Saturday, July 30, 2011


Day 1: I cannot imagine the disappointment of preparing for the Texas 200 and then having to pull your boat out of the water and go home on the first day. One sailor had to do just that. He told us later that he let himself get dehydrated during the day preparing his boat for launch, which in turn leads to aggravating a heart condition. We saw him at the boat ramp pulling his boat out still wearing his emergency room wrist band. He looked disappointed, but we did our best to help assure him he had made the right decision to pull out.
getting GIR ready

Mizzen and sprit

We were the last leave Port Isabel. We sailed out of the harbor, and found ourselves all alone headed north up Laguna Madre. We did think about going offshore but we did not have the correct safety gear and since we slept late we where hours behind the others. We continued north. Mik and I spent some time getting to know each other and told each other all sorts of sailing tales and other tall tales. It was some great conversation.
Our goal was to sail to the seaward end Port Mansfield jetties. With the typical direction of the afternoon sea breeze we all knew it was going to be a hard upwind beat to Camp 1, straight upwind a very narrow channel. Most of the morning was in comfortable winds and flat waves so we just enjoyed ourselves. While getting close to our turning point at the Port Mansfield channel we pulled over, trimmed the mizzen tight, dropped the sail and put in the #2 reef and got ourselves ready to sail straight up wind. We watched a few boats ahead of us turn west to Port Mansfield and head into port. We saw one of the catamarans capsize near a small island near the edge of the channel while the other cat was already pulled up on the beach. We cut the corner of the channel but had to back track since the water was getting shallow very quickly.

bailing after the big wave

Tacking up the channel was a bear. Around Texas you can usually cheat the channel markers by a few yards, so while sailing just beyond the red side of the channel we ran aground, rather hard. We tacked over and sailed a few yards beyond the green side of the channel, we ran aground again. We found the tide dropping and as it did the edges of the channel became more and more apparent. We short tacked up the channel against the wind with Mik on the helm, running the mizzen and me on the main sheet. After about the 10th tack we were getting good at short tacking the channel. Unfortunately, as we got closer to the jetties the waves began to stack up, an outgoing tide with a very strong breeze created some big waves rolling squarely down the channel. The waves got bigger the closer we got to the Gulf of Mexico.  A few of the waves would join up and create a bigger wave than normal. The wave was steep on both sides. On more than one tack Mik and I tacked only to find the boat airborne coming off the back side of a wave. We timed our tacks as best we could but the edge of the narrow channel told us when we had to tack so timing the waves was not always an option. Imagine Mik and I both slamming tacks with both of us perched on the windward side hiking out hard to level the boat and power thru the rough chop. We did take at least 2 waves over the bow that forced us to beach the boat on the edge of the channel and bail. One time Mik walked the boat along the shallows while I bailed and another Mik bailed and I walked the boat towards the next camp slowly along the edge of the channel. We ended up walking the last 50 yards up to the other boats that had pulled up onto a small beach, just short of Camp 1.
 Most of us were fine with not making Camp 1 which was about a mile more up the channel. It was straight upwind anyway and we were tired and on vacation. We were curious when we saw the Pilgrim 22 turn in the channel and head downwind towards Port Mansfield. We learned later that their centerboard had jammed and they headed to the boat lift to fix it.

Our Camp 1

Our evening meal

We found a dry spot on the narrow beach and set up camp. I don’t remember what we had for dinner but Mik and I sat in the back of our GIS and enjoyed the cooling breeze. I was still tired from jet lag and slept well. The next morning was beautiful.
Evening Sunset

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