Day 30, New Orleans!

Previous Day

Miles Covered:  41 miles, lm 143.4 to lm 102.8

Closest towns or landmark (chart): 143.4 marker to New Orleans

Original Post date: June 26

Most of the morning the kayaker’s (Charles, Tom) and I paralleled each other as we continued down the river and closer to New Orleans.  This being their last day (day 48 of 52) on the river; I was happy for their success.  But bittersweet too because I felt sadness knowing my trip was growing shorter too..

From the ‘last’ beach where we camped (143.4 mm) the activity on the river has become much busier.  The activity included ships, stevedores loading and unloading, cranes operating, barges being readied, maintained, and repaired.  This plus the wakes that go along with this activity – we had accepted anything that came at us on this river as “just a part of it,” this must be accepted too.

100_3216Towboat Assault



If you enlarge and look really close near the rudder on the ship of the following picture (below), you may notice 1) Freebird and I coming around this ship, and 2) the size differences – taken by Kayak across the way.


Freebird at bottom R of ship

It was interesting to see a crane floated to the side of a vessel to unload it with a simple clam-style bucket.  In remembering those from the 60’s that particular method seemed archaic – maybe loads could be transferred in a more efficient vacuum or conveyor-type manner – but who am I to say, these folks live with this river and do this work every day.



Again, this section of the river was very active – but in an organized way.  As New Orleans neared there were no more beaches… just completely industrial with barge and local tow activity cris-crossing the waterway.


Everythings so big

Everythings so big

of course the kayak and I continued our ‘cat and mouse’ parallel journey through it all …….


This was the last day of 48 on the river for Tom and Charles, they had folks scheduled to meet them somewhere ahead.  As I moved on and happened to spot their party on the shore so I pulled in to watch the landing.  


There was a warm but empty feeling as they gathered and hugged, warm for their accomplishment – empty, for there would be no such reception for my little trip.  


no doubt they will continue to find currents to challenge….(summer 2010 Missouri River)


USN 21 The New York


For me there were still a number of miles to go, so back onto the river and through the rivers industry where more cranes, even Naval ships – (such as the new #21 USS New York (above) made with steel from the World Trade Centers) were.  There were rows and rows of loaded/unloaded or staged barges lining the shorelines, so many barges.  Still, there were more dry-docks and ongoing activity to ogle along the Mississippi.


At the 122 mm just under the 310 bridge a ‘Shell’ gas station was clearly in view, so with one empty tank I walked over.  The walk wasn’t difficult, a small beach and a short walk through a field.  There were a couple of closed restaurants nearby so I filled the small tank and moved on down the river.


A thunderstorm appeared quickly so I tied up to a tree along the shoreline about the 118mm to kill some time and let it pass – noticing a small store and deli just over the levee I walked over for some land-food.  It was an old gas station now turned into a Mom and Pop’s southern cafe-deli; with the dumbfoundness that comes with making a quick order from a new menu I picked up a hot shrimp-sub to-go – not bad (but probably the last).


I’m ‘lingering’ now because I wanted to stand-by on the Mississippi in order that Jackie could take Patrick (crew) off the boat and river herself.


So as evening fell I located a closed off pier (old barge) on the left side of the river at Audubon Park (102.8mm) not too far up river from Canal St.  I tied off for the night – with so few places available; this ended up being a great choice.

The dock was on the edge of the channel, but by tieing off on the inside of the dock (barge) it took most of the shock out of the wakes as tows or ships passed.


It was also possible to scale a small fence and use the park restroom or pavilion.  I did attempt to locate an electrical receptical (to charge my batteries) – no luck.  Around nine or ten I heard a park ranger clearing the park of guests for the night – I ‘layed-low’ and he either missed me or didn’t care – no matter, I wasn’t going anywhere.


Settling for the evening I enjoyed a ‘bird-bath’ and a simple supper, it was a hot night and sleeping out on the veranda on the cot was the best choice here. Looking into the stars I considered my immediate plans while longing to experience the river once again.

Tentative plans were that once Patrick (crew) had properly completed the Mississippi River, I would take the inter coastal waterway (ICW) over to the Lake and local Yacht Club – then after a shower take a cab to Bourbon St. for a night of entertainment and celebration.

Lil Roy

I’ve made New Orleans in half of the time that I expected, yes I am surprised.  I wonder if I have missed anything, would I do it differently and what in the world have I accomplished?

I suppose being one that has been called opportunistic, for this trip I have quite literally gone with ‘the flow,’ the flow of the Mississippi river.  I prepared for the worst and then ‘played what I was dealt,’ fortunately my hand for this trip seems to have been loaded with high cards.  The weather, insects, tow wakes, and fuel were issues that I was prepared for – yet were in no way factors or issues that were powerfully negative.  Like most of the information we receive it is all subject to be slanted by an individuals personal opinion – understand that part of it as you prepare.

The sights along the way were/are all new and interesting, the people that live along her banks are kind and generous.  The further South you get the Mississippi River opens up and shows more the character of an interstate commerce system, it is a natural conduit of goods and resources.

The Pilots of the towboats showed a high degree of regard and tolerance for others on the river, they handled their vessels in a highly professional manner.  The most dangerous thing I noticed was the ‘wash’ immediately behind a tow – the pilots controlled this ‘wash’ around other vessels while maintaining direction of their own – they understood clearly what they were doing.  If a boater gets into a tows ‘wash,’ its the boaters own lack of understanding or just plain stupidity.  This ‘wash’ area looks like a neat ride (and it probably is) but understand the debris (logs and stuff, projectiles) being thrown about within this powerful current of ‘whitewater.’.

The river itself is an amazing volume of moving water – it is less than pristine, but that is something that ‘we the people’ have caused.  I’m sure it is a better place than it was thirty years ago, on our trip we did notice methods and efforts being used to raise the quality of civic and industrial discharge into the river.

Personally its all been a really awesome adventure, I loved living aboard – after a couple of days the sleeping was fantastic! The experience held the simple challenges of living without daily luxuries, it’s certainly not impossible nor difficult.

Absolutely the best compliment that I received on ‘Freebird,’ our boat (and this was from experienced river-men from Keokuk), was that it was the most practical vessel they had seen… that just may have been be the perfect compliment to the whole trip – one where all expectation was limited to simple practicality.

and it worked…..


Bill’s completion

New Orleans, 30 days

Next post, Day 31 – into the ICW

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mammy
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 19:14:01

    Congrats! knew you could do it! All the’birders’ are tweetering!

  2. Indiana Keetha
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 20:43:08

    I have SOOOO enjoyed following this blog. Now, how in the WORLD are you going to “top” this when you get back home?

  3. bill
    Oct 10, 2010 @ 14:42:46

    congrats on your voyage…3 of my friends are going to use a 16ft johnboat from memphis…well as far down as they can take it…with another 16ft john behind with supplies…
    i just found your website this morning and found it very informative
    and i’ll definately pass it on to them today…their supposed to be leaving tomorrow…but i doubt it…i’ll let you know how it went…thanks for the story it was…is great

  4. Tom Haynie
    Oct 27, 2010 @ 12:28:02

    It really is great to see folks get some good out of these simple ‘log-notes,’ makes the trip all the more ‘worth-it.’ Thanks

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