“We are the frst boat out of this morning’s camp, catching both wind and the dawn’s frst rays in tanbark sails. Thirty minutes later another set of white sails appear at camp. They are too far away to see who it is. Yet the captain must be very familiar with the area for taking a far more angled course towards the ICW.”
Reprinted from MAIB.
Day 4: “Anyone Offering a Ride?”
Like yesterday morning, the barely lightened sky greets my sleep flled eyes upon wakening. Unlike yesterday morning, I heed the pre dawn’s call to work that every farmer hears and get up. Not that I am a farmer, mind you, and sailing is not work unless you’re getting paid to do it, and I’m not getting paid. Poking my head out of the open hatch shows no one else on shore or boat is up or moving around yet. One may fgure this is the best time to kick back and enjoy the coming dawn. Yet with the prospect of a possibly long day ahead I quickly get the camp gear repacked, scarf down a yellow pound cake followed by a cold breakfast drink and ready Mulsae for sailing.
The wind is light and with only 12-ish miles to Padre Island I don’t hesitate to go with a single reef. Yeah, no reef may have been better but the ever cautious chicken part of me wins out. The water is shallow enough to drag Mulsae out beyond the other boats for a clean launch that goes off without a hitch. Shortly after, leaned back with feet kicked up, I enjoy the easy sailing through smooth yet very shallow water while angling northward towards the ICW.
We are the frst boat out of this morning’s camp, catching both wind and the dawn’s frst rays in tanbark sails. Thirty minutes later another set of white sails appear at camp. They are too far away to see who it is. Yet the captain must be very familiar with the area for taking a far more angled course towards the ICW. So much so that the other’s sail reaches the ICW well ahead of me and slowly fades further in the distance.
The sail down the ICW is beautifully perfect. Mild wind lets me lash the tiller and stand up to admire miles of passing landscape. From behind a boat speedily catches up and passes. It is the long, lean and green Flying Scot Watermelon captained by Chris D. He has full sail up, even what looks like an asymmetrical spinnaker, it’s a LOT of sail and the boat ?ies on by.
By 9am the spoil islands have grown higher and greener, turning into natural islands as we close in on Padre Island. Homes appear to starboard amongst trees further inland as we leave the desolate uninhabited Laguna Madre behind. I keep eyes peeled for the channel leading eastward towards Padre Island Yacht Club. Never having been there nor seen it, I’m curious where it is. Yet, like in the 2014 trip, I miss guessing the correct channel and the club itself.
Luckily (or unluckily, depending on one’s point of view) it isn’t a stop this year. A couple of miles further along though is a planned stop for many Texas 200 participants; Snoopy’s seafood restaurant and a nearby marina. Traditionally a good place to take a break, captains and crew can stock up on ice and stuff while enjoying a seafood plate. Some captains have actually taken impromptu showers using Snoopy’s outdoor water hose! For some, myself included, it serves as a mid trip pull out point.
Anchored at Bird Island. Photo Credit: Phil McCowin
The boats ahead must have bypassed Snoopy’s for none are moored at the dock. No surprise really since it is early yet. Around 9:40am Mulvae’s bow bumps the restaurant dock. A single soul greets me and launches into a conversation about the Dovekie. He apparently used to own a couple, plus the Dovekie’s bigger sibling, the rare 28′ Shearwater. We chat back and forth while I tidy up and secure the boat.
Snoopy’s doesn’t open until 10:30am so we keep chatting and shortly start helping newly arriving boats moor up at the dock. There are so many so quickly that I cannot remember all of them. Pretty soon I’m directing traffc, tying off dock lines, catching boats without working motors and generally having fun helping out. Snoopy’s fnally opens and the boating horde descends upon the restaurant. Like the 2014 trip, I get and enjoy a wonderfully delicious three piece fsh plate washed down with copious amounts of sweetened tea. Funny enough, my long lost appetite seems to have returned with a vengeance!
At the table next to mine sits Skip J and John W along with spouses Sarah and Susie. A stroke of luck because they offer a ride to Magnolia Beach to pick up my truck! After the meal with Skip and John on the water again, Susie and Sarah and I get on the road. What a great trip in itself. The two wonderful women chat the entire way, all of us laughing and enjoying the ride.
While waiting for the Port Aransas ferry we spy a T200 boat playing water frogger with the ferries. Wow! He is quick to be here already! Must be one of the boats that bypassed the Bird Island camp yesterday. By 2pm we bid each other farewell at JT’s One Stop at Magnolia Beach. The ladies are off to try to catch their husbands crossing Redfsh Bay in Port A. Meanwhile, I’m off back to Port A and Snoopy’s to pick up Mulsae.
After arriving back around 4pm, I notice a familiar sailboat still docked at Snoopy’s, which is odd since this late in the day everyone should be well on down the route or even pulling into the night’s camp at Quarantine Shore. Finding the captain and crew (father and son?), I fnd out they suffered a broken forestay not far out in Corpus Christie Bay, did a temporary on the water fx and epically sailed upwind back to Snoopy’s. They were waiting for a taxi, so to save them time and money I offer them a ride back to Maggy Beach.
Originally I was going to stay in Port A for the night after loading up Mulsae. Yet there was no way I could not help out a fellow T200 captain, especially after receiving a ride earlier from Sarah and Susie! So we got the Dovekle loaded and headed back to Maggy Beach where I dropped the father off at JT’s for his vehicle. Given no rooms left in Maggy Beach, I head to the nearby town of Port Lavaca and track down a reasonably priced motel near the beach. After a hearty pizza meal and some reading I crash to sleep in air conditioned comfort that takes some of the sting out of withdrawing early from the Texas 200.