Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Your Choices Are...

We got up this morning and found that our wind predictions of 9 to 13 were a bit off (as usual).  It was blowing a bit more, so we made the decision to set out early to avoid the building winds that often occur in our area.  

Our plan was to backtrack to the ICW then drop sails and go through the "eye of the needle" back into the Ship Channel then to Port A to refill our water tanks.  We have another day to play with and had planned to spend tonight at Mud Island anchorage.  

The pull of installing our new Rogue Wave Wifi booster changed our plans.  We will head for the barn and spend the rest of my vacation doing boat projects.  We had no trouble backtracking out of Flato Cut with Motion X.  The winds did seem a bit stiff as we motored out.  I zipped up the side panels on the enclosure, as much for my own comfort as to coax Jezabelle into the cockpit.  She came out and checked out the wheel a couple of times before she decided it wasn't to be...

Bruce put the double reef in the mainsail and we rolled out the jib to about 2/3's and set course for ICW marker 71.  We were seeing 30+ knot gusts with steady 26knots and the waves were building.  Corpus Christi Bay is known for it's "chop" and we were feeling the full brunt of it.  Bruce kept the sails trimmed conservatively and we were still topping out over 7 knots speed but the boat never heeled excessively and the ride was comfortable.

We decided that today was not the day to test our ability to thread the needle so we entered the CC Ship Channel on the stern of a tanker just outside of marker 43.  Our plan was to do a chicken jibe to avoid a violent jibe.  The waves were in the 3-4 ft range and quite close together.  Bruce was in position and I threw the helm hard over.  We came full to weather punching the waves head on and just squeaked over the mid point while tossing this big baby like a floating cork.  After what seemed like minutes, we began the slow fall and Bruce got us trimmed.  The boat began to make way and we were in the channel.  Whew!  That was close.  Next time, start the engine in these conditions, just in case.  

Next obstacle was the several shrimpers dragging nets in this mess.  We weren't in the flat water yet and we bounced around the shrimp boats trying to stay out of their way while making our own.  Another tanker was coming up fast as we hugged the green side of the channel and slowly passed the shrimpers.  

Finally we were in the flat waters of the channel.  Bruce praised me on my ability to handle the boat in these wild conditions.  I asked him "what choice do I have?", to which he replied... Well, I guess you could either sail the boat or huddle below with the cats.