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.

Whitley, 14 years old, crossing in the Gulf of Mexico to Matagorda

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

Clear the docks of bird poo by the heavy rain

Storms are brewing

After the rains the pipers come out

Mermaid on the Moody Gardens first floor bar

Dolphin saying hello to Whitley Baytop

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

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