Sand Castle Days
10/20/2010-5:00 AM — engine hours – port:1091.7 starboard:1200.3 generator:1749.7
It’s quiet at 5:00 AM in Ingleside, but we wanted to get an early start for our trip south via the ICW. No need for both of us to get up, so I told Michelle to stay in bed and I cast off the lines just a few minutes before 5:00 AM. The winds are SE at 15 kits and the near full moon is ready to set. Our course takes us SE across Corpus Christi Bay to the Kennedy Causeway, which connects the mainland to North Padre Island. The bridge is 11 miles away, so we should be passing under it just before sunrise.
We made a quick stop at a bait shop for another bag of ice just before crossing under the bridge and entering ICW properly. For the next 30+ miles, the inter coastal waterway (ICW) is our only hope for staying off the bottom, with an average dredged depth of 15 feet, it is a welcome path south. Ingenious fishermen have built all manner of fishing shacks all along this portion of the ICW and we marvel at the difference between them. Some are made from the flotsam that can be collected along the shoreline, while others are relative palaces, complete with A/C and satellite TV.
A bend further to the south of the ICW allows us to raise our sails so that we can motor-sail. The addition of the full main and jib gives allows us to reduce engine speed and still gain a knot or so of speed.
Alas, the channel bends back towards the east and the sails have to come down. We’re at the entrance to Baffin Bay and since we have to take the sails down, this seems like the perfect spot to take Buddy the doff ashore for a needed potty break. Michelle hovers in Double Wide while buddy and I motor ashore aboard “Trailer Trash” our inflatable dinghy. 15 minutes later with a refreshed dog aboard and the dinghy safely back in her spot, we’re off again. 34 miles behind us.
The generator is giving me fits. It starts fine but then cuts off. I thought it might be the oil pressure sensor, so I ordered a new one last week and replaced it this afternoon as we’re motoring up the channel. Of course, that wasn’t the problem. Next I thought it might be a bad connection, so I took the time to replace all the terminals and splices and that gave me the opportunity to clean upnthe rats nest of wiring that is the harness. The wiring looks better, but the generator still cuts out. The water temperature sensor is the next most likely culprit, but I don’t have a spare (why didn’t I order one when I ordered the oil sensor?), so I’ll see if I can get one this week in the Valley. It’s always something with the generator!
We’re coming to the end of the land cut and will soon drop out into Redfish Bay, near Port Mansfield, a small fishing town located at the north end of the Rio Grande Valley. When I was a kid, we used to sail up here from Port Isabel at least once a year. The last time we made the trip, I borrowed my Dad’s Morgan 38 and relived my youth through the eyes of my boys (who were then 4 and 5). It was a near perfect trip. We even had some excitement with an overheating engine (a trip by boat isn’t an adventure unless something breaks and you get to fix it).
We had to make a last minute stop at the last fishing shack to let Buddy have a bio break now we’re out of the land cut and into Redfish Bay. The turn to go into Port Mansfield is 14 miles up the bay, but we’ll continue on to SPI tonight, arriving around midnight. Now, here’s the good news – It’s happy hour!
Open bay + 15 foot deep water + 25 knot winds, on the nose = steep choppy water.
Choppy water + Manta 40 = dry comfortable ride
Thank you, Manta designer Pat Reichman!
We’re in the final leg of our trip down the ICW. We should arrive at the marina within the hour, but I have a decision to make. There is a power line that runs across our path to the marina. The chart says the vertical clearance is 61 feet, which is the height to the top of my VHF antena. Technically, I should have plenty of room unless the tide is really high, but I’m really not sure if I should chance it. The alternative adds 45-60 minutes to the trip. What to do?
What to do? Not take chances. We detoured around the power line which added an hour to the trip, but it could have easily saved the trip as well! We’re tied to an end cap sideways to the wind which is blowing like he’ll – away from the dock. A quick shower and we’re off to bed. Success!!