pontchartrain - NEW ORLEANS SAILING
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Lake Pontchartrain, "Okwa~ta"

  A 630 square mile (1,600 sq. km) brackish estuary located just to the north of New Orleans in SE Louisiana, Lake Pontchartrain is part of one of the largest wetland complexes in the world. Basically oval in shape, it has an average depth of 12'-14' (3.7-4.3 m) and stretches 40 miles (64 km) east to west and 24 miles (39 km) south to north. Created thousands of years ago by the Mississippi River, it is named after Louis Phelypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, the French Minister of the Marine, Chancellor of France and Controller-General of Finances during the reign of the "Sun King", Louis XIV, after whom Louisiana was named.


17th St. Canal

   One of three New Orleans Outfall drainage canals created in the 1850's, the 17th forms the NW border between Orleans and Jefferson Parish. At 6:30 in the morning on August 29, 2005, following the passage of Hurricane Katrina, as people slept, the poorly designed Federal levee system wall failed catastrophically in the vacant space just above the left end of the lower white bridge in the photo while the water level was still 5' below the top, contributing along with other levee failures to the flooding of the city, the vast majority of which lies below sea level, and the tragic deaths of over 1500 residents.


Bayou St. John

  Located east of City Park and known to Native Americans as "Bayou Choupic", this New Orleans bayou served as a portage to early French settlers between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River and was the key geographical factor that played a role in the selection of the site where NOLA was founded in 1718. The first boats traveled into the future 'Crescent City' via Lake Pontchartrain and Bayou St. John, not the Mississippi River, with it's strong currents and unpredictable depths.


The Causeway

  The Longest continuous bridge over water in the world, consisting of two 24 mile (38.5 km) long spans, the Causeway cuts Lake Pontchartrain in half. The original structure opened to traffic in 1956 and the second parallel bridge went into operation thirteen years later in 1969. With a vertical clearance of 15 feet, any vessels of excessive height must utilize one of two mid-span bascules in order to transit between the eastern and western sections of the lake.


Lake St. Catherine

  Between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne lies Lake St. Catherine, a shallow, brackish body of water popular with sportsmen and fishermen. The town of Lake Catherine, LA, was originally located on it's southern shore, but it was tragically destroyed by a category 4 hurricane which killed 275 people when it made landfall on September 29, 1915.


The Rigolets

   Connecting Lake Pontchartrain and Lake St. Catherine to Lake Borgne, the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, the Rigolets is an 8 mile (12.9 km) long deepwater tidal pass that supplies saltwater to the LP basin. It's name derives from the french word for "trench" (rigole).


Chef Menteur Pass

   Also referred to as "Chef Pass", this short natural waterway, in addition to the Rigolets, connects Lake Pontchartrain and Lake St. Catherine to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Lake Borgne and the Mississippi Sound.


Lake Borgne

  One of the three largest lakes that constitute the Pontchartrain Basin, Lake Borgne is located to the SE of Lake Pontchartrain, to the east of New Orleans, and due to coastal erosion is no longer actually a lake but rather an arm of the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. Considered a lagoon covering an area of 730 sq. km. at an average depth of 3 meters, it is separated from Lake Pontchartrain by both land bridges and Lake St. Catherine and derives it's name from the french word 'borgne', meaning "one-eyed".


Lake Maurepas

  Situated to the west of Lake Pontchartrain, the 92 sq. mile (240 sq. km) Lake Maurepas is a shallow, brackish body of water with an average depth of just over 9 ft. (3m). Connected to Lake Pontchartrain by Pass Manchac, aka Bayou Manchac, it is named after Jean-Frederic, comte de Maurepas, who was an advisor to King Louis XVI.


Inner Harbor Navigation Canal

  Properly known as the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC), this 5.5 mile (9 km) waterway, which opened in 1923, connects Lake Pontchartrain via canal locks to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River.


London Ave. Canal

  One of the three NOLA outfall canals that drain rainwater into Lake Pontchartrain, the London Avenue, constructed in the early 1800's, breached the Army Corp of Engineers poorly-designed levee wall in two locations on August 29, 2005 before water levels had reached the top, flooding the Gentilly area and East New Orleans.


Bayou Castine

  Located in St. Tammany Parish on the north shore in Mandevillle, Louisiana, Bayou Castine is the home of Pontchartrain Yacht Club and is adjacent to Fontainebleau State Park.


Tchefuncte River

  This 70 mile long north shore waterway, pronounced 'cha-FUNK-ta', flows south past the towns of Covington and Madisonville and empties into Lake Pontchartrain at the 1837-built Tchefuncte River Lighthouse. A 19-century shipping point for materials bound for New Orleans, it is a popular weekend cruising destination enjoyed by many Southern boaters.


Bayou Liberty

  Located in St. Tammany Parish near Slidell, Louisiana, a great place to enjoy kayaking and fishing.


Bayou Lacombe

  Flowing south past Lacombe, Louisiana, this slow moving waterway passes through the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge on the northshore.


Bayou Bonfuca

  This Slidelll, Louisiana, waterway facilitates St. Tammany Parish drainage and is where the Confederate yacht CORYPHEUS was captured by the Union Navy's USS Calhoun in 1862, which was then utilized primarily to patrol navigable Confederacy waterways in order to prevent the South from trading with other countries.

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