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
After a fine nights sleep atop the Mississippi’s current (tied to an overhead tree limb) its plenty warm for a morning ‘bird-bath.’ It’s a river awakening. The plant hanging aboard looks weary from the trip so as I untie, I leave it hanging on the limb – maybe the ‘coasties’ will find it when they come for the buoys. I ease back out into the main part of the river and began my day south towards Baton Rouge..
The waterway is busy and industrial like I remember the south of St. Louis, except here the work is more ‘repair’ than of shuffling the barges into load groups. It is also daytime and everything is under more controlled circumstances (we were ‘flushed’ through St Louis) – soon I notice ocean going vessels, SHIPS! on the Mississippi…. neat.
Baton Rouge is full of barges and dry-docks along the river – all busy, sparks flying, folks working – managing, maintaining and supporting the movement of commercial commodities utilizing these floating steel containers – I suppose with time they rust, wear, and scrape against the bottom or each other. I’ve witnessed several tows gently ‘lay’ the lead barge against the shore as their motors continually and lightly push – all to maintain a stationary position.
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 the empty barges placed to the front of their barge-group – probably for several reasons, this possibly one.
As I drifted through and along the city side of Baton Rouge, the Casino’s are again very prevalent, they also have the USS Kidd docked there and on display.
Again lots of activity on the Baton Rouge riverfront, another ‘hub’ of river traffic – 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 another trip (and dockage) could be spent taking 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 taken advantage and continued to move along – no complaints here, floating the Mississippi provides an awesome perspective….
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 (plus some “want-to”) 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.
Below Baton Rouge there was a large dredging operation going on, the fluctuating volume of the lower Mississippi is continually ‘shoaling’ (the current moving sand, etc. into 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.
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 in the area, I believe it – yet on the water its cooler (to speak). The shade of the ‘bird’ helps too, its a great vantage point to notice the companies as I travel further South towards Donaldsonville, with that more towboats, ferry crossing’s and wakes. The wakes from radiating (or reverberating) waves afterward continue to be the most entertaining – but hey, at 100 degrees, go ahead throw some water on my deck – I love it…
I had plenty of time to drift and explore, so I did – sure wish things weren’t so large – its in my nature to haul stuff home with me (like the cat) – but here I have found my limitations….
Today has been one of the easier paced ones, twice I’ve simply floated without power. Folks have asked if I just floated with the current, and yes, but the boat will not maintain a bow forward direction – it slowly revolves and works toward the shoreline. Maintaining idle-power corrects this, and thats how the trip has been, low power in the current.
I should make Donaldsonville easily and visit with a Cousin, ‘land-food’ has a nice ‘ring’ to it.
Later while enjoying my casual pace I notice a ‘speck’ way out in front that at first appears to be a life vest (similar color), then I thought it was someone swimming – as I set my course towards it (looking to take something home like the cat) it turned out to be two guys on their 47th day kayaking the river, more ‘river-rats!’
I pulled alongside and they held onto the side of the ‘bird’ and we talked – it was funny too because while noticing them and a tow in front of them I didn’t realize that there was a ‘ship’ bearing down on us from behind until they mentioned it – so I went a little faster and they held a little tighter out of the way…..
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..
it was warm and there were mosquito’s……
– 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 John Yeager
The Mark Shurden
The Frank Rader
The Mike Schmaeng
The PA Bigelow
( more through this area, but only those above noted)