Sunday, May 31, 2009

To Sail or Not to Sail...

We had a very leisurely morning on the boat Sunday morning. We putzed around and had breakfast. I read on deck while bruce motored around in the dinghy. He came back to get me and we motored over to Wave Dancer to visit with Doug and Patty and have a bloody mary. We sat around on their boat trying to decide if there would be enough wind to make the sailboat go. Tom and Sharon from next door (Baby Doll Too) joined us. We all watched as Tom did a dive on his prop. They were taking a charter out on Monday and had to do some chores. We invited them to go out with us and so we waited while they finished things up.
We decided to skip the sailing... it seemed like a lot of damned trouble. We packed up some drinks in the two dinghys and they followed us across the channel to our favorite swimming hole. Well, they didn't really follow us... they did rings around us in their bigger dinghy with the bigger motor. Oh well, we all ended up in the right place. Here are Doug and Bruce contemplating placement of the anchor. Look how clear and inviting the water is.
We rafted their dink to ours and got ready to float around. We made little hammocks with the life preservers and sat on them. The water was so nice. The wind was coming up a bit and it got kind of splashy so we all loaded back up and went to the other side of the channel.
The water was much calmer over there. Doug made it over faster and waded out to help us beach. It wasn't as pretty... the water was murky but very warm. We had been getting a bit chilly back where we were. We all got back to floating and had a great time whiling away the afternoon.
We had plenty to BS about with these guys. It's very nice to be able to get away from the crouded beaches and be in our own little world for a while. It's also good to be with people with like interests and stories to tell. I realized while floating there in the channel, most of the people in my life are happy. Bruce and I have so many wonderful friends with positive attitudes who love to have fun. We must be doing something right.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sailing with the Family

We've been trying for months to get Mark and Laura out on the boat with us. She has been making noises about learning to sail. Bruce is a willing and eager teacher but I think she wants to pay for lessons. We had Nathan along with us and he was much more interested in learning all about it. I had a great time giving him jobs to do and watching him puff up with importance while he worked along. He was so cute while we were under way. He quickly found the best seat in the house.

We girls were all about the sunbathing... as usual. Nate joined us once we found him some rather oversized sunglasses to wear.

We sailed up the Lydia Ann Channel for a bit. Bruce has been thinking of exploring the waterways alongside the channel and we've just never had the chance. Today, we did a little of that exploring. I told Nathan he had to come off of the bow since we had left the channel and the boat might stop rather abruptly. It wasn't long before we were a little bit aground. We were sailing along with Mark at the helm watching the dolphins roll and play all around the boat. Mark mentioned that the depth read 6 ft. About this time, we realized that the dolphins must be working a ridge and we had found it with our keel. It took us about 20 minutes but we finally plowed our way off leaving a wake of muddy bottom churned up behind us. I was a good wife and said nothing... until later.

Mark and Laura took Nathan for a spin in the dinghy once we got back to safe water and set the anchor. Bruce and I had a bit of peace and quiet and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon. I was watching for them to come back and when I finally could make them out in the dinghy... it looked like Nate was driving. As they got closer, it was true! He did a pretty good job for a 5 year old.

We traded places with them and Bruce and I took off in the dink. The water was flat and it was fun! We set out across the channel to see what was on the spoil banks on the other side.
The fun police stopped us and checked our registration. I forgot to mention that we got stopped on Elan on our way out here today. This was 2 in one day!!! Man they must be needing money. Everything was in order so they let us off with a wave.

We didn't find anything interesting on the shore and it looked too shelly to pull the dink up on the bank, so we went back to the boat to join the others. Mark and Nate got in for a bit of snorkel practice. They're preparing Nate for the wedding trip... there will be lots of snorkelling in Hawaii! It was a bit chilly so I didn't get in. Well, that and the three rays we had seen cruising around earlier and all of the jelly fish floating around.

It was getting towards late afternoon when we pulled up the anchor with minimal whining on Nathan's part about wanting to keep snorkelling. It wasn't long before we were underway and he was out like a light under a beach towel and his Daddy's hat. We had a beautiful sail back to Port A and talked about the wedding. It's going to be fun! I had really enjoyed the day with Nathan on the boat. He's getting to be so grown up and was a pleasure.

Mark took him out again for more snorkelling when we got back to the slip.

We broke out the boat drinks and were joined by our old friends Karl and Jan, along with our slip neighbors from Striker, John and Mindy. I'm trying to talk John into buying our boat so that we can get a bigger one and go cruising. Mindy is on my side. We had a good time chatting with them until sundown.

Once everyone left, we got the burgers on the grill. We were just finishing up dinner when Doug and Patty came back from an offshore fishing trip on their boat, Wave Dancer. I know they never have any food on board and must be starving so I went down and offered them the extra burgers we had made. They accepted and were down in a flash for a burger and a beer. We ended the night chatting with them until bedtime. We made a plan to take them sailing on Sunday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Cruise Home

Something was wrong! There was not a breath of wind when we awoke in the morning. After the blowing we left on our doorstep, it seemed ominous... the calm. We again had our coffee in the cockpit with a view that brings tears to your eyes.
We watched as the sun came up across the water. We saw our fellows drift out of their slips one by one... many of them had to make for Corpus before the end of the day. Our destination was much closer... we had the luxury of time. Monday. The longing for it to never end was tugging!

We took a short walk up the dock and found this little guy. If anyone knows what he is, please give me a clue! I've never seen one like him. This area is known for it's fabulous birdwatching.

On our way back to the boat, we caught this little guy just waking up.

We had breakfast aboard Elan and then did some minor cleaning in preparation for our departure. We took off with a wave to the welcoming committee,and had a nice uneventful motor all the way back to Port A.

Once we made it back to our slip, we didn't get straight home. We met up with Ken and Carrie, who had boat chores to do so that they couldn't go to the ball... I was once again enthralled with their stories of buying their new (to them) boat which they brought from it's previous home in Guatamala. I'll have to get more of that later. We spent some time chatting with friends from San Antonio, Doug and Pattie after we got our own chores done. We parted ways in the late afternoon and headed home to clean up the mess.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

BYC Memorial Day Cruise Day 2 Fulton Marina

Sunday morning dawned calm and beautiful. We had our coffee with Baileys in the cockpit and relaxed. There was a short "skipper's meeting" aboard Cabaret. Harry suggested that we all return to the ICW the way we came into Rockport and then head back in towards Fulton between Markers 32 and 33. We would avoid the many submerged piles and shoals littered along the way inside of the ICW. Bruce and I followed this plan though many did not with no trouble. We had a great motor... no wind. We saw shrimp boats out in droves... followed by even greater numbers of gulls, pelicans and dolphin. We had to share the waterway with the occasional barge, but this was nothing in the light winds and sunshine.

It wasn't long before we reached our turn and cautiously made our way towards the channel markers inshore that would lead us safely to our destination, Fulton Municipal. We had never been in here and it was as always, exciting to do something new. We came near the bulkhead leading to the marina and saw the famous Fulton Mansion .

We came in through the narrow gap and found a welcoming committee of pelicans lined up preening. Hunting must be really good here. No doubt that following the shrimpers around they get their fill pretty early.

We coasted in and found our slip with the help of the others who had come in before us. It was a fine view of our fleet with flags flying in the calm waters of the marina. We joined them on the docks and compared notes on the trip over. We welcomed those in after us. It's such a great group!

It was beginning to get pretty warm by this time. We had a light lunch and took a nap in the cool comfort of our air conditioned cabin. We awoke in the mid afternoon and took drinks over to Bob & Kay's boat, Rima to hear stories of their offshore cruising adventures with their dog, Hamisch. I was spellbound and came away from it wanting to sell the house, buy a bigger boat and cut the docklines!

We almost missed the call for dinner. The club had a reservation for all of us at 4:00 at a place up the way called Moondogs. We opted for motoring instead of the land route since Bruce's back wasn't up to the walk. Bob and Kay joined us on the dinghy ride over. It began to rain on us as we climbed aboard... but who cares! We're cruisers! It let up by the time we arrived at our destination. We scrambled ashore and met the rest of our group just in time to be seated on the patio.

We could hardly hear our conversations across the table so it wasn't such a great dinner. The food was fine. I had a delicious grouper sandwich and Bruce ordered shrimp tacos. I had one of those and gave him half of my sandwich. I think I was cheated!

I made the mistake of pouring on the nice friendly looking sauce for the taco and my lips have yet to quit burning! There was a nice tasty Mai Tai to ease the pain, but it wasn't as good as the ones I had waiting for me back on the boat.

The group had plans to go to one of the member's homes for an ice cream social after dinner. Our table chose a quiet evening back on our respective boats. We dinghied back and were in for the night. Another great day! Before long, the thunder began again.

The sky blacked over and lightning crashed. I spent an hour trying to get a lightning shot with the camera to no avail. Suddenly, a whoosh of cold wind came blasting. Bruce said it was a downdraft. It fortold of rain! I spotted it coming just in time for us to throw the cushions and stuff back inside. The rain came down. That was it for our day. We snuggled up in the v-berth with our books.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BYC Memorial Day Weekend Cruise Day 1

Finally!! Bruce's back seemed enough improved that we ventured out on Elan. I would have been distraught if we had to miss another big weekend event. The weather was great, light winds, partly cloudy. The stars were aligned. We loaded our stuff and set out towards Rockport on Saturday near noon. I was so happy to be lying out on the deck in the balmy breeze... enjoying the sunshine.

Then I noticed that the sunshine was no longer what it was. There were giant clouds building and signs of a deluge from back behind us and up ahead. OOOooh we could be in for it! Bruce wasn't ruffled, he just kept on motor sailing up the ICW towards our first stop at the Rockport municipal marina. BYC had nearly 20 boats signed up for this cruise. It's always a great group and this weekend was no exception. We love it when we get tossed together with different couples at each event and get to know new people.

We were helped to secure the boat at the dock, for which I was thankful. I had no idea how Bruce's back was going to do, but it turned out my fears were unfounded. He was doing pretty well. He did have to limit his standing around but there was plenty of partying aboard our neighboring trawler, Cabaret. The rain didn't really begin until we were all settled. Hey!!! It's getting into my Mai Tai!!!
The evening festivities began with a happy hour at the Rockport Yacht Club. They were nice enough to extend the use of their facility to us for a couple of hours. We were delighted by the beautiful sunset and a rainbow even made a dramatic appearance.

The pictures just never do it justice! Oh and yes, I was very much overdressed. I felt like a leper with my little dress on. Oh well, I hardly ever get to trot them out, so what the hell?! This is my first year in the club so what do I know? Maybe I'll start a fad. Oh what am I thinking? This is a "real" sailing club.

Anyway, the only thing disappointing about the evening was that there weren't more RYC members around. Bruce had really been looking forward to picking up a little "local knowledge" about the waters hereabouts. We are so close, with our slip in Port A, we have intentions of exploring up this way. It would have been great to get some pointers and advice.

Many of the other couples drifted off to try the Wine Tasting event set up within walking distance of our docks. Bruce and I opted for a quiet sunset in the cockpit while we enjoyed the free music drifting over from the wine tent. It was a relatively early night (as usual) after a very pleasing day on the boat

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First Time In A Long Time On A Wednesday

The winds finally let up long enough to get a sail in on a Wednesday night! I barely made it to the boat, in fact... I had to jump on off the bulkhead as Cute Shoes was already out of the slip. Steve made it easy on me though. Bruce was left behind at the committee box due to the sciatica (or whatever it is) that's been plaguing him for 6 weeks now.

Steve and Jacquie had a new guy on board... Rick. I never did get a proper introduction so I'ld know where he came from. It seemed as if he was passing himself off as a newbie, but he did make several comments that lead me to believe that he has been sailing somewhere recently. I was glad to have an extra hand as I felt a bit useless. It's like I forgot most of what I know after so long away.

It was very nice to get out and blow out the cobwebs for a change. Jacquie's sailing skills are really coming along. You should have seen her... like a dervish! She was everywhere! She has learned a lot since we started a few short months ago on Cute Shoes.

I missed having Bruce out there with us. It's just not the same knowing he is back on shore wishing to be out with us. He did end up helping the race committee (of 1) with the start. After the race, we were even the only ones there when the very last boat came over the finish line. I don't know if their time even made it to the time sheet, but at least we were there to give the guy a finish.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dragging With Grace and Class

This year's Bahia Hee Hee was set to be a great one. Our deceased comrade Doug Tinker had left a bequest to pay for the meat and people were coming for miles around with side dishes and desserts to join the fray. We had every intention of bringing Elan. Bruce has been making some progress in his back recovery but on Friday morning we discussed and he made the call. What if we had a storm in the night and he couldn't do what it took to save us...? I called Brenda and asked her if her invitation to join them on Sea Flight for the weekend was still on the table. She agreed to take us on, Bruce, myself and Melissa for the whole thing.

We met up with them at 9am and made Sea Flight ready to go. The sail over to IOB was marvelous considering it was very cloudy and windy. The boat is just so great with the full enclosures and generator. Melissa did a great job on the way and seemed to enjoy it. See... hanging out with the old folks isn't so bad... we have more experience and more money!

We got to the cove early in the day. The guys floated the dinghy and the chores were done. The women made some snacks and drinks and had a fine time laughing and talking. We formed a Mutual Admiration Society this weekend and all were in very positive form! It was a great sail over and a great day and we expected a great time at the Bahia Hee Hee!
We spent the afternoon relaxing, reading, napping and sunbathing until time to make ready for the party. I had to put the finishing touches on the brandy cream sauce to go on top of the bread pudding that was my offering for the pot luck dinner ashore. We piled into Mark's new dinghy with the electric motor and set off for the party. The ride was slow as we were going upwind and were very much overloaded with 5 adults and gear. We finally made it to the marina and people there all waved us away. What!! The party was being moved to another place and boaters were being urged to go back to their boats as a cool front was due in within the hour with high winds expected. We never touched the shore, we turned right back around and went to the boat. We made plans with several other boaters on the VHF radio to meet on board Sea Flight and have an impromptu party here. Brenda and I kicked into gear to begin making the boat ready for guests.

Before anyone could make it over, I looked to the North and asked... is that rain! And rain it was. A wave of wind hit, boats were swinging around on their anchors. A couple of guys in a dinghy were flipped by the wind as they tried to make it across from one boat to another! Then all hell broke loose! Brenda screemed "Mark! Is the boat moving?!!" The answer was YES! We were dragging our anchor in the strong winds. The nose blew down and we headed back towards another of the many boats anchored there in the cove. Bruce got behind the wheel, Mark and Brenda ran to the nose to try to work the anchor back to holding. Melissa sat just outside the cockpit enclosure to relay orders from front to helm. I watched other boats to make sure we didn't catch anyone's anchor line or get too close to kissing their boats. The wind howled and the cold rain came. The pictures do not do it justice. It was a WILD time! I went up a couple of times to see what the plan was. Finally we decided to bring the anchor aboard and get out into an open spot to put it down again. We had tried to reset it twice already before this decision was made. This involved us weaving in and out amongst the the other boats causing captains to come out on deck prepared to fend us off if need be. But the boat has fine power and Bruce was never in danger of hitting anyone... but they didn't know that!

Finally we got the anchor to hold and the crew assembled inside the warm calm of the enclosed cockpit. We all looked like drowned rats (except for Bruce... dry at the helm). We were all wild eyed with excitement and beginning to shiver.

We were all so excited it took a while for us to decompress. Mark had been pretty stressed by it all I think, but we had all worked well together and there was no fear. We went below and got dried off and into our jammies. It was decided that the impromptu party had been trumped by the bigger impromptu storm! We were officially in for the night. The sunset was a wet pitiful thing and we almost missed it. By this time, the winds had come down and the rain was a steady sprinkle. We threw together a dinner for ourselves and spent the evening reliving the moves and calls that had made for the successful outcome of the event. We decided that it was a good thing after all that we had invited ourselves to join the Hilers on this adventure! Things always happen for a reason.. I firmly believe this.

We had some trouble with the generator in the night and it stopped working at about 2am. This was not so bad as the rain had stopped by this time and hatches were opened to let in the cool dry breeze. We all woke up between 7 and 8 am and Mark and Brenda figured out a way to make coffee with no power. It was sooo good!

We decided to skip breakfast and head for home. In no time, the dinghy was dragged aboard and secured and we were on our way with several other boats. The mornings planned Mimosa party was put off to another day. Off we went with Bloody Marys in hand.
The sail home began well under reefed main and jib. We ended up further reefing both once we got outside of the sheltering influence of land and into the bay. Thank goodness for the enclosure. It was a very stable ride across if a bit sloshy. Melissa succumbed to a bit of seasickness but she shouldn't feel bad. We saw 30 kt winds and these conditions were none that we would normally sail in voluntarily. She was a trooper. Her downfall had been to go below to make another round of mimosas. Never again!!
We made a flawless landing in ligntning speed time and fellow boaters began to gather to tell tales. The Mimosa party lives! Everyone had some aspect of the shared event to tell. It's really the best part of any sailing event... the aftermath. Ahhh it had been a fun weekend. We migrated to the Surf Club for a group lunch with further story telling. Kay was the one who crowned us with the perfect description of our weave around the anchorage that has become the title of this entry... it's how we will remember it. Hopefully Mark's new nickname... the Drag Queen will be short lived.