Sunday on the Bay

We tried something new last weekend. For the first time we loaded up all of Mary’s sewing stuff, and we set up a tent at the monthly Galveston Market near the strand.

SaturdayNoFunDay

Unfortunately, weather wasn’t too great, and we didn’t have much traffic. We did manage to break even on the purchase of the tent and tables and even made a few dollars to put towards our annual WordPress renewal fees, but if we were having to pay ourselves, it would be far less than minimum wage. Now there are a few more bags and business cards out there in wild, so hopefully that will spur more online business for Mary. However, I think we both decided that sitting in a tent for seven hours isn’t our thing.

Thankfully the weather cleared up Sunday, so we had a few friends join us and got off the dock for a few hours.

SundayFunday01

I have no idea what race/practice was going on, but there was a line of J boats going back and forth. It was quite interesting to see. I wish we’d been in the right place when they all turned around and popped their spinnakers. It would have made an amazing photo.

SundayFunday02

There weren’t many boats out at Redfish Island. Our buddy Tony brought his inflatable SUP and impressively paddled his way to the island against 17 knot winds.

SundayFunday03

None of the rest of us were brave enough to try it as we were all pretty sure we’d be swimming our way back to the boat.

SundayFunday04

Eventually we had to weigh anchor and head back to civilization. I envy those who can cruise with no schedule, but for now it’s back to the office for me and back to sewing bags for Mary.

Spices for the weekend boater

When I am only around on the weekends I have a constant struggle with supplying my boat.  Spices are a particularly difficult one, because you’re never sure what you will need, and they’re expensive to buy.  I have a monster supply of spices at home, and as such did not want to buy a whole new set for the boat.  An entire jar of nutmeg would be way too much anyway.  I also needed to make sure I was able to have a wide variety, as I’d like to save on cost, and avoid duplication with the ones I have at home.

A long search for small plastic spice containers led me to find a lot of solutions, but none that met my qualifications.  I wanted my containers to be: 1. wide enough at the mouth to let me pinch spices with my fingers. 2. Plastic (not stainless or glass) and 3. The entire collection should cost less than $25.

After an extensive search I found these little containers on amazon.

containers

They’re only $11 for a set of 18, and they’re perfect for all your small use spices.  They also  lock together in stacks.  If I was going to live aboard (and I may do this anyway) I would also add a few of the 6oz containers for some of the spices you use more of per recipe, i.e. taco seasoning, steak rub, etc.

I labeled all of my containers using heavy brown paper and some Elmer’s glue. I left a few of them on the boat for a couple weeks before I labeled the rest, and so far it has held on well.

spice

These look pretty small but they hold a half bottle of McCormick’s seasoning.

spice2

I know a lot of people like ziplocks, but I really wanted something where I could see all the labels easily.  Would love to hear your tips and tricks!

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

How to avoid boating tickets this holiday weekend

The first warm-weather long holiday weekend of the year is upon us. The lakes and bays are going to be absolutely packed with people who have not operated their boats since the fall.

“You know what, Cousin Grandpa … we should take the boat out!”

boatinspections

This influx of boating activity also brings heightened activity by the US Coast Guard, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, the Seabrook Police Department, and any other government body in the area with boats and ticket writing authority.

Fast Turn

Expect to see up to six boats from various departments patrolling the no-wake zone of the Kemah channel initiating stops for the following:

  • Boaters exceeding the 5 mph no-wake zone speed limit
  • Boat drivers with a visible open container
  • Drunk drivers
  • Expired registration tags
  • Incorrect bow light placement (Red goes to port!)

Usually if you have remedied the above bullets, you can avoid being stopped, but I’m no stranger to boardings. During my ASA 101 Basic Keelboat class we were stopped, boarded and the instructor was ticketed by Texas Parks and Wildlife for having an expired registration sticker. Then, the next July 4th when I finally had the Seahorse running, I was boarded by the Coast Guard because my bow light lens was on upside down. (Oops!) Thankfully they just let me switch the lens around and sent me on my way.

However, once you’ve been boarded you will definitely get a complete Vessel Safety Check. Expect the officers to go through your boat from top to bottom to make sure you are meeting the minimum safety requirements.

Here is the checklist they use to perform vessel safety inspections.

If the checklist is too hard to understand, you can try this online Virtual Vessel Examiner to see if you meet the standards.

In the Kemah area it seems like the checks focus on lifejackets, a throwable PFD, a horn, a first aid kit, making sure flares and fire extinguishers have not expired, the pollution/no discharge placards, and making sure your holding tank through hull is locked or wired shut.

Give your vessel a check before you hit the water this weekend and save yourself the hassle of being boarded and hopefully save yourself the cost of a ticket if you are.

And remember, getting a ticket sucks, but the guys out on patrol are not the enemy. They are the ones coming to save your ass when something like this occurs.

Port St. Joe: St Joseph Peninsula State Park

We had one Saturday scheduled in Florida, so we decided to spend it exploring St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, which is consistently rated one of the best beaches in not only Florida, but the nation. Much more sunscreen was applied.

DSC09560web

The park is at the end of the St. Joe peninsula and has the larger gulf waves lapping on the west side, and the calm clear waters of St Joseph Bay on the east. The drive from St Joe was around 35 minutes. According to their site, the state park boasts 9.5 miles of “snow-white” sand beaches and “aqua-blue” waters.

PortStJospehStateParkMap

Entry to the park was a mere $6 per vehicle, but there are no dogs allowed, so our new friend Turtle had to stay home and catch up on his reading.

Turtle

The park also has 119 campsites for those that want to hang out longer for some serious fishing, kayaking or SUP.

The gulf had more beach, bigger waves and got deep quickly, which made swimming much more fun that it was at Salinas Park. Everyone spent lots of time in the water, which was also more clear than the water at Salinas Park, but still not quite clear enough to get a good underwater selfie.

DSC09566web

As we sat and stared out into the blue, I kept seeing something move out of the corner of my eye. I finally grabbed the camera and stared at a couple of holes in the sand for the better part of 5 minutes. Then I finally saw this little guy flicking sand around cleaning out his burrow.

DSC09625web

These things are called ghost crabs, and once I saw the first crab, I started noticing them all over the beach. They’re pretty shy, but if you sit quietly for a few minutes, they’ll pop up to say, hello.

After several hours of playing in the surf, we began digging around and playing in the sand. There is something about pointless, mindless physical labor that is so relaxing. So naturally after digging what was a pretty impressive sand hole, we decided to bury two people in it, and make them into mermaids.

DSC09601web

DSC09604web

DSC09611web

After quite a bit more goofing off we decided to wander over and check out the bay. The water on this side was shallow for hundreds of feet out and totally clear. However, if you plan to venture into it, I highly recommend wearing shoes of some sort because it was teaming with crabs and spiky anemones.

DSC09691web DSC09659web DSC09637web

After exploring the area, we grabbed an empty shell and walked back to our chairs. As we packed up the car, we got a surprise when a crab made an appearance from the “empty” shell, demanding we put him (or her) back into the bay. We set the crab free and headed back to Port St. Joe.

Going topless at Port St. Joe

Sometimes there’s just no way to avoid renting a car. Our weekend trip to St. Joe, Florida has us flying into Tallahassee, which was almost two hours away. Then, our adorable rental house was within walking distance of downtown St. Joe, but it was a few miles from the beaches.

I first investigated the average cost of rentals. It seemed like we were going to pay about $35 per day for a mid-size sedan while a convertible sports car was $90 a day. An extra $55 per day didn’t seem justifiable, but I had this fantasy in my head about driving down the coast in a convertible that just wouldn’t go away. Plus, Fred always had a convertible back in his bachelor days, and I knew he missed driving one, and I really wanted to surprise him.

I decided to try the Priceline name your own price tool, and I put in $50 per day for a Mustang convertible. Boom, it was accepted by Budget Rental Car. Thanks, Shatner!

L1010186web

Driving that car around with the top down was close to the funnest thing about the trip. (After hanging out with my sister, of course).  Fred really loved driving it too, and we had no shortage of friends willing to ride with us to the beach.  All in all … I think it might be my new favorite splurge.

L1010188web

Now, it did tend to make our hair a bit unmanageable, but hey, that’s the price you pay for fun.

L1010196web

It’s a very pretty drive from Tallahassee to Port. St. Joe, and we got a unique view of the scenery.

L1010193web

We were still envious of the boaters anchored out along the route, enjoying life on the Florida coast … but not AS envious.

L1010305web

The 2015 Mustang handled well, and the top was quick to move up and down. We had space in the trunk for multiple folding chairs, coolers and bags during our treks to the beach. And while Mustangs have never had a luxurious backseat, we had no complaints from the two medium-sized adults riding with us. However, the car electronics proved a bit glitchy. The entire first day there was a “hood open” warning on the dash even though the hood was definitely shut and latched. It wasn’t until Fred finally popped it and shut it again that the warning finally went away. Sometimes the back-up camera would stay on for what seemed an extended period of time after shifting back into drive and moving forward for quite a distance, and the entire info-tainment system was laggy. The Eco-Boost engine was zippy, but not what I would call “fast,” and averaged 25.8 mpg during our four days of driving.

20150509_190556

But probably the coolest (and definitely most unnecessary) feature of this car was the fact that when you unlocked the car in the dark, the side view mirrors project the running horse Mustang emblem onto the ground beside the car!

20150509_205149

Despite quite a bit of driving, when we returned the car Sunday afternoon there were no hidden costs or additional fees. The Priceline price was solid, which was more than we can say for the next car we rented straight through Budget Sunday evening — but that’s for another blog.