Monday, June 3, 2013

Cruising on Plover -- Shake Down Cruise to Ingleside, Texas

We are presently at the Bahia Marina in Ingleside after an extended trip down the coast from Kemah. Our original plan was to get to Bahia Marina in Ingleside by Saturday, May 11, because we needed to be in San Antonio on Monday, May 13, for THE BIG GRADUATION EVENT OF JAMES TOMSETT. We didn't get away from Kemah until the morning of May 9, after spending the night tied up at The Turtle Club in Seabrook. Yes, we spent the night tied up at a bar. Oddly, this was not to be the first night we tied up at a bar, but I digress.  Here is a picture of us as we left Kemah:

Our first stop was Teacup Anchorage just outside Galveston Yacht Basin. It turned out to be a nice anchorage but did get a bit rolly in the morning when the work boats started traveling by. We went to the fuel dock and topped off with diesel and then headed for the ICW to Freeport. We still had things that needed to be done to the boat before we could take her offshore, such as wiring the running lights and installing cleats for securing the seat covers. Our plan was to take the ICW to Freeport and then go offshore to Port Aransas.

After clearing the Galveston Causeway, we were hit by a major thunderstorm and took refuge in Offats Bayou. While there, we discovered one of our batteries was dead, so a hike to Auto Zone ensued and Chris packed the battery back to the boat. We got back on the ICW at 4 p.m. and I promptly ran us hard aground. We spent the next 2 hours kedging and leaning and poling, and were finally assisted by a kind hearted power boater. How embarrassing for me. That was  not the only time we ran aground that night, though, so I felt better about it as the night wore on. We came to the conclusion that dodging tugboats and barges on the ICW at night, with no moon, and no spotlight, is not a good idea and about 1 a.m. we pulled over and set the anchor to await daylight.

I had asked Chris one time what he thought the weakest link on our boat was. He couldn't come up with anything but, after thinking about it, I decided it was human error. Our Plover is strong and seaworthy but if we mess up and do something dumb, she may not be able to take care of us. So, that morning on the ICW, I told Chris, "We're making the most common mistake sailors make -- we're trying to get somewhere according to a deadline rather than making sure we have a safe passage. We need to forget about trying to get to Ingleside and just take it slow from here on out." And that is exactly what we did. We secured a slip at Freeport Municipal Marina and went to San Antonio for Jimi's graduation and spent a few days visiting with family.

After returning to Freeport, we continued down the ICW, stopping for the night at Sting Rae's bar and grill in Sargent. Although the bar was closed, Rae was very friendly and invited us to spend the night in a slip there and gave us the code to her WiFi. A guy in a pickup came by to admire the boat and gave Chris a ride to a convenience store to get us some ice. It turned out that the guy was Major's vet, Gordon, from Pet Care Express, in Houston. What a small world we live in !!

We then traveled 12 miles to the San Bernard River where we anchored and walked over to the beach on the Gulf side of the island. The San Bernard River was an excellent anchorage and we had a very nice time there although we didn't catch many fish. I caught a few gaff top catfish which we didn't keep as they were a little on the small side. Major had a great time at the beach. I think he ran nonstop for at least 2 hours and rolled in every dead smelling thing he could find.

The next day we exited the ICW at Matagorda on the Colorado River. The following is an email I sent to my parents about the trip:

Subject: Arrived Port Aransas
Sent: Sat, May 25, 2013 10:58 a.m.

Hi. We left Matagorda about 9 a.m. to go to Port Aransas offshore, a distance of about 80 miles. NOAA said winds 10-15 and seas 2-3 feet which is how the day started. We worked our way out about 10 miles offshore and the seas/wind increased throughout the day. We were under stay sail, full main, and mizzen. Chris took a nap from about 4-6 pm and then we had sausage jerky and water for dinner as it was too rough to cook. After dinner, I got about a one hour nap but it was difficult to sleep because of the conditions. We had 5 foot waves that were cresting which was interesting when they crested under the boat. We reefed the main and still maintained about 4-5 knots, eventually taking down the main, then the mizzen, running under stay sail alone. The seas were confused so we had these big rollers in one direction and then 2-3 ft. waves at another angle. This caused side to side rolling as well as front to back. It was uncomfortable but no one got sea sick and we didn't take any water over the bow. Major was scared and became very quiet, sticking close to us, and wouldn't eat or drink anything. As we neared Port A, we had difficulty identifying some lights. They looked like ships but we thought they might be really big drilling rigs. When the sun came up we saw they were anchored ships. The wind had died down to about 10 knots, so we got the reefed main and the mizzen up again, and shook the reef out of the main before long. A pod of dolphins played around the boat, leaping out of the water and one threw water at us with his tail. We arrived Port Aransas about 11:30 a.m. and had an easy entrance into the jetties. We had worried about the big rollers and the small entrance so we had put Major down below in case anything crazy happened. I looked below to check on him and caught him eating the rest of our sausage jerky. So much for sea sickness. All in all it was a good shake-down cruise. We towed the dinghy behind us and only got about 2 cups of water in it. The boat performed beautifully and took good care of us. We wore the safety harnesses you gave us the entire time and were clipped on to the mizzen mast when in the cockpit or to jacklines run bow to stern when on deck. We are here in Ingleside for a month while we take care of little projects.