Don’t hesitate this month. Point the bow of your boat directly toward this perennial winter hotspot.
Dear Capt. Paul:
I’m hoping to buy a houseboat in Lafitte, close to Joe’s Landing, across from Cochiara’s Marina, and moving it to Lake Maurpas close to the Amite River.
The houseboat is 35-by-14-feet.
What route would you suggest I take? Also, what would be my best bet on buying a GPS for such trips?
Capt. Paul’s response:
You will have a journey to take that will require some investigation on your part.
You will have to plot a route from the Barataria Waterway to the Intracoastal Waterway to the Harvey Canal through the locks into the Mississippi River to the Inner Harbor Navigation Channel through the locks and into the channel to Lake Pontchartrain to the north shore small-boat passage of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to Pass Manchac through the pass, under I-55 to Lake Maurepas to the Amite River.
As a start, I suggest that you get current copies of NOAA Marine Charts 11365 (Barataria and Bayou Lafourche Waterways), 11367_4 (Waveland to Catahoula Bay) and 11369 (Lakes Pontchartrain & Maurepas).
This route is roughly about a 90-mile trip one way. It requires you to navigate through two locks as well as the Mississippi River, the Inner Harbor Canal and under several bridges, all of which have restricted opening times and clearances.
Not only do you have to know your fuel consumption, you have to know your draft, displacement (for the locks), length, width and height of your vessel.
There are some refueling locations along the way, and I suggest that you take advantage of them when you are in those areas. The Harvey Canal as well as Lake Pontchartrain at the West End Marina have refueling locations, as do some of the locations in Pass Manchac.
The captain of the vessel should be keenly aware of all river, bridge and lock restrictions. The vessel should be in excellent shape and seaworthy for such a trip. All safety equipment should be serviceable and in excellent shape.
Most of the locks and bridges use marine channel 13 for requesting permission to enter/pass as you approach, but such permission should be investigated beforehand.
Remember the federal and state navigation rules and what they require as to radio frequencies as well as other safety and required equipment. No doubt you will be inspected several times during your trip.
The skipper of the vessel will also need the present and forecasted weather conditions for the duration of the trip. Remember that a vessel that you described is very, very susceptible to winds. Try to pick a period where there are no pronounced winds in the forecast.
I would opt for a hand-held GPS unit that could be used on the deck if conditions warrant. Yes, a fixed, mounted unit will also do, but it should be installed by an experienced installer. It is possible that a mounted unit may have to have an external antenna and other options, whereas a hand-held unit could be simply moved to an upper deck.
Almost any of the leading manufacturers offer such units. Try the Garmin, Lowrance and Magellan web sites for units that suit your needs and price range. Be sure to include optional mapping software that will depict the areas you will be traveling and a 12-volt accessory power cable with your choice.
Narrow down your selection, and get back to me. I would be happy to discuss your options.
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