency plans in the event the storm catches up with us as a Tropical Storm or, less likely, a Category 1 Hurricane. Unlike the east coast, options for hurricane holes carrying a six foot draft on the gulf coast are very limited.

Maybe our new lucky dice will protect us. Thanks, Elvis!

We'll have a much better idea in the morning, when the model runs will provide slightly better landfall predictions. Depending on speed and direction, we may have to make an all-out run for Mobile, where we can escape up the Mobile River as far as necessary. Alternatively we can seek shelter up the Biloxi River or at one of the numerous marinas in the Biloxi area.

Angel loves Amazon deliveries. We got several during our week in the yard.

Tonight we should be anchored behind Half Moon Island, at the mouth of Lake Borgne. In the morning we will know whether our next stop is Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, or Biloxi.

Update: We are anchored off Half Moon Island, at the very eastern edge of Louisiana (map). A thunderstorm is moving in (we rode one out at the dock last night, too) and we are hunkering down.

1 comment:

  1. Sean,

    Thank you for your respectful, yet forceful comments about Obergefell and the Pride Festival. Too many boaters are of the Neanderthal variety, so it is especially hearting to find a kindred spirit, and one who is willing to put his convictions out into the public. I hope that we can meet during our respective travels.

    Also, well done with this episode's title.

    Fair seas.

    M/Y Travis McGee
    currently Titusville, FL


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