Sunday, June 18

Texas 2017 Cruise before the flood and winds

In mid May of 2017 Whitley, JT, and I took some time off and headed out in to the Gulf.  I had hoped to make it to Alabama, but the weather forecast and wind conditions did not look very cooperative.  We headed back west as we did before. Spending a few nights at Moody Gardens, we tried our luck at some hot tub visits.  We had enough food and wine on the boat for a month of good eats.  Whitley and I explored the outer ridges of Moody Gardens, Rain Forest and Aquarium pyramid which I never realized had so much to explore outside of the pyramids.

We headed out to Surfside Marina to jump off to the Colorado River bypass, Matagorda Ship Channel, or Port Aransas.  Meeting up along the way with a huge gathering of dolphins in Chocolate Bay, they jumped out of the water, played, blew water on us, and tilted the heads and looked at Whitley as they came out of the water.  There is a merry band of sailors that can get Miss Whitley super excited about the dolphins.  She barks in her high pitched, hello bark, for them to come see her, and I am not better.


Bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, thick tomato sauce, and basil leaves, bottle of vino watching the sunset






We cannot get enough dolphins in our life.  Stopping at the last pier by the ICW, the dolphins join us for a sunset and sunrise swim.  The Coast Guard stop near our boat and load up on snacks from the marina store, while we head to the new Dorado Dive Club under the bridge. See the menu below. Enjoyed the spicy and delicious dinner and great music by local singer/ songwritter Matt Mathis. Loved the traditional shrimp ceviche and large spicy grilled shrimp with elotes, felt the delightful burn.

A northerner with heavy rain blew in that night giving up a perfect window for sailing southwest in the Gulf.   Shoaling in at the Colorado River bypass entrance to the Gulf, forced us to continue on into the dark night to Matagorda Ship Channel.  Multiple Oil Platforms inside of three miles from the shore were not lit.  I peered around the windshield to view any obstacles in our path.  Even though my eyes are aging and worsening, I can still see pretty well.  

The wind was on our nose and the drift kept pushing us from shore.  Slowly we inched along in the dark following the radar and charts to find safe passage in to Matagorda Bay.  There were lots of structures on Matagorda peninsula that I could barely see.  Finally at about 1 am or so we saw the lights for the Matagorda Ship Channel.  I warned that the levees were high and not cut any corners.  We could hit the wall.  As we turned to go down the Ship Channel the waves and wind made us Neptune's toy as Whitley and I took air a few timesThe depth dropped down to 74 feet in the Channel by the breakers.  I locked my arm on the bimini support rods and kept a hand on Whitley lying in the cockpit.  Finally JT motor sails us to the calmer waters of Matagorda Bay.  

But now we have to relive the moment of Rene Cavalier by crossing into Matagorda Bay in the dead of night but not get suck.  An hour later we made it to Port O'Connor.  Everything had changed since last we were here.  The park at the entrance by the jetty was no longer there, and all these new pilings were by the banks.  Could not find the entrance to the yacht club that was there a few years back and the phone number did not work anymore.  We headed to the Sanctuary another hour away.  At 2 am Port O'Connor a small sleepy fishing town had change in to this new vacation home development community.
 






Whitley is a mature lady, very set in her way.  She does not like the heat, and enjoys air conditioning.  When we stayed the night at Army Hole harbor, she was hot. Which was not that hot, maybe 85 degrees.  She would not stop panting.  JT decided to try the generator since we have a new A/C unit on the boat that may now work on the 2000 Honda generator. (old A/C unit did not).  I did not see it happening.  Well it did and Whitley was in jubilation.  JT tried to add a fan but that was too much.  He restarted the generator and A/C was back on for a few hours.  Whitley stopped panting and lay under the V-berth as the cool air blew on her.  Happy dog.
 
Six years later this is what remains of the informative signs about Matagorda Island

Slips are too shallow for us in a winged keel to get into. Once were about 5 feet deep, now try less than four feet deep and the barricade falling down

Entrance sign for Matagorda Island






Giant Hares covered the grounds


Old Runway by the old community house that had cots, bathroom, billard room, and kitchen


Burn marks still on the end of the runway



New hunting stands


US Fish and Wildlife barge took all the safe usable dockage





Port O'Connor development
As close as we can get

Wednesday, September 28

Weatherman or Sailor

The more that I sail, the more that I learn about the clouds to forecast what to prepare.  Most every day or event planned this year, the weather forecasted was wrong or late.  We canceled or changed some of our gatherings because of the forecasted storms.  We can take the wind but the lightning I am more cautious.

A month ago we were out sailing in the bay.  The winds were perfect blowing about 15 knots from the east.  As we edged passed the line of cloud front, the winds stopped dead.  We had to turn on the engine and pull in the sails, but the chop on the water was still high for no wind.  We head back, and the winds picked back up under the clouds.

Sailors hear
  • "Mare tails and fish scales sailors furl your sails"
  • "Rainbow to windward, foul fall the day; rainbow to leeward, rain runs away"
  • For the barometer watchers, "quick rise after low, often portends a stronger blow"
  • "Red sky at night a sailor's delight, red sky at dawn sailor take warning"

Thursday, September 22

Lessons Learned Cooking for Sailors

Poaching Lobster

 
Head first add the 1.5 pound active lobster into the boiling water and cook for about 12-15 minutes in the boiling water.  Confirm by measuring until internal tail temperature at 165-170 F
Lobsters have harmful bacteria naturally in their flesh. The bacteria can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by cooking. Minimise the chance of food poisoning by cooking the lobster alive.
If you ordered live lobsters, they will have been out of water for almost 24 hours when you receive them. Occasionally, one may appear weak or lifeless. This is a normal occurrence. In most cases, as long as the packaging material is in good condition, and the refrigerant is still cold, your lobsters will be fine. The best way to check is to boil the lobster. As long as the lobster’s tail curls when cooked, and the meat in the tail is firm, and in one piece, then the lobster was alive when it was cooked. 
Because lobsters require careful packing and prompt shipping, you should only purchase lobsters from a company which offers a 100% guarantee if any lobsters arrive in poor condition. 
Lobsters grow by molting, or by shedding their shells each year.  Just after they molt, they are soft and fragile until their new shell has hardened, and they are known as new shell or soft shell lobsters, sometimes called “shedders.”  After their new shell hardens, they are known as hard shell lobsters
Soft shell are tender, sweet, and delicious, and represent about 90% of the catch during the summer months.  They are prized by maine natives, and are less expensive than hardshell lobsters as well, but they contain less meat than a hard shell lobster of the same size, because their body has not yet grown into its new shell, and so the lobster’s shell is larger than its body. 
Soft shell (or new shell) shell lobsters do not travel well, and should not be purchased for live delivery; most reputable companies will not even  try to ship live soft shell lobsters because they are unlikely to survive the journey.  Some companies do, however, offer precooked whole soft shell lobsters. 
The “green stuff” that can be found in cooked lobster is tomalley, which serves as the pancreas and liver.  Some consider it a delicacy. 
Female lobster can have up to 10,000 eggs. Once cooked turn red and considered a delicacy.


90 Maine Lobster ready for your bellies



Lively little Maine crustaceans from Lonestar Lobster off of I-610 W in Houston

Wood for cooking Texas meat

9 month aged White Oak Wood (1/8 cord, 16 cubic ft) with a moisture content of 9% to cook brisket and pork ribs. Chicken is cooked with applewood and charcoal



Skeeters BBQ Achievers
Brisket



Black Angus (feed lot) beef brisket (13-16 lbs packer cut, imps no. 120-ribs 1-4 are removed, remove about 3 lbs fat including deckle fat, cook with 1/4-1/2 inch of fat on top remaining aerodynamic for smoke to flow, get to room temperature before cooking), mix of 2/3 black pepper and 1/3 coarse kosher salt and garlic powder, brown kraft paper

Smoke for 6 hours unwrapped brisket at air temp 225-250F, (science of bbq brisket: after 2 hours internal brisket temp will stall at 150-170F for 4+ hours due to evaporative cooling, internal water in the fat cools the meat before internal temp rises again, after internal temp reaches 130F meat will not absorb any more smoke flavor), and wrap in kraft paper for another 6-8 hours away from heat, by a metal bowl of white to reduce temperature on outside of brisket until internal meat temp reaches the right temp, maintain internal brisket temperature of 195-203F, remove from the heat if feels relaxed, rest for an hour + before slicing against the grain. Brisket is 65% water

Juicy Delicious Pork Ribs: Kroger bought versus Butcher Shop ribs
Pork Ribs



Racks of pork ribs (12 St Louis ribs), remove the membrane and sternum bone, baste with butter, louisiana hot sauce, black pepper, kosher salt, smoked paprika, garlic paste, chili powder, foil, heat smoker 275F for 2 hours, spritz with sweet beer, and sauce cook for additional 15 minutes unwrapped, and then wrap in foil for the remainder of 2 hours cooking, remove from heat and rest the ribs for 30 minutes (7 ribs for competition). Pork ribs are 65% water, 18% protein, 15% fat, 2% sugar+ more

Beer Can Chicken 


Whole chicken, beer can, string, spread under the skin fresh smashed garlic, oil, lemon juices, zest, preheated thyme and rosemary, grapeseed oil, and add to the center remaining lemon quarters, garlic, herbs, and drink half of beer, insert remaining can in chicken cavity, foil wrap, cook at 375F for 1.5 hour and unwrapped for 15 minutes, until internal temp of 170F in breast. Remove from heat and Rest for 10 minutes, remove can.

WHITEY GARY

  • 1 pound ripe yellow tomatoes (about 4 medium) 
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) best-quality vodka 
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons) 
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • 20 dashes hot green pepper sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated, peeled horseradish 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly white ground pepper 


  1. Puree (blanched for no skin) yellow tomatoes in a blender. Press through a fine sieve into a bowl
  2. Stir together tomato puree, vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, green pepper sauce, horseradish to taste, pepper in a pitcher. If not using immediately, mixture can be refrigerated, covered, overnight.  Garnish each mini jerky sticks

Thursday, August 11

USODA Optimist National Championship Comes to HYC

First weekend 220 little sailboats set up and out into the Wuzzie Bay to race all afternoon from Wednesday until Sunday.  The concept of team racing in single-person sailboats was new to us.  We enjoyed watching the coordination, communication especially the many different languages, dedication, and intense competition by these children.  

USODA stands for the United State Optimist Dinghy Association for those under 16 years old.  


Safety officials, US Coast Guard, referees, judges, spectators, and volunteers motored around the different courses.  Our captain volunteered himself and our Boston Whaler to help with races.  One story was of the children from Spain using their native tongue to keep their strategy secret until one of judges spoke to them in their native tongue.  They asked what region of Spain that he was from.  Netherlands...

Second Weekend another group of 280 boats race all afternoon for four days as well.  The series of races were based on the first to cross the finishing line.

Our new (combined wood-plastic) wonderful walkway donated by a fellow sailor was completed and perfect for the children to walk the boats on little carts to Shell Beach for launching. No more tripping on popped up boards and the walkway was raised so no more under water at super high tide.  If you fall now, it is because you drank too much.  Keep your shoes on puppies because it can get a bit hot or run fast to the grass.

Sails, vendors, children, boats, tents, parents, and water containers covered the grounds.  The sun, heat, and humidity were merciless.  There was no wind to begin the day until the afternoon.  So swimming in the pool was the best option to cool down, but by the afternoon the water was too warm from the hot sun.  Up to the bar to cool down before heading to the sailboat with A/C and Whitley.  A whole new wait staff was hired to help serve all visitors.  They must have been stress since it was difficult to wiggle a smile out of the new servers. 

Sadly the Friday night social and happy hour had been cancelled.  The menu was very limited and the kitchen help seemed confused.  Hopefully these problems will be fixed after the Club settles back into its groove.