Sailing Log by Boatbook – App review

This weekend I came across this helpful app for tracking your sailing. It’s called “Boatbook” and is available for iphone and android.

The app uses your phone GPS to determine whether you are on land or water, and begins to track your sails as soon as you appear over the water. No need to remember to start the log when you leave the dock.

image2 (2)

It gives you the option to enter multiple boats, and easily switch which boat you’re currently on. That is the only thing you have to remember before you leave the dock. Otherwise it defaults to the last boat you were on.

image1

Once your sail begins the app will automatically track your gps speed and track your course. It also records your start and end time so that you know your total sail time.  You can see the max and average speed, as well as the average speed of each leg of the trip.

image1 (2)       image3

It also gives you the option to add in notes as you see fit.  You can add notes on obstacles, wind speed, or boat malfunctions. They only show up on this day’s map, not on all future maps.  They are only for your log record.

image2

One feature I would love to see added to this app would be an overall log book with times listed for each sail.  The way it is set up now, you can scroll through each day and record times individually, but there is no way to see them all on one screen. However, this app is still a great way to automatically log your hours if you’re working towards certifications or licenses.

The best part of this app? It’s free!

Advertisements

The Journey Home

We had no sooner left the dock when the skies opened up and blessed us with a tropical downpour that only living close to the ocean can provide.  Luckily we had quite a bit of motoring ahead, but the quickness of the storm really caught us off guard.  We had our top companionway board down below, and opening the hatch to get it would have defeated the purpose, so I just threw a towel over the top.  Luckily me and Fred both had our foulies on as it was looking a bit grey, but our dogs were not so lucky.

OffatstoKemah03

Poor Dixie just sat in the corner looking angry and miserable while water slowly dripped on her head. Tex mostly shivered in my lap, but we quickly found out my jacket was not waterproof anyway, so we both became soaked.

Before we even got back into the channel the rains had let up, and the sun was out again.

OffatstoKemah07

As we motored into the channel I raised the main sail and we started our downwind sail home.

OffatstoKemah04

We soon found ourselves surrounded by other weekenders who had spent the holiday weekend visiting Galveston and were now headed back for the week.  We were immediately overtaken by several Jeaneaus, we guessed either from the dealership or from the charter.

OffatstoKemah06

Two of them in particular kept swerving back an forth in front of me while I drove.  They seemed to think that I could avoid them by driving into spoil areas, and that being on autopilot gives you the right away.

OffatstoKemah08

They did look pretty sailing side by side though.

While I was down below prepping lunch, Fred was trying to get our sails to hold wind.  We were going downwind, but our useless main was blocking all the wind for our jib.  Eventually we ended up taking down the main and gained a little speed, but had to motor to get home at a reasonable time.

OffatstoKemah05

A few times I looked up and Fred was not driving, and was instead looking everywhere but forward taking pictures.  This was terrifying for me, but at least he did get a good dolphin picture.

OffatstoKemah09

Hippokampos buzzed by us no problem with their cruising chute up in the light winds.

OffatstoKemah10OffatstoKemah11

A beautiful end to a beautiful weekend.

Pelican Rest Marina

PelicanRest02This marina is located just off mile marker 26 in Offat’s Bayou, just across from Moody Gardens on the south side of Galveston Island.  The marina has a total of 10 transient slips, at $2.50 a foot.  Reservations can be made by emailing dockmaster@pelicanrestmarina.com, but be prepared for a hefty amount of paperwork.

PelicanRest01

Pelican Rest Marina is a white-glove marina, and they offer all the services to go with it.  This includes a vessel-concierge service that will bring you anything you need from the bait and tackle store, the restaurant, or one of the many ice coolers they have on site. Marina guests can also take advantage of the pool bar, restaurant, and outdoor tiki bar.  There are also water sports rentals available such as sailboats, jet skis, kayaks, and small fishing boats.  While there is not a lot of walking grass, there is a small dog run perfect for small dogs.

PelicanRest03

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Pelican Rest is the ability slip owners have to customize their piers.  Fishing boats are able to put fish cleaning stations on the docks outside their boat.  Small motor boats can add lifts to their piers.  They also have small palapas which you can rent monthly, and then have attached to the slip next to your dock.  These palapas are private, and have signs with the owners boat name, blocking off the doorway.  They are very nice, and often include wet bars, rocking chairs, tables and whatever else you can imagine.

FreeporttoOffats08

The complaint we had about Pelican Rest was their lack of a breakwater. Despite “no-wake” signs on the surrounding channel the rocking can be a bit extreme.

Amenities: Restaurant, Pool, Fuel Dock, Band and Tackle, Storage, Transportation, Electric, Weigh Station

Cost: $2.50/ft

Contact Number: (409) 744-7428

Website: http://www.pelicanrestmarina.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pelicanrest?fref=ts

Setlist

band3

  1. 3 a.m. – Matchbox 20
  2. 40 Day Dream – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
  3. 1,000 Miles from Nowhere – Dwight Yoakum
  4. All Along the Watchtower – Bob Dylan Babe
  5. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – Led Zeppelin
  6. Beast of Burden – The Rolling Stones
  7. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain – Willie Nelson
  8. Bring it on Home – Led Zeppelin
  9. Brown-Eyed GIrl – Van Morrison
  10. Bubble Toes – Jack Johnson
  11. Change Your Mind – The Killers
  12. Cherry Cherry – Neil Diamond
  13. Creep – Radiohead
  14. Creep – Stone Temple Pilots
  15. Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
  16. Free Falling – Tom Petty
  17. Hey Hey What Can I Do – Led Zeppelin
  18. Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
  19. High & Dry – Radiohead
  20. Ho Hey – Lumineers
  21. Jumpin Jack Flash – Rolling Stones
  22. Just Like Heaven – The Cure
  23. Karma Police – Radiohead
  24. La Bamba – Richie Valens
  25. Learning to Fly – Tom Petty
  26. Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
  27. Luckenbach Texas – Waylon Jennings
  28. Man on the Moon – REM
  29. Man Who Sold the World – David Bowie
  30. Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet
  31. Mary Jane’s Last Dance – Tom Petty
  32. Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney
  33. Oh La Lah – The Faces
  34. One Headlight – The Wallflowers
  35. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People
  36. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
  37. Riptide – Vance Joy
  38. Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty
  39. Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry
  40. Slide – Goo Goo Dolls
  41. Space Oddity – David Bowie
  42. Stuck in the Middle – Steelers Wheels
  43. Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
  44. Supersonic – Oasis
  45. Tangerine – Led Zeppelin
  46. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  47. Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  48. What is and What Should Never be – Led Zeppelin
  49. Where is my Mind- The Pixies
  50. Wild Horses – Rolling Stones
  51. Wonder Wall – Oasis
  52. You and Me – Lifehouse
  53. You and Tequila – Kenny Chesney
  54. You Shook Me – AC/DC

Bridge Harbor Yacht Club – Freeport

BridgeHarbor04

This Marina is located in Freeport, Texas on the ICW, just east of the 332 Surfside Bridge. The bridge height is not listed on charts but clearance was no problem for our O’Day 34 or the Pearson 422 that was with us.

BolivartoFreeport18

Bridge Harbor Yacht Club has made a huge number of improvements in the past three years. The marina has a full service fuel dock with both diesel and gas. There is a small ship’s store that is open regular hours and sells all the basic boater needs. The store also has a welcoming crew of four beautiful parrots who are an attraction all to themselves.

BolivartoFreeport10

There is also a large beautiful restaurant in the main building. We didn’t get a chance to eat here because of our late arrival, but I have heard the burgers are the best in Freeport.

BridgeHarbor03

Attached to the restaurant is a small pool with a swim-up pool bar and several tables.

BridgeHarbor01

Currently they do not have a liquor license, but the bar should be opening soon. There is also another pool as well as tennis courts overlooking the water near the adjoining condos, which are partially owned by BHYC.

BolivartoFreeport20

Restrooms were clean and very close to the transient docks, and the owners and crew at the marina were very friendly and helpful. Reservations were simple to make, and there was no trouble getting a slip during Labor Day weekend. I think this place will really draw a crowd next summer, as this marina is really going to be very nice and finished by then.

The only issue we found is that there is very limited dog walking space.

Amenities: Fixed Piers, 50 amp power, bathroom with shower, restaurant, fuel (gas and diesel), pool, tennis courts

Cost: $2 per foot (Transient)

Contact Number: Mingo 979-824-2776

Website: None

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bridge-Harbor-Yacht-Club/155114047858768?fref=ts

Freeport to Offat’s Bayou via the ICW

For our return home from Freeport the guys had decided to take the ICW back instead of sailing offshore again.  Although it looks longer on the charts Andy assured me that it would be a much shorter trip. Regardless, I’d never been in the ICW, so I was excited to see new things.

After taking a few pictures of Bridge Harbor Yacht Club for our destination review, and talking a bit with the owner we had a quick breakfast and cast off the lines.  As we started to motor down the ICW I could see it was going to be a long day of easy driving, and we agreed to do a one-hour rotations at the helm.

FreeporttoOffats01

Hypokampus followed close behind.

FreeporttoOffats02

A lot of the ICW is natural wetlands. The path is slow and winding, and there are a lot of birds and animals to see.

FreeporttoOffats03

We got waked by a few inconsiderate motorboats, but 90% of the boats slowed down for us and were very considerate. The barges were slow moving, and easy to see well in advance.

FreeporttoOffats06

The ICW is joined on the sides in several places by large shallow lakes.  They look inviting, but anyone drafting more than 2ft would do well to stay in the ICW.

FreeporttoOffats05

FreeporttoOffats04

With the wind behind us we made much better time to Offats than we had expected. Coming in at around six and a half hours the ICW turned out to be twice as fast as sailing a straight line offshore — something I never would have guessed from the charts.

FreeporttoOffats07

After coming into Pelican’s Rest Marina a little earlier than expected we had some time to enjoy the amenities. We all went up to the pool to cool off and grab a margarita from the patio bar. After taking a brief look at the prices on the snack menu we decided the free food on our boat was looking pretty appetizing. We grilled up some brats on Gimme Shelter and had some of Jayne’s famous sangria.

All in all I can’t wait for my next trip down the ICW. There is so much to see.

Going Offshore for the First Time

Well to be perfectly honest this wasn’t our first time offshore, but it was our first time by ourselves, and in our own boat which counts for a lot.

We left Laguna Harbor at 7:15 a.m. It took us a couple hours to navigate past Galveston Island and past the jetties out into the Gulf of Mexico. By the time you get past the jetties in Galveston you are already about three miles out, and a decent distance from land. We stayed on this line pretty much the whole way.

BolivartoFreeport01

This is me happily steering before I got a taste of the real ocean.

I was helming the boat, and I was terrified.  My eyes were just going from the charts, to the wind direction, to the other boats, to the waves cycling quickly and continuously, taking it all in.  As I made the turn out of the ship channel and around the jetties Fred is second guessing everything.  “Are you sure it’s deep enough?  We are very close to the shore.”  I don’t blame him for one second, but I was so intensely calculating every possible variable that his thinking I would run us aground was infuriating.

BolivartoFreeport15I

Turning onto our course the wind direction was not the broad reach we had been promised but instead a 45-50 degree close haul with winds at about 10 knots.  We were tipping a bit, and the waves seemed so big on our sides.  Ever so gradually I got better and better. For the first 15 minutes I could not let go of the wheel, not even to take a drink. After 30 minutes or so I was comfortable with both sails and the engine off. It wasn’t until about an hour after we set sail though that I was comfortable enough for Fred to stop steering and turn on the autopilot. I just don’t trust that thing.

This Hypokampus speeding off as Fred tries to coax me into putting the jib up.

This is Hippokampos speeding off as Fred tries to coax me into putting the jib up.

Even though we were only about 3 miles offshore I put on my PFD and kept it on the entire time. I also made the dogs wear their life jackets for the first couple hours, but when the winds started to die, and the dogs were more likely to die of heat stroke than drowning, I let them take them off.

BolivartoFreeport03

A few hours into the trip we got hit by a small squall.  We weren’t sure what to expect, so we were at ready to reef the sails.  Not knowing how much wind might be coming, we decided to go ahead and reef. Fred went up to the fore deck, and knowing I was already scared, decided to go ahead and put a double reef in. That’s when we found out that our second reefing point doesn’t actually reach our boom, and therefore does nothing. So we just decided to take down the main sail all together. Good to know! The wind didn’t end up getting any faster than 12 knots, the rain only lasted a few minutes, and before we knew it we were putting the sails back up.

BolivartoFreeport06

Taking sails up and down turned out to be a real trend for the trip.  As the winds continued to diminish, we slowly saw our projected arrival time on the chart plotter creep to midnight, and then 1 a.m. We knew we had to switch on the motor. Thanks to our wind direction indicator we know that with wind at least 30 degrees off the nose, we can motor sail no problem, but anything closer than that and our jib is flapping wildly. With winds shifting off our nose we were furling and unfurling the jib frequently trying to maximize our speed.

Tex had zero issues with our slow rolling speed.

Tex had zero issues with our slow rolling speed.

We ended up at the Freeport jetties around 6:30, making our time offshore a little over 8 hours. We went right past the Freeport LNG terminal where Fred made one of his first corporate documentary videos and where he hosted Magnum Photographer Jean Guamy back in 2007. (Confession, I’ve never seen the video or the photos.)

BolivartoFreeport16 BolivartoFreeport17

We had reserved slips at Bridge Harbor Yacht Club, and it was only a short trip down the ICW, and under the bridge to get there.

BolivartoFreeport19 BolivartoFreeport18

After some vague directions, and no slip or pier number we were very happy to see BHYC’s team waiting for us in bright shirts to help us dock right out front.

BolivartoFreeport20 BolivartoFreeport09

We were tied up on the finger pier at 7:15 p.m. making it exactly a 12-hour trip. After a few drinks and some delicious food some of us were falling asleep at the dinner table. It had been a long day full of firsts. Longest sail, first time offshore, Andy and Jayne’s first time making a long trip just the two of them on this boat, first time in Freeport, and first time being checked in by a parrot.

BolivartoFreeport10

Sailing with Dolphins

Labor day weekend was a long awaited chance for us to take Gimme Shelter to new destinations and have a bit of real adventure. Dixie had been having stomach issues all week, so Friday morning we had her checked by the veterinarian to make sure she was ok to travel. She got some antibiotics and some anti-nausea medicine then we were on our way to Kemah.

I got to work unloading all of our food and supplies onto the boat and carefully stowing them away while Fred made runs back and forth to the gas station for diesel. Our fuel gauge was only showing slightly above 3/4 when our filter funnel backed up and stopped filling the boat. That spot just above 3/4 was where the gauge was stuck when we bought Gimme Shelter. Apparently 3/4 was as high as the gauge was going to show.

kemahtobolivar02

Around 1:15 we cast off from our marina and started our slow motor into the wind towards our first stop for the weekend, Laguna Harbor on the Bolivar Peninsula.

kemahtobolivar03

We watched patched of rain pass beside and behind us, but thankfully they all missed us.

kemahtobolivar01

Our slow motoring turned into quite the adventure after passing Redfish Island. The dolphins were out in full swing surfing the bow wakes of big cargo ships.

kemahtobolivar08 kemahtobolivar07 kemahtobolivar06 kemahtobolivar05

We were making better time than expected, and despite our late start we were nearing Bolivar around sunset. Something about sunsets really makes dolphins jump out of the water, and as we crossed the ship channel we saw several small families of dolphins doing all sorts of weird things in the water. I’ve seen them swimming around pretending to do what I can only imagine is “playing shark”.  I’ve also seen them sort of “wrestling” around in the water.  Every once in awhile we get a chance to see them doing some jumps just for fun.

We entered Laguna Harbor and rendezvoused with our friends Andy and Jayne aboard their Pearson 422, Hippokampos, who were also making the Labor Day trip but had managed to leave Kemah a little earlier.

kemahtobolivar11

The dogs are always glad when it’s time to start grilling.

kemahtobolivar10

As we sipped a few beers we saw dozens of jellyfish swimming around the marina. They seemed to be popping up everywhere. We decided we wouldn’t be swimming anywhere in the bay that weekend.

kemahtobolivar09

We shared a nice meal of chicken fajitas with Hippokampos before taking the dogs for one last walk before bed. That’s when Dixie walked up in the grass to drop a load — except as she was squatting I noticed she was pooping on a huge black snake. The snake had its head up looking at us inquisitively. Dixie finished her business and trotted on ahead. She never even knew it was there.

kemahtobolivar12

Rum Race #7 and a Redfish Island Barbecue

With the race boat that we crew on out of service for the week, we posted on facebook inviting anyone who wanted to come out with us for a little grilling at Redfish Island. Well not five minutes later our friends Shari and Daniel volunteered, and we were getting ready for a day of sailing.

rumraceredfish18

Even though we have limited destinations in Galveston Bay, one of the best things is that the flurry of boats and wildlife make every trip a new adventure. Today we happened to be sailing through the Cruzan Rum Race #7, and on a very similar course. Fortunately, having no start time we got a bit of a head start.

rumraceredfish02

It wasn’t long though before boats started passing us left and right. I spent most of my time on foredeck trying to snap shots of all of our racing friends.

rumraceredfish09 rumraceredfish08

All the while Fred is at the helm yelling..”Get this one!”  “You’re missing all the good shots!”

rumraceredfish03

Well I think I got a couple decent ones.

rumraceredfish06 rumraceredfish05

rumraceredfish04 rumraceredfish10

At one point we were even passed by Doug, our captain on Antares, crewing on a Walter and Beverley’s boat Shaken not Stirred. Daniel almost had to walk the plank when tried to toss Doug beer, and lost it forever in the drink.

rumraceredfish07 rumraceredfish11

We even managed to catch a glimpse of this Flying Phantom absolutely streaking through the race.

rumraceredfish12

After clearing the intensity of the race we started to take down our sails and head for Redfish for an evening grill. As we dropped anchor we could see the racers heading downwind.

rumraceredfish13

Then it was time to fire up the grill.

rumraceredfish14 rumraceredfish15

After an incredible meal of beer brats, grilled egg plant and salad it was time to raise anchor and head home. Me and Shari decided that, girl power and all that the two of us were going to raise the anchor. Well we didn’t know that Fred had a patented technique that involves cleating and waiting, and pulling and cleating, and so we were extremely unsuccessful and had to rely on men.

rumraceredfish16

Our sail home was all downwind jib sailing and was extremely lazy and beautiful.  We set the autopilot and all went up to the foredeck for some relaxing sailing.

rumraceredfish17

Of course we posed for a small photo shoot.

rumraceredfish19

After several hours of beautiful sunset sailing we realized that we had in fact been going very very slow.  At about 2 knots we were not going to reach shore anytime soon, so we finally started up the motor.  Arriving well after dark, despite the best efforts of some drunken navigation from foredeck pointing us away from the channel, we managed to arrive home safe and sound.

rumraceredfish20

Padded lifelines for a fraction of the corporate price

A few months ago Fred had it in his mind that we needed padded lifelines to spruce up the cockpit and lean back against while sailing.

Well we headed out to West Marine and found a package of lifeline pads for 62.99.

We got these “premium” lifeline cushions home to discover that the construction was so very basic we should have just made them ourselves. They were literally a piece of PVC wrapped in plumbing insulation — the stuff you put on your pipes, so they don’t freeze — with a sleeve of sunbrella.

We paid $65 for that?!!!

This month I got a bee in my bonnet to do some sewing, so I decided to make my own lifeline covers and see just how easy it was.

LifelinePad01

After sewing the sleeves we just needed to get some PVC pipe, and some padding, and it all slid right together.

LifelinePad02

Here’s a shot of the pads on Gimme Shelter. The top line has the West Marine pad, and the bottom line is showcasing the one I sewed myself.  The West Marine version comes only in the 57″ length and only in blue.

LifelinePad03

For those of you without any sewing skills, you’re in luck. This week I’ve decided to launch the Gimme Shelter Etsy Store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SVgimmeshelter.

I would be happy to sew and assemble a custom pair of lifeline pads for you in whatever length you order and in your choice of sunbrella colors for half the price of what West Marine charges.

So if anyone would like to get some lifeline covers made for their boat, feel free to order!

I’ll slowly be adding more useful and interesting nautical products to the store as I conduct this Etsy experiment in entrepreneurship, so bookmark my new site and stop by often!