Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break Photos

Late but as promised, here are photos from the spring break trip to Corpus.

Lori, this one's for you.

There are more pictures from our boat on the link below.
more photos: Breaking Away

There is a pet pieve among those who overnight in their boats and that is boat owners who don't secure their halyards. Turn up the volume for the video below and listen to the racket. That is all from lines slapping against masts in the wind.

more photos: Marina Sights & Sounds

The Corpus Christi Yacht Club has sailing/racing lessons for little kids who don't look like they could be in junior high. There were only 3 out on this day but we have seen a dozen sailing at a time. They sail behind the marina breakwater and out on the bay in winds where a lot of the big boats stay at the dock. The kids are fearless.
more photos: Sailing School

On Wednesday nights, the yacht club has races that start and finish right in front of the marina T-heads. It can get crowded at the start of the races. When we were down for Valentine's weekend, we saw a boat captain get confused at the start of a race and crash squarely into a concrete pier. The concrete turned out to be much tougher than the fiberglass.
more photos: Wednesday Night Races

The last weekend that we were there, the yacht club hosted an event in the Texas J/24 Race Series. These guys were pretty serious. There are more pictures on the link below. Some of them were taken at too large of a distance. We didn't know how close we could get without getting in the way.
more photos: J/24 Races

Here is a random collection of boat pictures: Spring Break Boats

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Last Day

Today, we didn't try to do more than sail around the J/24 race area and stay out of the way. Those guys put in a long day. They started at 10:00 and didn't quit until 4:00.

Its been a very good week. Once again, we have learned a lot and gained valuable experience. In fact, we feel just about saturated for this trip. We need to go back to Lubbock, digest all of the new information, and make plans for the next trip.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Anchors Aweigh

Today started calm and foggy but quickly turned windy and sunny. We were a little tired from our previous two days of "voyaging" and decided to keep it simple today. The big events were to lower and raise the anchor which, for a sailboat, is a lot more complicated than it sounds. We managed to stick it in the bottom twice and got it back up both times. Hurray. After a couple of hours out, the winds got up in the 20-25 mph range and the boat was pitching, rolling, and heeling about 25 degrees. We put the first reef into the main and partially furled the jib. That helped with the heeling but the pitching and rolling continued until we got back to the marina. I got some good video of the afternoon and will post it when we get home.

This evening, we drove over to Ingleside on the Bay which is a small coastal community on the other side of the bay. While there, we found one of the houses that Kathy's grandfather had remodelled after his retirement.

Tomorrow will be our last day in Corpus for this trip. The winds are forecast to be high again. The interesting part will be J/24 races that are part of the Texas Series. The J/24 are fast little hotrods and it should be exciting.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In all of our previous days of sailing in either the Buccaneer or the Catalina, we have gone without any particular plan, just going whichever direction seemed like a good idea at the time. The only course requirement was that we needed to get back to where we had started. The last two days, we have set out with particular destinations and planned courses for getting there. That has required some navigating and some discipline. It has worked out well. We covered about 25 miles on a triangular course yesterday and 20 miles on an out and back course today.

The weather continues to be sunny with a cool humid breeze during the day and humid and cool at night. Earlier this evening, the temperature was 68, the dew point was 62, and the wind was blowing 15-20 mph. Earlier in the day, the temperature had been near 80. Things should be a little different tomorrow with higher winds. We are going to try to do our sailing early before the winds peak.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Positive Flotation

When we woke up this morning, the temperature was in the mid-fifties and there was fog as thick as I have ever seen. We couldn't see more than 100-200 feet. The weather service predicted that it would lift by 10:00 a.m. (we did wake up before 10:00) but it didn't clear until nearly 1:00 p.m.

We went out with Alan and had a great sail. His boat is larger and has a lot of great gadgetry. We were amazed at how the larger boat smoothed out the choppy bay and made the ride much more comfortable.

Afterwards, we did a little more work on the boat, bought groceries, and grilled chicken and zucchini for supper (with a bottle of zinfandel). The last two nights, we have grilled with charcoal onboard with a small grill and it has worked great.

For those of you who worry that we might someday get into a storm, capsize, and sink -- worry no more. For boats, there is a term called "positive floatation" which means that even if all of the available volume fills with water, there will still be enough trapped air space to keep the boat afloat. We estimate that there will very soon be enough wine bottle corks onboard to provide the necessary flotation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The People of Pier R

There were some constructive things accomplished today. We retrieved the boat trailer from storage and took it to be inspected so that we could get it registered in Texas. That is the first step toward selling the trailer. (Amazingly, the trailer is worth as much as the boat.) We also spent a couple of hours working on the boat. Kathy continued the process of refinishing the brightwork (sailor-speak for the the teak woodwork) and Walt worked on removing the surface rust from the above deck chrome and stainless steel. Then, we rewarded ourselves with a nice 2 hr sail and a grilled fish dinner.

Probably the best part of the day was meeting more of our neighbors. There were a lot of people around today. Chris is another beginning sailor about our age with a boat similar to ours. He has had the introductory sailing course but doesn't have a regular crew and is trying to learn to sail his boat single-handed. Captain Jack Small may be the most experienced sailor on our pier. We haven't yet figured out whether he owns an ultra-nice 45 ft yacht or just skippers it for other owners. We can learn a lot from him. Alan is also about our age. He has a Watkins 29. He is from England but has lived in Australia and New Zealand. Now he is retired in Fredricksburg with his wife from New Jersey. Jerry is another retiree who lives in San Antonio. His boat is Rowdy and is a really nice antique wooden boat that he has done a great job of restoring. Jeff and Ann are from Longview. They have recently sold house and vehicles and are committed to a sail to the Bahamas and beyond. They are also beginner sailors. Why not?

Alan (from England) is here without crew. We have offered to sail with him tomorrow which would be great. He has a very nice boat that is a little larger and much more sophisticated than ours. It should be an interesting day.

We apologize for the lack of photographs. We forgot to bring the cable that we need to connect the camera to the computer. We are taking a lot of photos though, and will post them when we return to Lubbock (unless we go the Bahamas with Jeff and Ann).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Inauspicious Beginnning

With no sailing on Saturday, we were determined to get out today. It was cloudy and cold but we bundled up to give it a try. Our plan was just motor out and make a few runs to adjust the deviation on the compass. We didn't even uncover the sails.

As we approached the exit to the breakwater, the motor, which had been running great, abruptly died. A few pulls on the starter rope didn't do any good and we were rapidly drifting towards the shore. To add to the excitement, it started raining lightly. Definitely not a good beginning.

We unfurled the jib, which is easy and fast to do, so that we would have some stearage. Then, we uncovered and raised the mainsail. With both sails up, we were able to tack out of the marina into the bay. With some time and room to work, we tried again to start the motor but no luck. So, we decided to heck with it and just went sailing. The rain continued for half an hour and then quit. It was cool but bearable and we had a nice afternoon. After an hour or so, we tried the motor again and it ran perfectly.

In the middle of the afternoon, the wind dropped and rain started coming in from the south. We were about a mile out from the marina so we decide to start the motor and go back in under power. What are the chances of that working?

The motor started on the 3rd pull, ran like a charm all the way in, and we were tying up at the dock when the rain started. Sometimes, you just have to have faith.

We haven't seen temperatures above 60 so far but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and in the 80s. And, that is supposed to continue all week. Whoopee.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Corpus Christi BayYacht Club

Today was cold and rainy all day. I guess the 500 miles of rain that we drove through yesterday needed a whole day to catch up. Tonight is cloudy but no rain. Tomorrow should be nice but cool. The accomplishments today were to drain and refill the water tank and to empty the old boat gas into the truck and replace it with fresh gas. We syphoned the water tank into the bilge to test the bilge pumps. The pumps worked fine but we are going to have to install check valves in the drain lines.

We also introduced ourselves into the Corpus Christi Bay Yacht Club. It seemed like a lot of nice people and it will be fun to have more acquaintenances down here. The people in the Lubbock Bicycle Club were the best part of bicycling. We hope to make a similar group of friends here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Not Just Any Port, Our Port

Spring break has finally arrived and we made the long drive to Corpus today. It rained every mile. How often are 500 miles of Texas all covered with rain at the same time?

We had some trepidation about traveling on Friday the 13th. When we sailed in February on Friday the 13th, Walt sacrificed sunglasses, a hat, and a coffee press to Neptune (overboard). We had no misfortunes today but others weren't as lucky. We saw 3 wrecks--two of them looked very serious. We also saw a lot of Texas Tech students headed happily south at a high speed.

It is not so much a relief as it is a happy reassurance every time we arrive and find Breaking Away safe and afloat. In our bedtime reading, we have both recently finished Farley Mowat's "The Boat That Wouldn't Float." Great book and very funny if it is someone else's boat.

Arriving in Corpus is always like a big sigh. After all that goes on in the other life it is great to have this port for that storm.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


After a late afternoon meeting at work on Thursday, we left Lubbock and headed for Corpus. We made it to Junction (halfway) by 9:30 p.m. and spent the night there. The next morning (Friday), we were off early and made it to Corpus by 11:00. We stopped by the sail loft where we had left our jib to have a Sunbrella border added for UV protection. Then, on to the marina where we put on the sail and were on the bay by 1:30 p.m.

Between the limited sleep, light eating, and, more relevant to the problem, 20 mph wind, 2-3 ft chop, and consistent 30 deg. heel, Walt was a little green around the gills - no cookies tossed, just really queasy. Strangely, Kathy had no problems. We eventually decided to put in the first reef on the main and furled about 20 % of the jib. That made a huge difference. However, putting in the reef was a thrill. Going forward with the heel and chop made it a challenge to get it done without going overboard. We stayed out for nearly 4 hrs. and it was a good day.

(Click on the picture for a larger image)

(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Walt got a good night's sleep, a good breakfast, and 3 or 4 ginger root candies before going out again on Saturday - big improvement. There was no problem with the sea sickness!!!. Here is a short video from Saturday which was just as challenging as Friday had been. We were pleased with ourselves because not many boats were out and several that did venture out, called it off after 20-30 minutes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

No Drama

The number one item on the agenda for this weekend was to solve the motor problem. Actually, it turned out not to be a motor problem but an operator problem. I discovered that I had not fully opened the vent on the gas tank. Its amazing how well a motor will run when it can get gas. We ran it for about 30 minutes in the slip on Friday and all seemed good.

We motored out of the marina on Saturday, sailed for 3 hours, and motored back in. No drama. We did it again on Sunday and sailed for 5 hours. No drama. It was amazing.

The MLK weekend makes our third trip to Corpus in December and January. Because of the motor/operator issues, we have only been sailing for 5 days but a lot of improvements have been made to the boat and we have learned a tremendous amount. Now we are ready to go.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Last day for this trip

After struggling to make a landing in the marina last night, we were greatly relieved to be tied at a dock ,celebrated with pizza and wine and went to bed exhausted. We were woken at 4:30 by a line of thunderstorms that the weather service reported with average winds of 40 mph and higher gusts. We were on the upwind side of a concrete dock so every gust just pounded the boat into the dock. Fortunately, we had enough bumpers with us to cushion the boat and avoid damage. After 30-40 minutes, the winds let up and we could go back to sleep.

Today, the winds were still high. Kathy did our laundry for the week and I put new spark plugs in the boat engine. That seemed to have it running ok so we were able to move it to our slip. No damage from the night of wind. This afternoon, I installed the new compass and we did a few odd jobs on the boat. Late in the afternoon, we tried to go out but the engine was acting up and we gave it up.

Tomorrow, we head home. It's been a great week

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Learning Curve

I have to report that we took a steep ascent up the learning curve today (or a large deduction from the little black box). The winds were much more challenging (15 knots, gusts 24) and the boat handled it fine. We never felt overwhelmed or in danger. Here is the boat with 20-25 degrees of heel - seems like a lot more when you are there.

The first lesson came when we noticed that the boats we were following disappeared into a fog bank. This is what the ocean looks like when surrounded by fog. The fog burned off after a few minutes and we were ok.

The excitement came at the end of the day when the motor stopped just after entering the marina. We needed to go about 1/2 mile across the 3 t-heads to reach our slip and the wind was dead against us. We decided to unfurl the jib and go back out into the bay. There we raised the main, put in the 2nd reef, and furled the jib. With those changes we were able to reenter the marina and make an upwind landing to a general docking area - not our slip. To get there would have required a jibe to make the final turn into our portion of the dock. It would have been a train wreck with the winds still high.

The best part of the adventure was discovering that Kathy and I could work well as a team in a stressful situation. That should serve us well in future cruising adventures.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

After a cold and wet new year's eve and blustery winds most of the night, new year's day was clear and calm - dead calm. Not a breath of wind. We puttered around the boat until 2:00 and convinced ourselves that we could feel a breeze and went out - motors on sailboats are a great idea. We had just enough breeze to shut off the motor and put up the sails as we left the marina. Once outside the breakwater, we could see dark water about a mile out. We eventually got there and hurray - it was about a 12 mph wind. We met it as it was headed ashore so our timing was perfect. Others who had gone out earlier gave up and were headed in as we went out.

We had a nice 3 hour sail and even felt bold enough to sail into the marina without the motor. A nice part of this sail was that there were several other boats out that we got to pass close to and wave. For some reason that I don't completely understand, the speed of a boat is limited by its length - size matters here. Anyway, try as we may, we could not outrun a J35 with our C25.

This was our second time out and everything was easier - particularly departing and arriving at the dock. The weather looks good for a long day of sailing tomorrow with a little higher winds than we have experienced so far.

I've also added two more Flickr photo sets:
Dock Sights
New Year's Day Sail