The Adventures of Mary Annie

October 2007 - December 2012        The Rebuild is Complete

After a five year rebuild of the 1974 Hallberg Rassy Rasmus 35 hull number 337, I prepare for my long awaited and planned cruise. Some dreams don't come easy and this is no exception. I will admit that I tend to take the hard route in many of the endevours I undertake. The rebuild was a journey in itself, a grueling marathon, but one that left me with a huge sense of accomplishment. This web page allowed me to interact with other Rasmus owners around the world keeping me motivated and inspired. But now it is time to turn the page and embark on another journey. Hopefully one in which Mary Annie will take care of me.

December 15, 2012         Mary Annie gets broken in FAST

Mary Annie is docked at the Little Rock Yacht Club on the Arkansas River. She looks mighty small with the large motor yachts docked next to her. We took the boat out on the Arkansas River last Saturday for the first time. We motored up about three miles and then back down another 5 miles. Everything seemed to be going well, EXCEPT, the steering was pulling to port, almost like a car with a low tire pressure. Also, the hydraulic steering was "slipping". I think that may be remedied by bleeding the lines again. But the pulling to port has me a bit puzzled. I will unhook the hydraulics and steer by tiller to see if it is the hydraulic steering causing the problem. And then, I grounded my baby the FIRST day out. I hadn't gone 6 miles and I go aground. That is really typical of me. I didn't slam to a stop so I was hopeful the damage was minimal. All the yachties at the club could then say, "Welcome to the Club".

December 16, 2012       Almost Made the Darwin Awards

The next day I wanted to check the damage. I got my scuba gear out and checked my tanks for air. I was pretty much empty in both scuba tanks but one had about 50 lbs in it. Hell, I was just going to go 6 feet deep and check the damage so I decided to hook it up and give it a go. The water was a chilly 54 degrees and visibility of about 12 inches.   As soon as I got to the bottom of the keel, I couldn't get a teaspoon of air in my lungs. The cold water had turned that 50 lbs of air to zero. So I shot to the surface and came up under the dock, banging my head, still under water. I thinking, shit Pat, this isn't going to be the way I die, it's just too embarrasing. I mananged to fight my way out from under the dock and finally get some much needed air.

Well, I thought it wise to fill up my tanks and try again. Which I did and found a 2 foot long x 3/8 wide x 1/4 inch deep gouge. Minor damage but I thought I would pull the boat and fix it while I was at a nice spot to do it.

The repair took about 4 hours total and Mary Annie is back in the water and happy. It just needed a little bit of epoxy sealing, Marine Tex, and bottom paint is all.

December  2012      LIving on Mary Annie

I have been living on the boat  for the most part.  It is very quiet in the marina if the weather is calm..  That is a surprise.  I thought there would be a lot of noise coming off the docked boats, you know, clangs, and bangs.  LIfe is pretty simple on this small boat.  I play a little light music in the evening, read a book, and get to bed much ealier without the TV in my face.  Also, I get to wake up to this.
From Little Rock Arkansas to Lake Ponchatrain

January 24   Day 1  Thursday

Thursday  A Christening and Wave Goodbyes

Amy and I were up early in anticipation of our departure.  Amy didn't sleep well and I was very anxious.  I have only had about 3 hours  behind the wheel of this boat and I was getting ready to head down the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers.  We loaded the last bit of food and headed to the marina.  It was going to be a tough weather day with 20 mph steady winds and gusts up to 30 and very cold.  Darryl and Annie met us out the marina to help us off but we first had to crack a bottle of bubbly over the bow of the boat and formally christen her the "Mary Annie".  Darryl and Annie gave us a shove off the dock and the wind caught us and I had to work to keep us off the bank.  Into a stiff cold east wind we head down the Arkansas River at 9 am.  Progress was slow.  We made the 430 bridge at 10:15 and make it through Murry Lock at 11 am after much delay.  Annie, Darryl, Kathy, Lisa, Ginder, Mike and Terri were on the Big Damn Bridge to wave us off. 

                                                                                                Approaching downtown Little Rock

                                            Amy trying to stay warm!

                                                                                                            Locking through Murray Lock

                                                                                                                        Tied off in Murray

Our next obstacle was the Baring Cross Lift Bridge in downtown Little Rock.  We contacted them on vhf radio channel 13 and it was up by the time we got there.  It is usually the only bridge in Little Rock that needs to be raised as the other lift bridges are usually in the up position.  All fixed bridges have a clearance of 52 feet in normal water levels.  My neighbor Rick and his co workers were on one of the Little Rock bridges.  Nathan and Roland were amoung the group.  Eric, Alexis, and mom were on the Clinton Library Bridge and mom through us a float with candy tied on.  It was emotional and uplifting watching our friends wave us off.  Amy told me after we moved passed the Little Rock skyline it was one of the happiest days of her life.  It was fun.  Our next lock was David Terry Lock.  The wind was behind us and pushing us along and made locking more difficult.  We managed and continued to putter down river.  We ended up anchoring our first day at Tar Camp Park near Redfield.  We cranked up the tiny tot heater red hot and put on some Nora Jones and enjoyed the evening.

January 25       Day 2  Friday

We woke up to 34 degree misty rain but the wind had lessened a bit.  Locking through in high winds is nerve wracking and I was glad of the let up.  We pulled anchor and were on our way at 8 am.  It was so cold that I had all of my mountianeering jackets and pants on and I was still shivering.  Amy stayed out of the wind and was able to be somewhat comfortable.  We had three locks and one lift bridge to pass through today.  Rob Roy lift bridge was coming up first.  We had a hard time calling them on radio and waited for an hour before it was raised.  All this was new to us so we were figuring it out as we went.  The procedure on radio is to contact them on vhf radio channel 16, they then direct you to another channel, usually 12, 13 or 14.  Just below Rob Roy is lock 5.  We made easy contact with them and it was open and waiting for us when we got there. 

                                                                                                                    RobRoy Bridge


Not far down the river was lock 4 and we had a hard time raising them.  We finally figured out we were having radio technical problems on our base radio, so we started using the handheld and we had no problems at lock 3.  We were third in line on this lock and had to wait about an hour.  We called lock three "jurassic park".  The lock made loud noises that sounded like a herd of dinosuars.  It was fun.  It was getting time to anchor so we anchored just below the lock in a very nice sandy bar.  We had our first glimps of sun in the late afternoon and watched the moon rise.  It was a beautiful evening.  We had fun drinking wine, cooking steaks, and topped it off with a movie.

                                                                                                    I Lock 3 "Jurrassic Park"

                                                                                                           Anchored just below lock 3

January 26    Day 3  Saturday

We left lock 3 around 8 am and had about 35 miles of uninterupted river running before we met lock 2 on the canal that leads from the Arkansas river to the White river.  The lock operator had the lock doors open for us when we arrived.  We made it through lock 1 and entered the waters of the White river.  We had 10 miles before reaching the mouth of the White river.  We arrived at the mouth of the White about 3 pm.  The Mississippi river looked to be running high.  It was frightening.  We were trying to decide if we wanted to try and motor down the Mississippi for an hour before we anchored.  I decided to motor out into the MS and check it out.  It was violent with huge whirlpools and trees floating downsteam.  The current would twist the boat around and made steering difficult.  I decdied I was too tired to fight the MS today so we motored back into the White river and made anchor aroudn 3:30.  It was  good decision because we had time to clean up the boat and rest a bit.

                                                                    Mouth of the White River and first glimpse of the Mississippi River

January 27  Day 4  Sunday

We changed the anchor rode from rope to chain this morning to handle the currents on the MS. We were off around 7:50 am and motored into the swollen MS River.  We found out it was running 34 feet.  We immediately began dodging trees and debri and had to focus constantly on the task.  We would have 500 miles of this.  We made around 6 mph on the Arkansas River and saw that we were averaging 12 mph on the MS River with a top speed of 14.7 MPH.  I couldn't believe we were going this fast but was thrilled.  There was heavy  barge traffic and they were large with 6 barges wide and 7 deep.  They produded a large wake.

                                                                                        Heavy barge traffic our first day on the Mississippi

I was told in Little Rock there were only three places to get fuel on the MS.  They were Greenville and Vicksburg MS, and Baton Rouge, LA.  Were were trying to make Greenville today, which was 70 miles from the mouth of the White River, to meet Darryl.  He was coming aboard and Amy was headed home.  We made Greenville at 2:30 pm and met Darryl and the Greenville Yacht Club.  We got there right as the bar was closing but they kept it open for us to have a few beers.  They were very nice.  We all three had dinner at the KFC and then said my goodbyes to Amy.  We had a geat time on the rivers together. 

                                                        Amy and I meet Darryl at Greenville, MS.  Darryl comes aboard and Amy leaves for home

                                                            Approach to the Greenville Yacht Club, one of two fuel stops on the lower Mississippi River

January 28  Day 5  Monday

I was up at 5 am and just laying in the galley seats thinking about the upcoming day.  I heard someone jump on the boat and wondered how Darryl slipped by me without me seeing him.  Down into the boat he came, and then I noticed it wasn't Darryl.  I asked him the stranger what he was doing.  He said he had never seen a boat like this and wanted to look at it. Right.  I asked him to please get off the boat and he did.  I yelled back at Darryl who was just now getting out of bed that a thief just boarded the boat.  Charles, one of the GYC empleyees, met me at 8 am to fill the boat with fuel. We had used 15 gallons from Little Rock to Greenville, a trip of 200 miles.  He offered us some good hot coffee and off we went.  We were held up for 30 minutes by a barge waiting at the mouth of the oxbow lake to get on the MS.  He was waiting on another barge to get on by.  Soon we were on our way on the big river.  We soon caught up with a barge, the Marty Baskerville, and I politely asked if I could pass on her port side.  He answered, "You bet, get on down her". 

                                                                                        Darryl is introduced to the Mississippi River

At about 10 am the engine started vibrating a bit, so I pulled over into cut near a sand bar and worked on her for a bit.  When we pulled anchor and put her in gear, we went nowhere.  We were stuck in the sand.  After some high revs and manuevering, we finally got her off the bar and on her way.  That unnerved both of us.  There are so many ways to get in trouble on this river.  We were lucky this time. 

                                                                            We were stuck on this sand bar long enough to unnerve us both

As we motored downriver we noticed very little barge traffic.  We soon found out that two barges hit a bridge in Vicksburg MS and one had spilled part of the 80,000 gallons of oil it was carrying.  The river was closed for 16 miles in order for cleanup crews to work safetly.  At 4 pm we started to look for an anchoring spot.  We were at mile 490.  Anchoring on this river is difficult and came be dangerous.  You must pick your spot very carefully.  Our third try at river mile 485 would have to do.  We were tucked behind a very small jetty but it looked to be enough to protect us.  I did cooked a nice spaghetti meal that night and then did some mechanic work which consisted mostly of tightening bolts that had vibrated loose. 

                                                            Our first anchor on the Mississippi River.  You must pick your spots very carefully.

January 29  Day 6 Tuesday

We left our cozy little anchorage and headed towards Vicksburg 50 miles away.  As we approached Vicksburg we passed barge after barge parked on the banks of the river.  We had heard there were at least 50 barges waiting for the river to open.  The last thing I wanted to do was wait it Vicksburg for days waiting for the river to open.  I told Darryl I was going to play dumb and just keep going until someone stopped us.  As we neared the Vicksburg I-20 bridge, a coast guard helicopter buzzed close overhead but did not contact us, so I just kept going. 

After the bridge we saw the barge that was leaking parked on the western bank.  We also saw some clean up crews motoring around in small craft.  No one ever approached and we just kept motoring downriver.  We were excited when we made it to the downriver side of the closed area and soon after I got a telephone call from a Jackson MS news reporter who asked me who I was and how I made it through the closed area.  I told him I didn't stop and no one stopped me. Ha.  We didn't see much sign of an oil spill except for a couple of areas the water had a distinct sheen on it.  I never felt like I motored through an oil slick.  The wind became stronger and soon we were seeing 40 to 50 mph winds with large steep waves.  I told Darryl that I wouldn't want to be on any smaller boat than the one we were on.  We soon hit a thick fog bank that made things very interesting.  There was just too much in the river to feel comfortable about motoring through fog.  Thankfully it didn't last long.

                                                                                            We hit a fog bank that makes navigation very stressful

                                                    The debris you have to contend with while navigation the lower Mississippi River. 

We were going for a 100 mile day and had an anchorage picked out on the charts, but we had to turn south dead into a fierce wind to get there and I was tired and didn't want to pound into the wind any more that day, so we saw a cut that was sheltered from the wind and waves and headed towards it.  After we anchored we sat back to a drink and chips and salsa and watched the weather build.  We checked the internet and saw we were under a tornado watch.  There was a huge storm sweeping across the midwest from New Orleans to Chicago. Note: there is cell service most of the way from river mile 600 to New Orleans.

January Day 7  Wednesday

I was awakened at 11:30 pm Tuesday night to a shutter.  I thought is was the 40 mph winds hitting the boat but Darryl was up yelling that we were adrift.  We got out on deck and see a 40 foot tree had hit the anchor chain and was pinned against it with the current.  I eventually put the boat in hard reverse and backed off it while Darryl pushed the tree off us with the boat hook.  We anchored three more times before I was satisfied we were out of firing range of the debris. 

                                                                                            This is the cut where we were slammed by the tree

We left at 7:20 today to take advantage of the lighter winds in the morning.  The winds soon built and was howling through the rigging and knocking us over.  Motoring into the wind was dealing with 4 foot chop and very tiring.  It was cloudy, windy, and cold.  We passed Natchez MS and it was one of the more scenic sections of the lower Mississippi.  We started looking for an good anchoring spot around 4 pm and found a cut we could duck into and anchored behind a fallen tree.  We were at river mile 282 and were 55 river miles north of Baton Rouge, LA.  We set a record today by traveling 102 miles. 

                                                                            We "hide" behind a small tree for protection from floating debris

January Day 8 Thursday

Woke up to beaver tantrums, tail smacks against the water.  At some sugar pops, weighed anchor, and were off at 7 am.  The day started with great weather and stayed that was all day.  It was the first good weather on this trip.  It was welcome.  We Baton Rouge about 11:30 and ate lunch as we cruised by LSU stadium.  The river was flat, calm, and tame.  We enjoyed the day just lazily motoring down avoiding barges, tows, and ferrys.  The only difficulty today was going to be finding a good place to anchor amoung all the commercial traffic. 

We finally settled on a small sand bar on a sharp curve in Donaldsonville.  It wasn't ideal, but it was all we had.  We had a magnificent sunset and sunrise the next morning.  We were 75 river miles north of New Orleans at river mile 185.

                                                                                    A barge runs downstream under an interesting sky

                                                                                                            A tug against an atomic sky

                                                                                                                        It's not photoshopped!

January Day 9  Friday

The morning brings another skyshow

                                                                                    A barge working near our boat in the early morning

                                                                                        Beautiful sunrise on the lower Mississippi River

We pulled anchor at 6:45 and headed towards New Orleans.  We had heavy commercial traffic most of the way.  It did not present too much of a problem.  It does take focus and concentration and after hours of it, it becomes exhuasting.  We passed several military transport ships on our way to New Orleans.

                                                                                                        Military transport ships inder construction

                                                                                                Commercial traffic gets heavy from Baton Rouge on

                                                                                                                Our first look at New Orleans

                                                                                    Boarded by the Coast Guard in front of the French Quarters

The coast guard held us up enough to get held up 2 hours at the Industrial Canal during rush hour traffic

Got caught on the Industrial Canal at night.  I came inches from taking my mast off on the last draw bridge!

                                                                                Arrived at the Orleans Marina at 9:30 pm after a 14 hour day

                                    Sailing the boat for the first time ever.  It was a great day on Lake Ponchartrain and the boat sailed great.  I was very happy with it.