During the summer months in the early 1950’s I trawled out of Fourpoint in Terrebonne Parish with the first boat I owned, a 28 ft. flat bottom cypress skiff with a six cylinder Chrysler marine engine of 70 horse power and a 35 ft trawl net.
The skiff was named The Crab.
The only thing mechanical was the propulsion; the nets were hauled in by hand and the shrimp were dipped out of the net with a hand dip net. During the fall shrimp season I caught big white shrimp in Bay Saline and the adjacent bays and had a clientele of individuals and restaurants to whom I sold my shrimp directly and made enough money to have a car and go to school.
The trip from Houma to Fourpoint was lined with sugar cane fields and farms that extended to Fourpoint itself; broken only by the small towns of Bobtown, Grand Caillou and Du Lac. A few camps made from old tin and wood were all there was to the place, and Fourpoint Bayou was full of stumps and logs. The Houma navigation channel hadn’t been dug yet; to go to Bay Saline there was a little cut from Bayou Fourpoint to Sweet Water Pond which in turn was connected to a series of bays that led to Bay Saline, then to a network of bays and bayous that brought one to Lake Pelto.
August 26, 1955 was a beautiful sunny hot Louisiana day, clear blue sky dotted with snow white cotton puffs. In the distance the Live Oak Trees on the ridges of Bayou Sale could be seen rising above the flat expanses of the green marsh grass. That day I was trawling in the slick calm waters of Sweet Water Pond near Fourpoint. The shrimp were plentiful and little lavender morning glories dotted the banks of the pond. Things were perfect. By 10 o’clock I had 200 pounds of 20 count white shrimp and I was standing on the back of the retrieving the net when I heard a muffled ”BOOF”, and a blast of hot wind pushed me about 20 feet out from the boat into the water and the net.
The Crab had just exploded. The boat had a 55 gallon drum for a gasoline tank located in the front of the boat under the front deck. The 55 gallon drum had very thin metal which must have rusted through leaking the gasoline in the boat. A spark from the engine probably ignited the gasoline. The engine continued to run and I swam to the bank and I set there watching the Crab run into the bank across the pond and burn, thick black smoke rising high into the air. Mr. Alfred Pelligrin from Du Lac came to investigate the smoke and brought me to Fourpoint. I was not hurt but inwardly I was pretty shaken by the explosion and the loss of the Crab.