5AM rain in the swamp

I woke up about 5 to almost constant light flashing in the hatch above me.  I assumed it was a tug boat shining his search light over here to see what I was… but it was too “flashy” and inconsistent for that so I raised up in bed – opened the hatch and stuck my head out.

Heat lightning was making the predawn swamp look like daylight.  There was no thunder… just near constant flashes above the thick morning clouds.  I decided to get up and check the batteries.  After starting the generator I heard it coming through the trees… wind…  the predecessor to what is now a full blown rain storm.  What was vivid silence 30 minutes ago is now the sound of pelting rain on the roof and the little Honda generator barely auditable in the background.

If this keeps up I may have to rethink my ensemble… lol.  Shorts and tee shirt worked well yesterday but I may need some warmth this morning.  The wind that preceeded the rain blew in and out quickly but it was impressive.  The boat ran quickly to the other end of it’s leash and yanked to a stop.  Had I not been up already.. that would have done it, I’d have been awakened by the jolt.   

The heat lightning has become very loud full fledged bangs that rattle my now “little” boat as I sit here in the predawn / rainy Louisiana swamp.  A sleepy eyed far reaching silence has been replaced by loud bangs that get my full attention as I type… sitting here inside my small dry refuge. 

When I got up I considered hauling my anchor and following one of the Westbound tugs knowing daylight would soon arrive.  I’m glad I didn’t, the full blown rainstorm would have been more challenging to navigate through and it would remain darker for longer than I anticipated.  I’ll sit right here for a while and wait for good light.

Yesterday I had hoped to make 20 miles or so since I was leaving after lunch, but currents were with me and I ran until 8PM so Iwas able to make 45.   I considered running until 10PM to make 60, but this little canal came up on my starboard side just as I started scanning the shore with my Q-beam and called my name.  It’s less than 4 feet deep so nobody else is coming in here, I felt comfy and safe 50 feet off the ICW behind the very small island that guards the canal entrance.  The concern when picking an ICW anchorage is of course tug boat traffic.  When a tug needs to stop for anything they can’t just float around in the middle of the narrow channel so they push up against a remote (hopefully unused) canal bank and leave the prop turning slowly to hold them in place. 

The place you pick to stay at night needs to be unaccessable to the 800′ long nose of a 300 ton barge driving into the bank.  I’m pretty sure the captain would never feel the crunching fiberglass from 1000 feet away sitting on top of who knows how many 1000’s of diesel horsepower.   The tug boat captain would never intentionally put you in danger, but avoiding that wedgie is what comforable sleep along the ICW is all about. 

The Skipper Bob publication is the reference of choice for picking anchorages along the ICW, he also covers many other inland waterways such as the “Great Loop” in other offerings.  Bob wouldn’t have listed this one because of it’s depth.  Most sailboats wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in 4′ of water but SYL is quite pleased to do so.  There is no tidal action in this part of the waterway so skinny water works just fine for me.   The ICW in this part of the country is filled by the waters of the mighty Atchafalaya River, so not only is there little to no tide….. the salinity of the ditch is very low, in fact is almost totally fresh water.

Well it’s 6:30, I can barely see across the canal now.   The rains are more intermittent so maybe I’ll be able to get underway in a little while.  I changed to long pants and brought up a rain coat when I was below earlier.  It’s nice to be back on my boat….. I had a good time sailing her yesterday.  Hopefully the weather will slack and allow the same today.   Yesterday the wind was light and generally behind me, not optimum for sailing but much better than the opposite.  I had the sails up most of the trip, the power gleaned from the sails allowed me to back off on the throttles and hold very good speed.  Visibility is getting better by the minute.  My air card is miraculously working this far out in the swamp so I’m going to see if I can check weather online.

Sea Yawl Later !!   Rusty

One Response to “5AM rain in the swamp”

  1. We live right outside of New Orleans and boy did it storm last night! Glad all went well for you last night.

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