We decided to take Scooter (our very experienced sailing Boston Terrier) and PJay (sink like a rock French Bulldog) with us this time because #1 it was cooler and #2 we found a hotel that allows dogs, The Deluxe Inn. It will be so nice when we have the A/C installed on Pilgrim, no more hotels. We arrive to find Pilgrim safe, sound and above the waterline. I really wasn't worried because the managers have our numbers to call if something does happen, but we have to have some suspense, life would be boring otherwise. While on the boat, checking on things and running the engine, a thunderstorm formed and little drops of rain started to come down. We closed her up and headed back to the hotel just before it started to pour for about an hour. It was great, Texas is in a terrible drought and that was so welcomed.
The next day we set sail around 8:30 am, with a slight breeze from the east under a full main and headsail furled completely out. Our goal was to make it to the Gulf, so Cameron could do some fishing. By 10:30 am we couldn't see Bird Island, a little island just off Matagorda Peninsula and a short cut to the Gulf Channel. I was starting to worry that we were making terrible time with an average of only 2 knots and Cameron would not be able to fish because Pilgrim's running lights were not working, so we needed to make it back before dark. Just as Dave and I were discussing the options, he made a slight sail correction, the wind picked up, we heeled to 10 and we were moving at closer to 5 knots. The bimini was providing great shade, so I kicked back on the low side and just watched the sky. Ahhhh, I love bay sailing! We stayed on this heading for about 30 minutes, just long enough for me to good and relaxed, the wind changed causing a sail correction and once more I am disturbed from my peaceful bliss. Ahhhhh, I love bay sailing. Finally around 11:30 we could see Bird Island and we were back up to 4-5 knots, good time for lunch. The evening before I went to Subway and got 2 foot longs with the fixings, but no condiments. This is much easier and cheaper than purchasing all the items then try to prepare a sandwich while balancing myself at a 10-20 degree angle, I've done it before and I will say it is a talent, but I usually have a few bruises to go along with the accomplishment. Back to relaxing, which by the way Scooter and PJay have been able to do the entire time, I have got to teach them to do something on the boat besides sleep. We had 4 porpoise sightings, all one pod because they all surfaced at the same time in our stern wake like they were trained for a show at Sea World.
Past Bird Island and the Matagorda Peninsula, a course change would point the wind dead on our nose, so that meant motoring through the channel, past the jetties until we reached the Gulf. We furled in the headsail, started the engine and Cameron was finally able to drop his line in with over 35 feet of water under us. As we motored there was a least 20+ boats around us, must have been a good fishing day. Most have enough common courtesy to slow down when they come close to us as to not make big wakes as they pass, some do not and the boat was really rocking with the wave action caused by all the boats. About half way through the channel, Cameron's pole jerks and he has a bite. Dave quickly jumps up to help and I take over steering the boat. After a few minutes the fish is scooped up into the net and Cameron has caught is first salt water fish and we have no idea what it is, even after asking a bunch of people. We ended up giving it to a family that was fishing on the docks we when we returned.
We made it to the Gulf, smooth water and just a breeze that with the tiller tied to center and the main up we just drifted along slowly allowing Dave to get in some fishing as well, but with no luck. I had been watching coastline in the direction of Palacios and noticed that it was getting dark and clouds were starting to form in high pillars, what you see when a thunderstorm is forming. I mentioned it to Dave, so we decided to start heading back, but we went slow enough that Cameron was able to fish some more before heading out of the channel. As were moving, we started to hear thunder in the distance and I prepared the main to be reefed (shortened) if needed. We made the turn northeast, heeled to 10-15, Pilgrim moved up to 5.5 knots and Cameron fell asleep for an hour while we watched the weather in front of us. I turn on the VHF radio to see if any warnings had been issued, but there was none so we continued on our journey. The wind picked up, so I put a reef in the main; we probably would have been okay without the reef but I am sure Dave wanted to be safe and keep the heel down with Cameron, Scooter and PJay on board. Half way home we could see the rain in the distance but it never came our way, I could see a faint rainbow and at marker 34 we have to turn more northeast to stay in the Palacios Shipping Channel, land is on two sides and the wind is buffered. Down come the sails and we motored the rest of the way, by the time we got to the docks the rain had gone and the sun was out, the bay was flat like a mirror and Cabbage Head jelly fish (see picture)were abundant the closer we got to the harbour. It was another great day of sailing on Pilgrim, met some neighbors from slips close by, Cameron had "another first" memory, the dogs didn't fall overboard or get seasick and I am able to share another story. Until my next blog...