Suicide Alley

A few miles below Natchez is the mouth to the Atchafalaya River. It runs parallel to the Mississippi to the gulf and has no commercial traffic. I’ve heard kayakers and canoeists use it as an alternative rather than trying to get by Baton Rouge and New Orleans in a tiny boat. I passed it two days ago. Besides it’s not the Mississippi is it?

The 105 mile stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is one continuous international port. It’s also one of the busiest in the world. The barge captains call this stretch Suicide Alley. The local residents call it Cancer Alley due to Petrochemical Industries along the banks. Once again I am in a rowboat.

From the first moment on the river, to the end of 11 hours and 47 miles, I was puckered up tight. Dancing and dodging barges, shuttle boats, tug boats, piers and docks, and finally something new, a ship anchorage. They were large cargo ships anchored out in the river in a line. I mostly pass peacefully but there is often activity of shuttle boats bringing supplies or men back and forth. Breath. Keep your head in the game.

A large pipe stretched halfway across the river with a three story barge connected to one end. It was a dredge. The channel diverts to a narrow passage around the west side. I decide to pass on the east. As I approached the barge they blast their horn three long times. My pucker got tighter. Was that for me? Apparently. A fast boat from the Army corp came out and we talked. He was cool and just said pass by near the bank and took off in a blur.

I camped behind a barge anchorage with tug boats shuttling barges back and forth all night to a noisey, dusty loading pier right next to me. I don’t care. Its safe and I didn’t see a better place to camp all day.

A busy sunrise
They usually slow down for me. I would not have a chance of getting out of their way.
Ship anchorage
River is filling up
Last resort camp. No more islands with sandy beaches

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