Copy Write 4/13/2005 © Updated 12/27/2005
A 26' sloop rigged trailerable sailboat built by
South Coast Seacraft
"26 Again" owned by
John and Tammy
lives its life comfortably at Pleasure Island Marina near
Port Arthur Texas .
Purchased in 2004 this boat is the crown jewel of John's fleet.
Visit John and Tammy along with the rest of the
South Coast Gang
is required to participate. No membership is needed to visit.
The Sail Plan
As with any boating trip weather is the deciding factor.
Fortunately "26 Again is big enough to take a bit of weather.
Several destinations were part of our original planning.
Plan A Sail out into the
Gulf of Mexico, turn left (port / east) sail to
Cameron Louisiana .
Spend a day touring Cameron / goofing off. Let a weather front blow thru. As Mariner Chuck has never been to Cameron, we must let him ride the Monkey Island Ferry. Don't forget to get a tee shirt. Depending upon weather sail to
Lake Charles and return via the ICW to
. Or just return the way we came.
Plan B Sail to the southern end of
Friday night April 8th set the hook and spend the night. The swing bridge at the southern end of
opens at 6 am. Head south at first light for
about 12 miles south of the jetties protecting
. Return when ever.
Plan C is that undefined catch all plan. "I think we will just go that-a-way".
Thursday April 7th 2005
Found me running around like crazy trying to get everything together for the trip.
Money was flowing freely. Meeting my wife for lunch my truck would not start in the parking lot of the company she works for.
The 95 Ford F 150 XLT had been running fine all day. When I tried to crank it I heard that familiar click and knew what the problem was. After Lunch a quick trip to an auto parts store one block down the street a solenoid was needed. Over the years I owned several Fords and all needed a new solenoid. Needless to say I have experience! Once back together she still wouldn't crank. My wife was running errand for her job and was gone. I hiked the battery down to the auto parts store one block down the street. It tested out OK. Upon returning to the truck my mechanical options were quickly diminishing. Before calling a tow truck I decided to take apart the battery terminals, clean them and re-assemble. The truck fired right up. I was so happy; the thought of canceling due to a break down was not something I wanted.
Friday April 8th 2005
The trip across Interstate 10 going west went fast and smooth.
Truck did just fine. With gasoline over $2.00 a gallon keeping the truck fed was a bit costly.
Hanging around John's house a quick trip to the store for supplies before Chucks estimated arrival is in order. By 6 pm Chuck is here, we all pile into our vehicles go to a local restaurant for dinner. Before we head out another trip to the same grocery store is needed. Naturally the grocery store doesn't have everything we want.
There is a rule about sailing trips.
You can't launch until you make at least two out of the way trips to Wal-Mart.
Had we known, had we planned better, we could have avoided the previous trips to the grocery store and just made the one stop by Wal-Mart.
Finally we are unloading stuff out of our vehicles into the boat. A mild to non existent wind has all the flying biting things swarming us. We will probably use up our whole supply of OFF tonight.
Loading the boat I noticed something was not right and brought it to John's attention. There in the head where it was supposed to be was one lone roll of toilet paper. It was thin on the roller and not likely to last the 4 - 5 days of our expected cruise. John informed us "yup" that is the roll, and he did not think there was any more.
Meanwhile Chuck had raced off to buy beer before the local store closed at 9pm. Upon his return we were informed he did make it before 9 pm, the store closed at 8 pm.
You may remember my previous statement concerning Wal-Mart.
I was of the delusion Thursday the two Wal-Mart visit rule had been satisfied. I stopped in the morning to buy fishing gear. Then late in the evening the second trip to the evil Wal-Mart Empire to buy other stuff needed for the trip.
It is a hike back into town to Wal-Mart. Chuck and I load up and head in. The grand tally so far, two trips to a local grocery store and the required two out of the way trips to Wal-Mart.
It is now after 11 pm and decision time. Do we stay put, get hammered by bugs at the dock or head out and hope the bugs don't find us?
One hour later finds us at the south end of Sabine Lake anchored for the night. I hope these guys don't snore. You know I would never do such a thing.
Saturday April 9th 2005
The morning finds us swinging on the hook safely. I am a morning person and love hot coffee on deck watching the world come alive in the AM. This is not my boat; I have to fumble around finding everything. Eventually the water is boiling and coffee aroma fills the air.
As both John and Chuck arise they mention somebody snoring in the night. I feel certain another boat must have anchored too close to us in the night.
Must have been those guys on the other boat!
Weather forecast called for light fog in the night. Unfortunately the weatherman was right. We decided to hang tight until it lifted. The fog didn't take long; soon we were hailing the bridge tender to let us out.
The jetties of Sabine Pass
are six miles it seemed to take a long time to motor out far enough to hoist the sails. With sails flying "26 Again" was in her element. The seas mild, wind steady just like a big lake. Due to the extended forecast
was executed. "26 Again" reaching South West toward
12 miles away. Once there drop the hook and do some fishing. Along the way John prepared the troll line.
It is now official, we are sailing the Gulf and fishing.
Due to recent fronts blowing thru the seas were a bit confused and choppy. Not too bad at this point. The boat seemed to be sailing well close reaching to beam reaching winds a steady 10 knots or so, a few gusts just to keep things interesting. Boat speed fluctuating between 4 knots and almost 6, John was happily playing with the hand held GPS that was his constant companion this trip.
Between the warm sun, rocking of the boat and everything else it didn't take long for me to get relaxed and sleepy. A rare treat, go below on the high side take a nap. John and Chuck could handle things. I don't know how long the nap lasted upon awakening the seas had built forming into rollers but still a bit confused, the wind had picked up. A quick conference it was decided to turn back. We felt once out to the fishing area the ride aboard would not be comfortable at anchor.
At 10 miles out it was time to bring "26 Again" about. The tack was smooth; soon we were on a beam reach back to shore. Chuck decided to take advantage of the empty cabin. John at the helm fiddling with the GPS to get us a bearing back home. Beam reaching back the boat wallowed in the seas that were catching us on the quarter.
In time Chuck gets up and John hands the helm to me with orders to keep a compass bearing of "0" degrees. Due north for all you non sailors! It soon becomes obvious a heading of 15 degrees settles the boat movement some making things a bit more comfortable. Actually 30 degrees would be the best heading for comfort.
Dare I disobey a direct order from Capt. John?
Would he make me walk the plank? Or just cut my pay for this trip.
I ain't waking him up to ask? 15 degrees it is?
It doesn't seem to take long to get back, once in sight of the Sabine Pass jetties the course must be adjusted to 30 degrees. Running into the jetties would not be fun. Hauling in our trolling line the hook on the lure is bent. Something hit the lure underway but did not snag the hook or got off before we noticed the fish.
It is now official
We three Amigos sailed the Gulf of Mexico!
Caught a fish and let it go. I believe snag-n-go is the correct term.
And lived to sail another day
The wind is perfect for a wing-n-wing run straight up the jetties. Whisker pole set northward we go.
Now the dilemma?
Plan A was not an option.
Modified Plan B has been completed.
Time to execute Plan C!
Esters Restaurant under the
is decided upon as our destination for tonight.
Instead of returning to
, left turn into Port Arthur Shipping Channel, now our happy sailing ground. The wind that had been building all day was still strong. (I am glad we turned back in the Gulf when we did).
John is calling his wife to make arrangements to meet him there.
We are all sailing along the ICW dodging traffic and having a good time when it happens. The wind had become a bit fluky the sails dropped and the iron genny fired up.
My personal friend Mr. Murphy decides to climb aboard for a visit. I don't know exactly where on the Sabine Neches Canal he decided to visit us except it was somewhere near the Pleasure Island Golf Course.
The outboard just quite! Mr. Murphy turned off the switch!
John digs out his tools, Mariner and I raise the sails. We are under way but crippled. This part of the ICW is busy; depending upon sails alone is not exactly an ideal situation.
While John is working on the engine the one thing happened you really don't want to deal with. A tugboat pushing several empty barges needed to pass us. The barges being empty ride high out of the water, we still had some wind. Generally a tug pushing empties needs more room to maneuver than one full. At this time we were sailing more or less down the middle of the channel. He offered to pass us in the two whistle side / green side. In other words he swings to his starboard side to pass us. Technically we are the stand on vessel and not required to move, except out of his way enough for him to pass as we were blocking the channel.
At the time I was helmsman and made a tactical decision to swing back to the red side of the channel out of his way. I didn't factor the trees lining the bank of the red side, which by the way was also the windward shore. By the time the tug passed we were in the wind shadow of the trees. No motor and no wind. Sail boaters are cautioned to be careful of a lee shore. Avoid it if possible. I should have taken the offer of the green side of the channel.
Eventually we drifted out enough to catch some wind. I realized the error of my judgment and kept us on the green side
Meanwhile John is still praying over the engine.
It is determined the engine is beyond our ability to fix
John has the local knowledge Mariner and I don't. He decides our original destination is still the best bet if the wind holds and we can get there.
By now it is late, getting dark as long as we have wind we have options. The plan to sail along the Sabine Neches Channel, just in front of Humble Island the channel splits to the east and west. West into the Neches River under the
Naturally another big freighter loaded down rumbles past. As it is between us and the wind we flounder around for a bit until it passes. The wind is still holding.
Left rudder adjust the sails from a beam reach to a broad reach we are committed to running the Rainbow Bridge under sail at night. Just about to the bridge when a loaded tanker sneaks up behind us. After radio conversation with the tanker John decides to hug the green side in 15 feet of water while both the tanker and we pass under the bridge.
Hard left now we are in the risky part of this operation. The canal leading to Esters Restaurant is long and narrow, the wind almost on the nose. The trick is to get as far in as possible on the opposite side where residents have docks and not run aground.
I am on the bow with the anchor, Capt. John our fearless leader at the helm like in the movie
"Master and Commander" and Chuck is monitoring the depth gauge.
Ole' King Neptune was kind to us. We didn't bump, got to the other side and tied up to a dock. John's wife Tammy, daughter and son in law waiting in the car. We secured a tow from a passing power boat to the restaurant.
Once tied up the dinner bell was rung, time to eat.
Afterward we all rode in Tammy's car to Pleasure Island to pick our vehicles.
It didn't take long for everyone to go to sleep tonight. After the days adventures we were all tired.
Sunday April 10th 2005
I can't say we weren't disappointed.
A whole week of sailing reduced to one glorious day of canvas time.
Chuck and I unloaded the boat while John went to fetch his trailer. The wind today was blowing real hard right down the channel. We set up lines to handle the boat. Successfully walked the boat down around several obstacles and loaded her up on the trailer.
End of trip for me. I went on to Houston Texas, visited my Dad then back home to Florida.
Chuck hung around John's house.
Who knows he may still be there!
During any sailing trip there are thousands of decisions. What if this? What if that? The wind had turned fluky; John wanted to make some time in order to meet Tammy at Esters at a decent hour. The sails lowered we were motoring at something over 4 mph. The hull speed of the boat was over 5mph
I asked John of the motor was able to push the boat at hull speed in calm water. Otherwise it was going to take forever to get there. He revved the motor up a notch to hull speed.
This kinda stuff will keep you up at night.
If I had not asked John to crank up the engine.
If John had not revved up the engine.
Would the Power Pack and Stator still failed Saturday evening?
Or would it have failed some other time?
Is it better the engine failed while there were three competent sailors aboard to deal with the situation?
Makes you wonder don't it!
Words of Wisdom
How hard can it be for two grown men to pick a role of toilet paper?
Chuck and I sent on a most important mission. Successfully return from Wal-Mart with beer & toilet paper. Once there a dilemma, do we get the four pack wrapped in plastic? Or the individual rolls wrapped in paper?
Under normal circumstances this shouldn't be an issue.
Upon our triumphant return from the Gulf of Mexico it was discovered the sink in "26 Again" burped water up thru the drain as we bounced around in the waves offshore. A lone roll of toilet paper saved the day. One of the wrapped roles of paper had been tossed in the small sink. It did its job and was soaking wet.
We decided to leave the toilet paper out to dry. Here are three intrepid sailors on a world class sail boat with a $0.80 roll of toilet paper on the sliding companionway hatch as we cruise thru Port Arthur.
Had we bought the four pack wrapped in plastic, it would have been stowed, the water burping up thru the sink spraying all over stuff.
It cost John some money preparing for this trip.
It cost me some money preparing for this trip
It cost Chuck some money
just to get there as he lives somewhere way north of here where it is still cold in April.
It will cost John some more money to fix his motor.
I loved the time we had.
I too have had my busted motor trip.
My sail trips cut short due to weather.
And other things happen.
I got a chance to sail the SC 26 A.
Go out into the Gulf to play.
Sail new horizons.
Most important hang out with friends.