Dear Capt. Paul:

Can you or anyone give me an idea of the safest way to get to the Empire jetties from the Empire marina boat launch? I’ve never been down that area before.

Is there a way that everyone goes? I’m 100-percent unfamiliar with this area and would love any advice you guys can give.

— Cajuncraw 

Capt. Paul’s response:

You are not the only one who has a problem running a route from the Empire launches to the Empire jetties. Experienced boaters are stunned by the loss of land in that area that has turned the various bayous, canals, lagoons and bays into an open water lake.

Those who have not visited the area recently might not recognize the way that was once a boater’s highway. 

Remember that the Louisiana marsh is a living estuary; it is an ever-changing area consisting of water marsh and islands surrounded by tidal ocean waters.

Because of this, many boaters do not like to give specific points that would make up a route, as the route might change because of water movement and obstructions that are in the area. 

In addition, not knowing the draft, beam, range and fuel capacity of your boat can make it very hard to navigate the route but another vessel can easily get through it without any difficulties.

My point being that you should run any route you did not mark yourself with extreme caution. Navigate the legs at a reduced speed and pay attention to the topography of the area.

I believe most of the canals and bayous are marked with poles, but they do not even come close to how an officially recognized commercial waterway would be marked. Keep that in mind when you are running an unfamiliar route or one that you haven’t navigated for a while.

Some suggestions include getting older maps of the area that show the original canals and bayous. For instance NOAA Marine Chart 11358, Barataria Bay and Approaches shows the canal by the jetties as having a 9-foot depth, continuing with a 5½-foot depth to the Empire gate in 1997. 

This passage is via the Empire flood control canal to Bayou Long to Bayou Fontanelle to the jetty canal to the Gulf of Mexico. This route is generally north/south, but one cannot simply run a 180-degree course because that would pass over many of the small reefs, shoals and islands now throughout the area.

In addition to the Standard Map, check into the USGS Topographical maps of the area. These will give you an idea of how or where these bayous were located.

Of course, following a larger boat to or from the jetties while using the tracking feature will allow you to convert it to a route. 

I have put together a route you might want to review.

My plots were made before Hurricane Katrina, so there could be some areas that are now shallow or have obstructions. So if you use the route, do so at an idle speed for the first run and keep a sharp eye out for obstructions.

The 19 waypoints are given, along with a description of the position and distance to next waypoint, and they are formatted in DDD,MM.mmmm using WGS 84 Datum:

Waypoint 1

Coordinates: 029° 23.0554’ N, 089° 36.1248’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 721 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 221 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt2

Coordinates: 029° 22.9664’ N, 089° 36.2148’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 4356 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 167 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt3

Coordinates: 029° 22.2681’ N, 089° 36.0311’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 2641 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 170 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt4

Coordinates: 029° 21.8400’ N, 089° 35.9463’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 2019 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 164 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt5

Coordinates: 029° 21.5200’ N, 089° 35.8447’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 2241 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 159 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt6

Coordinates: 029° 21.1746’ N, 089° 35.6967’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 1886 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 171 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt7

Coordinates: 029° 20.8682’ N, 089° 35.6413’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 1680 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 174 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt8

Coordinates: 029° 20.5932’ N, 089° 35.6097’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 2094 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 181 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt9

Coordinates: 029° 20.2489’ N, 089° 35.6217’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 776 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 190 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt10

Coordinates: 029° 20.1232’ N, 089° 35.6473’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 964 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 209 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt11

Coordinates: 029° 19.9851’ N, 089° 35.7367’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 1123 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 238 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt12

Coordinates: 029° 19.8877’ N, 089° 35.9168’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 1076 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 219 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt13

Coordinates: 029° 19.7501’ N, 089° 36.0447’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 2072 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 213 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt14

Coordinates: 029° 19.4663’ N, 089° 36.2612’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 2287 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 181 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt15

Coordinates: 029° 19.0901’ N, 089° 36.2677’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 3107 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 169 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt16

Coordinates: 029° 18.5873’ N, 089° 36.1624’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 1309 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 154 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt17

Coordinates: 029° 18.3936’ N, 089° 36.0542’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 1366 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 137 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt18

Coordinates: 029° 18.2283’ N, 089° 35.8796’ W

Distance to next Waypoint: 3 miles, 4254 feet

Bearing to next Waypoint: 189 degrees (magnetic)

Name: Wpt19

Coordinates: 029° 14.9698’ N, 089° 36.5120’ W 

— Capt. Paul