Thunderstorms were looming, and the radar looked terrible, but it had been a hell of a week, and I was dying to get Gimme Shelter out on the water. She hadn’t moved from her slip in more than a month, and I’m positive she was feeling as restless as me.
We had arrived to the marina in the middle of a downpour, so we just grabbed the dogs out of the backseat and made a run for the boat. Once the rain cleared, we cast off and headed for the bay. It wasn’t until we had passed the Kemah Boardwalk that I realized we’d left the bag full of our clothes as well as my camera in the car.
First lesson of the weekend: Always check that you actually put your bags on the boat before leaving the dock.
However, we were in a race against sunset, and our friends TJ and Kayla on Folie a Deux were motoring along right behind us. Well, they were right behind us until one of their jib sheets fell overboard and fouled their prop.
Second lesson of the weekend: Keep all lines secured on deck.
But that was only a small delay. As you might remember, Folie’s entire rudder fell off during her last voyage, so a fouled prop was just a small speed bump in comparison.
We were soon underway and dropped the hook at Redfish Island just as the sun was setting. Well, at least we dropped our hook. As TJ debated whether or not to drop his own anchor or tie off to our stern, he realized his anchor was no longer hanging on his bow. Perhaps it was sitting in the bottom of his slip at Watergate. Perhaps it was on the bottom of the bay somewhere between Galveston and Kemah. Perhaps someone walked off with it. There was no way to know.
Third lesson of the weekend: Make sure you have an anchor on the boat and make sure your anchor rode is tied to something on the boat.
The lack of anchor was still not a problem. We just threw TJ and Kayla a line and tied them off to our stern cleat.
For the first time ever, we had Redfish Island completely to ourselves. Mary prepped a salad while I grilled steaks, and we sat down to a nice dinner.
While we were in the cabin eating, it got dark — and I mean REALLY dark. Thick clouds had blotted out any sign of stars, and the quarter moon was barely a glow in the corner of the sky. I was about to pull the kayak off the deck to take the dogs to shore when we saw it.
It looked like fireflies moving underwater. Dozens of small bioluminescient jellyfish were glowing all around us. They would glow especially bright if they bumped against the anchor rode or the hull of the boats. I cursed myself for forgetting the camera, and we attempted to at least somewhat capture the moment with our phones. My video ended up being worthless, but TJ did manage to capture the long exposure above.
I dropped the kayak in the water and took the dogs to shore mesmerized at the way the jellies glowed around my paddle each time it touched the water. It was a truly magical moment.
After the dogs finished their business on the island, we paddled back to the boat and watched the glowing for another hour or so before bed. We went to sleep with all the hatches and windows open, just waiting for the rain to finally hit us — but it never did.
I woke up at sunrise to find storm cells passing on either side of us.
It looked like Kemah was also getting hammered, so we just stayed put and made some breakfast. Slowly things cleared, and a fantastic rainbow appeared overhead.
I hadn’t been on Redfish Island all sumer, so I took a minute to explore. After a year of heavy rain, it seems there are actually some plants growing. Along with the usual scrub brush there was a yucca plant.
And even a baby palm tree.
Despite predictions of terrible thunderstorms all day Sunday, the weather actually cleared and the sun made an appearance just as we headed back towards Kemah. My crew didn’t sleep well at anchor due to the high humidity, so they spent most of the trip home snoozing.
The bay was empty and smooth as glass. We were already counting the trip a success when this happened.
Fourth lesson of the weekend: If you have an outboard, keep a very short, heavy duty strap on it, so if your outboard bracket shears into pieces, the motor won’t fall underwater.
This was a disheartening moment. TJ and Kayla had paid a local machine shop to design and build that stainless steel bracket specifically for their O’day 25 and the new Honda they put on it. Then, after spending money for the “professional” work, it literally sheared into pieces in less than a year. Now they’re out the cost of the bracket and the impending cost of repairs to their outboard.
We stopped to help, and as a team we were able to winch the outboard up out of the water and out of the way of the tiller, but Folie a Deux’s trip ended with a tow home from Sea Tow.
We hung out until the tow boat arrived and then headed for the marina ourselves.
As a slight consolation for the outboard disaster, TJ and Kayla were visited by a dolphin who swam alongside them all the way to the Kemah Boardwalk.
Yes, the entire weekend was a comedy of errors, but it was also filled with unforgettable moments experiencing things you don’t usually see in the bay. I’m glad we didn’t just look at the radar and decide to stay home.