Tuesday morning everyone got up around 5:00 AM to get ready to head out for home. We were all so ready to get out of here! The radar was showing a band of storms coming our way, so with great disappointment we went back to bed. Another boring day just sitting and bouncing around!
Wednesday the plan was the same, 5:00 AM wake up to get ready to go but it was storming out so we again went back to bed for a few hours. We were so ready to get out of here that three of the boats decided to head out after the heaviest part of the storm blew through. The lake has been choppy everyday after we arrived so we figured it was going to be choppy whenever we finally did decide to head out, so three more of us decided to leave shortly after the others, around 9:00 AM.
Teak was a trooper! Because it was raining, I kept Teak down below and she did not even get sick with the rocking and rolling through Sabine lake. Once we left the lake it was smooth and the rain started to slow down. I brought Teak up to the upper helm with us and we had a nice trip all the way to Boliver.
As we got into the Boliver area we had the same situation as when we came through back in December on our return trip from Florida. Tows have taken over this area for a stopping point, making it very dangerous for pleasure boaters! They unhook from their barges and push their barges up against the banks on both sides of the ICW. By doing this they put out lots of prop wash in the channel making it difficult to maneuver through. When we feel that conditions are not good, we hail them on the radio to ask if they would pull their engines back so we can get by safely. Most captains comply with our request but some do not answer their radios. This makes for very dangerous situations. We had two tows, one on each side that would not answer their radios, both putting out pretty good prop wash. We were able to go wide around the first one and miss most of the heavy prop wash. The second one was a little different. We had a tow coming towards us. Because we could not hail the stopped tow we contacted the tow coming at us for some guidance. He wanted us to stay close to the prop wash! Many of these tow captains have no idea what their prop wash does to pleasure boaters. They really should make it mandatory for all tow captains to understand what prop wash does to different types of boats. It can be worse than rocking and rolling with waves because it throws us from one side to the other with no control whatsoever.
This tow below, the Jackie Gonsoulin would not answer his radio. We tried numerous of times with no luck whatsoever. There was no way to avoid his prop wash because it covered the entire channel. We tried to read the swirls and go through the least amount of the prop wash that we could. M/V Last Trade made it through, but M/V Cambria was not so lucky. I watched them get thrown on the bank and there was nothing they could do about it. We couldn't even go to help because the same thing would happen to us. A fishing boat saw the situation and came over to us asking if there was anything they could do. They went over to the towboat to get them to back off the engines because it was pushing Cambria further aground. That's when the tow operator finally got on the radio. He couldn't understand how his prop wash could do this, saying that we should have just powered through it. He also said that he turned down his radio because he did not see any other tow traffic coming. He had no clue that a tow had just passed! Could he have been sleeping? TowBoat Us had to be called and M/V Cambria had to be towed all the way back to Kemah. What a shame this had to happen!
Look at this prop wash!
S/V AGood Ketch (with a big keel that weighs a lot) can maneuver through this with very little problem.
This is what pleasure boats have to maneuver through in this area. It's a veritable obstacle course!
M/V Island Gypsy is a Selene 43 that weighs around 60,000 pounds. Look at the following pictures to see what prop wash does to them.
When this happens, there is very little one can do to correct it. Our Heritage East 36 only weighs 24,000 pounds and prop wash does twice as much to us as it does to a heavier boat like the boat above.
Josh and I do not feel comfortable with the situation currently going on at Bolivar with the tows. We feel that it is very dangerous for all pleasure boaters and small craft operators and think that it's a disaster waiting to happen. Josh is making some phone calls to find out what the rules are and if there is anything that can be done to prevent a future tragedy.
We always thought that it was required for someone to man the radio at all times and boats were not allowed to block the navigable marked channel. We hope something will change before someone gets hurt! For now, boaters beware!!!!!!!