Sunday, December 4, 2011

Matagorda to Taylor Outflow Bayou Days 5-8

This Group of American Avocets were an unexpected sight along the ICW.

Always a good view of the South Texas Nuclear Project along the ICW coming into Freeport.

This is a little one, we would become friends with these guys as you seem to travel together for several days.

This smoke greeted us in Freeport. What the heck is it?

The Admiral providing a little relief to the Captain on the way to Galveston.

A train had just gone by and the Galveston Causeway railway bridge opened just in time for us to pass.

Harbor House, a great little Marina right downtown Galveston by the Strand

Raptors were everywhere along the Boliver Island portion of the ICW, the Admiral is getting a lot better with her new camera.

This is the Taylor Bayou Channel where anchored for the night, a wide, long channel but we anchored off to the side just in case some traffic came by in the middle of the night.

The Port Arthur refineries...really lit up the night.

Day5 We stayed a third day in Matagorda due to the high winds.We were glad to get underway to Freeport on 11/27:

Day6 Matagorda to Freeport

avg speed 5.8kts, 65degrees,sunny 10-20N-NW winds, underway 7:23hrs, 42.5km.

We had mostly favorable current and I still can't figure out how to understand the tide charts in the ICW. The tide was ebb most of the trip so I guess it just depends where you are relative to the nearest outlet to the Gulf.We had to slow for the Caney Creek Swing Bridge to open, the Brazos River Locks, and a couple of Tows to pass. The Brazos gates were closed to commercial traffic as they were doing repairs on the west gate so most of the tows were just parked waiting which made this part of the passage easy. As we were approaching Freeport we noticed a huge plum of smoke in the sky ahead. We began to speculate, it was a dark smoke and since there is so much petroleum industry here I speculated it was some type of release by one of the plants polluting. This is not uncommon to see in the Corpus Christi area. The Tow Captains were talking about it also, one mentioned it was a wildfire. Great, we just hoped it would not be blowing right over Bridge Harbor when we got there. We made Bridge Harbor about 14:30 and the Harbor Master was very accommodating as he allowed us to pull into the fuel dock and stay there for the night. This allowed us to top off the tanks and not have to move the boat to another slip in this area of the marina where the fairway is narrow and difficult to maneuver a boat this size. I have been trying to keep the rpm's down under 2000 since we can do 6kts or just a bit more and our fuel use stays at 1 gallon per hour. I estimated that we would need 27 gallons based on the number of hours we used the engine, I was right on. With the cost of fuel somewhere between $3-4 this makes a difference in the cruising budget for sure. Fortunately there was no smoke so we could breath easy.
Several Admirals mentioned to Lynn that doing laundry was what they disliked the most about cruising, so I will do the laundry. Since this marina had a washer/dryer I gathered up the clothes and went immediately to get that done before I bought a pack of beer!

Day7 Freeport to Galveston Harbor House Marina
Avg.speed 6.0 knts. , 60 degrees sunny, 5-10 N winds, underway 7:04hrs., 42.5Km.

We had favorable current 90%,stopped three times to allow tows to pass & still avg. 6knts. Our max speed was 8.3kts. The Admiral was busy with her camera getting pics of all the raptors lined up along the way. We saw the result of the wildfire, a large area of the Brazoria National Wildlife Preserve burned all the way up to the edge of the ICW. We had considerable barge traffic as we neared Galveston. Thought we better call the marina we planned to stay in for the night, Stingaree about 12 miles down Boliver. The harbor master Pete said there was no water in there due to the unusually low tides so we had to quickly get a plan B. I wanted to go to Harbor House in Galveston since this is where I stayed with the crew of Apothaker and wanted the Admiral to see it and enjoy the nearby restaurants and a walk down the Strand. Their website says you can slip your boat there if you are renting a room for the night, but we called and checked anyway. Yep they were empty so they happily gave us a slip 102 and I knew I would earn a few points for this. We arrived by 1400 hrs. So we had plenty of time for a long walk down the strand and easily made a great happy hour at a grill right next to the marina. Now this is what it's all about!

Day8 Galveston to Taylor Outflow Bayou

Avg. speed 6.2kts, 65 degrees, sunny 10-15 ESE winds, underway 9:17hrs., 57.8 Km.

We left at 0700, from this point forward would be new to us as soon as we entered the ICW at Boliver Island. Man, the AIS was showing tows all over the place. Boliver is home to lots of tow companies so you have to pick out the moving tows on the display from those just parked. After passing this section the tows were easy, we passed Stingaree and wondered why we could not get in as there was a fair size sailboat in there. Anyway we know where it is now for future reference. Eventually we came to a narrow section of the ICW and began following a tow. We stayed behind him through a white knuckle shallow, curvy area called Horseshoe Bend. No way to pass a tow here, in fact you want to follow them through to make sure you do not run aground. The Admiral was busy shooting pics as this trip was almost all nature sanctuary, lots of birds. We made it to the Taylor Bayou Outfall Canal around 1700 and eased down the canal right next to the Big Hill Bayou Wildlife Management Area. No one here. We tried to set our Rocna but it kept dragging when we backed down on it? Light was fading so I sat our danforth and the Rocna. We were very disappointed in our Rocna! No wifi here, this is where the IPad started earning it's keep. The Admiral sorted out things below while I organized the cockpit & deck for our departure in the early am. Time for a cold one, I sat in the cockpit as the last bit of daylight was fading when a hawk came and landed on our dingy davits. I called Lynn up to identify it but when she opened the companionway and the lights from inside glowed the raptor flew. Next time I will be much more careful, this was a great point winner if he had just stayed for a while. My part Indian mother in law finally gave me my Indian name "He who sits with hawks". The nearby refinery in Port Arthur lit up the place with an industrial glow, I blew out the Cintranella candle and went below.


  1. Wonderful post Steve. I read the part about the laundry to Bruce but didn't get the response I was looking for out of him. I'll be tucking that little gem away for future revisiting. Your ending left me sitting there in the cockpit with you. Thanks for the moment.

  2. All those we know who have passed this way before say the real cruising starts east of the Harvey Lockes. Can,t wait to experience it since We are finally in the groove with the ICW.