Cruising the ICW- Kemah, Texas to Intercostal City, Louisiana

Louisiana ICW

The ICW can be long and strait or short and curvy!

Cruising the Inter Costal Waterway in Texas and Louisiana is a lot different than I imagined. We departed from Kemah, TX at 10:30 AM after refueling. We cut across Galveston Bay and stayed in the ship channel for a lot of the passage. It was a lot shallower than I imagined, only 8-10 ft.   We made it to the opening of the ICW and turned east.

We were met by a couple of pods of dolphins and the broke at the bow of the boat. Aubrey squealed like a kid when she saw them. The pod swam right by the boat and we could see them up close. The played in our wake and we ran across another pod as we continued east.

We made our way past a few tugs pushing barges, no big deal. I opened up the throttle and moved right along. Hours passed and I noticed that the gas gauge was dropping. We past Sabine Lake, TX on the ICW and I made a mistake by using my GPS to look for fuel services. It directed us back three miles and around the bend.   I knew that something was off when I saw a dead end canal under a bridge with a bunch of seedy types all over. Aubrey went below and asked if I wanted her to get my gun? I said no and turned the boat around. Apparently the business closed in 1975 but Garmin failed to update it.

The ICW has more twists and turns and diversions than you would imagine. I was happy to have my new GPS to help me along. I made it around 150 miles from Kemah and my gauges were reading low. I decided to make a left turn to Lake Charles so we could get fuel. This diversion set us up a river, literally. We took a wrong turn at a cut off and ended up shoaled in a marsh. It said it was a marsh but it looked like a lake across from a country club. I had slowed to almost nothing and saw the depth gauge show low water and we bumped on the shoal. I wasn’t cussing yet.

We tried to push ourselves off with some poles to no avail. I wasn’t planning on jumping into 3 foot of water in a marsh with the gators and the bull sharks so I dropped the dinghy from the rear of the boat. It didn’t release so I tied a line and threw it to my lovely first mate at the bow. I tried to pull it off a few times with my 9.9 hp Honda to no avail. I noticed that the bow would swing so I pulled sideways and the boat came free along with myself as I tried a little too hard, over-rotating the dinghy. I decided to fall off before it flipped. No worries, I was up again before I could be gator bait. We tied the dinghy and made it just in time before the fuel stop closed at 6. It was a long day!

We found this great place in Lake Charles, LA, in a place called Contraband Bayou. Bowtie Marina was the place we called home for a night. The owner is a really nice guy and he offered for us to stay after we filled up. He had a really nice little Marina and we were the only ones staying the night. We tied up to one side on a really nice dock and he had 30 amp service and water. I counted 10 slips and they were all beautiful. It was quiet and peaceful. Doug rented a few of his acres to the Coast Guard that built a site to house a few boat crews that were coming and going throughout the night. I never felt safer in a marina, let me tell you.

Bowtie Marina Lake Charles LA

We loved our stay at Bowtie Marina and I will got out of my way to stay there again!


The next day we left at 10:40 after much-needed coffee and a boat scrub down. I had more time to fiddle with my new GPS and it worked much better. We went through 2 locks and I had to call to open 2 pontoon bridges. It was much less eventful and a fun day. It did wear on though. 90 degree and sunny weather. The strait away’s were strait and long today and we saw some wildlife. All in all it was a good cruise.

We made it to a place called Intercostal City, but it’s not a city at all. No restaurant, bank or stop light and I’m not sure anyone lives here. We tied off on a public launch dock that is nice enough and we will fuel up at Shell Morgan tomorrow before heading to Houma. We walked over to a small store across the way and Aubrey went upstairs to get some ice cream for the kids. I waited under the store on a bench and talked to two fellas. Nice guys.  We spent a few hours with the AC below deck and Aubrey cooked another fantastic dinner. We went out for our nightly walk/scooter ride and the kids had a blast.  We had fun for about 1 hour and it became the witching hour for the mosquitos so we ran for it and here I sit typing this post. Goodnight all!

One thought on “Cruising the ICW- Kemah, Texas to Intercostal City, Louisiana

  1. I’m the guy from Louisiana (Lake Charles) that spoke to you on Cruisers forum. I have my boat at the Civic Center Downtown marina. If I’d known yall were here, you could have parked next to us at the floating docks. Oh well. Looking forward to your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

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