OUR PLAN

We are writing this blog for one reason and one reason only. To provide a vehicle to make it easier to remain in touch with our family and friends back home.

Our plan is simple. Depart our home port of Goderich Ontario in the Summer of 2011. Cruise Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron while visiting some of the ports and anchorages we have missed over the years. As well as revisiting some of our favourite haunts hopefully with some of our very good friends with whom we have cruised with many times before. All the while adding up the miles and gaining experience with our new trawler. Our first and only self imposed deadline is to be in the Chicago area around Labour Day. South of Chicago, weather and circumstances will guide us!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

11/20-29/11 - NEW ORLEANS, LA

What can I say – Terrmar in New Orleans – who would have thought!  We were ready for the sights, sounds, food and culture which define the city, specifically the French Quarter.  New Orleans was founded in the early 1700s by the French, with the Spanish taking control mid- 1700s, back to the French in 1800, when a treaty was signed by France and Spain.  In 1803 Louisiana was sold to the US in the Louisiana Purchase agreement under Napoleon’s rule.  The city has been influenced by French, Spanish, African, American, and Creole cultures as evidenced in its architecture, cuisine, music, traditions and people.


MARK AMONGST THE FLORA IN NEW ORLEANS

We were not disappointed.  We were very fortunate to tour the city with Kemba and Bob from Spirit Dancer who had previously visited the “Big Easy” and guided us to some of the most popular and historic attractions.  Special mention has to go to The Bourbon Street Oyster and Seafood Restaurant where we celebrated the US Thanksgiving Day.  The raw oysters and "Turducken" (roasted de-boned chicken stuffed in de-boned  duck stuffed in de-boned turkey) were delectable! 
With lots of laughs, great food, music and companionship we were able to experience the energy and flavour of this N√°wlins that draws people of all ages and places.

TERRMAR SQUEEZED IN AT ORLEANS MARINA

CHI-CHEEMAUN 11 TAKING BREAK FROM NORTH CHANNEL?
DECORATED WITH SNOWFLAKES!

THE ART OF CIGAR SMOKING

CHEERS KEMBA-WE MADE IT!

OVERLOOKING ST. LOUIS CATHEDRAL

KEMBA & BOB & CHRISTMAS TREE

JACKSON SQUARE-CAFE DU MONDE IN BACKGROUND

 
ENJOYING BEIGNETS @ CAFE DU MONDE (C..1862)


MARTI GRAS MASKS FOR SALE

OH, ITS SO YOU MARK!

OLDEST PUBLIC MARKET IN US
SANTA NEW ORLEANS STYLE
BEAUTIFUL CAFE

SAMPLE TOURIST SHOP

TAKING BREAK @ MARGARITAVILLE

BEAUTIFUL BALCONY

LUNCH @ PAT O'BRIEN-HOME OF THE HURRICANE




PURPLE GUY WORKING FOR TIPS

MAKING CIGARS @ FACTORY SHOP

TERRI & KEMBA GETTING FORTUNES TOLD
JAZZ TRIO @ COURT OF TWO SISTERS

KEMBA, BOB & SISTER MICHAEL MARY(OLD FRIENDS)

OUTDOOR COURTYARD @ COURT OF 2 SISTERS

ANOTHER GORGEOUS BALCONY

ST. LOUISE CATHEDRAL

ROYAL TOUR OF FRENCH QUARTER

JEAN LAFITTE'S BLACKSMITH SHOP TAVERN-(C..1772 STILL LIT BY CANDLES)

SISTER MICHAEL MARY & KEMBA TRY DUELLING PIANOS @ PAT O'BRIEN

ANYTHING FOR TIPS ON BOURBON STREET

YOU'D ENJOY THE SWAMP HERE TOO AL!

REALLY?

ENJOYING BOURBON STREET

CLASSIC ROCK BAND ON BOURBON STREET

WHAT A HOOT!

MARK KICKING UP HIS HEELS ON BOURBON STREET

A weather window has opened so we must leave Orleans Marina, centrally located to grocery stores, parks, shopping etc. to travel to our stopover destination at Seabrook Marina, before heading back home for the holidays.  The convenient passage to the second marina, located a few miles south on the Industrial Canal was closed due to construction of gates to protect the area from high water levels.  This meant that we had to back track through Lake Ponchartrain, through the Rigolets and connect to the Intercoastal Waterway leading us to the Industrial Canal.  Done!
WAITING FOR TRAIN TO CROSS BEFORE BRIDGE OPENING

 Spirit Dancer travelled with us, as they were now headed home to Texas after accomplishing the completion of their Great Loop adventure.  We saw them off the next morning.  It has been a pleasure to travel with Kemba and Bob.  Thank you for all your advice, cruising tips, laughter and wonderful memories.  Bahamas?  Cross fingers.
WAITING FOR RIDE HOME @ TORONTO AIRPORT

The temperature dropped like a snow ball and reminded us that home was just a few days away.  We got busy with preparations and set up the warranty work to be done in our absence.  Wouldn’t you know- the day of departure, temps in the 70’s again.  Travel went well and for a first- time flyer, Smudge did really well.  The stewardess was surprised when she finally noticed Smudge at the end of the flight.  Good puppy!

SMUDGE DRESSED FOR CANADIAN WINTER


Home Sweet Home!
See y’ahl in the New Year
Terri  

  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

11/20/11 POINT CADET MARINA IN BILOXI MS. TO ORLEANS MARINA ON LAKE PONCHATRAIN IN NEW ORLEANS LA

0500 I was wide awake and ready to go.  Problem is we still had almost two hours of darkness to burn off and Terri’s alarm did not sound until 0530.  There was a little bit of fog but I figured visibility to be about 2.5 miles which is well within tolerance.  So back to bed I went and rested until the alarm sounded.  Like clockwork the alarm did sound and I was up and making preps.  There was a light showing on Spirit Dancer next to us so they were also awake and making preps.  Terri looked out the window and gave a little grunt.  Fog eh!   Just a little I said and continued making preps.  I went on deck to start rolling up the water hose and I saw Kemba next door and she verbally re-enforced her sincere dislike for travelling in fog.  Then Bob popped his head out and looked at the same land mass off to the East that I used to get a range of visibility.  He formed his own opinion regarding visibility and more or less agreed with me.  Terri appeared and we had an impromptu captains meeting.  The VHF radio weather report advised that there was a fog warning until 0900.  It doesn’t look that bad so we all agree to leave at first light.   A few minutes earlier Terri had heard another looper friend, Gemini at a different marina on the VHF talking to the harbour master about the fog, but Steve and Beth decide to depart as well.  As it turned out Gemini departed their dock about the same time as us and led Spirit Dancer and Terrmar South then West down the channel. 
SPIRIT DANCER FOLLOWING GEMINI OUT OF  THE CHANNEL

BILOXI MS.

Before we were out of the channel and before Terri had the lines and fenders stowed, the dolphins were playing with our bow wave.  Terri was thrilled and her huge smile warmed my heart.   Steve on Gemini tells us of a short cut that he has worked out with the help of a local boater.   With a quick check of the charts we concur and agree to follow suit.  As we were the third boat in our little flotilla we probably had the easiest job of the three boats.  We all had agreed on the same course and speed so this should be a rather uneventful day.  I had the other two boats identified on Radar and Gemini has an AIS transponder.  My biggest challenge today would be boredom.  We see a fog bank ahead and soon Gemini about ½ a mile in front of us has disappeared and soon Spirit Dancer about ¼ mile a head follows into the mist.  We were now relying on our Chart Plotter, Radar and our AIS receiver.  We have been in fog before and Terri and I know the drill.   The fog thickens.  Hey, wait a minute the weather report promised clear weather by 0900, but we have long ago given up trusting weather forecasts.

CROSBY EXPLORER THE TOW IN THE FOG


 LADY GAYLE MARIE TRAVELLING AT 11 KNOTS WITH BIG HORNS


Well past noon and the fog is still there and we must overtake a tow.  He is doing about 7 mph and we are doing 9 mph.  We have done this often and it should be routine.   But the fog is the wild card.  We have the tow identified on Radar and AIS but I would still like a visual for reference.  Gemini, a mile or so ahead of us passed this tow earlier.   Spirit Dancer, just ahead of us has just completed this maneuver.  So as usual, we contact the Tow Boat Captain and discuss where and when to overtake him.   See you on the two whistle, we both agree.   This means we will overtake him, our Port to his Starboard.   Okay here we go!   Finally I get a visual on him.   I was almost up his Tater Basket (Tow Boat slang for very close to his stern).   Okay, this is a narrow channel and I can’t leave the channel too far for fear of running aground.   The tow boat captain has cooperated and is holding his course and speed as far to the other side of the channel as he dares, but he keeps fading in and out of the fog.  Finally, we are ahead of him and out of danger of any collision with him.  I can now slowly come back to the center of the channel.   The VHF radio springs to life “Terrmar- Spirit Dancer, there is a shrimp boat out here, we almost hit him and he is headed your way.”    But why don’t I see his AIS signal on my chart plotter?   Surely he is equipped with one???   Then Terri saw him emerge out of the fog.  He is coming towards us from the 1 o’clock and the Tug Boat Captain, in his relentless pursuit of our own Tater Basket, from about the 5 o’clock.   I am between a Tow who can’t stop or turn without great effort and a Shrimp Boat working in or near the channel.   Choices, while there are not too many, it is plain to see, there is only one really.   Remember my Fighter Pilot maneuver back on the Illinois River?   That’s it!   I will again need all of the 380 HP we paid for.   The turbo charger kicks in and we show 14 mph on the plotter.   Slowly, the Radar return of the tug behind us is falling off.   Simultaneously, the Shrimp Boat holds his course and speed and Terrmar runs a bit of a button hook maneuver from the left side of the channel over to the right.   Spirit Dancer is on the radio again warning of another Shrimp Boat.   Again we see no AIS signal.   Like the previous Shrimper, the Radar Return is very hard to distinguish between the shrimp boat and a channel marker.   We never did see the second Shrimp Boat.   Our eyes are getting tired from the constant peering into fog looking for buoys or wayward Shrimp Boats.   We heard that, not always is there someone on watch in the wheel house of a Shrimp Boat and that the captain and crew are all at work on deck.   For the sake of a $200 AIS transponder all of this could have been prevented.
The balance of the day, save for the last hour and a half of the trip, was shrouded in fog.   We had reached Lake Ponchatrain LA. and were now only about 20 miles from New Orleans.   We moved up to the Fly-Bridge (steering station up top) because it gave us a better view of the dozens of Crab Pots and their rather ambiguous looking markers.   Many of these markers were black buoys about the size of a Volley Ball or smaller.   Who thought up that colour scheme?   They were becoming increasingly harder to see in the setting sun.   Did I say sun?   Yes, and the last hour of our trip was indeed wonderful.   We left most of the crab pots behind and watched the sun retreat to the west and Spirit Dancer follow from the East.
 
FIRST VIEW OF NEW ORLEANS

"SPIRIT DANCER" AGAIN IS SHE PASSING OR BEING PASSED?  REGARDLESS A BEAUTIFUL BOAT

We arrived at the end of the day with just enough daylight to maneuver.   We, were exhilarated and now had another bullet to put into our gun holster.   We had another first and the next time it would certainly be less intimidating.
Bring on the Big Easy!
Mark

11/18-19/11- DOG RIVER MARINA, AL. TO POINT CADET MARINA IN BILOXI, MS.

The day has arrived to set off for our much anticipated side trip to New Orleans (pronounced N’awlins by the locals).  The weather, waves, wind forecasts and charts have been studied to death.  The decision is made and we set off with Spirit Dancer to our first leg destination, Point Cadet, Biloxi, MS.  Another long day planned and the conditions are not too bad in Mobile Bay.  The further south we traveled the higher the wind and waves seemed to get and Terrmar started rolling with the beam seas.  A tad uncomfortable, shall I say!  Poor Smudge was sea sick, but after we changed direction to west everyone was able to enjoy the ride including Smudge.  Dolphin watching helped pass the time.  Both black and grey dolphins were seen gracefully playing in our boat wake, however too quick to get a picture.

SHRIMP BOAT

POINT CADET MARINA REBUILT AFTER DESTROYED BY KATRINA

NAME SAKE BOAT?

WORKING SHRIMP BOATS AT MARINA

UP CLOSE

We arrived at Point Cadet Marina located in Biloxi, MS. as the sun was beginning to set.  Exhausted from the long day we decided to treat ourselves to dinner and a casino with Spirit Dancer.  The meal was wonderful!  Armed with $20 each we set out for the casino a short walk away.  Kemba was winning at the slot machines and then wandered over to a black jack table.  None of us had ever played but we decided to give it a try.  Crash course from the black jack dealer and game on!  It was a lighthearted game and Mark and I broke even, not so for Kemba and Bob – sorry, but we all lasted through 2 ½ decks of cards and after had a drink while listening to a live band.  So-o-o much fun!

THE ISLE CASINO NEXT TO MARINA


Next day Mark and I went back to the casino for lunch and to try our luck again at the black jack table.  As we sat down and explained to the dealer that we were novices, another player sat down and plunked a $100 bill on the table.  Fair warning, we told him in case he was the, much- too -serious type.   No problem, he replied, but I guess it was a problem for the dealer.  She zeroed in on my every move with lectures and chastising.  The karma was definitely not as great as the night before.   Finally, having had enough “fun”, I placed all my money on one deal, win or lose, I was out of there!  To my great pleasure, my hand won, we left the table even and walked away as the dealer was tripping over her apologizes, realizing that she just chased us and more importantly our gambling money away.  Just as well, early to bed for N’awlins beckons us tomorrow.
Terri