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Old 12-02-2017, 12:59 AM   #1
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Suggested Routes? Tarpon Springs, FL to Madisonville, LA

In a couple of weeks (depending on weather), I am planning to bring our boat from Tarpon Springs, FL to her new home in Madisonville, LA.

Saddle Tramp is a 46' Cheoy Lee LRC and draws 4'8".

Generally, if the Gulf has manageable conditions, it is our plan to direct the boat toward Panama City and then cruise on the outside until we reach Louisiana. My assumption is that the best route into Lake Pontchatrain and on to Madisonville would be through the Rigolets, but this is unfamiliar territory for me from a navigation standpoint.

Any tips, waypoints, route guidance, warnings, bridge advice, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. On another note, although I have rarely posted here, I have been a lurker and avid reader for quite a while now. I have relied heavily on the advice given to others on this site in my pursuit of our first trawler. I realize that I owe this board more than just a thanks. So eventually I will get around to posting some pictures of our boat and telling about the work we've put into her, etc. For now, thank you all for your contributions to this forum.
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Old 12-02-2017, 02:42 AM   #2
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Stay inside! Use the ICW as much as you can. This time of the year the GOM gets steep swells and short periods, sucks even on a 135ft tug.
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Old 12-02-2017, 08:08 AM   #3
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Stay inside! Use the ICW as much as you can. This time of the year the GOM gets steep swells and short periods, sucks even on a 135ft tug.
This is good advice, it"s winter. Enough said.......
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Old 12-02-2017, 09:25 AM   #4
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What Salty & Pie said. However, I would enter the Lake through the Rigolets. With your draft, you'll want to follow the channel around the north shore of Lake Katherine.
You can also follow the ICW into New Orleans and proceed into the Lake via the Industrial Canal. Downside there is a fussy railroad bridge that can hold you up for hours, depending.
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Old 12-02-2017, 10:01 AM   #5
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I also recommend staying inside for the P.C. to Madisonville portion of the trip. Rigolets (say Rigolees) would be the way to go into Madisonville. The bridge gets a good bit of RR traffic but you'll just have to wait for that.
Have a good trip!
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Old 12-02-2017, 10:21 AM   #6
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Yeah, every Lake entrance has a railroad bridge. The L&N bridge in the Industrial Canal (my experience) is run by people that view rec boats as annoyances. I've seen plastic boats stacked up for hours with no train. A tug or supply boat shows up and all of a sudden it's all clear and open.

With the Rigolets, you have two choices - Pearl River bridge to the east, and Rigolets bridge to the west. Both are on the same RR line, so both affected at Tha same time by traffic. The advantage there is, if one is down due to mechanical problems, the other is an alternate. I usually call ahead while transiting Lake Borgne for advice.

The Pearl River route through Little Lake looks dicey for 5' draft, but it's ok if you are careful to stay in the channel.
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Old 12-02-2017, 10:22 AM   #7
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Kim and I came from Gulf Shores to Madisonville on Labor day using the ICW all the way thru the Rigolets and then under the Causeway bridge with no problems or depth issues. Keep an eye out for crab traps and the shallow entrance to the river at Madisonville. Do not take a short cut to the river, stay right next to the channel markers going in. We stayed at Ship Island 1 night at anchor then the next day to Madisonville Enjoy the trip.
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:08 PM   #8
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I did the opposite trip. Bought my boat in Madisonville (boat was at the Hidden Harbor Marina) and came to Crystal River with it.

I would suggest staying inside as much as possible. We brought the boat over in February of 2014 and it was really nasty outside.
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Old 12-04-2017, 11:58 PM   #9
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Suggested Routes? Tarpon Springs, FL to Madisonville, LA

I have done this trip both coming and going this year, and in a Cheoy Lee to boot.

I did a direct open sea passage on the westbound trip. Had a good forecast on WindyTV and headed out. 49 hours sea buoy to sea buoy at 8 knots. It was a beautiful passage. I came in at the Gulfport Ms channel and followed the ICW from there. In my opinion, entrance to the lake through the Rigolets is the only way to go. Its a well marked passage, stay close to the north shore until you pass under the I-10 bridge then direct to the railroad bridge and hwy 11 bridge then head for the north draw of the Causeway bridge. From there, head for the Tchefuncta river entrance keeping at least a mile offshore until the entrance buoys line up. You will go further west than you think you need to but when you turn North everything will line up nicely.

I had gone east earlier in the year along the ICW all the way to Appalachacola then offshore to Tarpon Springs. It took me three months to get there but that's because I was enjoying the trip so much, I kept stopping for multiple days at each town along the way. The offshore passage portion of the trip was about 17 hours and we had lumpy seas.

I have done the offshore passage portion in December on three previous occasions. Always had uncomfortable lumpy seas. If you have stabilizers it will help. The boat will take much more than you can.

Here are a few pictures taken during the offshore trip.

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Old 12-05-2017, 02:21 AM   #10
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Where is home going to be in Madisonville? I am in Marina Del Ray in a river slip right before the bridge.
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:06 AM   #11
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Thanks McGillicuddy! Awesome info and pics.
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:08 AM   #12
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Kartracer,

I'll be in Marina Beau Chene. Interestingly, that's technically Mandeville now.
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:52 AM   #13
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When do you plan on being in Madisonville?
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:53 AM   #14
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Somewhere around December 19-21.
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Old 12-09-2017, 12:33 AM   #15
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Donít know your level of trawlership, but if this is your first long haul I would say go inside as much as possible and plan on it taking twice as long!. You would be amazed how fast the wife will not like the boat if itís yucky out! Also, keep in mind the fuel filter can get plugged quick when it gets rough and you start sloshing diesel around much more than the boat has seen in the last decade. Come in at Carabell, port st joe, or Panama City, if itís flat. Heck if itís really flat come in at Pensacola.
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Old 12-09-2017, 08:36 AM   #16
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Just saw on the Waterway page that the CSX bridge at Rigolets Pass is closed or restricted Dec 12-Jan 12. Looks like Pearl River or the Inner Harbor Canal are your options to get into the lake. Sounds like the Seabrook bridge will have some restrictions around the same time. Hope this helps and have a great trip....and, yes....stay inside!

https://www.waterwayguide.com/nav-al...rts+12-08-2017
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Old 12-09-2017, 03:48 PM   #17
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Donít know your level of trawlership, but if this is your first long haul I would say go inside as much as possible and plan on it taking twice as long!. You would be amazed how fast the wife will not like the boat if itís yucky out! Also, keep in mind the fuel filter can get plugged quick when it gets rough and you start sloshing diesel around much more than the boat has seen in the last decade. Come in at Carabell, port st joe, or Panama City, if itís flat. Heck if itís really flat come in at Pensacola.
Polished all of the fuel and plan on taking back up filters. Wife not along for this trip. Thanks for the tips. Plan is to generally point toward Panama City and be able to duck inside sooner if necessary. If it's 4-6 or less, plan to head straight for Orange Beach. Boat is stabilized.

First long haul in a trawler, but a pretty good bit of off shore experience in sportfishing boats, including overnighters in big seas.
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Old 12-09-2017, 03:49 PM   #18
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Just saw on the Waterway page that the CSX bridge at Rigolets Pass is closed or restricted Dec 12-Jan 12. Looks like Pearl River or the Inner Harbor Canal are your options to get into the lake. Sounds like the Seabrook bridge will have some restrictions around the same time. Hope this helps and have a great trip....and, yes....stay inside!

https://www.waterwayguide.com/nav-al...rts+12-08-2017
Thanks for this!
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Old 12-09-2017, 09:35 PM   #19
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Also, thanks for this from me. I am headed south on Ten-Tom at moment then headed west from Mobile headed to New Orleans. I should be at the Rigolets on Wednesday or Thursday. I will likely take the Pearl River cut off. It only takes about an hour longer.
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:33 PM   #20
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So, I ended up taking the GICWW rather that the Rigolets/Lake Pontchartrain route. But the bridge was open as I passed.
How did the trip work out for the OP? There have not been many weather windows in the past month or so.
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