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Texas 200 report

This version was saved 14 years, 11 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by dstgean@...
on June 29, 2009 at 5:57:23 pm

It was a race to get to the T200 in the first place. We started in January and were really pressing to get it finished up enough to take.  Rather than detail the race to finish up here, I'll add that stuff on the build page.  We decided to lay down some primer or some rattle can paint to keep the S. Texas sun from making the ply super hot.  That was done Thursday night before we left.  We also had to alter the H18 trailer to let the Tamanu hulls ride securely.  Although we wanted to get an early Friday start, with all the last minute stuff to do we actually left about 4 pm on Friday.  We figured we'd just drive till we got tired and then pull off.  We ended up driving through the night to get to Port Mansfield by Saturday evening about 8 pm. We left the boat stuff on the trailer and got together for a late dinner with Pete and his crew.  Laurent and Yves stopped by but the kitchen had just stopped serving dinner so they left for the other restaurant in town.  This year, rather than stay at the less than appealing Fred Stone County Park we stayed in the clean and relatively empty motel right in town.


SUNDAY--With all the assembly we had to do on the boat (it's 9' beam precluded driving down assembled), I thought it would be best if I stayed and assembled the boat.  We didn't have some mission critical pieces for rigging the boat as we had never assembled the whole boat or stepped the rig before.  I know, I know it's kinda dumb to have a maiden voyage be a 20+ knot wind affair with an 80 mile run before civilization.  However, we were committed to making the Tamanu hulls work.  Chuck had the skipper's meeting which emphasized the remoteness of the setting and the need to be ON TIME for the shuttle.  Brian dropped off the stuff and headed to Corpus Christi Waste Marine for some amsteel line to lash the stays since we needed a bit of extra stay length due to the wider beam.  Between that run and a stop at Home Depot, and a quick direction issue, Brian was late for the bus--which did in fact stay thankfully.


Meanwhile, with the crew of Pilgrim helping out a bit, I assembled the double Tamanu/Hobie 18--hereafter referred to as the double Tamanu.  It was hot windy work and took most of the day to accomplish.  In retrospect it would have been immensely better in almost all respects to have the boat be 8'6" and transport it fully assembled.  After wrestling with it for about 5 hours it was together and had the rig temporarily stepped.  Naturally I forgot to remove the trailering flag from the masthead which came back to bite me in the butt on Monday.  Brian made a profuse apology to the rest o the busload and was able to secure a seat despite my making him late.  Brian and I had dinner that night with Kevin, Laurent, Yves, Pete, and Tom.  After crashing again at our motel, Monday morning left quite a bit to do to the boat to be ready to launch.  We had left our gear in the under renovation Port Mansfield Marina building which will be up and running by late summer.  Thanks guys!


MONDAY--Despite hearing a bunch of reports from the year prior, we decided to set up and launch from the North parking lot.  If you've been to S Texas that means its to Leeward.  Note to self launch from windward ramps.  Both Laurent and Brian and I had a tough time getting out of there as there was tons of wind and some nasty concrete and rip rap on either side of the ramp.  That means some upwind sailing right of the bat.  We were parked in a ramp from about 9-12 with Laurent.  We needed about 6 to carry the boats from the parking lot to the water in the ramp, so we had to do that before we were ready to go.  As such, Laurent's proa and our double Tamanu had some last minute packing and rigging to get ready to go.  Sadly, we blocked Laurent in and kinda rushed to get out under jib alone.  Anyone who's sailed a H18 knows they don't go to windward under just jib with the stock board location.  so as soon as we poked our nose out of the finger piers we were blown unceremoniously across the three ramps and into the finger piers with startling force.  However, we were no longer blocking Laurent, so we helped him pull his proa around so he could sail of on one shunt.  That meant flipping his boat end for end and tying up in front of the concrete wall about 5' off the water level.  Eventually we were able to get him off and his boat was quick and weatherly.  Brian and I learned a little something from his attempt.  We had to try with full main in order to get upwind.  Remember this is the first time this boat has been in the water.  Also remember that little trial stepping of the mast and forgetting to remove the trailering flag?  Well the main wouldn't go up with the litle wire blocking the halyard's clean run.  With some amazing help all morning from _______, we unstepped the rig, removed the flag, restepped the rig, and hoisted sail.  Everything had been stowed and there was only getting off the dock between us and a nice downwind slide.  My heart was in my throat (as I didn't know if my leeboard placement would work under main alone to get upwind, off the dock, and away from the boat eating ugliness to leeward) we got a running start and made it!  We headed out of the Port Mansfield harbor as my pulse began to settle a bit.  We headed out towards the ICW and scandalized the main since we were hitting 11-12 knots with every wave we surfed.  While messing with the halyard to let the head of the sail down past the stupid comp tip, my fingers began to cramp up.  I was super dehydrated.  Dangerously dehydrated.  95 degrees and 20+ knots of wind will take it out of you.  I turned over the helm to Brian, crawled under the bom and the pile of sail covering the leeward side of the tramp and drank fluids.  And drank. And drank. Eventually I had to urinate, but as I got up from my tramp my legs got into the cramping action as well.  My dehydration issue was serious, but I had lots of shade and fluids.  Eventually after a couple hours I felt better and was able to share the helm with Brian.  We were listening to the VHF and heard Laurent had dismasted.  We were coming up to his location and offered any assistance we could.  He was concerned his rig, which he had been able to get aboard, might damage our boat if we came too close.  His plan was to paddle to the King ranch taking care to stay below the high tide line and walk back to Port Mansfield.  I was pretty concerned about that plan, but trusted his judgement.  I should have attempted to anchor and tied him off so we could have had a more thorough discussion, but I did not.  Stupid of me in retrospect, and forced him into the later heroics only madmen and Frenchmen are capable of pulling off.  We continued down to the land cut and passed only a couple boats all day.  We saw the Tupperware Tri's and the the homebuilt tri that had dismasted.  He was on the leeward shore and didn't hear our hailing on the VHF or our shouts as we passed.  Not wanting to get pinned on a leeward shore we continued.  Eventually, we got to the land cur late in the afternoon.  We decided to land quite a ways up the "beach" to avoid what we knew to be foot sucking mud down on the point to Hap's cut.  We did some swimming in Hap's cut in the evening and then set up the screen tent.  It did little to stop the mosquitos from keeping me up after midnight though.  Seeing Laurent on the beach was a huge relief.  He managed to paddle to shore, restep his rig solo, and sail under jib.  His 2 am arrival and tales of getting lit up by the monster spots of two separate tugs were a bit harrowing.  Not a lot of room in the land cut.  


Tuesday--We got an early start Tuesday.  We sailed under main alone for a while.  We pretty much cruised down the ICW again and reeled in most everyone.  As we crossed some of the open bays, we got more wind than we were comfortable with.  Passing Kevin's proa was fun and I think the camera crapped out right then as I was looking to video his setup.  After hearing about some heavier weather behind us, we doused the main and continued on under jib.  The main problem was still not being able to go to windward with just the jib.  Some of the fast boats like John's planing dingy and David on the H14 reeled us in with our jib only setup.  I just wanted to keep the boat together and not break a new boat.  We ended up fending off everyone but the folding schooner.  Knowing we'd have a tough beat up to the Padre Island Yacht Club, we swung head to wind to roll up the jib and hoist the main.  We got the job mostly done when the wind grabbed the bows and sent us into the shallows to the east of the ICW.  My rudder tension was my curse again!  Last year we got spun out in a hairy situation involving a stuck barge and an idiot of a Capt. who revved his engines spinning us directly into him.  After an emergency tack and a second attempt way out of the channel we broke a rudder.  Well, the shallows claimed the other rudder this year without the need of a surly Tug Capt.  I think the tension needs to be eased on the rudders, and the UV rays of the last 27 years fatally weakened the plastic Hobie rudders.  We dragged the crippled rudder on board and proceeded to harden up on the wind as we came up the channel.  I had Brian ready on the sheets and have the paddles ready to help the bows around.  Our first tack was smooth but the wind caught the second hat (sorry Kevin!) and blew it down the channel.  Our second tack was short and I managed to T-bone the red daymarker.  Our bow bridles allowed a soft collision thankfully.  After another two tacks, we pulled into the docks as one of the first boats in.  this allowed me to both have time to work on the broken rudder and watch the other boats make their attempt to tack up.  Kevin showed how its done shunting singlehanded.  Bruce, the Commodore of the PIYC met us at the dock and was not so surprised to see us with a broken rudder.  he had put the word out the previous year and I was able to get a new blade from an Inter 20 sailor from Corpus.  This year I just traced the head profile and hole location from the broken blade.  Bruce took me to his garage shop and we hacked off the extra material and used his drill press to punch a new pair of holes.  The rudder linkage was also extended to correct the overly toed in situation that made the rudders ventilate at speed.    After Charlie and Laura rafted up three deep to us, I knew it might be a late departure.  After a so so fish special at Snoopy's, we headed back to the PIYC.  I decided to sleep in the air conditioning this year and was glad I did.


Wednesday--We left the PIYC about last out between being pinned in and helping out some other folks get out.  The wind by then was howling, so we had some challenges getting out of there.  After ripping down the channel and hanging a right down the channel, we managed to break the starboard rudder pin.  The fiberglass pins were used because they were easier to turn down to the somewhat smaller diameter needed to fit the pintles.  Bad call as it turns out.  The aluminum pins would have been so mush better, but they'd have been harder to turn down with the improvised shop setup at Port Mansfield.  We beached before the Corpus Cristi Channel to fix the pin.  With the amount of wind we were dealing with we wanted to continue to proceed under jib alone.  However the boat wouldn't go upwind with just the jib, and the channel was a close reach to a beat.  We moved the leeboard to the forward edge of the front cockpit and hoped for a bit of balance and upwind ability.  We heard a bit of drama unfolding but at the tail end of it.  Turns out that Chuck had fished out a sailor who had capsized and had his boat blow off faster than he could swim.  I've been there, but on a small lake.  I'm glad it ended well if expensively.  Turns out that Tow Boat had claimed salvage after the Coasties had spotted the craft and declared it a hazard to navigation.  We saw David on the Hobie 14 blow by under main and that's about all we saw of anyone that day.  We were able to make progress upwind under jib alone although slow by our usual standards.  After turning down Lydia Ann channel we waited to pass Mud Island before jibing.  This led up across is fairly big bight of water and by 100 yards off land the whitecaps are forming.  By a 1/2 mile the waves are 2-3'.  this is the most slamming this boat has taken to date, and I am somewhat alarmed by the independent way the hulls are following the seas.  This "walking" of the hulls isn't good and the port side of the tramp let go from the mast beam.  I lashed the front edge as good as I could.  We finally got into the lee of the land and the the beating relaxed.  Our slow jib only slide got us into Paul's Mott pretty late in the day.  Only a few boats and the flotilla of PDR's came in later.  So much for early starts, speedy runs, and no breakage?  That last continued with the third rudder breakage after the other Hobie fiberglass rod let go.  So I spent the remainder of the evening putting the other aluminum rod and a bolt through.  The PDR's got a standing ovation sailing in together at dusk.


Thursday--Morning came awfully early.  We wanted to get a better start that the day before.  Brian and I had cut across San Antonio Bay the previous year at about 10 knots of upwind speed through and over 2-3' waves.  With the wind we'd been having, I was thinking of even bigger waves and that independent flex we'd seen heading upwind after going down Lydia Ann Channel.  We decided to take the back way through the Dugouts.  We weren't first out that morning, but we got a good start and were second to Ayer's dugout.  The Tupperware Tri's skippers had a fishing cabin there and had asked if anyone wanted to stop by for pancakes.  Kevin was first in and the directions seemed a little challenging.  We hailed anyone on our common VHF channel and followed the directions without incident.  LOTS of others had some trouble on both sides of the dugout.  While we were there many folks either didn't hear or ignored the directions to their own detriment.  Lots of carnage that day.  Even locals got stuck on the oyster reefs.  We hung out for a while watching the unfortunate action unfold, and then headed off to Army hole.  As it turned out, the Duckers came to the rescue.  Had we stayed longer and realized there were some people in trouble, we might have been able to help a bit.  Lesson learned for me--Just because a boat will float in 4" or 10" or whatever does not mean it will sail upwind in that same depth.  We stayed as close as possible to the shore since reaching and beating was putting the boat under more stress than I wanted to deal with.  We saw Kevin, Yves, Blue Bayou, Baby Blue, and some others taking the same route.  I'm sure glad we went that way rather than cut across San Antonio Bay.  Turns out when the tramp popped loose from the port side it was because the beam had cracked in the luff grove all the way to the middle.  We relashed the beams with stronger line (thanks Kevin) and knew we needed to baby the boat to get it home.  Fortunately, the last day is a run, followed by a reach in flat ICW conditions, then another run to Magnolia Beach.  Kevin was as concerned as I was about the beam and decided he and Laurent would shadow us on Friday.  After the work on the boat was finished, I crashed in Brian's tent which we had to use one of the poles from the screen tent.  We split some very good Cielo Anjeho with Kevin, Laurent, Yves and ourselves.  A nice night all together with some good conversation to boot.


Friday--This morning saw Brian and I get a reasonable start and headed off under jib again.  Although we could have seen much better speeds in the only light air day, we thought protecting the boat was wiser.  We slid downwind surfing up to 9 knots, hung a right going NE up the ICW.  We watched Travis in Pilgrim slide by followed by Chuck the Duck.  Real tempting to raise some sail, but prudence prevailed.  After the ICW we ran down Magnolia Bay with Kevin and Laurent in hailing distance the whole time.  Thanks for holding back with us guys.  We beached just after kevin and Laurent and just before David in his H14.  Sorry David....  We pretty much unloaded the boat immediately.  Laura came by with an offer for a ride back to the trailers behind their place.  Brian wasn't feeling too good, but a blast of AC in the Jeep helped.  We broke the boat down, loaded the trailer, showered at the outdoor shower at Charlie and Laura's house, and headed for Chicago early.  We were kinda beat after a week on the water and couldn't wait for the shrimp boil.  I missed hanging with Pete and Tom, Kevin, Laurent, Yves, and other friends made during the week, but the lure to get some miles under our belt was too strong.  We managed to get all the way to Waco.  After a great meal we crashed at the Motel 6.


Saturday--Lots of driving.


Sunday--Driving again and home to Chicago by 2pm 





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