Sailing in The Laguna Madre
Well I survived to get on the road with
the new boat. Last minute preparations on the trailer
were maddinging, as was rigging the family van with a
wire harness to plug the trailer lights in. Those newer
vehicles have too many darn wires. Working out in the
100+ degrees at 1:00 PM tring to get it all together is
heroic... but it got done, and about 2:30 PM we were on
the road. Self, wife, son and David Hetrick, without whom
this would not have been done. David is much more than
We arrived in Port Isabel about 4:00
PM and found heavy road traffic probably due to the big
international fishing tournabment. We stopped at a roadside
store for a bottle of christening fluid... in this case
Heinekan. A friend who owns a Hunter 30 (Dr. Pinkerman)
came by and used the camera for us. Thanks to him we have
some good pictures of launching and the first half of
the day's sailing.
When the boat was halfway off the trailer
Joseph got the honor of swinging the bottle on the bow
eye and christening the boat... and naming it "Ocean
Breeze" (his choice).
It launched well, and we got down to
the first rigging. After lacing the Dolphin Sr. sail to
a yard and boom (made of closet pole) we fiddled with
it for a while and got it to set right on the mast (an
old dingy mast, some 14 ft long that I built some 25 years
ago). The leeboards were not weighted and needed to be
weighted. I had provided with a hole in the leading edge
to pull them down and between the forward line and the
aft line, hold them in good position.
It sailed well, first with just Joseph
and me, then after several tacks, and much bending from
the mast, the mast broke, some 2 ft above the deck (mast
was stepped "on the keel and was free standing, above
the deck level.)
We had overpowered this 2 inch diameter
mast with too much sail on a moderately windy day. Got
the sail, yard,boom and upper part of the mast aboard
and drifted back to the launching ramp/dock, then lifted
the rig out and replaced it with a much shorter rig -
also borrowed from one of the 8 ft dingys - complete with
sprit rigged sail. The boat still sailed, and we went
out for another round with David, Joseph and I.
Good sailing, not as exciting as the
sail that was almost 3 times the area, but still respectable.
Next trip out form the dock found Mona (wife), Joseph
and I sailing. After we got free of the more confined
area Joseph (8.75 yrs old) took over, and did a fairly
good job as helmsman.
We got back to the dock/ramp and did
a good job (very good job for me - who is a menace backing
a trailer) backing down, and getting "Ocean Breeze"
back on for the trip home.
A pizza supper rounded out the day,
and set us up for the 1.5 hour trip home.
Wow, it does not get much better than
this. 8.75 yr old son, Joseph, and a family friend took
the new boat... with newer mast... out for a sail Saturday
night. Launched and got going by 10:10 PM and tacked out
of the yacht harbor at Port Isabel. Sailed out into the
Lower Laguna Madre, waves low, wind about 15 mph, tempreture
in mid 80's (deg. F.) The local yacht club (I am not a
member, but have member friends) was having a moonlight
My friend with the Humter 30 was aground.
Tide was way low (Moon almost full) and he ran aground
several more times before he got in. For some time we
sailed circles around him (with a 13 ft boat!) and while
sailing took an 8 ft pole and sounded around, finding
deep water for him. Cell phones worked for boat-to-boat
communication. He got in, and we got in. Hauled out about
1:00 AM and got home just now... about 3:20 AM.
Today the tow vehicle was my pickup...
which of course did not have a wire harness for the trailer.
This time it was 105.7 deg F. while I was lying under
the back of the bed, on a piece of cardboard box, trying
to get it all to work. I tried a different type of plug,
that was supposed to work with 4 wire systems... well
it got 3 of the 4. The evening sailing was a good payoff
for the work under the truck.
Joseph and I went out sailing on the
Lower Laguna Madre a few days before the Tropical Storm
named Erica threatned us here in S. Texas. David Hetrick,
the friend who helped me make the boat was also among
the crew. ... had a great time.
Dave oversees the launch
We got out on the water about 10 AM,
sailed north to a little island and had a look at its
beach. Approach to the island was through 6 inches of
water and turtle grass, which we glided over. Made peanutbutter
and Jelly sandwiches in the boat, on site, then headed
off back toward the Queen Isabella causeway... miles away.
We tacked a few times and got over to
the west side of S. Padre Island, finally finding a place
to tie up and get supper at a bayside (expensive) restaurant.
After supper, and as the sun set, we
headed out to cross Laguna Madre back to Port Isabel.
Lumpy stormy clouds were scudding in from the Gulf of
Mexico (This was Wednesday evening, the tropical storm
arrived before dawn on Saturday.) It was a great sleigh
ride surging along, and we made
harbor without incident. Well, short tacking up the channel
in the harbor was energetic. We got tied up just after
I had my Garmin eTrex GPS along, and
it said we got peak speed of 5.1 mph ! quite good for
a heavy 13 ft boat, though most of the time we were doing
3.2 to 4.1 mph.
As you might note in the pictures at
the url below I made another (and more robust mast) for
the Dolphin Sr. sail that we adopted to this boat. The
closet poles that are used for the yard and boom on the
rig bent but held. Do note the "sophisticated"
<grin> sheeting arrangement using an old aluminum
mountain climbing caribeener as a block.
for more pictures, see
Gerard Mittelstaedt firstname.lastname@example.org