Sunday, January 15th, Jon met Kristin, Connor and me at the dock.  We saw a weather window that appeared would give us a fine day of sailing on Galveston Bay.  It was cool, but not cold, and the wind was stiff, but not too crazy judging from the flags flying over Watergate Marina.  For a January day in Southeast Texas, this was as good as it gets.  Time to go sailing…

First of all, let’s just put it out there.  We don’t sail like bosses.  That is clear. It was blowing 20 kts from ESE.  We motored through Clear Creek channel on our way to Galveston Bay.  We made it 100 yards past Kemah Boardwalk and realized it just wasn’t our day out there.  The bay was extremely choppy and we were heading into 3-4ft waves that tossed us around pretty good.  Just as we start contemplating our decision, a loud THUD erupts from the cabin.  What the hell was that??  Damn!  We’ve only been out on Seraphina 3 times and we already broke something.  Jon peaked into the cabin and told us what had happened.  Apparently, the wave action was enough to knock our dinette table out of its cradle and caused it to crash onto the salon floor. Fortunately, we were all in the cockpit.  Kristin, my son, Jon and I were looking at each other, second-guessing our planned daysail in the bay.  I cursed Weather Underground under my breath…time to find a better marine forecast…ok, back to the situation at hand.

Now, we weren’t in a gale out in the blue water fighting 10ft swells…so in the grand scheme of things, we were actually just wusses.  The boat was perfectly capable of handling what we were experiencing.  But…I could blame it on having my 14 month old son with us, right?  It was too rough to enjoy the cruise. So we tucked tail and motored back into the channel and decided to sail in Clear  Lake.   

Now, I had sailed in Clear Lake for my ASA101 course.  Naturally, I thought, it would be good practice in sheltered water.  I remember spending all day sailing around the lake in a Colgate 26. Seraphina drafts just under 4ft, and is only 4ft longer, so it should be the same, right?  No.

Here’s the Navionics Chart of our Clear Lake adventure

With the wind coming right down the channel, all we could do was sail down wind and tack our way back and forth north and south.  Jon got a hell of a workout on the winches while I called the maneuvers.  We dodged an anchored ketch, numerous power boats hauling ass down the channel, and managed to never catch mud on the wing keel.   I kept my eyes rotating between watching the water, the depth sensor and the charts on my iPad hoping we don’t end up in the mud.

Let’s just say, there is a massive difference in the heavier displacement C30 than the light and agile Colgate 26.  What was a piece of cake with 6 students tacking and gybing the Colgate 26, was a pretty intense workout for us on Seraphina.  Kristin had her work cut out for her with Connor as well.  He (figuratively) burned through two diapers, two milk bottles and an eclectic mix of goldfish and yogurt drops.  With all of the maneuvering, managing a 14 month old was quite a task.  Yet another lesson learned…Momma needs a break!  Needless to say, we probably won’t be practicing too much in the Lake anymore.

After 3 hours in the lake, we decided to call it quits and motor back to the marina.  As we were buttoning up Seraphina, the wind laid down nicely.  Damn forecast! It called for increasing winds in the evening! 

The lessons for the day:

  1. Don’t trust regular weather sources for marine weather.  Selecting Kemah and seeing 10-15 knot wind doesn’t translate to what is actually going on in the bay.  I now use NOAA’s marine forecast.  I’ll let you know how that works out.  I’ve noticed so far in the winter, the winds usually lay down in the  evening unless a front is moving through.
  2.  Kid’s corner:  The things we get used to in a house when raising a kid are much different when sailing. Maneuvering for 3 hours doesn’t give any time for the steady peaceful sailing where Mom and Dad can swap roles and take care of baby business.  I think the moral of the story is just like at home, we need some idle time.  With sheets flying all over the place in the cockpit, it just wasn’t safe for Connor and he was not too happy down in the cabin with all of the commotion outside.