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Sailing in Matagorda, April 2011

Page history last edited by Kevin 10 years ago

Sailing in Matagorda Bay, April 2011

Kevin O'Neill


This was not a particularly huge adventure.  We went out to go sailing and camping for a weekend, went sailing, camped, sailed a bit more, came back and went home.  If you're looking for huge distances covered or big accomplishments or something I'm afraid you're out of luck.


"We" are my friend Laurent and I.  We had sailed a couple of Texas 200s together so we know each other pretty well, and we like sailing together.  He has recently re-rigged his boat as a schooner with two Moth rigs, and he went sailing on Lake Somerville to test it out a couple of times:



So that was working well.  A bit disturbing that he was moving past me so quickly, but that might just be a trick of the light or something. 


So we arranged to meet at Magnolia Beach on a Saturday in April.  I got there at 9:30ish, Laurent was already there and we set to rigging.  Happily, Charlie and Laura who have a house there had said we could park our trailers in front of their house while we were away.  Charlie pulled up at our spot on the beach at about 10 am or so.  Had we seen the weather report?  Sure we had.  Kind of windy, supposed to lay down some in the afternoon.  He agreed it looked kind of windy, and said that the weather station at Port O'Connor, past which we would sail if we went to our planned destination of Matagorda Island, was showing gusts of 30 knots. 


30 knots?  Wow.  I went back to the house to look at this with him.  Huh, 30 knot gusts.  Well.  That is something. 


It was indeed predicted to lay down some in the afternoon.  Suddenly our preparations became more relaxed.  Leisurely, even.  A guy pulled up in a truck with a Laser.  I used to sail Lasers, I thought I should go say hi.  We gabbed for a bit.  He went sailing, Laurent and I messed about rigging and fooling around with one thing and the other.  He thought he might just sail with one Moth rig in the middle step, which is his version of a reef.  I thought I might put a reef in my sails.  We both thought we might not be in very much of a hurry.


It did look like it was laying down some, but it was also clocking around some from near due E to SE or so.  Instead of a close reach, it was now more or less dead to windward to get to Matagorda Island.  Well ok, we can do that. 


We finally couldn't stall any more and drove the trucks and trailers to Charlie's house.  Laura took me up to the balcony of their A-frame and pointed across the bay.  "That's where I'd go," she said.  "Sand Point.  Very nice in this wind, really flat water on this side of the point, good place to camp."  Ok, I said.  We'll see.


Charlie took us back to the beach, we saddled up and took off.  Laurent took this before we left:



Some sloppy chop, but a pretty nice sail; the wind had laid down a bit and I really didn't need to be reefed:



We did this for an hour or so, then couldn't understand what we were saying to each other on the handheld VHFs since mine is crap, so we stopped at a rocky beach to talk, and mostly to multiply and add and so on some numbers we had become interested in.  We'd come three miles in an hour.  Huh.  I suppose that's not terrible for beating to windward in a decent chop, but a bit of calculation had us in to our destination well after dark.  Neither of us had been there before.  Hey, I said, I have an idea.  See that over there?  That's Sand Point.  I bet that's nice.


It was nice, too:



Sometimes discretion is the better part of having a nice weekend's sailing.


It was lovely.  Flat water, still a lot of wind but just beautiful sailing conditions.  You can see on the chart:


The wind was a steady 15 to 18 SE, the whole couple of miles of water north of Sand Point was completely protected. 


We dumped all our camping stuff on the beach, I shook out my reefs and we went out for a couple of hours sail before dark:





Laurent took these of my boat sailing:



Just great sailing. 


We heated up some soup, had soup and loaf of dark bread, a beer and a bit of single malt for afters and hit the sack early.  I usually sleep on the boat, but I brought an air mattress this time.  Luxury.  Air mattress, stove, a cooler, man.  I was once upon a time part of an organization that promoted camping, and saluting, and wearing green clothes, and haircuts which I did not find flattering.  I hated camping in that particular organization.  For one thing, they wanted me to carry bulky, badly designed camping gear.  Very primitive.  Now every time I go camping I reflect on the superior nature of boat camping, with allows me to take such essential items as coolers of beer and foot pumps for air mattresses and the like.


I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that it was near a full moon, and that there was more than enough light to sail by.  Then I went back to sleep.  But it's something to think about, night sailing out there in the summer would be great.


We got up in the morning and went for a walk around Sand Point:



made coffee and tea, had a bit of breakfast, and went sailing.


We decided to sail up into Keller Bay, which you can see on the chart above:



That was fine, a little bumpy once we got away from the windward shore.  We came back, had lunch, and did some fooling around with me standing in the water and filming.  I got a shot of Laurent shunting and one of him sailing by as I stood in the waist deep flats:




I tried to do some underwater photography, but it was the least interesting green blur ever recorded.  I'll spare you the video.  I was hoping the porpoise we'd seen earlier would swim right by me, but no luck.


More sailing, some fooling around on my part with trying to get my sheets in a better order, then lunch, then a bit more sailing.


Then it was mid-afternoon and we thought we should head back.  I'd been reaching around with the board up, no jibs and full mains, just to see how that worked, so I stayed in that configuration for the broad reach back to Magnolia Beach.  The lack of jib sheets and the lines from the board in the cockpit really cleans the thing up, it's much nicer to sail.  But the jib and board make the boat much more capable.  This makes me think I should re-route some lines, so they're not all in the same place making a tangle.  Laurent took this before we left:



And I tried to take a video while I was sailing:



I beg your pardon for my idiot finger over the lens in the first half.  I just pulled it out and pointed it around, I wasn't looking at the screen.  It was a little bit of an exciting sail, some steep swells and some breaking stuff in shallow areas.


We got back to the beach, got the trailers, un-rigged the boats and went home. 


We had only minor failures; I broke a vang attachment from one of my masts on Sunday, and had to lash a shackle to the mast to have any vang on the way home.  Looking at it after I got home it looks like it was twisted off, I think the shackle must have gotten jammed sideways somehow and torn it off.  We each whanged our boards a few times, but that's to be expected sailing in three feet of water all weekend.  My leeboard arrangement is great for almost everything but if you're sailing in shallow water with the board kicked back and you want to shunt you have to pull the board all the way UP; if you try to shunt when there's not room under the boat for the board to swing you get jammed in the mud!  So, big deal, you're in two feet of water.  Get out and walk the board around, or if it's blowing hard just walk the boat in to the beach.


Good weekend, all in all.  I was a little sad to not get to where we'd intended to go, but by all reports Sand Point was a nicer spot anyway. We stopped by Charlie and Laura's to say goodbye; they didn't seem surprised that we had chosen not to beat all the way to Matagorda Island.


So that's it!  Check back, I'll try to download some GPS data.  I think the highest I saw on my GPS was 12 knots, but it will be interesting to see what our polars look like.





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