Friday, October 31, 2008

Something to live for!

Yea!! We've done it!! We've found our next "something to live for"... We booked a charter in the BVI's for 2 weeks in June, 2009. We had been planning (and planning... and planning...) a trip to Greece but it's just not happening. I just don't have the time to get it together.

We went to the BVI's last November and found that we really prefer to go in June. Bruce and I wanted to share it with our girls, so in my usual style... I conceived and booked the entire event in 30 hours. We are gifting the airline tickets to Brittney and Melissa for Christmas. But the poor girls have to come up with their share of the boat on their own... something to live for! Gotta have goals!

We will spend the first week with them and then they will fly back home to be replaced by Bruce's brother Phil and his wife Jackie. She once owned her own sailboat but they've not had much opportunity to sail in recent years and so were glad to take us up on the offer. Plus, Bruce says Jackie is an excellent cook. (It must be a common thing with Jackies/Jacquies)

Anyway... click to see our intended boat and feel free to book along with us.. there is a sister ship. Oh and to get the absolute best help in booking tickets to the Caribbean... contact Joanie at Caribbean Travel. I've provided a link to their webpage here on your right.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Harvest Moon Regatta 2008

The morning of the Regatta dawned with near calm winds and skies heavy with rain-swollen clouds. The weather may have been holding it’s breath, but the dock was bustling with feverish activity. Everywhere I looked, people were preparing to cast off… preparing breakfast, loading on ice, changing sails, checking the weather and strategizing. The men were getting serious. We said so long to out slip mates and turned our nose out towards the ICW once again. The forecast said 70% chance of rain and from the looks of it… we thought we would get it.

We motored out and joined the procession of sailboats in the Houston Ship Channel. As far as the eye could see before and behind us, there were sailboats. This is where we encountered the expected jetsam from Hurricane Ike. Brenda took the helm and the rest of the crew called for course correction left and right to guide her through the minefield of floating debris. It was everywhere…tossing in the waves. This was the most difficult part of the entire journey. Soon we broke free into the Gulf where we found no more sign of either the choppy seas or the hurricane soup. It was smooth sailing as we paralleled Galveston Island with increasing winds on our rear quarter.

We cruised around the start line to get our bearings and strategize. We got glimpses of our fellow Corpus Christians doing the same. There were so many boats! Things heated up near start time and suddenly we were off. Our start was somewhat anticlimactic. Our fleet was spread out across the starting line. The guys went out on deck to check out the competition. Our plan was to sail outside the fleet about 4 miles offshore to take advantage of the favorable 2+ knot current and hopefully, a wind shift later in the race. We were all feeling optimistic as we gained slowly on the fleet. We rounded the Freeport mark in good position from what we could hear of the boats checking in with the race committee on the radio. Night fell and we began our watches. It’s always somewhat of a blur… sailing offshore at night. The hours pass quickly.

Morning came and we were very near the outer mark leading to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. We began to see boats converging as we neared the mark. We heard them checking in and realized that, although we had seen good speeds all night, the strategy had failed. We had not seen the expected wind shift and it’s possible that the current was just as advantageous nearer the rum line. It was the 17th of October. Our birthday. We had a little bird visit us for a bit. He hopped around on our rigging and then flew off to visit one of the many other boats.

We entered the channel. It seemed that we were gaining on the fleet. It wasn’t long before we realized the reason. The tide was against us at two and a half knots and the winds were so light, it was impossible to continue to sail up the channel. It was the most amazing thing. Boats tacked over to the north side of the channel as near the jetty as possible and tacked up for a run… then suddenly, they stopped dead…began to drift to the south and then fade backwards out towards the jetty entrance. Then they would start the process over again in endless succession. It was a merry-go-round of sailboats.

We continued to go round and round for the next three and a half hours. Many boats dropped out of the race. We were close but just couldn’t do it. We knew that the tide would slack and when it did… we would be there. We finished the race at about 1:30 p.m. It took twenty-three and a half hours in all. Even with the long finish, a pretty fast race. We dropped Doug off at the marina and sailed Sea Flight back to Corpus Christi. Bruce and I were ready to go home to bed.

Saturday we recuperated. The big party was scheduled for 5:30 pm. We made it back out to Port A just in time to meet up with the crew. The boats all packed into the marina are always a sight to see. We had a great time walking the docks checking it all out. We talked to crewmembers from other boats. There was a BBQ dinner and unlimited rum drinks from the good people at Bacardi. Our crew was thrilled when they called our name for Third Place in our class. It was an amazing race. Our strategy didn’t work. But it all came down to the finish. That’s sailboat racing!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The waiting is the hardest part....NOT!

I have once again, missed the entrance in to the ICW at Freeport from offshore. I have no recollection of ever passing in from an offshore trip even though I’ve done it many times. The realization that this is because I’ve been asleep during that portion of the trip has just occurred to me. I was awakened from a sound sleep by the change in the motion of the boat as we entered the flat waters of the ICW at Freeport, TX. I came up from below just after 7am on Monday with muffins and orange juice for all. We had considered making the entire journey in the intra-coastal waterway but opted for the less complicated and quicker offshore passage. I was disappointed at first but now, after traversing a short segment of the ICW, I have decided that I would have been quickly bored with the sights if the portion we traveled is any example of the whole. We saw some minor damage from the hurricane and a whole lot of nothing. There were some birds along the way and we had some close calls with barge traffic but that’s about it for entertainment.

We arrived at Harbor Walk Marina near noon. We were jubilant! We topped off the fuel tank and settled into our floating slip near where Ruthless is docked. This was the beginning of two and a half days of complete leisure. Our only chores consisted of some minor housekeeping, feeding and bathing ourselves. We walked around surveying the damage to the marina and the boats from Ike. We learned that six boats had been lost and many had some minor damage. There was some damage to the floating docks from a boat that had come loose from its ties. There were some pilings that were uprooted. Most of the mess had been cleaned up and the Marina was back to business as usual.
We greeted the newcomers from Corpus Christi as they drifted in. We spent our days sharing information and stories with our fellow sailors. We basked by the swimming pool. It seemed as if we were the only people on the planet. The place was a ghost town. We had it all to ourselves. We entertained aboard Sea Flight. We napped. We generally relaxed for two and a half days.Brenda and Robert arrived late on Wednesday night and rounded out our crew for the Harvest Moon Regatta, which would begin the following day. We packed our six bodies and piles of gear onto Sea Flight and fell into our beds for a good night’s sleep before race day. It was a bit like being a kid waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The trip to Galveston for the Harvest Moon

The 22nd Annual Harvest Moon Regatta was scheduled for October 16th, 2008. There had been much talk about whether or not the race would happen after the damage left behind in Galveston by hurricane Ike. We got the go ahead from the Lakewood Yacht club and the race was on. Bruce and I had been honored by the invitation to join Mark and Brenda on their Catalina 400, Sea Flight. Our friends Doug and Robert rounded out our crew of six. We met up on Saturday at the Corpus Christi Marina to load all of our gear onto the boat. The guys changed out the headsail as the winds were forecast to blow and Mark had a new 100% jib. Brenda and I did some hasty meal planning and packed on the provisions. We were ready to leave the dock just after noon.
Mark, Doug, Bruce and I had taken the week off to make our leisurely way up to Galveston for the race. Robert and Brenda were flying up on Wednesday night before the race. We sailed the boat from CC to stay overnight in Port Aransas where we picked up Doug. We were all feeling festive and had a last dinner out in Port Aransas. We were just getting going with a great band when the rain drove us inside for the remainder of our dinner. We went back to the boat for an early night in preparation for our departure on Sunday morning.

There was an air of expectation in the morning as we made our final systems checks. We had east winds at 17+ knots. We said good-bye to Brenda and set out through the jetties.

The seas were choppy with 4 to 6 ft confused seas. We battled our way out and turned off towards Galveston. We followed closely upon the heels of our companion boat Rima, a Valiant 42 owned by friends of Mark’s. There were several boats heading out this Sunday. We were all happy to be on our way. We were soon settled in for the ride.
I felt a bit queasy until I had lunch and then I felt fine the rest of the way. The winds came down a bit and the seas were benign. We were making great time. Rima ducked in at Matagorda for the night but we pressed on hoping to make Freeport by morning. The view as the day came to a close was spectacular. We had Doug along so there was never a dull moment. The camaraderie was warm and fuzzy. The sun set… the moon rose… and the night was upon us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Track us on Sea Flight

We set off at dawn today for the first leg of our journey. Mark has a tracking device so that you can see where we are. Click the link below to check it out! I'll have pictures later of course.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sailing our own boat

Today Mark and Laura joined us on Elan for a short sail. The wind was blowing 18+ knots. Bruce got Mark to help him take down the 150% headsail we had on the roller furler to change it out to the 100% jib. This was quite the event with the boat in the slip and the wind howling in the rigging.

It was well worth it however, because we had a nice easy sail once we got out of the slip. The wind blows our bow around faster than we can get the boat lined up in reverse. Mark saved the day with a bit of quick thinking. He had retained one of the lines and just as it seemed that all was lost, he gave a yank on the line and I threw it into forward gear. This gave our bow just enough of a boost to get going in the right direction. Way to go Mark!
There were swells and current in the channel as we crossed over to the Lydia Ann. We sailed up past the lighthouse and back again with no mishaps. We made a nice easy landing. Bruce got his sailing fix. It’s been a while since we took our own boat out and he was beginning to get antsy. Now all is well.

Happy 40th Mark!

Melissa came to town for the weekend to delivery birthday presents to Bruce and myself. I got a new yoga mat and Bruce got cash! Thanks Melissa and Brittney!
Bruce spent most of the day cooking. He made a batch of his Mother’s Secret Recipe Baked Beans and a new rib recipe for dinner Saturday night. Melissa and I did some shopping.
We invited Mark and Laura over. Mark’s 40th birthday is on the 11th and he and Laura will be leaving town for a couple of days to celebrate. They plan to have a party with friends on the day Bruce and I leave for the Harvest Moon Regatta so we had our little celebration early.

We enjoyed having company over. It’s been a while since we had a chance to entertain.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's all in a sunset

Wednesday night this week, Bruce and I went to Port A to spend the night on the boat. We did nothing but take a walk in the sunset and play with our new camera. The weather these past 2 weeks has been sublime. We had the marina nearly to ourselves and the sunset was spectacular. It's a great way to break up a work-week.