Saturday, August 25, 2012

We got this....

We finally loaded everything into the boat, checked the weather and headed out for a quick sail to Redfish Island where we planned to anchor for the night. We made decent enough time even though we were under canvassed. Our thought was that this first day was more about getting the kids comfortable on the boat, seeing how our anchor bridle worked for us and what we thought about the new lighting and fans than about trimming the sails spectacularly and clipping along at a nice speed.

Sunset at Redfish Island

Redfish Island is not actually an island at all as Maura discovered to her utter disappointment. Visions of frolicking on a lovely beach, splashing in the surf were quickly put away as we made our approach. (from the NW for those taking notes, the S end is very, very VERY shallow) "That's it?!?! Its just a bunch of dirt and rocks." she said as we entered the anchorage. Yes, its just a bunch of remnants from the channel dredging which makes a nice little sheltered are so that the huge commercial ships do not run over you at night. Not being run over at night is a really good thing. We put out plenty of scope which thanks to Mark's super specific anchor marking technique was easy to count (it hurt me to write that.), got the bridle and snubber on without much fuss even though it started to rain as we came in. The rain cleared and Kitty danced and sang on deck. we had a lovely unburned dinner and Maura declared that she loved this. This was even better than camping and she really loves camping. We settled in, watched the stars from the open hatch above our v berth and thought, yes this is good.

During the night we had 2 little blips to disturb our rest. The rains came, necessitating that we close up the hatches. Fortunately, due to the fact that our boat now has more Caframo fans than any other boat on the planet, we were able to maintain a somewhat reasonable amount of comfort. Point to Mark for that one. The other blip? While Kitty is the happiest kid on the planet while sailing or playing at anchor she will not sleep on the boat. AT ALL. After the 3rd time of Kitty calling for me, me going in and comforting her and trying to get her back to sleep, Maura opted to bunk on the settee and I moved in to the girls bunk to try to get Kitty to sleep. It worked for about 15 minutes at a stretch. It was a very long, long night.

And then the rains came. Good thing Maura loves to read.
The next morning we took our time getting breakfast, tidying the boat, more deck dancing until the rains came. Then it was time to hang out on the boat, coloring, reading, playing with Legos until the weather cleared. Once we had blue skies again, we hoisted the anchor and set sail for Galveston. We were on a beam reach and as we approached Galveston, the dolphins made their first appearance. Maura was at the helm as 2 big dolphins came within 3 feet of the boat to check us out. "MOM! MOM! LOOK!" Maura exclaimed. The smile on her face was absolutely magical. I still get excited by the appearance of dolphins and I love that the girls share my joy at the beauty of these creatures. We taught Kitty how to squeak at the dolphins and now every sighting means we get an excited stream of joyful exclamations punctuated by toddler dolphin squeaks.

Beauty is where you find it. Industrialized busy port not beautiful to you? Look up...

The area just as you come into Galveston is known as Bolivar roads. It would be better to be called Bolivar sphincter check. Bolivar roads is where the Houston ship channel crosses the ICW and oh, there are a few other various channels full of commercial ships following other channels here and there. You've got lots of really HUGE container ships, barges, pilot boats, fishing trawlers, a cruise ship or two, Coast Guard cutters and skiffs and ferries running to and fro, this way and that and one little sailboat with a squall approaching, sails up because Mark did not heed my warning that the rain was going to hit us and there were too many huge ships going in every which way to sail elegantly into Galveston. As I manned the helm trying to keep clear of impending doom, Mark and Maura finally struggled to get the sails down in the rain. Mark later admitted that he would never again ignore my request to drop the sails if I was feeling nervous. That I think is a very important lesson learned. Always defer to the Biggest Chicken Baby on board. Kitty sat with me in the cockpit shouting "LOOK! Pirate ship!" at every tanker that passed. Who knew my 2 year old was up on current Somali events?

We headed into the same anchorage by the Bolivar ferry we used last year. This year, there are work barges moored in a large portion of the anchorage. Seems they are reconstructing a jetty near the ferry landing. Fortunately, we were the only boat there so we had plenty of swing room.

At this point, Maura was ready for a bit of land adventuring so we inflated the dinghy and headed for shore. Since we are trying to wait until the last minute to buy our dinghy (one less thing to maintain until we are ready to use it) we used the small inflatable given to us by a friend. Imagine my surprise to see that the dinghy Mark intended to use was a 6 foot rubber Achilles which the previous owner had christened 'Stinky'. We were rowed ashore in 2 trips by Mark in a bright red inflatable with STINKY emblazoned upon it. We tied the dinghy up but didn't lock it because A: we were not at a dinghy dock, we were docked in a super secret not Kosher location that the security guard said so long as we went to dinner then right back, she would look the other way and B: who the hell is going to steal a little rubber rowing dinghy which is emblazoned with STINKY on it? A friendly power boat captain gave us a ride to the nearest restaurant ; Chili's where we ate an unremarkable dinner as you do at Chili's, then made the trek on foot back to the boat where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset, lots of rolling due to passing commercial traffic and another night where Kitty refused to sleep. Even still, it was a good night and everyone was in great spirits.
Early morning. Birds overhead as the rain clouds rolled in...

The next morning, absolute crap weather rolled in. Bad visibility and rain, rain and more rain. This was supposed to be our first time to take Ceol Mor out into the Gulf but I nixed that idea. I just don't feel the need to prove anything and while we absolutely could have handled what was out there (just a lot of rain and low clouds, no scary wind) it would have been less than fun. As it is, Mark will still be able to tell people his dream is to get out of Galveston for a while longer. We headed back to Kemah escorted by a tremendous amount of dolphin pods every where we looked. Maura and I got good experience helming the boat in busy shipping lanes and Mark learned to relax a bit when he is off watch. Very good things to have a bit of confidence in.

 We made it back to the marina and as we approached the slip, the rain stopped and the skies returned to blue. We might not have gotten the ocean experience we were hoping for, but we did learn a lot of useful things. We have a better idea of what we want on the boat, what changes we are glad we made and what is now at the top of the refit list (separate short post coming up on this).We gained confidence in anchoring. We got a bit better at trimming the sails. We learned a bit more about how to handle 4 distinct BIG personalities in a small space. The most important thing I learned? We can do this. We really can.


  1. Love how happy Mark looks in that last pic. Glad it all went well. Hope Kitty starts sleeping on the boat soon :)

    1. She gets a year to figure it all out and boy do I hope she does just that. Hope things have settled down for you and you can head to Mexico with no more puking.

  2. Lovely trip!! Isn't it nice how you get into the groove of things on a boat. I seriously miss "camping out" on our boat!!

    Hope Kitty gets used to it. Sounds like how it is to sleep in a storm, hardly sleeping at all.

    1. I sincerely hope that with another year under belt when we leave that she will sleep better. No sleep for 2 days while doable, is something a l ot less than ideal.

  3. You guys are awesome. Kitty and Gabrieele will compare sailing notes soon.

  4. Excellent trip. Glad to hear it went well (with the exception of some sleepless nights). We where out on Saturday till the big thunderstorm came, and in counter point to Kitty, my daughter fell asleep sitting up on one of the settees after us sailing for several hours.

    We also had some fun with trying to bring down the mail sail when a squall came in. But we didn't dump anyone into the bay, so I call it a win.

    Loved reading about your adventure!

    1. I am jealous of your sleeping kid! It looked pretty rotten Friday morning for offshore sailing so I called it. The fact that Saturday was also kind of dicey makes me doubly glad I called. Glad you didn't have to do MOB drills!