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Sunday, December 10, 2006
From the Bayou to Panama....Enroute to Easter Island

We left our friends in Golden Meadow, Louisiana the day before Christmas. With a combination of heavy hearts and excitement, we bid goodbye to Gerard Ledet as he untied our lines to his boat. We had been on his dock for a year, refurbishing the Papa George from a shrimp trawler into a tuna troller capable of long ocean voyages. Nathan, Gerard, JC, Mitch and their families had made us feel so welcome and at home in the Cajun lifestyle. There were several loaves of po-boy bread in the freezer. Our time in Golden Meadow is another whole story of wonderful people and their home in the Bayou. Here we are roosting on the rail after a long day of pipe fitting, tacking, welding, go-ferring, and all the other chores of changing Papa George from a Gulf shrimper to an ocean going tuna troller. Neither Steve nor I could speak Cajun but when the guys were hard at work, the language was Cajun. All I learned was "laissez le bon temps roulez!" We spent the Winter, Spring and Fall of 1991 before we were ready for the high seas.

Gliding at an idle, the Papa George just fit under the bridge with the hurricane gate. Superior Shipyard passed to starboard and the Christmas lights of town dwindled as we headed down Bayou LaFourche. The previous owner of Papa George claimed that the boat steered itself in the bayous. It was true, but not because the boat had a special animus, only that our draft of 11 feet was deep enough to plow a furrow which placed us in the deepest part of the channel. On board were a crew of five; Steve and myself, Drake (Steve) Bond and his wife Donee (pronounced "Doe-nay"), and Mark Commons. Our first day at sea would be Christmas. It was time to make stuffing and put the turkey in the oven. Storing enough food for six months at sea strained my stowing abilities but it was all there with plenty of fresh produce. Onward down the bayou to the Gulf of Mexico and out past the oil rigs toward Yucatan Channel. From there we would change course for Swan Island. On my early morning watch, 3am to 9, am the ham rig was tuned to 20 meters sideband, to pick up some of the marine nets and any other interesting traffic.

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