This particular adventure happened in 1997. I think it was in
97', its hard to remember now because I have tried to block it from my mind every since it happened. The story starts out innocent enough me and my fishing buddy, who shall remain nameless to protect his identity as well as my own well being from the beating I would get if I ever divulged his name. The goal was fishing, offshore fishing. As almost always, the trip was to be out of Venice, Louisiana. Every thing was going fine as we made our way through The Jump and into the Mississippi River.
Then the first indication of things to come happened. The boat was running fine until we tried to give it a little more gas to see what the new carburetor would do. We had gotten 43 mph out of it in a test run at home in the Miss. River near Baton Rouge, and it only needed a minor adjustment. It was bogging down at full throttle. We didn't want to make the adjustment in the Miss. R. that day because the river is not a place to be messing around with your engine if it is running. That is a lesson we should have remembered as we headed down the river anticipating a icechest full of snapper and tuna and whatever else might happen to bite or lures and baits. So the tweak was made at home and then the engine performed flawlessly (not under a load).
"Well let's just make one small adjustment." That word would change our lives. So we pulled to the side and proceeded to make a minor adjustment to the carburetor. "O.K. lets give it a try!" we said as we couldn't wait to get those couple of mph more to reach our destination that much faster. Well of course the engine bogged down worse than before. So what did the two idiots do? Well of course we put it back the way it was. And what happened do you think. You guessed it we now could not get on plane hardly. AAAGGGHHHH!!!
I don't remember the details, because like I said I really have tried to block it from my mind, but some how we ended up 10 miles from the mouth of South West Pass on side the river messing with the carburetor. It got so bad that we had torn a seal on the carburetor adjustment screw and had to make another one out of a piece of rubber or something I had in my tool box. Once we fixed it so that it wouldn't spew gas all over the engine we called it quits. Seems we had been keeping track of the screw head position and not the threaded part it screwed into. Obviously, as we discovered upon taking it apart we had everything screwed up and now we had a gasket that we dared not touch. Well no big deal we thought we are almost there and we will still have all night to fish anyway. We will be trolling the next day so we don't need to go fast anyway. Don't go the fun is only starting.
As we reached the mouth of the River it was of course dark since we had arrived much later than originally anticipated. As we approached the mouth which faces Southwest, we were faced with a WestSouthWest wind. As we idled out it became clear that the Gulf was going to be much too rough for our 19ft. wellcraft. So with me at the helm we made the decision to turn back upstream. That's when the night got darker the wind grew stronger and my heart sank, as I feared for my life like I have never before! As I was turning the boat the steering went out. I can't see the rocks but I know they are right in the direction that the wind is blowing. So as we made our circles over and over it was pure chaos. Ray, oops my fishing partner started to get seasick. Now keep in mind we are in huge waves and we are going in circles as I try to power the boat away from the rocks whenever the boat is facing away from them. After a while the steering goes out completely and it is apparent that we are out to see since the rocks have not yet splintered the boat to a million pieces.
For those of you not familiar with the area the anchor would never reach bottom in these waters except next to the rocks. So here we are its about 9 PM and we are drifting out to see in water that is too rough for any sane person to brave in our increasingly small boat. So now we did what anyone would do, we retrieved the flare gun and fired a shot. Thank god we were being approached minutes later by a large vessel, dredge I think. They secured us and we waited for a small crew boat to tow us in. They towed us just a few miles up river where there was a camp or headquarters for crewboats and such. We were informed that it would be sometime if ever that a boat would be going our way.
So after we determined that the steering was not fixable we eventually disconnected the steering from the lower unit and tied it straight with rope. We then could steer the boat by prying on the ropes with the rig hook (a large metal pole). So we started our journey up river only making about 3 miles per hour after you take into consideration the current. All night we took turns putting up river. Daylight found us about 3 miles north of Head of Pass. Still a long way from home. This is when a small crew boat took pity on us and towed us back to the jump. He had to make a pick up so we made the last mile or so on our own limping back into port. We made the 4 hour drive back home and got home around 1 p.m. So our trip from hell as it is known saw us driving either a car or boat for 18 hours or so and the rest of the time was spent working on the boat. How lovely. Throw in the near death experience at the mouth of the river and I bet you will agree this was the trip from Hell. Incidentally if you had just met us at the dock with 200 bucks you could have gotten a boat cheap. Honestly.