Tuesday, August 26

Leading New Cruisers to Moody Gardens

Turning into Offatts Bayou channel
Marina at Moody Gardens from the beach

We organized and lead our first cruise to Moody Gardens Marina in Offatts Bayou.  Our other sailboat cruisers had never been to Offatts.  We slowed down and stayed behind another tug to insure that everyone made it under the Galveston Causeway RR bridge together.  We radioed the bridge using their call sign to make sure that all the sailboats will be able to go under before they dropped the bridge for the train.  We all made it with no problems from the courteous bridge tender.  Dolphins greeted us along the way.

The cruise was made so much easier with A Quickie Guide for Sailing Destinations in Texas.

Booking five boats or more at Moody Gardens marina, you get a discount price.  Days before everyone changed their slip to their own credit card where they could charge food or whatever to their slip.  We made it to the front desk to check in and got our keys to the pool, showers, yoga, and gym, plus wristbands for the waterpark.
We turned into the first channel to Offatts Bayou where we warned about shallow spots and staying in the channel or closer to the greens.
Whitley jumped to the bow to lead the way to the markers, find dolphins, and avoid the shallow spots.  She recognized the Bayou right away since she was just here in July with the Mosquito Fleet from the Houston Yacht Club.  

We found our slips and began to head in when I called out to the captain that the motorboat next to us has locked their two bicycles to our rear cleat with a bike lock.  What a Fool!  

With the winds blowing I moved the bikes out of the way to tie onto our cleat.  With help from a fellow cruiser we were able to tie up without any problems to our boat.  So we ran to help the other boats tie up.  Our dogs were running to the potty area, and were so overjoyed for the relief.  Bud, our Labrador with liposarcoma, had been crying the last leg of the journey because he had an upset stomach.  I stayed with Bud until he felt better, and returned to the boat where the bike owners were moving their bikes to proper bike area.  I am glad that it was not me because I was furious for the arrogant, egocentric act.  

Apparently that was not the only time that we saw this hubris.  Another power boater used two power source to plug his boat in, his own and another member of our cruise party-that came in the next day.  We debated about unplugging it until we saw a dog on board.  They had no external power for a few hours. Until the power boat's captain decided to leave the swim up bar at Moody Gardens Hotel and check on his boat.

Everyone loved the lazy river and the Palm Beach.  We had cocktails and appetizers on the dock and partied until 2 am, finishing up with the Moody 500.

Saturday we arose early with the wind blowing too much to use the kayak.  The forecast for rain never showed and we had a very hot and windy day at (packed with people) Palm Beach and the (cold water) swim up bar at Moody Gardens again.

A dog park with a water feature would be so nice, maybe one day they will have one.

Bud's health never was a problem.  He was so happy being with us and Whitley.  Reliving his cruising days again with his family.  This may be his last big cruising trip with us.  We have learned to enjoy every blessed day with Bud.  We have no idea how long that we have with him.
Ready to leave that Friday morning for Moody Gardens, but I forgot Whitley's leash.  Whitley was sans leash which is okay if there were no fireworks.

After sailing in East Bay, Bud started to pant and was uncomfortable due to the heat.  I had frozen a large bag of ice for him and kept it in the icebox until he needed it.  As he began to complain, I wrapped the bag in his towel and laid it on his stomach to cool him down.  I kept moving the ice bag around, and his favorite spot on under his neck and under his head.
Whitley did not understand why she did not get to use his ice bag.  But she did enjoy his special bed that he uses to rest his chest (with growing liposarcoma) on.  Whitley learned that if she shares the cushion with Bud, then she can enjoy the cool wind and the wet ice bag which had a small leak in it.

Whitley enjoyed this journey even more because not only was Bud with us but her favorite male Golden Retriever was on the adjacent boat, who kept sneaking over to our sailboat to be with Whitley and the AC.  Bud did not have a problem with him anymore, and now they are all friends.  One early morning I took our dogs for the morning potty break and asked the male Golden if you wanted to go with us.  YES!  

His family was still asleep.  So he lead the pack to all the best potty areas.  We returned to get onto our boat and the male Golden joined us.  As we went downstairs to stay in the AC, the male Golden popped his big head into the cabin to enjoy the cool air.  We told him to come on down, which he was all to willing and drank some of our water.  

Short time later his owners arose searching for their dog.  We quickly alerted them that he was with us.  The owner said that he suspected that he was probably with Whitley.
Enjoying the time together.
After the cool pool at the Hotel, we dashed up to the private showers that had towels, shampoo, conditioner, soap, gym, and sauna on the second floor for guests.   

Saturday night we got everyone to go to Shearn's Bar for drinks, food, dancing, music, and the best sunset location in town.  I had the grilled vegetable plate with pasta and tomato sauce (no salt) which was so delicious and so many vegetable that I brought them back to the boat.  I had ordered a glass of Chianti, and our waitress returned to ask if it was red or white.  Apparently not on the menu, so I got the Bridlewood Estate's Pinot Noir which was very good.  JT had Shearn's signature dish of sauteed shrimp dejonge with very rich creamy garlic sauce (normally we get it for an appetizer) and a side of steamed vegetables, and his Cabernet Sauvignon was not good.

The pianist is always delightful with numerous couples and groups up dancing the night away.  With some encouragement from the pianist and our group, I was able to get JT on the dance floor to spin me around to "The Woman in Red." 

Upon returning to the boat, we watched the bright half moon rise over our boats as we shared drinks and stories.  We crashed early at one am since the sun sucked so much energy out of us.    

On the final day we went to Palm Beach for one last romantic ride around the lazy river, and dry in the sun.  The Hotel loaded our boats up with ice for the long journey home, and we handed over our room cards to the marina concierge.  

We made it under the bridge and onto Pelican's Cut.  Crossing the Houston Ship Channel, we raised the head sail in East Bay and killed the engine.  As the day heated up, we decide to turn the engine back on and get our patient, aging dogs back to the slip.

Upon the returning to the slip, we showered off at the slip.  The dogs drank lots of water, and Whitley drank water from the hose as I showered off. 

I had given the dogs the left over vegetables (grilled squash, eggplant, bell peppers, carrots-their normal food) before we left, and did not give them any of their dry food since I did not want them to have an upset stomach again.  So we went downstairs to cool down where I gave them about 2-3 cups of dry (no grain) salmon food.  Whitley did not come over to her bowl until I called her which is unheard of.  She ate it, and pressed her low hanging head against my leg. I asked her if she was okay.  She made a wretched sound.  Quickly we went to the head for her to throw up the food.  

Then I notice the worst thing possible.  Her stomach was swollen like a big pumpkin.  She began dry heaving.

I had read Marley and Me, and seen the movie.  So I was familiar with Marley's story of the bloat and the twisted stomach (torsion-gastric dilatation volvulus).  I had cried many tears reading about Marley's health problems and death.  (I wanted Bud to play one of the older Marleys in the film but filming was in Florida and too far for us to drive.)  I did not know that dogs can get bloat without the twisted stomach.  I remember researching about the twisted stomach after reading Marley and Me.

Here it is on Sunday evening in Seabrook.  All I could think was get Whitley to the vet immediately.  Luckily the VCA is on I-45 a 20-minute drive.  So we loaded Bud in the back and Whitley, who was laying down in the grass, jumped up in to the vehicle.  Wow with bloat.  JT asked if we should wait to see if it goes down.  No! I looked on the smart phone for answers and info about the bloat where I read about the high percentage of dogs from bloat and it being the second most killer of dogs (cancer is the first).  The more that I read the more that I cried.  I could not imagine getting through Bud's health issues without Whitley, who watches out for him and comforts him.  How quickly everything can change in a moment.

I called VCA and was asked "how far away are we?"  I said ten minutes.  They are watching out for us.  I brought Whitley in and they immediately took her into the back as I filled out paperwork about Whitley.  Dr. Kelsey came out and asked me a few question, and I had brought her vomit in a plastic bag if they needed to test for anything.  

After they took the xrays, the office door opened and said to come back.  Her stomach had not twisted.  They had put a four foot tube down her esophagus, and was able to release the pressure in her stomach.  They could hear the air coming out of her stomach, and it went back to normal.  She had swallowed too much air when she was drinking or eating.  She could not burp it out.  If not released, the swelling could have cause tissue damage and blood flow problems.  My fear now is what if this happens on the boat hours or days away from a vet.  She may die before we can get to shore.  

Do I need to keep a 4 foot emergency tube for them on the boat?  Smaller meals throughout the day and smaller water amounts on the ground, make sure she burps.
Sharing the shady side with Bud's Ice Pack
Prevent bloat in your dogs by keeping bowls on the floor or smaller portions.

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