Plans were being made. Everyone had a job to do. Captain Gary, along with Greg was plotting the course. The two engineers, Brian and Shawn were fine tuning the generators, filling the fluids, checking for spare parts (something always breaks on a ship) and filling the water tanks. The rest of the crew were putting things away and lashing down anything that could move. It was a busy couple of days. I was responsible for securing everything in the galley. It was an exciting time.
Saying good bye to our new friends was sad. They had made our time in Houma special. We learned some Louisiana slang and tried some good ole southern foods. We were going to miss this place. Saying good bye to the two yard dogs was also tough. What would they eat now that they were used to us providing their nightly scraps? I would miss the early morning haze that came along with the southern heat and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I, as well as the crew (excluding Greg) had taken many pictures of the sky. Greg would laugh and say in six months we wouldn’t be able to distinguish where a particular sunrise or sunset was taken. It didn’t matter to us. We all felt each was a wonderful gift given to us.
The night before our departure was bittersweet. We all went out for a final dinner together. We went to a local place that had pool tables along with food. We laughed and enjoyed one another’s company while reminiscing about our time in Houma. Turtle came by to say his goodbye and gave us each a gift. It was perfect, a bumper sticker that read,“Official Coon Ass! “. We were and we loved it.
The next morning everyone was up early and eager to get going. We figured it would take six to seven days to get to Maine. Though I was excited along with the others, I was also a bit nervous. I had been on small pleasure boats for a day on the lake but this was completely different. How would I fare? I had prepared myself by buying sea sick pills and ginger candy. I had read these help you from getting seasick (boy was I in for a surprise).
It was June 9, 2009 around 8 am and the engines were started. As they were warming up everyone was running around doing last minute preparations. I didn’t want to miss a thing, so with camera in hand I went up the pilot house to record the sights. As we pulled away from the dock we waved good bye to our friends on land. It was exhilarating. This huge beautiful ship that had once been left to rot was now scrubbed, painted and shined, all due to this crew’s dedication and hard work. She was ready for her maiden voyage and we were all proud to experience each minute of it. The land was close on either side as we slowly steamed down through the mouth of Houma’s river. We watched as the wildlife scurried here and there going about their morning business. No one spoke as we snapped pictures trying to capture this wondrous place that had been our home for many months. I felt sure we were all saying our good byes in our own way. I felt both grateful and blessed.