Buzcador Barges Through the Bayous

It took longer than expected, but we were finally ready to go. The plan was to be towed out from Berwick, down the Atchafalaya River and out through the bay. The Buzcador would depart Berwick as an “unmanned barge”.

Wondering why we had to get towed out? Why we couldn’t stay onboard? Because even though we were light ship, we had no cargo, little ballast and just enough fuel and water to make it- we were still really pushing our luck with our draft. We didn’t want to take any chances with our engines.

The Atchafalaya is not a very deep river. It has a lot of shallow spots. It’s also unique in that it’s actually replenishing the land in it’s delta. Most of the rest of Louisiana is loosing ground to the sea.

Our draft was over 12 ft and we knew we would be touching the bottom in at least a couple of places. Also, the intake for our engine cooling water was going to be sucking mud the entire time- not good!

So, we got underway about noon. The mighty Miss Edmay would be pulling and the Basin Endeavor would be pushing. The Buzcador would be ‘dead ship’ until we hit the sea buoy.  No engines, no power, no lights, etc. We all scrambled over to ride the Endeavor out.

We did alright until we got to ‘Crewboat Cut’. We ran hard aground! I didn’t expect to have any trouble until much further down the river. The Atchafalaya River is always changing tho. We used to avoid this area by taking a bend in the river called the “Horseshoe”, but that stretch has been discontinued for navigation and the navigation aids removed. No telling what it was like.

Our 2 tugs tried hard to get us off the bottom. They struggled for at least 2-3 hours. Pushing and pulling, twisting and turning. The decision was made to call for another tug. We broke free just as the new tug “Mr Nicolas” arrived on scene.

They made fast and we proceeded on down the Atchafalaya. We made it as far as the ‘Lighthouse” before we were hard aground again. Another couple of hours spent to break us free, while questioning our chances of making it all the way out the river. The Lighthouse was only the 1st of the shallow spots I knew about. We still had at least 3 more to pass for sure.

The decision was made to turn back and try a different route. We cut the Endeavor loose as we turned into Bayou Chene and made our way through the ICW to the Houma Navigation Canal. I had some doubts about whether we would have the same problems there. I’d been through that way before and run aground there too.

Turns out, it was a good decision. We made it all the way out with no problems at all. I slept through most of it since I was going to be up all night on lookout. Nice scenery. I was  up to see Cocodrie, and the last lowland parts of Louisiana as we made our way through Terrebonne Bay and out Cat Island Pass.

We turned the tugs loose at the sea buoy, stumbled around in the dark until the engineers cranked up the engines, and we were off!

More to come! 😉

9 thoughts on “Buzcador Barges Through the Bayous

  1. Pingback: Buzcador Breaks Free! | Capt Jills Journeys

  2. I took a boat in and out of Conrad that way in 2014, in in April out in November and they told us 9′ if we didn’t want to touch up bottom paint. Looks like the same set of tugs. The boat was 292 x 64 and we ended up touching at the bow at some point since the paint was down into the primer when we got her up on dock.

    • Yeah, I used to run the Ocean Inspector out of the Oceaneering dock, we’d go out through Bayou Chene and down the river. We used to touch bottom all the time with an 8.5′ draft (or less).
      Are you from around NOLA? I’m heading up there next week for a travel writing workshop. Any suggestions for things to do/see? places to eat/drink?

        • I’d love to hear any suggestions you have Jay.
          Specific? I don’t really know enough to be specific. I’m looking for things related to the water that I can write about for my blog. OR, weird, quirky things. OR, just fun stuff. Good food, good music, cool dive bars (hopefully where they still allow smoking).
          I see lots of people are already getting together for jazz and creole food, but sad to say I prefer different. I love cajun music, but not jazz so much. I’m not a big fan of seafood, soul food, or cajun/creole food. (My friends still tease me that I eat ‘like a yankee’) 😉

          • The Rivershack in Gretna, that’s across the river, is a current favorite. You can sit and watch river traffic and the sunset, in weekends thy have music and the food isn’t specifically Cajun, Creole, or seafood, it’s just good.
            In the French quarter I like The Kerry, they always have music, though Orleans Parish has gone non-smoking. As long as it isn’t Tuesday, Parkway Bakery for the best poboys in the city. The roast beef is a goto for me. They are very near bayou st. John, which has recently been reconnected to the lake and now is repopulating with Marsh fish. City Park is right around the corner from there too, very pretty. You can take the pedestrian ferry across the river at Canal St., Always a favorite when I’ve got people in town. Ride the streetcar down st. Charles, those are the green ones, they don’t have AC but are the real deal, if you go all the way to the end ask the driver to let you off a plumber street and point you towards Williams Plum Street sno-balls.

          • Thanks for the great info JayNola, I’m going to take your advice and take a ride over on the ferry this evening. Will try to look for The Kerry tomorrow night. This evening, I want to head over to Pirates Alley Cafe to see what’s going on for Talk Like a Pirate. That should be interesting. Besides, I’ve wanted to try Absinthe for a while. 😉

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