Sailing on Laguna Madre, USA
by George Fulk 

Friday, March 16.

            “We are all packed. We may as well leave tonight.” (Mary)

            No need to wait until morning.  We called Tom Cole and were on the road at 7 PM.  The micro, Frogger, sailed smoothly on its trailer and arrived at Tom’s house, on the shores of Lake Texoma, four hours later.

            An Elegant Punt, under construction in Tom’s bachelor living room, looked elegant indeed.  We immediately began non-stop boat talk, but Mary’s eyes soon glazed over.

Saturday, March 16.

            “This one seems to have pretty straight grain”. (George)

            We’re in the McCoy’s Lumber Yard in Georgetown, Texas, picking through a pile of 2x6's.  I had forgotten Frogger’s boomkin and mizzen boom.  We figured if we had a good 2x6, we could make replacement parts at Chuck Leinweber’s.  We had planned on seeing Chuck’s Caprice on the way down anyway.

            The Caprice was beautiful and Chuck was most obliging.  The new spars are almost as good as the originals, but the new spars of yellow pine are noticeably heavier than the fir spars at home.  I saw two interesting types of building materials on Chuck’s boat: MDO plywood and UHMW polyethylene.  MDO is a fir plywood with paper glued to one surface.  It is used for highway signs.  Chuck has built the cabin of his Caprice from that material.  UHMW polyethylene looks like the white plastic cutting boards are made of.  Chuck used it as a glide for his sliding hatch. Clever fellow, that Chuck.

Old Salts and new boat: L to R - Tom, Chuck, George

Sunday, March 17

            “Seadoo over beer” (George)

Sea Doo over beer

The Corpus Walmart Super Center was huge: 33 check outs - all busy.  I noticed an armored truck hauling money away.  Even more impressive was the Budweiser display featuring cases of beer with a Seadoo resting on top.  What is the message here?  Beer and Seadoos go nicely together???   Alcohol will enhance your enjoyment of speeding over the water on a loud, obnoxious machine?  I find that juxtaposition rather odd.  I guess I am out of step with the times.

            We wedged our micros in among the big RVs at the $8.00 per night camping area.  It had state of the art potties.  We had bean soup/stew in Tom’s pick-up camper and turned in after a stroll on the beach.  Weather has been terrible, rainy and cold

Monday, March 19

            “This is going into the record book, for sure” (Geo).  “Oh, no; don’t put it in.” (Tom)

            Those words were exchanged in front of Walmart.  Two trips to Walmart in two days, prior to any sailing seemed noteworthy to me.  Tom had a Walmart gift certificate burning a hole in his pocket and figured a VHF radio would be just the thing, after he saw mine.

            Breakfast to the tune of dueling generators was just too much, so we drove the camper down to the beach and listened to the rain hit the camper roof and the surf roll in as we ate our breakfast. “Winds will be 15 to 25 knots and guppy” according to the marine forecast read with a heavy east Indian accent.  After breakfast we hit the road for the Corpus Walmart.

            The sun finally began to shine in the afternoon and skies remained clear for the rest of the week.  We moved our boats to Bird Island Basin and camped there for the rest of the week.  We launched Frogger for a test run.  The motor had not been used since it was overhauled last winter. 

Tom & Mary relax on Laguna Madre beach

Tom’s rig, mine in background

“What happened to the snotter?”  It should have been cleated down before hauling up the main sail.  Since it wasn’t, the boom when flying overboard with the after end attached to the clue.  What an embarrassing  mess.   But not to worry, nothing fazes Tom.

            It was good chance to get the feeling of sailing on Laguna Madre.  The wind was strong, but the water was flat, a wind surfer’s paradise.  And they were out enjoying themselves.  They buzzed all around us, like bees.   These things can really fly. 

Retrieval of Frogger

An interesting variation to wind surfing is kite surfing.    It is done with a very small board, one that looks like a snow board.  The kite is attached to the skipper’s harness.  Skipper is a good term here, because that is exactly what happens.  One skips over the wave tops at incredible speeds.

Tuesday, March 20.

            “OK, that is the last thing we are taking.” (Geo)

            After all how much stuff can you pack into a Micro??  And how much do you really need for a single over-night trip?  By the time we got everything packed and got both boats launched, it was 2:30 PM. 

            We sailed 8.5 miles south to Green Hill with southeast winds 5 to 10 knots, arriving at our destination at 6 PM.  Tom sailed off a respectable distance and took a shower with his solar heated water from a “sun shower”, while Mary and I began to organize the evening meal.

            The sunset, food, wine, and company all went together nicely.   The water was flat and we were securely anchored in the shelter of a tall sand dune.

            At 2:30 AM the wind strengthened and shifted 90 degrees.  We became aware of an annoying feature of the Micro design:  waves spank the flat bottom, making sleep difficult.

Wednesday, March 21.

            “This is a Kodak moment.  Too bad we forgot our cameras,” said Tom from atop the sand dune with Laguna Madre stretched out before us and two micros swinging on their anchor lines.

            In the morning we found that we had both run aground.  We had anchored in 4 feet of water, which is near the maximum depth of Laguna Madre; but the wind shift pushed our boats toward shore.  Tom has sailed here before and had collected two push poles from Chuck.  The push poles sure came in handy.

            After anchoring further out, we had a hardy breakfast of scrambled eggs and polish kielbasa.   Then we set sail - destination Baffin Bay about 4 miles dead into the wind.  We had a good time beating up wind for a couple of hours, but never made it to the Bay.  One problem was the intercostal waterway.  It is a dredged out trench running through the center of Laguna Madre.  The spoils from the dredging are piled up on either side of the trench.  The water depth varies from zero to two feet over the top of the spoils.  Baffin Bay was on the other side of the ICW from us.

            The wind picked up to a steady 15 knots or so and we had a quick run home, wing-on-wing most of the way.  Tom’s knot stick read steadily at 4.5, surging to 5.5 on occasion.  His micro is a stretch version, 18 ft long compared to mine built according to the plan at 14.5' long.  His micro has the same sail plan as mine.  He gained about 200 yards over the 8-mile run, so I guess the extra length helped him a bit - or maybe he is a better sailor.

            Dinner was at Snoopy’s, which gets a 4-star rating from us fish lovers.  Dessert was ice cream at Scoopy’s.

Thursday, March 22.

            “I bought extra shrimp for an appetizer”, says Mary at the Walmart check out line.  The main course will be Tom’s specialty, Frogmore stew (potatoes, corn on the cob, kielbasa, and SHRIMP).

Mary at Bird Island Basin

            We intended to sail the Corpus Christi Bay;  but after pulling the micros over there, the white caps were just too intimidating.  Instead we decided to check out the Columbus ships.  Nina was tied up to a dock and we had a good look at her.  Pinta and Santa Maria were in the museum.  A big sign greeted us there “Columbus ships closed”.  It seems the ships were not taking in enough money to pay expenses, so they will be moved to Florida.

Friday, March 23.

“Some fisherman left these on the beach last night.”

            Mary and I were having a last look at Laguna Madre over our morning coffee as a fellow camper came by with a dead sting ray and dead “stone head” cat fish.   They had been left on the beach by a fisherman and the camper was disposing of them properly.  Both were impressive creatures - the fish I mean, the camper and fisherman being just regular folks.

            The trip home was as it should be - uneventful, except for the beautiful wild flowers in full bloom over southern Texas.  We did run into a strong north wind and steady rain.  I was happy to see a dry cabin when we arrived in Oklahoma, proof that my hatch and ventilators are water-proof.

Stingray, ventral side


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