Calcasieu River to Mermentau River

We had to say goodbye to our oil production friends this morning. We were pulling up anchor at about the same time the crew boats were heading out to take them to their sites. They have been friendly and curious through our short stay and only one grumpy driver had an issue with us anchoring in the Bayou. Fortunately it is not his Bayou so we ignored him and he ignored us. About 10 PM last night we saw a large tug go past us and since we were about as far back as a boat of any size can get we were a bit intrigued. It seems he had a large dilapidated sail boat of at least 45 feet on his hip and he brought it in and pushed it up to the trees at the bridge. He was none too gentle and we surmised he was glad to be rid of it. The crew tied it to the trees and they promptly left. But the vessel was at least floating when we left this morning.

We knew we had to give advance notice to the Ellender Bridge some 25 miles down the waterway, in order to get an opening. The bridge height is 50 feet and our mast height is 57 feet. We called at 6:30 AM to give them a heads up and told them we would call again 4 hours prior to arrival since that is their requirement. We were told, "no problem" and we headed out. This was to be a short run again since we planned to anchor in the Calcasieu River and it was only 30 miles up the waterway. This was another of our stops on the way west so we knew what to expect. But our last anchorage there was just a right turn out of the channel and anchoring behind a range marker. This time with the help of our Skipper Bob anchorage guide, we planned a stop in what was described as a lovely anchorage in an oxbow 3 miles up river. Once again lots and lots tug and barge traffic.

At one point we passed a tug pulling a HUGE oil drilling rig with another tug pushing from behind. We fell in astern of one tug that was traveling at just the speed we needed to make our arrival at the Ellender Bridge. At exactly 4 hours out we called the bridge and gave them our ETA. It seems it did not matter a whole lot since we still waited 15 to 20 minutes for the bridge to open. But if you don't call ahead there is a good chance that no one will be on the bridge to open it when you arrive. The turn off the waterway on to the Calcasieu River is less than a mile after the bridge and is a wide and deep commercial channel. There are lots of tank farms and refineries up river and a ship dry-dock on the port side as you turn in. The winds were the forecast (imagine that) 15+ from the SW which was just fine for this leg. The trip up the river was quick and easy and we found the anchorage in the oxbow just as described. There is a tank farm and fill up for the barges at the entrance but as you go farther in you are in low lying saw grass with a golf course off the stern, but the ever present refineries are all around the river. Next morning we were off early and back on the waterway heading east. We needed to time our departure to put us at the Calcasieu Locks after 8:00 AM since they are restricted prior to that. As we arrived, a tug and barge was locking through west bound but came through rather quickly. We locked through next and the gates were open on both ends so it was just a quick motor through. At the east side of the lock is a pontoon bridge which needed to open and usually coordinates with the lock. But I guess this has changed since the lock master instructed us to call the bridge on channel 13 to open. After a few calls and no response we called the locks on channel 14, they in turn called the bridge which finally opened for us.

We had one other pontoon bridge to transit some 7 or 8 miles down the waterway. This one opened as soon as we arrived, even though a tug had just passed through. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and we saw much less commercial traffic than on previous days. We arrived at the Mermentau River at about 2:00 PM and traveled upstream about 1.8 miles to a beautiful anchorage in another oxbow. This one is populated by tall trees and very little signs of refineries. There is even a small park at the pass just before we turned into the anchorage. It should be a peaceful night and we will have to start at the crack of dawn tomorrow because we have about 58 miles and that includes a fuel stop in Intracoastal City and a lock to transit and they can hold us up.

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