Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The last few days, it's been way too cold to work on paradox. I don't have any news on the build, so I thought I would share one of our sailing stories.

It was Memorial Day Weekend of 2008. We had been sailing with our new friend, Eric, for about four or five months. Eric is the owner of Escapades, an Irwin 41 ketch. This is a nice cruising boat and very comfortable. Eric asked if we wanted to take a trip with him since Dale had a couple of days off. We jumped at the chance.

The first day we sailed from Kemah to Galveston and then we headed down the Intracoastal Waterway for Freeport. This was our first time on the ICW, also known as "the ditch". We motored some, because the angle of the wind would change with every turn the ditch made, and the trees on the banks would blanket the wind. It was sundown and we decided to anchor in what is known as "$30K Cut" just east of Freeport. After an early breakfast, we set out for Matagorda. The trip was very relaxing, and we were learning first hand how to negotiate passing the many barges that call the ICW home. We went through a set of locks crossing the Brazos River and dodged tree branches as they floated by, on our way to Matagorda. There, we docked Escapades on the bulkhead at the marina. After a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant and a hot shower at the marina head, we settled down for a restful night which consisted of a movie and then sleep.

The next morning, we woke to a 25 knot wind that had us pinned to that bulkhead. After a lot of work (that's a story for another time), we finally got off that bulkhead and headed back down the ICW. Eric noticed that the engine was overheating. I took over the wheel, and Dale and Eric looked at the engine to see what the problem was. The heat exchanger hose had a hole and was losing water. This was not something that could be fixed while on our journey, so a decision had to be made. We shut off the engine and put three sails. The wind was strong and she loved the angle. We were sailing at an average of 7 knots down the ICW. It was exciting.

Eric wasn't sure what we, as newbies, could withstand. He didn't want to turn us against sailing with what might become a hard trip. He gave us three options and let us decide what to do.

1. Limp back to Freeport, dock the boat, rent a car and drive back to Houston.
2. Call Tow US, be towed all the way back to Kemah. That would have been very expensive!
3. Go ahead and sail to Galveston. We would not get there until about 1 in the morning.
Dale and I looked at each other, and without hesitation, we said, "It's a sailboat and we have good wind. Let's sail to Galveston." Well, being the newbies that we were, we didn't find out until later, that NOBODY goes down the ICW at night! The wind was strong, which means the barges have to head into the wind to varying degrees depending on their load. If they are running empty, they take up most of the ditch. And, yes we did encounter some running empty.

When we arrived at the locks, we had to start up the engine to circle and wait for our turn to go through. In order for the engine to not get too hot, Dale had to continually pour fresh water into the heat exchanger, one cup at a time. There is only about a six inch clearance between the heat exchanger and the top of engine enclosure. This was a hot and tedious job, and the water was leaking out about as fast as Dale was pouring it in. But, Dale kept the engine running long enough for us to get past the locks and bridges we had in our path, with only a few burns on his hand.

After the sun went down, it got DARK, but we had enough moonlight to see the shore line and stay in the ditch. The ICW cuts through Chocolate Bay. This is about 3 miles marked with floating markers. They are not lighted. Dale and I got flashlights and we shone our light on the buoy as we approached them. When Eric saw it, he would yell, "Got it." As we sailed on, we would find the next marker. That's how we made it through Chocolate Bay and then again when we got to Offatts Bayou at Galveston. We did get to Offatts about 1 o'clock, anchored, opened the hatches and that was the best sleep Dale and I have ever had.

The last day of our trip was easy back to Kemah with the wind at our back on Galveston Bay. That was one of our many fun trips with Eric on Escapades. That next Christmas, we gave Eric a plaque that says:

ATTITUDE: The difference between
an ordeal and an adventure.

That weekend, we had an adventure. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you have accomplished something that most would not even try.

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