Saturday, October 30, 2010

All of My October In One Weekend

Enjoy first, the conglomeration of video clips I got while we approached the Flato Cut...

Now to the story...
I've been so snowed under with work this last 4 months, I've hardly noticed that its October... the best month of the year!  The weather has been great, the temperatures comfortable, and I've been doing nothing but working and sleeping.  This weekend, the forecast was for "Sublime"... so we opted to ditch the BYC Halloween Party and go off by ourselves on the boat.

We left the slip with almost no wind... the bay was flat and nearly devoid of the merest wrinkle.  I settled in on the deck to catch up on my Lats & Atts magazines that had been stacking up on my bedside.

Our destination was Flato Cut.  We have never been there and it moved to the front of the list out of the many wonderful places there are to anchor out in our area.  The reason was, I wanted to be away from people... all people!  Just Bruce and I, and the occasional bird.

We motored all the way across the Bay.  It was my time to relax and get into "Cruiser Mode".  I forgot all of the things I need to do at work and just cleared my mind of all but enjoying the moment and the beautiful day.  As we neared our destination, we were joined by a pod of Dolphin.  You saw video of some of the best clips I was able to get.  Let me assure you, the video footage is only a pale representation of the show we got.

We did a loop to prolong our entertainment with the Dolphin, then finally motored through the cut and into the open anchorage that is Flato.  We settled in for an afternoon of decadent relaxation.  The most strenuous thing I did all afternoon was to buy a CD on i-Tunes.  There's no place I can't SHOP!  We waited for sundown with the sounds of the abundant wildlife all around as the birds settled in for the night.

Bruce fired up the grill off the stern and made some scrumptious pork loin chops while I heated up some purple hulled peas and garlic bread to go with a very nice Zinfandel.  This was our sunset.

After dinner, we snuggled down in the cockpit to enjoy nature's song as the birds prepared for the night.  We could see our City far off in the distance through the cut.  The lights began to sparkle as stars do, like intermittent sprinkling of fairy dust.  It was marvelously quiet and still. 
I was abed early, as usual.  I think I made it to 8pm, then off to the V-berth for a restful night.  The windows were partly open, the air was fresh, the night was quiet.  My sleep was punctuated only by the occasional honk of a blue heron as his sleep was disturbed by some unseen villain.

Morning came and we were up just before sunrise.  I prepared to read in bed but Bruce made me come to the cockpit if I was to get my coffee with Baileys.  Mean mean man that he is...  So I took up my red riding hood and my Kindle and received my reward. 

We lazed around until well after the sun was up.  I cooked breakfast with a bit of drama... before the eggs were done, we ran out of propane in the big bottle.  We had to search around for the adapter to connect one of the spare bottles.  But we found it and finished off our breakfast late in the morning.  By the time we had cleaned up and done a minor boat project, it was noon and time to head for reality.

 We motored back out of Flato Cut the way we had come in, hoping for a repeat performance by the Dolphin pod, but it was not to be.  We were waved off by the proprietary group of White Pelicans and other birds that we had passed coming in with little notice after the excitement from the Dolphins.  These beauties received our full attention this time. 

We began our trek back to the slip with very little wind, which turned to nearly no wind.  Bruce was on the verge of starting the engine when I asked him "why?"... to which he replied, "you're right!".  We were moving in the right direction, although very slowly... but we were in paradise.  So, we inched along for a while.  Very gradually, the winds came up and our speed increased.  It wasn't until we neared the Gap back on our home side of the Bay that there was enough going on to warrant the need for manning the wheel.  Then it was a fun romp for home.  We docked and tidied up, loaded our gear for home and the weekend was over.  I had packed my whole October into one weekend, for tomorrow... it's November!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Harvest Moon Experience...

By now, anyone paying attention to what's going on in my life, knows that work has been my primary focus for months... So there's no need to remind the reader here that I was unable to join my husband and friends on this year's Harvest Moon Regatta.  This is something that I was quite unhappy about and spent the week pining and yearning to be off playing instead of stuck at my desk.  When Friday came 'round, I left work at 3pm and loaded the car with the necessary gear, and headed to Port A to check into our rented home for weekend. By bedtime, I had finished laying in groceries and  had collected Bruce and friend, Chuck from the CC Marina and brought them both back to the Condo to fall into bed.  These were two very tired boys.  I had committed to be at the Port A Marina to serve as volunteer for the first (Annual?) BYC breakfast for the Harvest Mooners.  It was still dark when we started serving at 7 am.

We had plenty of volunteers and we all had a great time.  Business was kind of slow at first, but who is up early after sailing in the conditions we had this year for the race.  It was high winds and high seas and I doubt many of the sailors had much, if any sleep along the way.  So we manned our posts and waited until our customers woke up with taquitos ready!

Brittney volunteered with me, which had Matt grumbling about being up so early on a Saturday!  Bruce and Chuck came along for moral support, but they were still very tired and pretty much just hung out.  We had plenty of help anyway.  It was really good to see Chuck.  I love that guy!

Well, Bruce took Chuck to the airport leaving me at the marina to begin the lunch shift, but we had more volunteers show up for that, so I was just a spectator.  Bruce picked me up and we went back to the Condo for lunch and a nap.  We all reconvened at the Marina in the late afternoon when the official Harvest Moon Party kicked off!

It was fun listening to the stories from the racers.  We had several Club Members who participated.  There was some worry about Starfish, who had turned back to put in at Freeport in the night after experiencing some mechanical difficulties.  But all is well so no worries.  Nothing a little money can't fix. 

We all enjoyed the bottomless drinks supplied by Bacardi.  We met some of the racers from other Clubs and generally had a great time. There was a BBQ Dinner, which was OK, but then BBQ isn't really my thing anyway... Bruce liked it. 

Then on to the awards.  There were over 200 boats in this race.  There were countless "classes", which all had 3 awards.  We milled around for EVER before things got interesting and they began announcing the winners for the classes we had friends in. 

The BYC bunch and other local CC boats were well represented in the awards.  It was fun hearing the names called out for boats we know.  Everyone was excited for the winners and even more so knowing what a harrowing time they all had out there.  I was somewhat melancholy about the whole thing.  I would have loved to have gone, but in hindsight, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed the sail... but then here I am, left out of the afterglow... the camaraderie, the having-made-it-through-it'edness that my friends and husband were now enjoying.  Oh well, I'm very happy for all of them.  SeaFlight got 3rd place in their class.  Brenda was ecstatic!  I watched and took pictures of it all and hoped that my employer has some little appreciation of the sacrifice I made in not going on the race.  Next year, I'll be out there!  Congratulations to all of my friends who did so well and made CC Bay area sailors proud!

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010 Harvest Moon Regatta Aboard SeafFlight

This year we had committed to do the Harvest Moon Regatta with friends Mark and Brenda, just as in the previous two years.  However, I had to go it alone... work kept Tammy tied up at home. 

We left Corpus Christi early on Monday morning, October 18th headed for the Gulf of Mexico.  We had plenty of crew with Mark, Don, Russ, Johnny and myself.  Brenda was to fly in on Wednesday night. 

 We motored across the Corpus Christi Bay and out through the Port A Jetties.  A few miles out in the Gulf, the wind picked up enough to fly Mark's new spinaker.
 We entertained ourselves by trolling two fisihing rods.  We caught two kingfish.  We didn't want to clean them, so we released them.  It was a beautiful sailing day.  The boat was doing around 6-7 kts.  Easy sailing, good company.  Mark heated up Brenda's beef stew for dinner, then set up a two hour watch schedule as we prepared for the night. 
 Johnny and Don took the first watch, Russ and I took the second, while Mark basically stayed up all night with both watches.  We took the spinaker down and found it necessary to slow the boat down so that we wouldn't arrive at Freeport before dawn.  It was still dark as we approached the jetties causing high anxiety as we strained to pick out the green and red entrance lights from the other green and red lights ashore.  Just as we hit Freeport, the sun broke out, we could see, and life was good.

We entered the calm waters of the ICW and the winds died.  Mark went below and cooked a full breakfast for his crew.  We motored our way towards Harbor Walk Marina.  Chip was behind us on Starfish and we noticed he ran aground, so we turned back to help pull him off.   Fortunately for us, our Kharma was shiny and clean... SeaFlight ran agound at the entrance to Harbor Walk, and Chip returned the favor.  We spent the afternoon on Tuesday and all of Wednesday hanging out in the Marina.  Brenda arrived in the evening and Johnny left.  We were also joined by my friend Chuck, to round out our race crew of 6.
 Thursday morning the winds were calm and we found ourselves motoring again.  We had another fabulous breakfast, this time with Brenda as the Hostess with the Mostest.

We motored all the way to the Gulf before raising a sail. The crew lounged around as we were over an hour early for our start.

We were joined by a tiny passenger.  This little bird hung out with us on SeaFlight for about 15 minutes before flying off to visit someone else. 

Finally we arrived at the start area.  The winds were at about 6 kts with 37 boats all struggling to get the best position.  Everyone was trying to find wind.   For the next 5 hours, we ghosted in 6 kt winds, doing 3 kts SOG.  We constantly adjusted the sails to the point that my neck was sore for three days from looking up at sails.  It was worth it though, we really did well against the other boats in our start.  

The winds began to increase at around 7pm.  By 9 pm we were badly overpowered.   We reefed the sails but were still were still overpowered as we screamed along doing 7 kts.  The waves built during the night causing the boat to toss around.  It was difficult to go below or to sleep.  The winds topped out at 35 kts overnight.  Friday morning, the winds eased somewhat but turned back up again to hold at 26 to 35 kts for the duration of the race. 

Friday saw everyone except for Chuck, spending their time in the cockpit to avoid going below, as seasickness was on everyone's mind.  The camera battery went dead and I wasn't going below to find the spare.  This is the one big wave pic I got before losing the battery.  The sease were every bit of 10 ft with short chop.  No exaggeration.  

We finished the race at about 5pm on Friday.  We crossed the line and continued on across CC Bay to the slip.  We had a fantastic sail on the Bay and cruised along at 7 kts on autopilot.  It was a good way to end the day.  We all went our separate ways to reconvene in Port A on Saturday for the post race festivities.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Birthdays!

We have a rather smallish family these days...  No big Birthday celebration parties with cousins and uncles and aunts...  My Brother Mark's birthday is the 11th, My daughter Brittney's is the 27th and I share the 17th with Bruce.  We're all busy leading our lives so we decided to have a little party in the middle for all of us.  We were joined by Melissa, Matt, Krystal and Clay at Yoshi Japanese Cuisine on Saturday night.

If you've never tried Yoshi, it's time you did!  It's a little hole in the wall looking place with really great food.  The owner and staff give personal service and the food is all beautifully served with reasonable prices.

Mark was good and stuck to his healthy diet, while the rest of us went crazy, throwing caution to the winds. 
Clay and Krystal shared a huge sushi platter that looked (almost) good enough to eat!  OK, so I'm not so crazy about seaweed... but I love the seared tuna Tataki dish I got as an appetizer.  It was to-die-for!

The owner, Judy, brought out a sampling of each of the 4 different kinds of cheesecake with candles for us to share.  Now I've not been into cheesecake for years, having burned out on it due to overindulgence in my younger days... but this was really good!  It all got passed around and tasted and remarked upon, decidedly... the blueberry is the best. 

Our party moved on from there to meet up at the Annual Texas Jazz Festival over at Heritage Park. This Organization is kind enough to hold a giant birthday party for Bruce and I each year.  We've missed it in recent years as the full moon was earlier in the month and the Harvest Moon Regatta took precedence.  It was so well attended this year, I almost got the feeling that it wasn't being held strictly in our honor. 

Brittney's birthday on the 27th was all Matt's, so Bruce and I held our little celebration of her special day... one day early.  I gave her the opportunity of choosing cake, but she said she didn't want a whole cake laying around the house tempting us.  I vetoed cupcakes in favor of this fruit arrangement. 

Next came the gift giving.  Let us not pretend that Brittney didn't know full well what was inside of that gift bag.  She did a marvelous job of feining excited anticipation as she flung away the wrapping...

On her new Kindle with a hot pink leather case!  I'm jealous!  I just hope that she has time for leisure reading these days with all of the other things she's got going on.  She said "Thanks" and ran off to some prior committment and that was the end of our little party. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Last BYC Saturday Series Race for 2010

I've been so busy at work, I wasn't really too excited about this race.  I just wanted to rest... but Bruce really wanted to do the race, so off we went.  Brittney was doing School Stuff so it was just me and the guys. 

Elan was the last boat to start as this is a pursuit race, so we milled around until our turn.  The winds were out of the East.  We overstood the lay line for marker #71 to avoid being too close to Warrior
We rounded the mark and headed for #19.  We had passed only Adagio by this time and were working hard to make up time on the other boats.  The winds were fluky and we had a difficult time making the mark.  We made two tacks and it was really questionable that we would make it without tacking again. 

The winds were not cooperating and kept shifting, first it was looking good, then it wasn't.  Clay was confident and it turned out he was right, but not by much!

After rounding #19, it was back to take #2 to Port.  We followed the fleet with one jibe before the mark.

Clay took the helm to take us back upwind with two tacks.  We passed Kerry Ann and Brigadoon near #71.  We put the pole back out after rounding and headed for the Gap.

We ended this race in 5th place.  I didn't go to the party at the Club but Bruce did.  Elan finished the Saturday Series in 3rd place after Agape and Warrior were tied for First, but Agape took first as they did better in the final race. 

Agape ended up joing BYC that night.  Only fitting as they came, raced and took home the prize.  We're glad to have another worthy Clubmember out of it all.