Galveston Bay Cruising Guide

Pelican’s Rest Marina

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This 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.

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Pelican’s 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.

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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.

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The complaint we had about Pelican Rest was their lack of a brakewater. 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

Bridge Harbor Yacht Club

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

Redfish Island

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This small horsehoe-shaped breakwater situated about seven miles southeast of the Kemah bridge was once an actual island, but now it is just a man-made pile of rocks maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers. The best place for anchoring is inside the south edge of the island as the north bank is not as deep, and when the tide goes out you’re likely to find your keel bouncing off the bottom. There is a beach-ish area right at the bend of the island made from crushed shell material which is good for landing dinghies or kayaks, but make sure you pull them well up onto the island and secure them because occasionally wakes from the Houston Ship Channel will crash over the island in that area.

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On approach, never cut inside the marker on the north end or you’ll end up on a sandbar. Also, don’t attempt to cross into the ship channel on the south of the island or you’ll run aground in an oyster bed. Bubba’s Shrimp Palace is located about a mile away at the tip of San Leon and is an easy dinghy ride — just make sure your anchor isn’t dragging before you leave your boat unattended!

Don’t go ashore barefoot! Walking on the broken shells and piled up rocks is torture without shoes.

Redfish Island is often the first destination for new boaters and will attract large crowds on holidays and nice afternoons. Keep an eye on the other boats and don’t hesitate to use the VHF or wave someone off if they’re anchoring too close or dragging into you.

Amenities: Anchorage only

Cost: Free

Contact Number: None

Website: None

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sovereign-Nation-of-Redfish-Island/609630549144630?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Laguna Harbor

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Laguna Harbor is a marina under development approximately two miles east of the Houston Ship Channel located in Port Bolivar along the Intracoastal Waterway.

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At this time there are no docks, but there are heavy duty cleats and six 50 amp power stations on the concrete bulkhead along the south east corner of the harbor. Each power station has two 50 amp plugs and two water spouts, providing accommodations for up to 12 boats (as long as they only need one power plug each).

The developer and home sales staff are very accommodating and will allow boaters to use the restrooms in the home sales office during office hours. The Boat Store is within walking distance and has limited grocery and boating items. The only restaurant in walking distance is La Playita, which serves up some very decent Mexican food.

Laguna Harbor provides a great overnight spot if you’re traversing the Intracoastal Waterway or a good jumping off point for offshore adventures. Bring extra fenders as the concrete bulkhead can be unforgiving in inclement weather.

Amenities: Protected harbor with bulkhead cleats, 50 amp power, water

Cost: Free at this time

Contact Number: 409-229-4198

Website: http://www.lagunaharbor.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LagunaHarbor

 

Double Bayou: Job Beason Park

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Double Bayou is on the eastern shore of Trinity Bay. The fastest approach from Kemah is to take the north cut across the ship channel. Trinity Bay is generally choppier than Galveston Bay and has many working and abandoned oil & gas platforms, so keep an eye both on the charts and on the horizon to make sure you steer clear of obstructions.

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The entrance to Double Bayou is very shallow, so hug the red markers on your approach, and keep your charts zoomed in, so you don’t stray from the extremely narrow channel. (Full disclosure, we got stuck in the mud both on the way in and on the way out on our first visit.) However, once you reach the mouth of the bayou, depth is no longer an issue.

Channel Marker 17 has a dock if you want to just tie up for the afternoon to enjoy some food and a few drinks. It’s also within easy walking/paddling distance from Job Beason Park if you plan to spend the night.

The south branch of the bayou is great for kayaking and fishing.

Job Beason Park has a fixed dock with 15 slips available with power hook-ups, but no water. There are public restrooms, but they were very filthy and a bit scary during our visit. The park also has a public boat ramp that gets extremely busy in the mornings as fishermen set out for a day on the water. There is a convenience store on site with the regular assortment of snack food, groceries, batteries, bug spray, etc.

The residents of Oak Island are very friendly, but their dogs roam the island, so if you’re bringing your own pets keep an eye out for loose dogs running around.

Amenities: Fixed docks, 50 amp power, public restrooms, convenience store

Cost: $25 per night

Contact Number: 409-267-2409

Website: http://www.co.chambers.tx.us/default.aspx?name=parks.beason_park

Facebook Page: None

Offats Bayou

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Offats Bayou lies south of the Galveston Causeway bridge (I-45). The bayou was man-made as locals used the area as a borrow pit for building up the island and other construction projects in the early 20th century. This makes Offats the deepest anchorage in the area — up to 30 feet in some places.

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If you’re making the trip from Kemah, you’ll have to enter the Intracoastal Waterway at Texas City and head west. Call the Galveston Railroad Bridge on the VHF before crossing under the causeway to both make sure the bridge is staying up and that you won’t end up in the middle of a barge sandwich.

Just after crossing under the bridge, turn south in the channel to Offats. On days with heavy barge traffic you may have to pass the channel to let a barge get by before making a U-turn and coming back to it. Once in the channel, do not stray from it until you are across from Moody Gardens or you will find yourself stuck in the mud.

If you plan to anchor, make sure you bring enough rode. To get the suggested scope of 7:1 in 30′ water, you’re going to need 210′ of rode.

Amenities: Protected anchorage

Cost: Free

Contact Number: None

Website: None

Facebook Page: None

Other locations coming soon: Harbor House, Harbor Walk, Job Beason Park, Double Bayou, Offats Bayou, Moody Gardens, Pelican Island Anchorage, Texas Yacht Basin

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