Barataria Waterway to Blind Rigolets, La.

With a number of bridges, two locks, the Mississippi River and who knows what else, an early start on Sunday morning was needed. The Barataria is only 15 miles from the Harvey Lock and we had one bridge before that we needed to have open. We called the Harvey Lock from our anchorage to be sure there would be no unusual delays and got instructions on what to expect once we arrived. The Lockmaster was very friendly and professional. The anchor came up and we got underway just as a tug was heading into the waterway with us. At mile 2.8 before the lock we came to the Lapalco Blvd. Bascule Bridge.

We called on the radio several times and no answer. We blew our horn and no response. We called and called and still no response. Finally we called again to Harvey lock and explained our situation. The Lockmaster gave us the bridge cell phone number and we called the bridge tender. She answered the phone with an "Oh, I did not hear you. Oh, there you are. OK I will open the bridge." Just one of those irritating
moments. The approach to Harvey lock is congested to say the least. Tugs, barges and work boats of all sizes shapes and states or repair line the waterway. The area is strictly commercial for the waterway and we wondered how some of the larger tug and barges ever got through. As you approach the lock there is the Harvey Route Railroad Bascule Bridge, usually open, and Harvey State Road 18 Bridge which is right at the Lock entrance. The bridge opens when the Lockmaster sounds the horn for you to begin the approach to the lock. As you enter the lock eastbound you will probably tie up on the port side. The Lockmaster will drop a line down to you and you need to attach a long dock line to it. He will secure the line at the top and you will take up the slack as the water levels rise. This is done with one line amidships. We also had 3 fenders tied at strategic places along the hull. We came up 11 feet to meet the Mississippi River when the gates opened. It all went very smoothly.

Upon leaving the lock and entering the mighty Mississippi you are required to call Gretna Light Traffic Control and tell them who you are and where you are going. The trip down river is fast since the currents are extremely strong. These currents determine which lock you will use going eastbound or westbound. Going west you need to go down the river with the current to the Algiers Lock. Going east you also need to go down the river from the Harvey Lock to the Industrial Canal Lock which takes you through New Orleans and to the canal which connects to Lake Pontchartrain. Care is needed in turning into the Industrial Canal as the strong current wants to continue to sweep you down river. Our speed over the ground once on the river exceeded 11 MPH and we were running at a very low RPM on the engine. The currents and eddies on the river are incredible and the depth well exceed 100 feet in most places. There is the St. Claude Ave. Bascule Bridge at the entrance to the Industrial Lock and it works pretty much the same as Harvey.

 We waited for a tug and barge to come out heading westbound and we entered the lock. The procedure is similar except bow and stern lines were dropped to us and since the water level was to be lowered 11 feet, we let out line as it dropped. All easy, no hassles and again the Lockmaster was friendly and professional. As soon as you come out of the lock there is the North Claiborne Ave. lift bridge that needs to be called for an opening. The locks use VHF channel 14 but the bridges use VHF channel 13 as do all of the commercial traffic. We have been monitoring only channel 13 since we turned onto the GICWW at Galveston.

The rest of the trip was almost boring. The canal heading east is almost entirely marshland with some waterways of unknown depths here and there. Today was the most pleasure craft we have seen in a long time. Lots of small runabouts with fishing gear and even a few of those nasty jet skis. We hope they will be in season soon so we can bag a few. We again chose the path less taken and changed our minds about where we would anchor at the last minute. The anchorage behind Rabbit Island is full of wrecked abandoned equipment but this is where everyone anchors. Right next door is the Blind Rigolets waterway that has a railroad bridge over it very shortly after you enter. It is fairly deep at 17 to 24 feet and pretty wide. So we poked our nose in, checked the depths and decided this would be OK for tonight so the anchor is down. The rest of the evening will be prepping for the crossing of the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay. We will try and do the crossing in two day hops or three if the sailing is slow. And we will try to sail this leg instead of motoring and using the precious diesel.

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