Dream Away Update 21-Jun-2004
We are finally on our way and we are cruising! As is true with most cruisers, our plans have changed already, but the overall plan is still in tact.
We left our home port, Watergate Marina, on June 3rd, and sailed to Galveston, Texas, for an overnight at the Harbour House Marina. The next day, June 4th, we started in the Regatta de Amigos to Veracruz, Mexico. There were four of us on board for the race, myself, Katherine (Kitty), Alan Liley, and Steve Bowden. We had a very good start, but as predicted, we are heading south and the winds are out of the south-southeast. We are beating the remainder of the day and well into the night, heading east of the rhumb line.
The first night we got hit with a storm, from the north, that was packing wind up to 42 knots! That was the bad news, the good news was that under a reefed genoa and two reefs in the mainsail we were making 7 knots due south. This fun lasted until the next day, when the wind died for a couple of hours, and then came back from south-southeast again. Then this wind started building to 25 to 35 knots. The wind stayed like this for the next three days, and did I mention that the seas are building to an average of 10 to 12 feet, with some up to 20 feet.
Needless to say this fun cruise is starting to be an ordeal! We are finding more leaks in the boat than I thought that I had, and it is just very uncomfortable. During all of this fun, the fuel filter to the main engine clogged, so that had to be changed. I was expecting this to happen, because of the rough weather, stirred up any sludge that was in the fuel tanks. I changed the filter and bled the fuel system, but was not able to get the fuel past the injector pump. It was 0400, so I decided to get a couple of hours sleep before I got back on the problem. When I got back to it, I was still not able to get the engine to run. I decided that with the weather forecast to be at least two more days of the same weather, not having a running engine, and Veracruz surrounded by reefs, that we would abort the race to Veracruz and turn around and head to Brownsville, Texas. At the time that we turned around we were at 25 degrees 24 minutes W and 96 degrees 29 minutes N, or about 100 miles into Mexican waters. The silver lining was that Port Isabel, the actual town that we wanted, had a TowBoatUS person there that could get us in past the jetties and to the marina.
Once we made the turn and were running down wind, the ride was a bit smoother. We rolled up the genoa, took one reef out of the main and just used the single reefed main only. We put a preventer on the main boom, as it was difficult to steer in those conditions. The wind was at our back, but we were also surfing down those 10 - 12 foot waves. We calculated that we would be at the Brownsville (Brazos Santiago Pass) Sea Buoy by 0700 on the morning of the 9th of June.
By midnight of the 8th of June we were able to contact the TowBoatUS dispatcher via GlobalStar satellite phone. We made arrangements to meet the Tow Boat operator at the sea buoy at 0700. He was there at 0645 as were we. We took a line from him and we were towed into Port Isabel at the South Point Marina. We were in and tied up by 0830. That is when we found out that we were not alone in dropping out of the race. Of the 55 boats that started the race, 29 boats had to drop out.
After we had been tied up for about two hours, our crew were headed to the airport and winging there way home. Kitty and I did the bare necessities to clean up, secured the boat, took a shower, and then a long nap. We got up long enough to have dinner, a bit more cleaning, and then back to bed for the night.
The next day was clean up day. Wash the topsides of the boat and down below. All of the cushions were hauled out of the boat from the cockpit and down below, and then throughly washed in fresh water. All of the foul weather gear, life preservers, harnesses and vests were also washed with soapy fresh water and then rinsed off. The inside of the boat was cleaned from deck to overhead to get the sticky salt off of everything. By the end of day two in Port Isabel, things were looking pretty good.
It was now time to to look at our cruising plans, and see how they will have to be modified to still make Thanksgiving in Miami and Christmas in the Bahamas. We signed up to stay a month at the South Point Marina, so we were under no pressure to leave. Our only real commitment was to be in Tampa, Florida, for a family issue in the middle of July.
Here is our new cruising plan, written in Jello. We would spend our birthdays in Port Isabel, leaving there on the 22nd of June, heading north up the GIWW (Gulf Intracoastal Water Way). We would be getting into Watergate Marina in Houston around the first week of July. We would stay in Watergate approximately two months. This time would be spent fixing leaks. I have decided to take the cap rail off of the boat and re-bed them, and also the bow pulpit and bow sprit off to re-bed them. When that is finished we will leave Watergate and head east. Generally the plan will be to go from Houston to Mobile, Alabama. From there coast hop in small increments around to Tampa, then to Miami, and up to St. Augustine. From St. Augustine, back to Miami for Thanksgiving, and then the first week of December, head to the Bahamas.
Our communication situation is still pretty good as we will be doing most of our email via cell phone or our GlobalStar satellite phone. We still have a cell phone so we will be in contact, although email is the preferred method. I will be getting the email set up on the Single Side Band radio in the next month, so that will be available also.
So if any one is bored silly and would like to come to Houston in the dead of the summer and rip off cap rail and re-bed them, please let me know. I know that my good friend Steve Meidell will hardly be able to pass this opportunity up!! Jim Bates I have a bunk open!!
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