A Terrebonne shrimp story

Part 4: The Captain Atlas


One of the hardest working, ingenious men that I have ever known was Atlas Lovell. Atlas was a small thin man made of muscle and bone that derived his energy from coffee and cigarettes; he was the best trawler on Bayou du Large. Atlas owned the biggest boat on the Bayou called the Captain Atlas, which was built farther up Bayou du large by Duce Deion, the best boat builder on the Bayou at that time. It was 52' in length made of cypress wood planking with a 12''x 12'' oak keel with a 671 Detroit diesel engine and equipped with both po-Pierres and otter trawls. Every time Atlas went out he came back with the boat loaded with shrimp.

Duce Deion is a story in itself, he was of American Indian descent, a master cypress boat builder. His boats had such beautiful lines, they cut through the water like a knife making hardly a ripple. Duce built his boats near his house located on the right descending side of the Bayou about a mile south of Falgout Canal. He had three hard working sons that helped him build boats with amazing speed. In the winter Duce's entire family would go to his trapping grounds in the ''West'' across Lake De Cade.

In the mid 1960's on a cold winter day the three boys were returning from the trapping grounds in Duce's shrimp boat; the weather was bad and all the windows in the cabin of the boat were closed. The boat was found with its bow against the bank in Bayou de Cade with the engine still running and the three boys dead. Carbon monoxide from a leaking engine exhaust had asphyxiated them. I don't think Duce ever built another boat.

About that time Atlas began building a huge wooden boat the named the Mrs. Lisa after his wife. I was 20 ft wide and 70 ft long with cabin that looked like a house. Atlas pushed himself night and day to build this boat and he sold the Captain Atlas to me to have the money to buy the engine and equipment to finish the Mrs. Lisa. Owning the Captain Atlas was the beginning of a voyage that would dominate the course of my life for years to come and lead to many adventures.
Bayou Du Large Part 3 Part 5 The steel hulls