Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sailing with the Mc's

Today we took Mark's In-Laws out sailing on Elan to top off Laura's weekend-long celebration for graduating from Residency. She went to work, while her family played! How RUDE!!! We went out early so that we could get the relatives on the road to Houston early in the afternoon. We set sail just after 10 am and it was beautiful. It wasn't long before we tacked over and saw that we were slowly making our way towards this big grey cloud with the cute little tail sticking down out of it. I didn't get good pics when it came about halfway down, but this was truly a waterspout in the making.

If you looked over the other way, the day was fine indeed. The breeze came up slowly and we were cutting right along.

I asked Danny to take the helm and he jumped right up there and did a great job. All it took was just a little bit of direction and he sailed the boat as if he were born to it. We might have just made a new sailor out of the guy.

He's going to have to put off buying a boat anytime soon as he has his first child on the way in about 2 weeks time. And as Mark says... babies take precedence over boats.

Charlie took lots of pictures (that I hope he'll share) and Annette was busy the whole trip sketching her lovely daughter, Anna. Annette is a very talented artist. I'm jealous of her gift. Anyone can take a picture... but drawing one is amazing.

The one thing everyone was looking forward to on this sail was seeing dolphins. Bruce and I promised we would and our guests were not disappointed. I won't say that they got the full deal, but we did have a very small dolphin at our bow for a bit.

The ladies took Nathan out on the deck to see if they would come check out the pregnant woman. Supposedly dolphins have an affinity for a woman in the "family way". It didn't get us any special treatment today however. Bruce had been worried that Anna would be miserable out on the boat, or even worse... thrown into labor. She did a marvelous job and even looked like she had some fun! I thought she was enviably light on her feet and balanced, considering...

Nate was entertained with bubbles and in looking for the dolphins, but only for about half the sail. He crawled around the deck for a while then disappeared below to play games on the iPhone. I think he's just so busy with summer camp activities, he was worn out! He was very good! I can't believe he didn't get seasick hanging out down below as we were under way. We'll have to get to work making crew out of him as he grows up. I know his mom and step-dad are teaching him to sail. If he follows in Des' footsteps, he should be a great sailor some day.

Everyone expressed their thanks as if taking them sailing was any kind of imposition! What they don't know is that we can go sailing by ourselves all the time. It's not often that the weather and the company are so perfect! Thanks for a great day all you Mc's!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day on the Bay - BYC Saturday Series Race #5 (on Sunday)

Saturday Morning dawned bright and beautiful in Port A Marina. Brittney and Matt seemed to be enjoying the weekend spent with the Old People. They had to be back in San Antonio in the early evening so they stuck around as long as breakfast on board Merlin (Thanks Jan and Bill) and they got on the road. It was such a treat having them with us for the weekend.

Bruce held court briefly over at the Pavilion for a Skipper's Meeting. He was stepping up to the position of Race Dude in the absence of the vacationing Primary Race Dude. Bruce is Assistant Race Dude for BYC. Just another of the offices he has assumed this year.

Today's race was the 5th in the BYC Saturday Series, only it was being held on Father's Day Sunday. Long story. It was a staggered start (pursuit race) and Elan was the last boat on the starting line right after Doug on Tom Kat. We waited around for over an hour from the time the first boat began the race. We could see the boats in the distance as we sailed down the Ship Channel.

I was wiped out from all the sailing yesterday and was glad the sail was an easy one. I had to do minimal duty as Bruce can pretty much sail the boat by himself. I caught up on my sunbathing and reading and generally enjoyed the day. Not so my Sailing Sisters! We crept up on Terry sailing her (and her husband's) boat Eau De Vie with a crew of her own. Her husband was busy sailing as crew on Windswept! Now I do alright at the helm if I say so Myself... but am I ready to go it without Bruce? I don't think so! Way to go Terry!

Next thing I know, along comes SeaFlight with my girl Brenda at the helm. Husband Mark was steadily tweaking and trimmin' sails while she handled the boat all the way across the Bay. Another point for the Femmes! Hey, they're making me look bad! I'm not worried, I get plenty of helm time. We ended up making up time on a few of the total 9 boats that started today's race. It was a reach all the way with no up or downwind leg to even the playing field for us. The boats that won were worthy of it from an improvement standpoint and everyone was very happy celebrating their win. Congratulations Adagio and see ya on the water!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

MORF Offshore Regatta on SeaFlight

There was a lot of indecision about the race today. Earlier in the week, the forecast had been for high winds and seas. I decided to help the BYC Cruise Dude with the dinner instead of sailing on SeaFlight in the Offshore Regatta. Then the weather moderated and Brittney decided to bring her beau, Matt to meet us and stay for the weekend. He had never sailed before and I was nervous about sending him out with Bruce and the guys.

When the course for the Cruising Fleet was announced on Thursday night to be a short one... only 5 miles to the mark and back... we all decided that it wouldn't be an all day event. We would have plenty of time to sail and then prepare for the dinner which would be held at 7 in the evening. So, I decided with the winds moderating some, it would be great to go out sailing with the guys and the kids. Brittney has never been offshore here at home. So, we were off!

There were only 4 boats in our fleet. There would be prizes for finishing as well as a prize for the biggest fish caught while trolling. You see... the "Cruising Fleet" racers are just as serious about having a good time as they are about winning. Why go offshore if you aren't going to drag a line?!! Brenda got the gear out and tied on the magic lure given to her by our mutual friend Doug last year at the Harvest Moon Regatta. It was sacred. (Don't eat it Brenda... it's for the FISH)

My little Bathing Beauty made her way to the deck to sunbathe. I had told her I didn't know if there would be sunning opportunities or not on this trip. She took every opportunity. The waves were not really bad as we motor sailed out through the jetties towards the start line.

Once out, we kicked it into gear while we made our way to the line then jockeyed for position. It was nice having Brittney as the official Photog on this trip. I was needed as crew. We tacked around and made our way to the line with no time to spare. It didn't look good as we neared the line.

We were barely going to make it without brushing the tetrahedron representing the far end of the line. Just when we thought we just might squeak by, Windswept came alongside and took our wind, causing us to lose way enough to slide into the marker. We immediately turned to go back to re-cross the start line, which caused the mark's anchor line to snag on our rudder. We began to drag the start line along with us! Around and around we went as Bruce tried desperately to dislodge it by hanging precariously off the sugar scoop jabbing at the line with the boat hook!

There are no picture of this drama as it was too tense for anyone to even think of taking them. We thought we would lose Bruce off the stern at any minute. Who knows what was going through our newbie's heads. The fleet sailed away and we finally got the marker off by turning the boat around the way we had come. It just fell away! We floated off for a "day sail" on winds tinkling with laughter and taunts of "you'll get a Blind Hog nomination for this"! Oh well somebody has to win the award signifying the dumbest thing done on the water for the year. Winning it for this will save someone else the indignity of it all.

We got our fishing gear out and decided we would go for the Big Fish prize since we had ditched the actual race. Matt, being a motor boater and fisherman from way back, took over the playing out of line. There was a lot of seaweed out there and when the line took off with a zing!... I just knew it was flotsam. But no! He caught a fish! He played it for a short time while we backwinded the jib to stop the boat.

He got it aboard and Russ took over trying to dislodge the lure from it's mouth. It didn't flop too much. It was a Skip Jack Tuna. They're kind of stiff. Anyway, he finally got the hook out and we took some pictures to prove we had caught something.

Matt did the honors of throwing it back, only fitting as he was the one that brought it in.

We decided to rest on our laurels and quit fishing. We all got out on the rail and got down to some serious racing. The water was beautiful and the seas were kind. We made it around the mark, bringing up the rear.

On the return trip, we made up a little time. There was no chance of us overtaking anyone. It was better than being at home doing laundry by all accounts!

Once back onshore, the dinner was well underway. They didn't need us so we cleaned ourselves up and had a snack. We had some people stop by the boat for a recap of the mark dragging. Someone had taken a picture of the mark's anchor. We bent it 90 degrees! Oh well.

We went below for an hours nap then went out to the party tent to join the festivities already well under way. The Cruise Dude and the Commodore were doing a smashing job of turning out the fajita dinner.

We hung out and chit chatted after eating while waiting for the awards "ceremony". Everyone was worn out... including Leila. I think she just wanted to go home.

We made it to dark and listened to the "Sailing Minstrels" for a while. We weren't going to make it... We caved and headed off to the boat for a great night's sleep! It had been a full and fun day on the water and there was another one planned for Sunday!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Trip to Port Isabel that Wasnt...

We left Mud Island on Memorial Day, motored towards Port Aransas to top off our fuel and water tanks and pick up some ice with the intention of heading offshore to Port Isabelle. I had on my Trans-derm Scope patch to ward off seasickness and was enjoying the motor up the Lydia Ann Channel talking to Melissa on the cell phone, when our engine sputtered to silence. "gotta go Melissa, the engine quit".... We quickly threw up the sails and long story short, ended up being towed to the long dock in the Port A Marina after more than a half an hour's struggle against the current.
We would be spending our week in Port A instead of Port I! I've been so mentally beat up at work, I just didn't have the energy to work on an engine... until Thursday! We just made ourselves at home, sat around reading, snacking on junkfood and generally relaxing. We had dinner with Laura and Mark one night, invited Keith from SV Rosie to dinner I cooked on board another night.
We took a long bike ride one day out to Charlie's Pasture, where the City of Port A has constructed a really nice nature trail. A boardwalk zig zags out onto the flats where you can find birds and all kinds of critters.
We even saw a jack rabbit! We stopped to check him out and he stopped to check US out... then he did what jack rabbits do... he high tailed it!
We were on a grand adventure. It felt like we were in Mexico or some other far off land, instead of in our own back yard. We took a break at the end of the line, where there stands a lookout tower.
From the top we could see for miles around. The wind was fresh on our hot faces. The scent of nature was all around. That means salt flat smell and bird poop! I'm not complaining!!! We took the long way home by way of the beach and the grocery store just like tourists.
On about Wednesday, we drove over to the Jetties to try snorkeling. The winds were down and the water looked like it might be a good day for visibility.
I was the first one in but it wasn't great. I couldn't see three feet in front of me. This activates my sea monster phobia so out I got. Bruce stayed in long enough to troll up the jetty far enough to determine that no, you couldn't see much. So off we went to find something else to do.
There was rain forecast for sometime Wednesday night into Thursday. Before we went to bed, I checked the radar on the iPhone and it showed a giant red blob moving in our direction. Bruce did some quick retying of lines and battening down of hatches and we retired. Not long after that, we were awakened when the boat heeled over from the initial strike of the wind, followed by many more nods and violent rain and lightning. We watched out the side port windows as the blue flashes illuminated the vision of birds tumbling across the sky and the jib on Scorpia as it began to unwrap from the forestay and flap to tatters. The night was crazy, but in the morning there was minimal damage. There were reports of 70 mph winds.
Another day we took the dinghy over to our favorite swimmin' hole across the Ship Channel. We found flocks of birds picking off the weaker of the hoards of little bait fish that were schooling around our swimmin' hole. It was almost like a Stephen King movie...
My poor husband had to pull the dinghy around until I thought we had reached exactly the right spot to drop anchor. I have a tiny little fear of sting rays when walking along sandy bottoms. This doesn't seem to effect him, so he gets to pull the dink.
We played "Dessert Island" until the ship traffic made enough waves to annoy me on the shore... I've got no more places to put shells so I've had to quit beach combing.
We waded back out to the dinghy to relax and watch the dolphin and the birds doing their thing.

I love to lie back in the cool water with the sunshine on my face and watch the brown pelicans soar on the updraft from the little island. Ahhh there's nothing like it! It took me 4 or 5 days into this vacation to finally really relax!
We spent the rest of our time taking walks, or not taking walks. Oh we did actually get the engine fixed. That involved Bruce tearing out things from storage lockers and pulling the stairs out of the doorway. It also involved me climbing down into the lazarette on the port side and getting into a position that was very nearly on my head, in order to help him bleed the fuel lines. The problem turned out to be just that. A side effect of the recent fuel filter change. Lesson learned!
We took another bike ride later in the week before we left for the next stop on our journey. We visited the nature path over by the University compound. They have built a habitat viewing path which is very nice.
Port A Rocks! Don't ask me what he's doing...
We tidied things up on Friday and sailed up the Ship Channel. Not for home, but for one final stop. We spend Friday night at IOB anchored out next to Ken and Carrie. They had weathered the storm well enough but were dragging the bottom in search of the stuff that fell out of their dinghy when it went flying during the blow. We were well into cruiser mode by this time and did nothing but read and snack in the cockpit while we enjoyed the cool breeze under the shade of the biminy during the heat of the afternoon.
We went ashore to meet up with Steve and Jacque in the late afternoon. We spent the pleasant sun downing hours listening to other sailor's stories and the Sailing Minstrels as they strummed and sang. You just can't pay for entertainment like this.
Saturday morning we headed for our slip in CC. Vacation was over and we were back to "just another weekend". I had volunteered Elan to be a Host Boat for this year's BYC Dock Crawl (providing we were back from Port Isabelle). We spent the day offloading all of our stuff from living aboard for the week and cleaning the funk. It was a busy day but we were ready when the festivities began.
Our dock was the first to show, being at the end and all. I had a spread of snackers laid out on the table and the AC working hard. It was HOT! There were all kinds of complements from people who had never seen the interior of our boat before. I guess I forget that although we are with the BYC bunch all the time, we all go back to our own boats at the end of the day. We had a regular little party aboard... I suspect the AC was a factor...
After we did out duties as host/hostess, we were free to join the crawl. We caught up with the Beer/Wine wagon and toured the other boats. There were quite a few that we had never seen the insides of and were anxious not to miss a thing. It turned out that going first was a good thing.
We made our way to the end of the line which was back at the BYC Clubhouse. Jake and Jenny's boat is parked right out front. They get my vote for the best snackers. They had ribs that were to-die-for and we got the last of them. I think we need to have a rib cook-off at the club. I know of several men who do a phenomenal job with ribs!
We escaped back to our boat when the party moved into the Clubhouse for dessert We had reached our revelry limit for the day. You might think that after a week aboard a sailboat, we would be ready to hide out in our nice cool Townhome on Sunday... but no! We had a car in Port Aransas and when we saw that Harry and Linda were preparing to shove off to motor their trawler back to Port A, we jumped aboard.
This meant spending ANOTHER day on the water, but on the other hand, it meant spending another day ON THE WATER!!! Woo hoo! We relaxed and enjoyed this one as we rocked and rolled across the bay and up the channel to Port A again!
We docked and rode Harry's golf cart to lunch at the Beach Bar, where we thought we would never be served... said our goodbyes and Thank Yous and drove back to the CC Marina, where we were sucked into spending the last remaining hours of the day and into the night, aboard Merlin for cocktails. We wrung every last little drop of my time off from work and made it all outstanding! Maybe next year we'll get back down to Port Isabelle, but for this year... Port A did the job!