Monday, March 24, 2014

There are 2 kinds of people... Those that have grounded and those that lie.

We have been in Corpus Christi Texas for a couple of months now since our granddaughter was born.  With my work travel schedule, it requires me to fly almost every week.  Doing this out of Corpus has been a bit of a challenge due to the size of the airport and the connections.

To that end, we decided it was time to head back to the Kemah area.  This is within 30 minutes of a large airport in Houston (Hobby) and allows travel to be much more easily accommodated.  We started to plan our cruise from Corpus to Kemah via the ICW (InterCoastal Waterway).  and some of our friends wanted to join us for the trip and thought it would be fun.    A Plan was created.

We would give ourselves 4 days (5 with a  buffer) and sail out on a Saturday assuming we would arrive in Kemah on Tuesday.  We spent most of Friday just finishing up last minute things on the boat.

We picked up our friends late friday night, and everyone hit the sack for our early morning departure. Sunrise was scheduled to be 7:30am, so we planned on leaving by 6:30 in hopes to get a head start on the day 1 trip given we were hoping to make 74 miles before sundown.

As we were getting ready we noticed that there was dense fog but decided that we could go out slowly and stay out of the main shipping channel and it should burn off before we got to the narrow portion going to Aransas Pass.  I was surprised at how hard it was to hold a course when you can't see something to "aim" toward.  We made slow progress and it put us a bit behind schedule but really enjoyed the benefit of having AIS at the helm for this trip.  We were able to see ships and tugs and their heading.

Barges pushed against the shore waiting for better weather
The fog cleared mid morning and we finally started to make decent progress as we headed north east on the ICW.  There was a portion of the trip in Aransas Bay and San Antonio Bay where we were able to sail on a beam reach for a good portion of the trip.  We were able to sail at over 7 knots for a good portion of the trip which helped us make up some time for our slow foggy start.   There was quite a bit of barge traffic on the ICW and they were sitting along the bank going in and out of the bays waiting for the wind to die down.  When they go through with a strong cross wind they tend to come through at an angle.  Typically barges are pushed but the odd shaped ones tend to get towed.
Here we are passing a pretty large dredge barge.

Things were starting to go too good so Murphy decided to pay us a visit.  As we were coming out of San Antonio Bay where the Guadalupe Bay cut intersects to it, we hailed a oncoming tug and asked if he was good passing on the "2 whistle" (this means that we will pass him so our Starboard side is closest to him).  This is kind of like driving on the wrong side of the road, but since we were sailing it  is safer to stay on the downwind side of him to avoid potentially being blown into him.    as he approached, I gave him a wide berth so he had room to pass between an anchored tug on his left and us approaching him on his right.  That is when I heard the wake next to the boat start to break and we jerked a bit.  Yep, we ran aground.

From the charts we had a tough time telling where the actual channel was given the intersection area we were in.  We checked the depth all the way around the boat and determined which way we needed to go.  We tried to back off with no luck, we tried to spin on the keel in forward without success.  We were about to take the anchor in the dinghy to kedge off of it when a fishing boat passed by.  We flagged him down and asked him to give us a little tug backwards which he did and helped to get us backed off of it.

So they say that there are only 2 types of sailboaters, those that have grounded their boat and those that lie about having never grounded their boat.  We are not 2 time grounders.

In the end, we actually got free in about 30 minutes and were on our way.  But the delay meant we needed to stop somewhere closer for the night.  We were not going to make it to our planned destination before dark.

Deb to the rescue, she started searching "active captain" points of interest and found a very promising place for the night.   We will save the details of that for the next blog.  

For those that don't know about Active Captain, check it out here.  One of the best free services around!!!