New Orleans to Houma (Nov 20)

With subsiding winds and a gorgeous sunrise, we cast off the lines to head for Houma, Louisiana.

    Folgers coffee’s largest facilities are located in New Orleans. Their main roasting plant, along with their specialty coffee roasting plant, are located right on the channel. We had a thirty minute wait in the channel, so as we waited for the lift bridge to raise, we enjoyed the aroma of fresh roasting coffee beans.  “The best part of waking up… Folgers in your cup”!   

New Orleans is not just a tourist center, it is a major commercial shipping port with large tankers, cruise liners, tow barges and naval vessels.  As we headed from New Orleans to Houma, our navigation system reflected the commercial traffic around us (green icons on map below).  This persisted throughout the day.



Ron figured they thought we had drugs on board the way this helicopter followed us for several hours out of New Orleans.  We finally lost him!    

The largest water pumping station in the world is in New Orleans – to keep water out of the city during hurricanes and storms.


We arrived in Houma late due to the two lock and three bridge waits getting out of New Orleans.  The municipal marina had a nice park, but because of the late hour, we would not be able to find a fun local restaurant for dinner.      

……so……we dined this evening at The Pit Stop which was a rather sketchy but unique place, and the type of thing we deal with.  With a Honky Tonk in back and a Diner in front, we got some mixed messages.  We chose the Diner and had breakfast for dinner (with a beer).  Who knew beer goes well with biscuits, bacon and grits?



A slow go to Morgan City, Louisiana (Nov 21)

Because of changing tides, an early start was in order.  Barely got into the harbor the night before because of draft and couldn’t chance grounding on low tide.  Calm waters and only one lock today allowed a rather pleasant trip (I say “pleasurable”,  not “fun” – yet) from Houma to Morgan City, Louisiana.


A contributing factor to our slow travels was the expansive no wake zones.  This was for two reasons, the first being heavy commercial areas (petroleum) and second,  protected wetlands (Louisiana swamp).  Large and small commercial vessels constantly ran to the offshore rigs day and night.



Today marks 22 days of travel on Kara Mia.  We have been through 17 locks and five states (a couple twice), so we are beginning to get the hang of things and have certainly learned a lot in a short time (fenders, ropes, tides, boating courtesy, locking).  Ran upon this oil rig being returned from the Gulf.  Rather impressive – the size of the oil rig compared to the size of the tug!


Approaching Morgan City seawall (to protect it from flooding), we secured the boat, lines, etc.,  and took a walk to town.  Discovering the town diminished, we did find a little up-scale restaurant to have a late lunch at “Cafe Jo Jo’s” and had a wonderful pan seared catfish.




Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana (Nov 22)

As we pulled out you could see the two seawalls of the port towns that face each other across the Atchafalaya Basin (Morgan City and Berwick with it’s little red lighthouse).


This area is a large shrimping community as well as a petroleum economy.  Our travels today took us by Avery Island, a salt dome located in New Iberia, Louisiana and the home of TABASCO Brand pepper sauce – our favorite condiment!


We arrived at Shell Morgan Marina (calling it a marina for transient boats is a stretch, it is more of a fueling stop for commercial boats) in Intracoastal City.  No restaurants here but we did find Maxie Pierce Grocery which we were fortunate to make it to just two minutes before they closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.  We purchased boudin (cajun sausage) for our holiday meal, not quite the meal my Dean Brothers are preparing in Texas, but will suffice for us on the boat.


The police department (left) and the grocery store (right) are both elevated in anticipation of future storms.  There’s nothing more to this town!


While at Shell Morgan we had to deal with commercial transit boats throughout the night, mostly bringing offshore oilmen in for Thanksgiving.  This was not a large issue for us since, as we adjust from river travels to salt water with currents and tides, Ron is up checking the lines and fenders through-out the night.  The fluctuating tides can leave your boat hanging sideways tided to a wall if you’re not careful….






Shell Morgan to Lake Charles, Louisiana (Nov 23)

As we spend this Thanksgiving Day on the water, we are thankful for all the family and friends who encouraged us to seek our dream ( The Great Loop ). We thank you for reading and commenting on our post. It keeps us connected to you. We are blessed.. Ron and Karen…….


As we embarked on Thanksgiving Day we anticipated light river traffic, thinking so many would be home enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner with their families.  We started our holiday with Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal.


Boy were we wrong!  Our expectations of light river traffic were dashed in a flash…….  We encountered over 50 active tows before noon.  When encountering a tow we immediately reduce our speed to “no wake” at about 8-10 MPH.  Tows usually travel around 6 MPH.  At one point we faced or overtook 13 tows in 3 miles.


Our locking through has become no elevation change, but rather a salt water barrier for the inland waterways.  Notice in the pic of the confluence of rivers and intracoastal, the number of barges at one point (little green icons each represent a barge).


We were happy to get off the main channel and on to the Calcasieu River on our way to a well deserved respite at the Golden Nugget Casino Marina in Lake Charles, Louisiana


We were the only boat in the small marina and we were pleasantly surprised that a casino attended to our needs so well.


We visited the casino, had dinner at Landry’s Seafood Restaurant, and a quiet walk on the dock…….another good ending to another good day (Thanksgiving Day).



Golden Nugget Casino Marina, Lake Charles (Nov 24)

Santa attracted lots of attention today.  There were many international travelers at The Golden Nugget Casino.  All afternoon visitors of the casino were taking pictures of Santa, many with their kids – – – –  so I’m sure he is world-famous by now.


We started the day with boudin (cajun sausage) tacos on the boat and ended the day with fish tacos at the Cadillac Bar & Grill at the Golden Nugget.


We stayed in port and took advantage of the day.  We washed the boat, worked on our blog and charted our next several days of travel.    

Golden Nugget to TEXAS, finally! (Nov 25)

Santa sneaked out last night after we had gone to bed.  He hit the Black Jack tables and did quite well.  He was back to the boat in time for our sunrise departure…..

Initially we were not sure how far we would make it today but hoped to get into Texas.  Not much barge traffic and we had smooth sailing for most of the day.  We made good timing (34 MPH) and soon entered the open waters of the Sabine Lake.  Texas was on one side and Louisiana still on the other until we reached the Neches River.



As we entered Texas, the first port town along the Intracoastal Waterway was Port Arthur.  The Port Arthur, Orange, Bolivar areas are where Karen’s aunts and uncles owned and operated marinas and shrimp boats.


As we turned west, the waterway south of Galveston East Bay opened up to a broad expanse.


We made such good time we decided to pack two days worth of boating into one day and finally arrived at the Houston Ship Channel.  We covered over 150 nautical miles today.

Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel – ships, tankers, sailboats, cruisers, waves, and a few navigational issues for us!  Battling the ocean going oil tankers was brutal, their wake, at 12 MPH rocked us with 5 foot swells.  We had three chart plotters, all exhibiting different routes and directions while we were in the middle of “ships, tankers, sailboats, cruisers, waves, etc.”.

We took refuge in Seabrook Marina off the ship channel in the Kemah/Clearlake area.  We walked to Outriggers for dinner, where we enjoyed watching the boats coming in at sunset.  Had wonderful fresh seafood and were back at the boat and in bed by “boater’s midnight” (8:00 p.m.)……. Looking forward to a few days to settle in and get some boating things done – get caught up on mail, bills, banking, laundry, etc……


Seabrook (Nov 26)

No travel today but a busy day on the boat.  Ron washed the salt water off of Kara Mia and worked some in the engine room.  There are over 400 slips here at Seabrook Marina, most of them are sailboats.


Later we celebrated the Titans victory, the first win over the Colts at Lucas Field in years!  GO TITANS!


Seabrook Layover (Nov 27)

Toured the marina and went over some mechanical issues with “Brian” the boat mechanic and “Brian” the Volvo technician.  Santa waited in the boat.


Fueled up at the Blue Marlin and went across the harbor for lunch at Outriggers Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar.


Later we met up with future loopers, Brent and Karen.  We met them back in October at the Great American Looper’s Rendezvous in Alabama.  They plan to leave Kemah after Christmas on their 40-foot Mainship.  We exchanged nautical information and had dinner at Sundance Grill in their marina – Waterford Yacht Club & Marina.


Happy Birthday Ron! (Nov 28)

Left Seabrook Marina and passed the Kemah Boardwalk Dining and Entertaining port.  We’re back into the Houston Ship Channel again, hopefully for the last time.


Those 850 foot cargo ships are rather intimidating and put out a rather huge wake.  Santa was not happy!



On our way to Galveston, Texas we passed Moody Gardens.  Moody Gardens is an educational tourist destination consisting of Aquarium, Rain Forest and Discovery pyramids that use nature to educate visitors about conservation and wildlife…….


We arrived at Pelican Rest Marina, one of the newest and most upscale (“white glove”) marinas in Texas…..


Ron has to wash the salt water off the boat at every stop.  That’s him on the bow.  Another beautiful sunset in Texas!


Had an oyster dinner at the marina restaurant, “Number 13” and celebrated Ron’s birthday with creme brulee….


Fogged in at Pelican Rest Marina, Galveston, Texas (Nov 29)

We woke up to dense fog which lasted until well after noon.  Beautiful but not good for navigating.


This marina had interesting aspects, such as party docks with special carvings and thatched-roof covered boat slips.    

Being in need of provisions, we man-up’ed and walked the mile to the nearest Target.  Traveling Interstate 45 by foot after dark was more than adventurous, it was down right scary!  After the safe return, we treated ourselves to another night at “Number 13” with our favorite waitress, Tetiana.  Tetiana came to visit from Ukraine and loved it so much she decided to stay.