Wednesday, July 1, 2015
High – 90
Low – 75
Skies – Partly cloudy early. Scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Wind – SW 5-10
If you ask me today what the most valuable gear item is, I would have to say the tarp. Especially the last three days. We have used it to get out of the sun, to lay on in the shade, and to protect us from thunderstorms. Today, as we did yesterday, we paddled to the beach just in time to get under the tarp before a storm passed through. However, today, we sat in our kayaks. Yes, that’s right, we got off the river, got the tarp out, climbed back in our boats, and covered up with the tarp. We have learned to be creative with the tarp! (See Instagram @ separateboats.)
Today started out cool and breezy. However, the sun quickly warmed the air as it moved higher in the sky and the moisture from yesterday’s rain became humidity. I was so glad to get on the river. It’s amazing how much cooler we are once we launch our boats and paddle down the river.
Since it is cooler on the river and it may be difficult to find camping spots with shade to protect us from the Louisiana afternoon sun, we tried arising at 5:00 or 6:00 instead of our usual 4:00am. The delayed start would allow us to shift our stop time to later in the day. Great plan if the forecast of scattered thunderstorms was more accurate. We’ve had unending thunderstorms early in the afternoon, causing us to spend the late afternoon and evening in the tent the past couple of days. This prevents us from setting up the stove and cooking, resulting in eating just snacks for dinner. Another downfall to an evening of rain is the lack of sunshine. I know, that seems like a no brainer. The problem is, we need the sun to charge our Sherpa with our solar panel. Without a charged Sherpa, we cannot charge our phone. So I guess we’re back to arising at 4:00, not to beat the heat, but to beat the storms.
We have definitely noticed some differences downstream from Baton Rouge. First, the addition of ocean-going vessels. (Ships, as the tow pilots refer to them.) They really haven’t had any impact on us. They are just cool to look at.
Second, the levee on both sides of the river. The levee is currently approximately thirty feet above the water level and sits at about a thirty-five degree angle to the surface. Along the majority of the river-facing side is a concrete patchwork and along the top runs an access road. The levee is visible about thirty percent of the time, a reminder that we aren’t in the wilderness any longer.
Third, the amount of industry. Upstream from Baton Rogue, we would go days without seeing any sign of civilization. (Except for tow traffic, and some days we may only see a couple of them.) Now, around every bend there is more industry and fleeting. Not to mention the occasional fumes and noise. No more peaceful camping spots. Since Baton Rouge we have camped at an intersection, across from a highway and train tracks, and next to a ship being loaded/unloaded.
Fourth, the increase in tow traffic. It’s not unusual now to encounter a north bound tow, south bound tow, and a harbor tow all in the same area. It’s not easy to stay out of everyone’s way!
Fifth, the tow pilots often don’t respond when John tries to raise them on the radio. This may be because many of these companies stand-by on a channel other than the usual sailing channel 67. This is very frustrating when a tow is coming directly at us and we aren’t sure if/which way he is going to turn.
Sixth, the shorelines are significantly less accessible. A reason for the decrease in accessibility is the increase in industry – they cover much of the shoreline with tall, piling supported infrastructure that prevents access. In between industry, there are areas of flooded trees – thus no shore at all. Once in a while, the levee is visible but not reachable because of the number of flooded trees and shrubbery. Occasionally, the levee is accessible, providing a place for a brief respite, but a challenge for camping. (Remember, the levee is at a thirty-five degree angle.)
It may sound like I am complaining. I’m not. These are the changes we are encountering on this stretch of the trip. Each stretch has been different, providing unique memories, and I will cherish every one.
Thanks for following our adventure. For photos and videos of the events mentioned in this daily journal, check us out on Instagram @ separateboats.
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