Houston - Texas
From one extreme to the next, we depart Cuba and sail across the Gulf Stream to arrive in Key West, Florida, U.S of A. Jon and Sally, our friends from Argonauta whom we had sailed down the East African coast with, were there to welcome us to their country, complete with a Key Lime pie adorned with a star spangled banner. We explore Key West together, checking out the bars and other haunts of Ernest Hemmingway, before continuing up Florida's West Coast. Off Alabama, after steering a slalom course through a mess of offshore oil rigs and unmarked, unlit oil pipes, we enter the Gulf Intracoastal waterway and follow it through Mississippi to Louisiana. We are getting quite the hang of either sailing under bridges, or waiting for them to open for us, when we enter Lake Pontchartrain and tie up in the New Orleans Municipal Marina. The whole city is really hopping as we arrive on the eve of the Jazz Fest. We spend a day at the festival, as well as surveying the French Quarter and the rest of the city, before entering the Mississippi and sailing right by the busy downtown waterfront and on through some locks into the bayous. The commercial tow boat operators find us a bit of an oddity, and are absolutely incredulous when I mention in a radio conversation that we have sailed Fallado around the world "..What! In that thing!"
The tow boat traffic becomes heavier and heavier as we approach Galveston Bay and we are happy to be out of it when we enter our destination, Houston's Clear Lake. We are really surprised at the number of marinas and clubs dotted around the lakes shores, we never imagined Texas would be such a centre for boats. We are even more surprised to tie up in a slip with another German yacht as a neighbour. Michael and Karin will soon sail Innoy towards Venezula, while Fallado is about to embark upon an adventure of a different kind. After several trips into downtown Houston, we have finalised our negotiations and we move Fallado to the Seabrooke shipyard to ready her for her voyage on a container ship back to New Zealand.
While our original plan was to sail from Brazil through to Venezula and transit the Panama Canal back into the Pacific, we have now altered that due to the fact that Helmut needs to be back in New Zealand or else risk losing his residence permit . After exploring all options, shipping Fallado direct from Houston to Auckland is the preferred one, and hence we now find ourselves sweltering in the Texan heat, building a cradle to place Fallado on deck of a Colombus Line container ship. We motor up the Houston Ship Channel and tie up behind the massive red ship. A huge crane lifts Fallado up into the heavens before depositing her aboard, snuggly surrounded by containers. Then instead of being able to sail aboard the ship with her as originally negotiated, we are forced to watch her leave the harbour and continue on her journey alone. We are anxiously waiting on the dock in Auckland as the ship berths, having flown in some days earlier, and are so relieved when we have her down, out of the crane and back floating on her own bottom.
destination: Great Barrier Island - New Zealand
next destination: Great Barrier Island - New Zealand