A Canadian flag on the boat blowing in the wind sets it even more apart from the other boats. Its captain, Eric Bureau and his wife, Lisa, both of Phoenix, are on a sailing trip that started about a month ago in Clear Lake, Texas, that will take them through the Gulf of Mexico and into Panama.
Eric Bureau is originally from British Columbia and said he “was brought up on a sailboat” from about the time he was 4 years old.
“About every 10 years I kind of schedule my life to where I can take off for a year or so,” he said.
His wife, Lisa, said this is her first time to go on a “big sailing” trip with her husband though she said she’s been on other “adventures” with him.
Eric Bureau plans to leave Morgan City by early next week, but the winds are the ultimate determining factor, he said.
Eric Bureau, 54, and Lisa Bureau, 50, also brought along their dog, Slide, for the trip.
“We were hoping to catch this last cold front, but we weren’t quite ready so we’re just sitting here waiting for the next cold front to come through, hopefully sometime early next week,” he said. “The prevailing winds are still from the south, southeast so that doesn’t help us at all.” He downloads weather updates frequently to see when he may able to get back out on the water.
Thus, his 36-foot long boat is appropriately named Galene, after the goddess of the flat seas, he said.
The Bureaus are making the most of their longer than expected stay in Morgan City. “The trip, to me, is about everywhere you stop, and meeting the people, like here in Morgan City, it’s a great little town. People are friendly, and everything’s close by,” Eric Bureau said. Lisa Bureau, who is originally from New York, said she also enjoys stopping in areas like Morgan City.
“Morgan City itself, I like the small town, but I just feel everybody’s been really nice, really helpful, really welcoming,” she said. She and her husband “are trying to go to all the local stores,” she said.
Eric Bureau says the sailing trip “is always an adventure,” but sailing is easier than some people think. “People think that sailing is a lot of work, and it really isn’t. Once you’re out away from shore, the winds are pretty constant. You just set the sails. The autopilot steers, so you’re free to do whatever you want,” he explained.
He and his wife take turns keeping watch throughout the nights they sail, and said they do a lot of reading. He also likes to fish a lot, mostly for tuna, while his wife likes to keep a journal.
Though his wife is from New York, she “can’t wait to get south,” she said.
“I can’t wait ‘til we cross the Gulf and get to the tropics. I like warm, tropical water and just snorkeling on the reefs,” she said.
Other than the unfavorable winds, they also had some other final touches to take care of and their “autopilot went bad” so they had to get a new one, Eric Bureau said.
After traveling through Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, they will travel to Panama. “We’re going to shoot across the Gulf, and our first stop will probably be in Isla Mujeres, which is off (the coast of) Cancun,” he said.
Lisa Bureau has enjoyed learning the culture of the sea because this is her first long sailing expedition. “I’ve sailed, but not like his (Eric Bureau’s) experiences, along the Intracoastal (waterway),” she explained. “I think the most interesting thing for me is the whole subculture of the tugboat captains, being on the marine radio, the courtesy.”
Eric Bureau has crossed the Atlantic Ocean in his sailboat five times yet “coastal cruising” is his favorite part of the journey. “You have to (cross the ocean) to get somewhere, but, to me, it’s the same day after day. It’s not my preference.” He likes to find a bay to anchor at and go snorkeling or diving.
His sailboat also has a diesel motor in case he needs to use it, but when the wind is blowing strong enough in the desired direction he can go faster without the motor.
Living out on the water for days or months at a time may get old to some people, but Eric Bureau does not mind it. “It’s nice having the boat because you have your home with you. I’ve never been much for getting on an airplane and staying at a hotel somewhere.”