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Old 08-26-2014, 01:11 PM   #1
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Houston to Pascagoula, MS

First post here.

My dad just bought a 34' Mainship. Going to pick it up next weekend in the Houston area. We're trying to decide whether to take the ICW or cut across. The boat does have chart plotter but no radar. We will not be under power at night. What advice can some of you vets offer? And would you recommend tying up to a rig/platform at night if we make the cut, or coming into port or at least into shallow water to drop anchor? Any and all advice is welcomed. This will be our first big trip and will be in an unfamiliar boat as he's always had sailboats.


On a side note, I'd like to do some fishing during the trip. Any pointers in this area would be a bonus.

Thanks guys.
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Old 08-26-2014, 02:39 PM   #2
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A new-to-you boat without any running time under your supervision? Take the ICW. And before you go, get TowBoatUS or SeaTow. Untried, and offshore doesn't sound like a great combination to me.

P.S.- Welcome and all that stuff.
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Old 08-26-2014, 02:42 PM   #3
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A new-to-you boat without any running time under your supervision? Take the ICW. And before you go, get TowBoatUS or SeaTow. Untried, and offshore doesn't sound like a great combination to me.

P.S.- Welcome and all that stuff.

Yeah he has already got a membership with BoatUS.

And thanks for the welcome.
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Old 08-26-2014, 02:55 PM   #4
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I would run the ditch to south of Lake Charles as a shake down. If all checks out and the weather permits then turn down the ship channel out into the GOM. You will be ok to tie off to a rig to sleep but keep an anchor watch as the current will clock around during the night and if the winds are light you could drift into the structure. Grand Isle would be a good overnight stop. To save time and boredom I would cut across the Mississippi through Venice by going up Tiger Pass, cross the river at The Jump and into Baptiste Colette (pass) on the east side which will put you in Breton/Chandleur sound with a shot up the east side of the islands (or sand bars as they are mostly now) to the pass between Cat and Ship Islands.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:08 PM   #5
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Any idea on what this trip should take? We are thinking around 5 days.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:51 PM   #6
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Depends on comfortable cruising speed for the vessel, in the ditch or offshore, sea conditions. I would guess that 5 days should be plenty. I've run boats from Vermilion Bay area to New Orleans in two days by the ICW (biggest time variant is locking through in New Orleans to cross the M river....if you get a string of long red flag tows (flammable products) you will have to wait as a they have to lock through without other no-red flag tows and they will get preferential treatment IME. If going around the delta or cutting through Venice I have done it in 3 days running at 22+ knots and stopping to fish evening near Breton Island. That route avoids any locks.
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:24 PM   #7
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I would do the ICW especially in a "new to me boat" Make sure your VHF radio(s) are working and you know well what one whistle and two whistle mean you will get it from the commercial traffic all the time. If you do stay inside do everything possible to cross the Mississippi and New Orleans on a Saturday or Sunday there are no bridge curfews then so traffic at rhe bridges and locks won't get as bad.
If you do decide to stay in the ICW and would like a spreadsheet a friend prepared to do the trip a couple of years ago, let me know and I'll send it to you. I keep my boat in Houma which is a good stop along the way 58 miles West of Harvey lock.
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:52 PM   #8
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A new-to-you boat without any running time under your supervision? Take the ICW. And before you go, get TowBoatUS or SeaTow. Untried, and offshore doesn't sound like a great combination to me.
What she said. New-to-you boats have a disconcerting habit of developing problems. It is just the nature of the beast. Run the ICW, have towing insurance, and be prepared to be bored. :-)
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Old 08-26-2014, 05:54 PM   #9
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I would do the ICW especially in a "new to me boat" Make sure your VHF radio(s) are working and you know well what one whistle and two whistle mean you will get it from the commercial traffic all the time. If you do stay inside do everything possible to cross the Mississippi and New Orleans on a Saturday or Sunday there are no bridge curfews then so traffic at rhe bridges and locks won't get as bad.
If you do decide to stay in the ICW and would like a spreadsheet a friend prepared to do the trip a couple of years ago, let me know and I'll send it to you. I keep my boat in Houma which is a good stop along the way 58 miles West of Harvey lock.

Ditto here. We bought our boat in Kemah and made the trip on the ICW to the North Lake Ponchatrain area and back a few times. I personally wouldn't consider an off shore run (though I did at first) due to "stuff" that I see when taking Cruise Ships out of New Orleans.
It is always a 4 day event for us, and you can plan on at least 12 hour days. Shell Morgan and Houma (as Steve mentioned) are at least two stops. I still like using my old Skipper Bob as a reference, though a bit dated now. To me, paper charts are also a good investment as is preparing to use Active Captain. The biggest challenge will be following protocol in Morgan City and the locking in/ out of the Mississippi River in NO.
If you choose to run the ICW be prepared to see some of Louisiana's prettiest areas. Worth the journey IMHO.


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Old 08-26-2014, 08:32 PM   #10
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Oh, thank you one and all. I will be following this..Texan in FL.
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Old 08-26-2014, 09:54 PM   #11
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Houston to Pascagoula, MS

Quote:
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I would do the ICW especially in a "new to me boat" Make sure your VHF radio(s) are working and you know well what one whistle and two whistle mean you will get it from the commercial traffic all the time. If you do stay inside do everything possible to cross the Mississippi and New Orleans on a Saturday or Sunday there are no bridge curfews then so traffic at rhe bridges and locks won't get as bad.
If you do decide to stay in the ICW and would like a spreadsheet a friend prepared to do the trip a couple of years ago, let me know and I'll send it to you. I keep my boat in Houma which is a good stop along the way 58 miles West of Harvey lock.

So what's the one horn and two horn mean? Time to start learning. Also, we'll be running 8-10 knots. So we'll be covering 100-120 miles a day at best if we go 12 hrs straight. Any recommendations on places to stop along the way? Looks like venice/grand isle will be the last stop before we hit MS waters.
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Old 08-26-2014, 11:14 PM   #12
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Venice/ Grand Isle won't be on the To Do list if you run the ICW. What Steve is referring to is the "language" that the commercial tugs, etc. go by. Most barges being pushed on the ICW by tugboats are probably running about 5 knots. It won't matter much in the Houston Ship Channel, but as soon as you pass Bolivar Point you will be running with, and since you are faster, passing tugs pushing packs of barges. As a courtesy, you want to let the tug Captain know your intentions. He can watch AIS, etc, to know what's ahead of him and advise you if it is a good time to make your move. REALIZE, he is not happy about you playing in his sandbox- so be nice on the VHF. I usually throw something out like:
"Bull Calf, Bull Calf- this is pleasure vessel Patricia Louise coming up on your stern. I'm running about 7 knots and wanted to see if I could get around you on the two whistle (go around him on his port side) when you think it is the right time. Over".
He may suggest you hold back a bit- or tell you to pass on the one whistle (go around him on his stbd side).

As you continue, I believe you will go through 3 locks before you reach New Orleans. I believe these are "water locks" meant to keep the salt water and fresh water isolated from each other- so the drop or rise in water level is not much. Keep in mind that you may get placed behind a tug inside a lock, and when he takes off his prop wash can create a lot of drama for you. I usually contact the tug I'm behind (if he will answer) and tactfully remind him to keep our vessel in mind as he pulls out of the lock.
I like to load up with some block ice, it's hard to get supplies in the trip. Good luck!


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Old 08-30-2014, 08:47 AM   #13
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[QUOTE=leej322;261252]So what's the one horn and two horn mean? Time to start learning.

A good source for your learning will be USCG publication 33 CFR. You can find a copy online, or at most any marine store. Check out Rule 34: a short blast of the horn (or whistle) is about one second. a PROLONGED blast is 4-6 seconds (note--the correct term is PROLONGED, not LONG). On inland waters, one short blast means I intend to leave you on my port side, and two short blasts means I intend to leave you on my starboard side. The other vessel involved in the passing, or overtaking situation, should reply in like kind if they approve the signal. If they do not approve, they should reply with five short blasts (the danger signal). You are wise to start learning these things ASAP. Good luck!
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Old 08-30-2014, 09:36 AM   #14
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The commercial boats between Houston and New Orleans usually communicate on channel 13. The one or two whistle indications are almost always said on that channel rather than actually blowing a horn or whistle. It is best to communicate with them meeting and always when overtaking.
Check this link for information Navigating the Intracoastal waterway (ICW)

If you are not comfortable with the signals you can tell them and ask Port or Starboard but it is best to know so you can know what they are telling other boats up ahead of you. They are almost always helpfull and willing to share information along the way.

I have some information on the route I can email to you, send your email address to my profile page by Private Message.
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Old 08-30-2014, 09:42 AM   #15
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Aboard Seaweed I have visual cues to remind me what's what. They are also helpful when teaching others the ins and outs of this life.





Visual learners need prompting. For auditory learners, starboard has two syllables and port has just one. Duh -- you knew this already though, right?

Can anyone tell I taught my kids at home? One of "those" moms. That was me. There are worse things though.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:22 AM   #16
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Funny story. Our first trip from Kemah to Louisiana was coming up and I was searching out info much like the OP. This was about 7 years ago, so there was not as much information around. I had been able to talk to a "Mississippi River Tug Boat Captain", along with an "ICW Tug Boat Captain" along with staff at a few if the locks we would go through. I remember one of the captains mentioning how he sometimes put a "1" and a "2" on separate pieces of tape at the helm as a reference if he had just began a journey on an unfamiliar tug. I thought this was a good idea, so while traveling from Kemah inside the Houston Ship Channel, I installed my just purchased color chart plotter and a "1" and a "2" on a piece of blue tape at the upper helm where I had understood the location to be. We made it through the BUSY intersection of HSC and ICW heading east along Bolivar point and I started to come up on my first tug/ barges. It was Bull Calf- as mentioned in my first post. I still remember placing the "1" on the left side of the helm earlier and thinking....
Heck 1, left, 2 right. This is TOO easy. Of course, I had it wrong. Asked to go around Bull Calf on the one whistle, and he agreed. I start making my move and he hits me back on the VHF "Captain, you said the 1 whistle!", and of course I apologized, finished the move on the two whistle, dug "Skipper Bob" back out for a quick reread and switched the tape. Talk about embarrassed !!


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Old 08-30-2014, 11:22 AM   #17
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I love your approach janice142!


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Old 09-02-2014, 05:24 PM   #18
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[QUOTE=
I have some information on the route I can email to you, send your email address to my profile page by Private Message.[/QUOTE]

Steve, I can't PM you because it's saying I'm not trusted, guess because I'm a newbie to the site. Maybe you can PM me and it will let me reply...
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:48 PM   #19
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That's our spam software, sorry. Try removing any hyperlinks, phone numbers or email addresses and it should send. After 10 posts that should drop off. Normally I could override that from my end but cannot from my phone.
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:28 AM   #20
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Well, we completed the trip at around 1400 yesterday. A quick breakdown (since I'm at work) We got off to a little bit of a late start leaving Kemah, TX Saturday morning. Pulled away from the fuel dock around 10:45 and made our way to the ICW. Continued on to the 290 Mile marker and anchored in the Taylor Bayou Outfall Canal. We reached this point around 2100. We planned on pulling anchor at, or just before, daybreak but awoke to a pretty heavy thunderstorm so we waited til most of the lightening and wind died down and headed out. Pulled anchor around 0700. From this point we continued to the Shell Morgan landing around the 260 mile marker. This was the best thing we had experienced up to this point in the trip. My dad grossly underestimated the amount of groceries we needed for this journey and there was a little mom and pop grocery store about 200 yards from this marina. I was able to replinish our rations and even scored two sausage egg and cheese biscuits from the girls that worked there. We fueled up and got out of there around 0645 that morning. Our goal was to make it to the anchorage about 15 miles short of the Harvey Lock. But, the more we thought about it, with the aid of GPS and a full moon (and the fact that we knew we wouldn't complete the trip in the planned 4 days if we stopped) we decided to make the rest of the trip without any more stops. We arrived at the Harvey Lock around 2400. Got thru it pretty quick and hit the Mississippi which thankfully had only about a 2 knot current. We moved at a brisk 10.5 knots down the 6 mile stretch to the Industrial Lock where we had to wait for 2 tugs to get thru. We ended up getting thru this lock around 0230. Once we got past that, it was decided I would get some sleep and then relieve my dad. I got about 2.5 hrs of sleep and then took the helm. We just missed some really bad storms just south of Bay St. Louis and made and then had perfect weather the rest of the way. Overall, everything went very smoothly. It took us about 62 hours underway and we completed it in about 74 hours. The worst part of the trip was the massive amounts of water lillies that we had to try our best to dodge from Morgan City all the way to the MS River. It was thick. And the lack of sleep over the 2nd half of the trip.

Thanks for all the help Steve. With what you gave me and our GPS and charts, the navigation really was foolproof.
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