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.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Get Your Cruise On

Wand'rin Star at the e Pier party....The Longhorn Jamaican Pirate.

At least 15 + sailboats made the trip to E pier.

The Morning after.

A great evening Sail heading back to Corpus at Sundown.

Wand'rin Star in Port a for the Port A Light house cruise.

Pete at the helm headed back to Corpus down the ship channel after the Port A cruise.

This is I think a Green turtle, we saw lots of them on the South Jetty at Port A.

The Admiral almost to the end of the South Jetty.

I like the end of the Jetty best.

Someone left there engine and transom behind on the rocks of the South jetty.

The channel end of the South Jetty.

The Admiral got this Great shot of my favorite bird, the Least Bittern at the Port A Birding Center.

E Pier Party
Bay Yacht Club sponsored a E pier Dock Party in the interest of recruiting a few new members.

Whenever BYC goes on a cruise it is usually attended by an average of 8 -10 boats, mostly sail. But this cruise was a bit different, it was a membership recruiting party and all they had to do was cruise over to E dock ( this dock is reserved for 50'+ yachts). Since most of the docks that would be moored on this dock just happen to choose the Kemah/Galveston Bay area (think Houston $$) e dock is mostly empty. So when BYC wanted to take a lot of their boats over to a dock to hold a membership party the Marina agreed to let them have E dock for 1 night to do their thing on. Well, this happened to be one of the most well attended event of the last 5 years since no one had to cruise more than a couple 100 yards to get to E dock. It was an overwhelming success in terms of participation and partying. We got there 1st! So we had the choice of slips and of course I choose the primo slip so we were in the middle of the fun all day and night. I had a great time helping everyone else getting tied up. Since the winds were blowing hard it is always a challenge to get there even if it is just a couple of hundred yards away.

Evening Cruise

Later in the week the winds abated a bit and I invited a few dock mates for an evening cruise. This is what Spring on Corpus Christi Bay is all about, a nice 15 knot wind and a cool breeze.

Memorial Day Port A Cruise

We had reservations in Port A for a slip for the BYC/Lighthouse cruise. Unfortunately the Admiral had to go up and take care of her parents for a few days. I recruited Pete, a neighbor on the dock to help me get the boat to Port A to participate in the cruise. Pete is a new comer to sailing but he is learning fast. I took on a teacher role and made sure he had as complete a learning experience as possible navigating to and from Port A. Jim Clower and his Harvest Moon Regatta crew showed up in Port A so Pete & I forfeited the Lighthouse event to stay and party with the Crew of Apotheker. A great weekend but the Admiral was sorely missed as this was to be the new beginning of our Texas Cruising life. On Sunday when we left Port A I took a right out of the Port A Marina to head out into the Gulf of Mexico to give Pete a good look at the Gulf. Since it was blowin 20-30 the seas were building to 8-10 at the end of the jetties. I had the foresail ready to deploy if needed, when going out in these conditions you need every alternative ready to go. We motored out about 1/10 mile past the jetties to just get a good taste of the gulf salt. Since I have never had Wand'rin Star out in these conditions I was very interested in seeing how she handled. I was very pleased on how she managed the short wave period especially after being out in it on a 36' Erickson and a 42' Passport. The 66 hp Yanmar was not even impressed. We turned and headed back in, at this point I took the helm from Pete since he seemed to have become disoriented and was not sure how to turn 180 and go back the direction we had come from. As we progressed down the ship channel on a broad reach the winds decreased to about 17 knots. I furled out the head sail and we were moving along at 9 knots with the almost 2 knot current, no need for the mainsail or the iron genny. the winds begin to increase as we approached Corpus Christi Bay and I reefed the headsail increasing as we made our way across the bay and the wind eventually increased to 30 knots. The Gap or entrance to the Corpus Marina is usually plenty wide but today I was glad no other boats were in the area as I wanted all space I could to safely sail through the gap. Just as we got in the breakwater and I went forward to prepare the foredeck a 35 knot wind gust hit and I had to drop to my knees to keep from blowing off. Just shows what a few knots increase in wind can do to your day.

Women's On board Emergency Procedures

was the title of the third education seminar I organized for BYC. The Commodore asked me to prepare a seminar for this topic since we have so many Seniors sailing around the bay area and they want to know what to do if their skipper is suddenly incapacitated and the Admiral is suddenly in charge of the helm. We had great participation and lots of excellent questions. It was obvious that this 1 1/2 hour class would not be enough but it certainly pointed out to all of us that we have more to do, practice and ready ourselves to safely enjoy our favorite pastime. The link on the title goes to the BYC Website with pics of the class. More info on the topics discussed are in the education area of the BYC website.

South Jetty
The Admiral wanted to go out to the South Jetty in Port A to take some pics of the turtles. So we took our binocs and camera and drove down to the beach. Every time we had gone birding near the Jetty I tried to get the Admiral to walk the entire length all the way to the very end. She was never interested since a lot of the walk is a bit like a climb since you have to hike over large Granite blocks. But this time she had a purpose and there were lots of turtles to see along the way. She was also looking to spot a Magnificent Frigate Bird so she was willing to go to the end for the Frigate. I wanted to go to the end to see where I had sailed by on five previous occasions. This day was a calm day, the seas were flat and clear. A great day for spotting sea life and enjoying a long walk out and back. We spent 2 hours on the jetty taking pics and enjoying the turtles, Sheaphead, sandwich terns, but no frigates!


we get up early and join about 8 other sailboats on a cruise to Fulton, TX for the Rockport Music Festival.