Day 28, Baton Rouge to Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Previous Day (s)

Miles Covered:  lm 247 to lm 168  (79 river miles) Union, La.

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Baton Rouge to Donaldsonville, La.

Original Post date: June 24

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Morning Start

After a fine nights sleep the morning air is plenty warm for a morning ‘bird-bath’ – a river awakening.  The plant that I’ve had hanging aboard looks weary from the trip so as I untie – it remains in place on the tree limb – maybe the ‘coasties’ will find it when they come to pick up the markers. 

I ease back out into the main part of the river and began my day south towards Baton Rouge..

Nearing Baton Rouge, La.

 

The waterway is industrial like I remember the south of St. Louis, except here the work is more of  maintenance and ‘repair’ than of the active shuffling of barges into load groups.  It is also daytime and everything is under more controlled circumstances (‘flushed’ through St Louis) – then I notice the ocean going vessels, SHIPS! on the river…. neat.

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Along the area of Baton Rouge the shores are full of barges and dry-docks – all busy, sparks flying, folks working – managing, maintaining and supporting the movement of commercial commodities – servicing these floating steel containers.  With time and use the barges rust, wear, and scrape against the bottom or each other.  I’ve witnessed several tows gently ‘lay’ the lead barge against the shore leaving their engines to idle forward – to maintain position against the current – sometimes for hours.

When sleeping in the Savanna territory a tow held its position on the far bank during the night as another passed (1st Storm World night), I suppose that’s what they do as two near a bend in the river at the same time.  Under those circumstances and with time that ‘lead’ barge could suffer….I’ve also noticed that empty barges are placed to the front of their barge-group – probably for several reasons; this possibly one.

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As I drifted along the city side of Baton Rouge, the Casino’s stand out; they also have the USS Kidd docked there and on display.

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Again lots of activity on the Baton Rouge riverfront, another ‘hub’ of river traffic.  It was so busy with commercial barges and tows that I couldn’t easily find a place to tie-off and leave the little boat to take a walk.  Maybe on another trip I could take more time with the cities along the river.  I keep reminding myself that I came for the ‘river’ experience and not necessarily to walk the big city streets. 

The weather has also been in my favor, so I have continued to move along – with no complaints here; floating the Mississippi provides an awesome perspective….

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After passing the I-10 bridge I noticed one little clearing with a gentleman fishing – although I could make Donaldsonville without fuel – its always nice to be ‘topped-off” – so I pulled in and chatted.  “Sport’ directed me to a gas station “1/2 mile away,” and then insisted on giving me a ride – his fishing could wait.

I was glad that he did because it had to have been three miles away, and I needed 7 gallons of fresh water too – so fuel, water, ice, and I got rid of my bag of trash – good stop.  I even put gas in ‘sports’ truck too for the gesture.  Fuel is always available, its just not available ON the water – a person only needs a handtruck or wagon and take a walk. For the most part we never had a concern about the things on the boat, ‘river-people’ will respect your stuff as you respect theirs.

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Below Baton Rouge there was a large dredging operation going on; the volume of the lower Mississippi is continually creating shoals (moving sandbars, etc. in the channel) so to maintain the minimum 12′ depth (it was much deeper further south) the Corps of Engineers and their contractors are always dredging somewhere.

Petro Companies

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Scraping the ‘old-boys’

South of Baton Rouge ‘ Petroleum companies became more apparent also, big ships, their facilities, and some scrap yards.

When I checked the weather this morning they were calling for 100 degrees, I believe that it was – yet on the water its cooler (to speak).  The shade my floating shanty helps too, its a great vantage point to notice the industries of the river as I travel further South towards Donaldsonville; with that more towboats, ferry crossing’s and gentle wakes. 

As for those passing wakes – the wakes radiating (or reverberating) after a passing vessel continue to be the most entertaining – but hey, at 100 degrees, go ahead throw some water on my deck – love it…

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There was plenty of time to drift and explore, so I did.  It’s in my nature to haul loose stuff home with me (like the cat) – but here I believe that I found my limitations…. If it wasn’t welded, it was just too BIG.

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Today has been one of the easier paced ones, twice I’ve cut the motor off and just floated – without power.  Folks have asked how it is with the current – if I just floated with the current the boat will not maintain a bow forward direction – it slowly revolves and heads to places that you don’t want to be.  Maintaining idle-power corrects this, and thats how the trip has been; idle power with the current.

I should make Donaldsonville easily and with a cousin visit planned, ‘land-food’ has a nice ‘ring’ to it.

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Later, while enjoying lackadaisical rate I notice a ‘speck’ way far ahead that at first appears to be a life vest (similar color).  In nearing I thought it was someone swimming – as I set my course towards it (looking to take something home) it turned out to be two guys on their 47th day kayaking the river,  more ‘river-rats!’

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I pulled alongside and they held onto the side of the ‘bird’ and we talked – funny too because while noticing them and a tow in ahead of them I didn’t realize that there was a ‘ship’ bearing down on us from behind – until they mentioned it.  I moved aside as they held a little tighter to get out of the way…..

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After the ship passed Charles and Tom came aboard to stretch – just before another Storm World hit.  So we rode the storm out tied to a barge piling – nice to converse with someone else besides Wilson (crew), and funny to run into a couple of folks from my home town…. Ft Myers, Fla.

Thinking there was ‘land-food’ ahead we pushed on, but were soon disappointed – must have passed Donaldsonville somewhere during the storm – so we were left camping under a bridge with those ‘doggone people’ driving overhead throughout the night..

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it was warm and there were mosquito’s……

Lower Mississippi Refinery

–  across the levee was a large petro-refinery lighting up the nighttime sky – just another “part of” the Lower Mississippi.

Noted ‘towboats’ for the day;

The City of Redwood

The Capt Shorty

The Bootsie B

The Martha Ingram

The Pat C

The Sunflower

The John Yeager

The Mark Shurden

The Frank Rader

The Mike Schmaeng

The PA Bigelow

( more through this area, but only those above noted)

Next post, Day 29 – to the last beach

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