G.H. Coates, LLC
Ideas That Work
Another whirlwind trip in November to move the Tug to the yard in Houma, LA. Because of the size, I've put thumbnails of the pictures beside the descriptions to make the page more manageable. Please click on these for larger images and use your browser BACK button to return to this page.
Wednesday - Thursday, November 12-13, 2003
Mom, Dad and I left from the shop around 11:00am in the truck. We headed to Roanoke, VA to pick up Bob H and met him around 5:30pm. Things went very well and we arrived in Jennings about 9:00am on Thursday. Mom had never been to Louisiana so the first part of the day we drove around and gave her the fifty cent tour. We then went down to the Tug and started unloading the truck and getting things ready for the trip to Houma. Robert and Bob C got there about 3:30pm and fell right in with the preparations.
After a hard days work, we all went to the Hotel and got cleaned up to eat at Mike's Seafood which has become the favorite place to eat and relax. Mike and his crew really know how to cook. We always tell them that it's worth the 1500 mile drive to come and get some good food.
Friday, November 14, 2003
And we're off!!!! Down and on the Tug by 6:30am to do the final stuff and I pushed the start button at 7:15am. Well, we were kinda stuck. It took some time to wiggle free, but by 8:00am we backed out of the slip and were on our way!!!
We really made good time. After the Atlas warmed up, I pulled her up a few clicks and we cruised along at 6.3 mph. We cleared the Lake Arthur Bridge in an hour and a half at 8 mph. Bob C kept us all very well fed with fine shipboard home cooking. He managed to do this in a stripped out galley, on a propane camp stove.
In Lake Arthur, Dad primed the hydraulic pump and we shut off the 2-71. Worked out great and fuel economy went way up. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway was in site and we turned into the ditch at 11:15. There was a lot of traffic, but radio communication was excellent.
We waved off fuel at Gueydan. Mom and Robert were there. This was about 12:15pm and at 8 mph.
Forked Island bridge was the next big landmark. The scenery was beautiful and always a tow to pass, so time flew by. It was 2:50pm when we passed.
The next big event was the Leyland Bowman Lock. It was an interesting experience. Just like being run into a quarter mile long cattle chute with twenty other huge tows. I'm glad they are better drivers than I... (and are friendly!!) Just after the lock is Intracoastal City. We planned to stay there for the night.
We tied up at Shell Morgan Fuel Dock around 5:00pm tired and ready to take a break. There were a lot of things to discuss and talk about over dinner. We took 200 gallons of fuel and moved the boat to a slip for the night. Mom and Robert had arranged a room in Abbeville for the night.
We had traveled 67 miles in 9 hours. Averages 7.5 mph. Not bad I think.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
We were up and out to Morgan City by 6:00am. If you could get both eyes open at the same time, the sunrise was really something to see. The Tug tied up with the lights on was great. It kinda looked like it sat there ready for us to continue on the trip.
The Morgan's are nice folks and in the morning, Ted Morgan and I had the opportunity to talk a bit. He gave me the fifty cent tour of one of his tugs and I had a great time talking with him. It was a beautiful morning and traffic was light.
About 7:15am, we backed out of the slip and headed east. Traffic was light, and Mr. Morgan indicated that Houma was a hard 12 hour travel from Intracoastal City. That would put us in around dark if everything went well. I wanted to be in Houma before dark so I wasted no time notching up the Atlas to full ahead.
Avery Island was the first landmark at about 9:00am. The Island really sticks out above the swamps. This is where the famous Tabasco Sauce is made. Through this part of the trip, we were making about 9.5mph!!!
Weeks Island is another salt dome. These are interesting geological features. From what I understand, these salt deposits are formed and push their way up through the swamp. Then they are mined for the salt.
The majority of the trip from Weeks Island to Berwick Bay is Cypress swamp. The waterway is pretty narrow with few landmarks other than trees and passing tows. We made great time, traveling 30 miles in 3 hours 15 minutes. During this time, the crew got the head working, painted a few things, and organized gear onboard.
At Berwick Bay, the traffic is controlled and I had to call for clearance to Morgan City. Just before the Bayou Bouef Lock, Robert was waiting to be picked up. Morgan City is where the John Arthur was documented from, and we all wondered how long it had been since the Tug had come through the area.
A fellow named Robert Anealy happened to be passing through in a small modified sailboat. He had traveled all the way from the Great Lakes in this boat, and was heading to the east coast. I think his plans were to travel up the Hudson and Erie canal back to the Great Lakes. Robert had talked to him and he was kind enough to bring Robert out to the Tug.
We ended up spending about an hour waiting for the Bayou Bouef Lock. Robert M joined us for the remainder of the trip to Houma. The lock Tenders were very interested to see the John Arthur. We cruised on through and into the Morgan City area.
It was getting late in the day and the bayou was beautiful with the long shadows. I was beginning to worry about pulling into Houma in the dark but there was nothing to do except keep going. During this part of the trip, I really got to spend some time on deck talking and visiting with everyone. I think all of us took a turn in the wheelhouse. Traffic was very light, and the radio was quite. The scenery was absolutely wonderful.
Sunset was very impressive. Now I started to worry like an old woman. Right at sunset, the traffic picked up a bit. The commercial tows were usually very easy to get along with, once I learned the radio talk.
And then it was dark. The radio talk changes after dark. It's a subtle change that takes some getting used to. It seems the captains would break the waterway into sections about ten miles long and coordinate passing and movement within these sections. The John Arthur must have 'looked' pretty strange to these guys with radar. A fairly small tug, but a fast moving boat. (We were moving right at 10mph at this point!!!) I didn't answer or participate in these orchestrations at first, but by using the old chainsaw in the screen door for effect trick, I was coaxed into participation.
Houma was still an hour out, and I was glad we took the time to get the spotlight working. Mr. Chaisson came down and unlocked the gate to the yard and Mom was waiting for us there. There was a lot of confusion as to where we were supposed to tie up, but all in all everything went very well. By the time we secured the Tug, it was almost 9:00pm. Time for a frosty adult beverage!!!!
We had traveled 93 miles in 12 hours and 15 minutes that day.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
We all actually slept in till 8:00am on Sunday. Bob H has family in Houma, and his cousins met us at breakfast. The bunch of us headed over to the yard to meet with Mr. Chaisson and pack up to head home. Mom took Bob C and Robert back to Morgan City to get Robert's truck. Dad took notes and packed up stuff. Bob H took his family for the fifty cent tour of the Tug. Mr. Chaisson and I walked around and discussed business. It did feel good to hear someone as knowledgeable as he is tell us we did great getting to Houma. And what great shape the boat was in.
After Mom got back from Morgan City and we all loaded the truck, it was just a short 23 hour drive home...
Total, we had traveled 157 miles in 21 hours and 15 minutes, in the 60 year old tug, under the power of the mighty Atlas, using 185 gallons of fuel while averaging 7.3 mph!!!!