|Just Cruising down the ICW to Corpus|
|Passing a Tow on the Gulf ICW. The link on the title is a chart of the ICW distances between points from clear Lake to Port Aransas|
|Doing the ditch!|
|Christmas Decorations at the bar of the Waterfront Resturant in Matagorda Harbor|
|This dolphin escorted us all the way across San Antonio Bay in the fog. I think he was keeping us safe.|
|Rockport Marina Christmas decorations.|
|Hanging out in the fog at Rockport for Christmas.|
|Jake and Jenny meet us and help us tie up at the Corpus marina.|
The concern today would be navigating the Brazos River Locks. A quick check of the engine revealed a cloudy engine strainer so we took time to get it cleaned out before starting the engine. We departed Bridge Harbor a bit nervously (at least I was) since the NE winds were going to provide a challenge for us to get out of our slip. We used a spring line to assist keeping the boat pointed correctly as we backed out and it all went well. All the docking tips I learned from all the reading, the captain's course and from talking to boating friends is being put into practice on this trip. The sightseeing along this leg was great as you get to see all types of coastal Habitats both Human and natural. We had a favorable current and we hit top speeds of 9.6 kts. but this changed after reaching the Matagorda Bay with a opposing current of 1 kt. As we closed on the Brazos River we hailed the Flood Gate controller on VHF 13 and he told us to wait for a West bound Tow to clear the west gate. The Brazos was very shallow as the entered the river near 5' depth, but fortunately the depth on the west side of the river was 18' since we would have to hold here a few minutes for the Tow to clear the gates. I was a bit nervous hanging out in the river current and was glad to enter the open gates and pass through the lock. This is not a lock where you go in enter and either rise or fall to get to the other side, they are flood gates and are both sides are always open except in the cases of flooding on the river side. The sides are built of heavy timber and you can see where all the tows have made their mark as they pass through. You would not want your fiberglass hull to touch these jagged timbers. I called the tow in front of us to ask permission to pass him as tows normally run at 6 kts. He said come ahead so I took him on his starboard side and even though I stepped up the rpm's and cruised by at 7.6 knots, it took an incredibly long time to pass him. He was just a single barge Tow and I now knew that passing tows could not be taken lightly as many of them can have 2, 3 or even more barges and they are often carrying combustible liquids. We were following the Tow "Enterprise" as we neared our destination. The Tows often kick up a lot of mud around their very powerful props. This sediment I learned can make your depth sounder go nuts. Ours started showing depths of 3.9' to 6.0' and changing constantly. I was freaking thinking we would run aground any second, and then I realized the water was brown from the churning of his props and this was confusing the sounder. But that just means your sounder is not accurate and if it really did get shallow you would not know. The only thing to do is to just stay squarely behind them since often their drafts are 20-24 feet and if there was a shallow area they would just push it out of the way. As we neared Mile marker 440 at the entrance to the marina we called the Harbor Master and two nice fellas met us as the bulkhead where we would tie up for the night. I was glad to see them as this was an entirely new docking challenge and the winds were still up and pushing us onto the dock. A close call with a nearby boat and then safely up against the bulkhead. A restaurant in just a short distance and nice showers with plenty of Hot water! We arrived at 15:20 so we had some daylight and pleasant weather to walk around a bit and explore the area. We walked over a huge berm to check out a new development with condos and slips just off the ICW. We enjoyed the Hot showers and then to the neat "Waterfront Restaurant" for a great Flounder dinner. It was Huge...another score for the Admiral. We walked a bit after dinner enjoying the area Christmas lights and then retreated from the decreasing night temps to the Cockpit for a glass of wine while watching the night barge traffic on the ICW.
Day 5 12/24 Thursday Port O'Connor to Rockport light fog then heavy, SE 10-15 kt winds, 60+ degrees, avg. speed 6.5 kt. @avg. rpm ? underway 6:55 hrs.
Day 6 12/25 Friday just a foggy Christmas Day in Rockport