Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cruise to Fulton for the Rockport Music Festival

This was the view from our cockpit of Aransas Bay. I took this Sat. early am with the morning Coffee.

We met this couple who proudly gave a tour of their Lord Nelson 35, they have lived aboard since last Nov. and plan to go to the Bahamas this November. They recommended going to hear the Bassist at the Sugar Shack Friday night.

Here are most of the BYC boats and their flag. The big boat up front is Bill & Jan's Merlin, a Macintosh 47.

This is Neil & Teresa arriving at the Fulton Harbor entrance on their new Erickson 38 Totom.

You can see the Gulf ICW from the harbor, here is a Tow & Barge Westbound. This would be a great place to view all sorts of vessels transiting the ICW.

Here is the Sugar Shack where the bassist was reported to be one of the top three in the US. I think he was among the top three in Nueces county.

This was our Fulton dock, turned out to be the best place to be.

Mark Hiler took this photo of us from his Catalina 400 Seaflight as he was closing in on us. We were sailing down the Corpus Christi Ship Channel in 15+ knot winds having a great time trying to stay ahead of him.

This is Johnny & Cynthia on their Valient 40 Concerto. We managed to stay just ahead of them all the way back to Corpus after we raised the sails.

This is Mark & Brenda's Catalina 400 Seaflight just after they passed us. Seaflight is lighter and quicker.

Seaflight took the high Road, I think I will to next time as the tanker took all of our wind allowing Seaflight to get a big lead on the way down the channel.

This was our best cruise so far since coming to Corpus. We had a great motor sail on Starboard tach all the way to Port A and then a downwind run to Fulton with the South winds. It was 10-15 most of the way but we motored sailed all the way since it was to be a 5-6 hour trip and we did not want to take any longer and miss our time at the Fulton Harbor. It was sunny and about 90 degrees but the wind is still cool here and not hot. We had favorable currents in the ship channel and reached 9 knots with the ebbing tide. Our AIS system worked great as two different Tows hailed us by name well in advance and requested that we take them on the "2" which means to pass Starboard to Starboard. We are sold on AIS and if your going to be traveling in the company of commercial shipping then this is just as essential to have on board as a DSC/VHF radio. We were cautious choosing our exit from the ICW and probably went about a mile to far to turn to Fulton but a couple of items on the chart looked best to avoid. On our return trip we followed the more experienced Concerto across Aransas Bay and they took us on a much shorter course. As we approached Fulton we were instructed to call the Aransas Navigation district by phone to find out our slip assignment on our approach to the entrance. The nice woman on the phone informed us our slip had another boat in it and to just enter the harbor and there would be someone there to direct us. Well there is plenty to get ready as you are entering a unfamiliar harbor. Usually they can tell you in advance if you will have a Port or Starboard tie so you can prepare your approach and your mooring lines. Well the admiral took the helm while I prepared lines for both sides of the boat since we did not know which we would moor to. We found our guy and he directed us to a very narrow slip, we probably had a 2 foot clearance on the width and it would be a windward tie so fortunately there were three guys ready to take lines, Lynn did an awesome job of getting the lines to them quickly and we glided into our slip. One of the dockmen asked if I used a bow thruster. "No Sir, don't have one". Without the help it could have gotten ugly quick though since the winds were piping 15-20. This was the best deal since we left the Pacific Northwest, $30 per night! I went to the Dock Formen's office which was a pickup located at the end of the dock and wrote a check for our stay.

Our neighbor Al who lived aboard their Lord Nelson 35 with his Admiral Sue came over and introduced himself. He stayed and talked awhile and convinced us we needed to go to the Sugar Shack around 9pm that night to see one of the top three Bassist in the United States. We talked about boats and I explained that I thought his boat was a Hans Christian, he explained that the guy who built Lord Nelsons had split from Hans Christian to pursue building boats his way. He took us on a tour and the outside looked like a Hans Christian and the inside woodwork just like a Passport. Definitely a go anywhere blue water boat.

Happy Hour on Wave Dancer

Happy hour was reported to be on Wave Dancer Friday evening around 1700. We got there around 1745 and the drinks were well on there way. Everybody was happy, must have been about 7 couples down below in the AC enjoying the appetizers, painkillers and all sorts of libations. The Admiral drank water & I brought along a XX's green..One of my favorite 2 kinds of cerveza. When I finished my Dos XX's Bill asked me if I wanted another beer...I said sure, he gave me a can of Keystone...Johnny laughed and cited that this is what Bill does to discouraged asking for Beer on his boat. I drank it anyway. I think some of those people were on their 3rd painkiller cause they looked as if they were not going to be able to get off the boat. I told them to eat some more of that fresh Ahi tuna!

Hu Dat Seafood Restaurant

Then we walked 2 blocks just passed the Sugar Shack to eat dinner at Hu-Dat, is Asian and have a big Vietnamese menu. We get the Bun Combo, A bowl of vegetables and beef, chicken, and shrimp. The Hu Dat is Fulton is the original Hu Dat restaurant and the Flagship, the best one to go to. Hu and Dat were the owners sons, I heard that Dat played for the cowboys!

Sugar Shack

The Admiral recommended that we go to hear the Bassist at 10 instead of 9am and stay about an hour. When we got there at 10 pm the band was just setting up and we found some seats near the stage. It was not crowded yet but the 20 and 30 somethings were beginning to pour in. The band was a group of 2 Ty on vocals and Lead/rhythm guitar and Joseph on the big stand up Bass and Bass guitar. They were a sort of Bluegrass/country band and certainly entertaining. We thought the bassist was good but probably just ranked as one of the top in Nueces county, can you say Edgar Meyer? Who? But the story here is in the locals who crowd into this bar. See their website at and check out their pics and menu. I think you can get some taste of it there. Definitely worth a visit to fully appreciate the Fulton culture. We left by 11:30 since the locals were getting fueled up & there was a limit to the action we wanted to witness. As we left there was a young woman yelling at some poor dude, she told him he was "worthless" and the rest of this story I will leave to your imagination.

Rockport Music Festival...Saturday

Well we didn't really attend the festival, we did however walk down the sidewalk to a spot that was about 30 yards from the stage and listen to a few songs every now and then during the day/night on Saturday. The link on the title goes to the Rockport music festival site so you can see the line up. the headliners were Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark and Gary P Nunn. Living in Austin for over 30 years we saw these guys several times over the years, They are not exactly young anymore and we knew that hitting those notes after years of alcohol and/or other drug abuse might be tricky. Our thoughts were confirmed by what we heard out on the sidewalk. We went back to the boat that night & listened to their music on the ipod from when they were young and still had a voice. We had some friends Wendy & Randy from H dock drive over and Hang out with us for the evening so we had good company on the sidewalk and on the docks. There was a rumor that the couple who previously owned our E42 would be there and they would come by and say hello..we either missed the connection or they did not make it to the show. It would have been great to see them since they provided us with lots of great information just after we brought the boat to Kemah from Washington. Josh and Barb Wallach are a big part of the Texas Mariners Cruising Association out of the Galveston Bay area so it is always good to meet up with them to see what is going on.

Well the concern Sunday was to get up early and depart for Corpus since the winds would be building and for a lot of us getting out of these narrow slips would be a challenge especially for those of us with the wind right on the beam. A small dock crew of BYC folkes began to assemble to organize and help. Totom was first to go, then Bruce from Elan explained we needed to go help Concerto next, in the meantime Wave Dancer departed as we made our way to Concerto. We came back to our dock where a big Port A sailboat was preparing to leave, it looked like a while before he would be ready so I explained my engine was running and I was ready to go now, so I had 4 guys help us off and we needed all four to get it done safely. As I backed out I tried to keep the nose pointed to the wind but no way I would have to turn, go down the fairway and find a way to turn in the narrow area. Fortunately we naturally ended up on the port side of the Fairway and I can turn the boat in it's length as long as I am turning to Starboard so it all worked out perfect and we were on our way back into Aransas Bay with the rest of the BYC Armada. I put the main up before we left the harbor and increased the RPM to catch up with Concerto. I figured by following Concerto I would learn some local knowledge about navigating this bay & I was absolutely correct. Concerto lead us on a much shorter course than the one we came in on. The winds were still out of the South so we would be motor sailing till we got to the turn to the West in Port A. I like to run our Yanmar at least 2000 rpm since it is best to keep a load on a diesel and not run them at low rpms. However Concerto was running slower than I preferred but I thought it best to continue to follow and learn from him so I knocked the rpms down to 1400. There was no tow/barge traffic today which we thought was unusual for this part of the ICW, it was Sunday though. Just as we neared the end of the Lydia Anne channel, Concerto started putting out their headsail, I had noticed he had accelerated ahead a bit as we neared the turn. Well it was not quite yet time to put out the headsail for us so I upped the rpm & closed the Gap. Just before we made our turn I rolled about about 100% of our 130 genoa. The Admiral went down below and set the switches so I could turn off the engine and we were just behind Concerto. I was unaware but Seaflight was coming up from behind. The sails filled and we were off down the Channel. We slowly passed Concerto, the winds were a bit gusty & I had to mind the mainsheet to keep from being overpowered. Seaflight was now just behind us & I hailed him on the VHF and asked him to take a few pics of us since we did not have any of WS under sail. We got a few of him as well. Seaflight then took the Port side of the channel just as a tanker was approaching, we and Cocerto held our course on the Starboard side passing the ship properly in the channel, We both lost our wind for a while while the tanker passed and slowed to just a couple of knots, Seaflight however gained quite a bit as he passed to windward and there was no hope in catching him now. We were soon out into the open bay with nothing to obstruct the winds. I had to sheet out the main a bit more and we romped along around 7 knots on a close reach. As we were nearing Corpus I was thinking that this had been the best sail so far since coming to Corpus. It may have been the friends sailing along with us, getting to know our little ship better and being able to relax more, or just the whole cruise thing. Probably all that together. The Admiral & I now have our arrival routine down and barely have to say a word as we prepare to come through the gap into the Corpus Marina, put the sails away and motor to our slip. We used to look for help on the dock but it is not necessary anymore. It is nice when someone is there to hand a line to but we have it down now.

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