Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 15-25, 2012 . . . Madisonville, Louisiana to Clearwater, Florida

SONATA is preparing to depart Hidden Harbor Marina, Madisonville. The Trinity Marine plant is in the background. During our stay at Hidden Harbor Trinity was constructing barges. It was a noisy activity which we grew accustomed to. We tried to visit the plant but no tours were allowed. Today we shift to the riverside, the river so that we can depart in the AM without concerns for the swing bridge.

The early morning of the 15th gave us fog on the Tchefuncte River. Called the Causeway Bridge . . . they reported no fog . . . we were soon underway for the Biloxi area.

After traveling out the Rigolets, passing tugs, talking to the USCG after using two "buzz" words (Long Point and Marker 20) and assuring them that SONATA was in fact OK . . . we proceeded through the Mississippi Sound to Horn Island, just south of Biloxi, and dropped anchor for the night. The morning gave us a beautiful sunrise.

Approaching Mobile Bay and the Dalphine Island Bridge SONATA was followed by a shrimp boat.

Crossed Mobile Bay and returned to the Intercoastal Waterway on the way to LuLu's, Homeport Marina, Gulf Shores, Alabama, where we met up with TERRMAR again. Just over 300 gallons of fuel taken aboard . . .

On into Florida SONATA passed a Navy ship tied to the Air Station dock at Pensacola. SONATA proceeded on to the Palafox Docks in downtown Pensacola.

Fred and Caroline, friends from our first loop, met us on board and we all went to dinner. They are so gracious and kind . . . loaned us their car for our stay; so thoughtful.

We visited here on our last loop . . . Terri and Mark spent the day here.

In downtown Pensacola there are painted pelicans for each armed service.

The LADY GALE MARIE docked behind us at Pensacola . . . belongs to Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints that we so enjoyed during our Christmas break.

Our transportation to the Fish House were Terri and Mark joined us for Shrimp and Grits....

We departed Pensacola in the fog.

TERRMAR in the fog as we wait for Tug Margaret, pushing a barge, to pass under the bridge before we continue East.

Dolphins playing alongside SONATA.

Alligator watching SONATA while we were at Apalachicola preparing to cross the Gulf to Clearwater.

TERRMAR passing under the Apalachicola Bridge following SONATA to Clearwater.

A beautiful sunset on the Gulf . . . still miles away from Clearwater . . . to be followed by a sunrise over Clearwater the next morning. A long but safe cruise; some 19.75 hours and 184 miles.

December 25, 2011 . . . Madisonville Christmas

Christmas Trees

Rosemary and Clayton




Clayton, William, Phillip, Rosemary, Alan

At play.


David and Susan


Charlie and Bonnie at Stella!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

December 18, 2011 to January 15, 2012 . . . Biloxi, Mississippi to Madisonville, Louisiana and the New Orleans Visit

Biloxi at sunset following the afternoon departure of David and Susan and their family, except for Phillip and Alan. They will remain with us in Biloxi and travel to Madisonville on SONATA. Once underway and in the Mississippi Sound the dolphins played alongside while the boys stood watch on the bow.

At the Rigolets we decided to enter Lake Pontchartrain via the Pearl River. This river has special meaning to Charlie in that prior to the river entering the Rigolets is travels behind Charlie's birth home in Jackson, Mississippi. The Pearl River CSY railroad bridge had to open so that we could enter the river and then pass into the Rigolets.

Overnight was spent at the Slidell, Louisiana, Bate and Tackle Shop. Phillip assisted in securing SONATA to the dock.

The next day for our trip across Lake Pontchartrain we had a heavy fog . . . and, with two good lookouts spotting the channel markers and looking for other vessels we navigated the channels and passed three tugs, one pushing four rock barges as we approached the Interstate 10 bridge.

Highway 11 bascule bridge was our next passage challenge.

Continuing our travel West we arrived at the Causeway Bridge, passed through the two spands and then turned North for our Christmas Season stop.

The final bridge ws the Tchefuncte River swing bridge at Madisonville. Then up the river to the Hidden Harbor Marina for the next month.

During our visit to Madisonville and Christmas with David, Susan, and the grandchildren we took time off to make a couple of visits to New Orleans. On one occasion we hired a guide (Leslie Durio 504-606-9500) so that we could have our own private tour . . . a real good investment.

Into the French Quarter

With stops at Aunt Sally's

the Central Grocery

Oysters for lunch

Looks into inside gardens

On the river levee we watched the CARNIVAL ELATION depart down river for the gulf

The Algiers Free Ferry . . . used in the movie DAJAVUE

Then on to the trollies:

The trolly on the levee

On Canal Street

St. Charles Street

Jackson Square

The 9th Ward, destroyed by KATRINA, in restoration by Brad Pitt . . . where is good taste, good design . . . you decide.....

A walk in the cemetery. What did we learn . . . the owner is placed there and remains in the top of the "building" for one year and one day; then he is subject to being swept into a plastic bag and placed on the floor . . . to make room for the next occupant. Cemetery ornaments are stolen all the time and sold as special items . . . yard sales . . . the thieves should suffer.