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Arthur Hebert

    When the Hebert family moved from Cheniere Caminada (near Grand Isle on the Louisiana Gulf coast) to the more intimate waterscape of Irish Bayou (now surrounded by the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge adjacent to New Orleans) their Lafitte skiff and pirogues, standard tools of Louisiana fisherman, made the move with them.   With that move, the vista from Arthur’s home changed dramatically.  In contrast to the vast expanse of Gulf, the bayou was limited – it had another side and Arthur could see across to it.  As an 11-year-old boy he was permitted to play alone in the pirogue within the confines of their dock but not allowed to venture out farther alone. The bayou was home to commercial fishermen and its waters rocked with the wakes of their skiffs.   Oblivious to the dangers his parents knew, Arthur developed a passion – to paddle across the Bayou and see for himself the other side.  And, he hatched a plan.  Painstakingly separating the strands from a discarded tugboat hawser he tied them end to end, from dock to pirogue, stretching and measuring until he was sure his makeshift rope would span the bayou.  Eventually, his father relented, and Arthur’s paddling career commenced.

    His vistas have expanded with age and experience but his first solo crossing of Irish Bayou ranks right up there in his mind with his sea kayak crossing in 1998 of the Gulf of Mexico. (See: http://www.seacajun.com/ for details.) There were plenty of major paddle trips in between: an open canoe crossing of Lake Ponchartrain - 45 miles/15 hours in 1990, circumnavigation of the same lake - 108 miles/50 hours in 1992,  (Does anybody recognize a pattern here?), exploration of the entire Louisiana coast with Larry Koenig in ’94 and many others. 

    The scope of his vision has expanded but its intensity has not.

    In his quest for that “second skin” Arthur’s boat of choice has changed from pirogue to canoe to sea kayak.   As a coastal kayaking instructor certified by the American Canoe Association at the University of Minnesota he shares his passion with others

    Arthur has two children, Nichole, 24, who currently lives and works in San Francisco and Brooke, 15, his paddling partner, which are his most important source of motivation for this trip. They are frequently on his mind and always in his heart. Arthur works as a field supervisor for a large general contractor in New Orleans where he specializes in renovations of 18th and 19th century buildings.  In them he has been known to spend hours after his normal workday exploring the depths of ancient outhouses in search of archeologically significant discards from New Orleans’ past.

    One of Arthur’s abiding resolutions is that years from now he won’t be that old man sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch thinking, “What happened to all the years and all the dreams”.