Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Freeport to Hitchcock

We knew we would not have a long day today since the distance we could go was limited due to the closed waterways from the oil spill.  We slept in until about 8am and pulled off the dock around 9 or so.
We pulled off the dock in a pretty good cross wind.  I ended up rubbing the hull on the side of the rubber dock protector as we left.  I turned into the ICW and Deb came up the companion way and in a very direct voice, said "Gil, I need you down stairs now"   I had someone else take the helm and quickly went to see what the issue was.  The engine room was full of smoke.  I could tell right away it was the smell of rubber and likely a belt that was a bit loose.  I had Deb turn on the exhaust fan and took the helm again keeping a very close eye on the temperature gauge in the event the belt gave way.   I reduced throttle and radioed to the tugs approaching in both directions to let them know I was going to be pulling an about face and then heading to the South side of the channel to get back into the Marina due to a mechanical issue.  Both Tug captains were great and the one coming from the West slowed to let me pass in front of him.

I pulled right back into the slip and in the end only made it about 1/4 of a mile or so in all.  It was a loose belt, I tightened it real good, checked it all the way around for any worn spots and we were back on our way within 30 minutes.

This was a pretty uneventful part of the trip.  It was fairly short.  About the most exciting thing was to
Dodging Barges - They were stopped everywhere along the ICW
navigate the traffic of barges and tugs EVERYWHERE.  With the ICW closed down to most traffic and vessel traffic service allowing some commercial traffic through, the barges had to radio and get a "slot" to pass through.  Because of that, many were just nosed up on the bank since there was no room at the barge docks or dolphins to tie up.  Sometimes they would be on the north or south side of the channel.  It was hard to know which side of them you needed to pass on so I would first check the AIS to see if they were broadcasting their vessel name.  If they were I could radio them directly.   If they were not, I would get the binoculars and attempt to read the name on the back of the tug and then radio for them by name.  It was like running a slalom course.

We made it to Hitchcock and got tied up on Wednesday (a day later than we anticipated being all the way to Kemah).  Deb and I took a taxi from there to where my car was at our intended destination.  Our friends/crew stayed at the boat while we picked up the car.  When we got back to the boat, it was about time to get them to the airport.  We dropped them off at the the airport, with enough time for them to have dinner before their flight.
Kenny wanted to see if he could sleep in rough water - Yep!

It was great to have our friends with us on this trip and I think Kenny really had a great time, he just kind of rolled with the flow and this was something he always wanted to do, so the oil spill delays, the rough weather, the delays, none of it bothered him at all.

 We haven't spent much time with Jim and Karen in a few years since we left Lewisville so it was cool to catch up and spend a few days together again.  When we lived in Lewisville and our boat was 2 slips away from theirs, we
spent every weekend together and then got together 2-3 times during the week for dinner or a sporting event or something.  I miss that so it was great to get a little of that time back too.

Jim and Karen
When we got back to the boat, they had cleaned everything up, dishes, put away all the clothes/blankets/towels, etc.  It was a really nice surprise and allowed Deb and I to just relax that night, which was great.

I ended up working on Thursday and Friday from that Marina and we planned on sailing the rest of the way ourselves over the weekend.  On Thursday they opened up the ICW and Houston Ship Channel for recreational boaters, as long as you had a specific destination and were not just out joy riding around in the area they were cleaning up.

The last leg of that trip will be covered on the next blog post...

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