Crewing To Panama – Welcome aboard the boat!

I arrived at the airport in New Orleans late in the evening on April 28, 2016. Walking into baggage claim I saw the Captain there waiting to greet me. We got my bags and headed straight to the boat. I don’t really know what New Orleans is like and I didn’t really get to see it either since it was so late, but I’ve heard some interesting stories.
The next morning on April 29, the Captain and I, and his little dog, set sail to do some “easting”.

Photo of a sail boat anchored in the rigolets, Louisianaphoto of the sunset over the rigolets
The first day was a nice peaceful sail through Lake Ponchartrain until we found a good spot to set anchor for the rest of the afternoon and that night in the Rigolets off Pearl River.
The second day however did not go so smoothly. We got up early to get a nice full day in towards Mississippi. There was a railroad bridge that we had to call to open up for us, so we did, and eventually they cooperated.

Photo of sailor crossing the Rigolets Railroad into Lake Borgne, Louisiana
The Rigolets Railroad opened up for us to cross into Lake Borgne.

Once we got out of the Pearl River and reaching the ICW (intracostal waterway) the waves began to build. As we were bouncing around all the jarring caused our solar panel mount to fall apart. Slowly pieces were coming off and eventually we had to turn back, all the way through the railroad bridge and to our anchorage from the night before.

photo of a sailor sailing on the Intracoastal Waterway in Louisiana
Sailing out into the ICW

By midday we had the mount all fixed up and so we set sail once again. At this point the railroad bridge was not able to open, because there were three consecutive trains set to come through. We decided to stay on the Pearl River side and head east to the next railroad bridge. This worked despite a few blunders and miscommunication. The bridge opened quickly for us and just as we were heading out the bridge operator asked us if we knew about the rough weather that was coming. We said yes and continued on our way.
The seas were rough at first, but throughout the afternoon they laid down considerably. The wind remained steady and we were slowly making our way to Mississippi. Meanwhile a storm was threatening to catch us the whole way.
A couple miles before reaching our intended destination of Gulfport, MS, I felt the wind direction change from southeast to west, coming from the storm directly behind us. I called down to the Captain saying, “I think we should take the sails down pretty soon, we may get hit with this storm.” He was up quickly and as we were furling up the Genoa (large front sail) the winds peaked. We got it furled just in time and the Captain was able to put a 3rd reef in the main (just means a lot less main sail). While I rode out the storm which was throwing rain in sideways and blowing up to 30 knots, maybe more, the Captain prepared a sweet dinner of hamburgers and fries.

photo of a wet sailor after a squall aboard the boat
Drenched by the squall.

I ate mine quick while it got soggy with the rain, but man was it delicious! When the storm calmed we quickly got to the Harbor. Docking the boat was another story.
Due to the storm the current was rushing north and winds were out of the south. Conveniently our slip opened to the south. This meant that as we were parking our boat we also had a current pushing us into the slip and wind doing the same. With this much inertia we had a terrible time making a smooth docking. Our port side ran into the piling, then our solar panel mount took its second hit of the day causing it to dislodge again. Next getting lines on the pilings was difficult while trying to keep from running into the end of the slip, and to top it off I almost fell in while trying to hold our aft end from crashing into the dock. We ended up making it work with just a few bumps and bruises, and we were rewarded with a vibrant double rainbow and a gorgeous sunset which peaked out from under the storm clouds.

Photo of a sunset at a boat dock in Mississippi
Sunset over Gulfport Harbor, Mississippi

I topped the night off with a long shower and a much needed phone call with Romi. She always knows how to ease my troubles and anxieties.
Time to rest up before continuing east aboard the boat.

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