Friday, January 23, 2015

GoM passage Day 6 - Wed Jan 14th

Our last day of the passage is by far the coldest.  I don’t think it ever got above the mid-40s.  Kara and I have talked about it and both agree that the worst part of this passage has been the cold weather.  It’s so cold that you really don’t feel like being in the cockpit if you don’t have too, which results in all watches being solo watches, which is a bit of a downer.  Usually, during the day we’re both up in the cockpit enjoying the view and the fresh salt air, chatting and just relaxing in general.  For this trip, if you’re not on watch, you actually need to be down below warming up so you don’t freeze on your next watch.  The overall sea state has been fine, and even our little 30 knot gale with the 10ft quartering waves, while it made us both nervous since it was our first time in these conditions, wasn’t really that bad.  But having to do it all solo, in 5-6 layers, in the cold wind just wasn’t that much fun.

We never expected this passage to be fun, and it lived up to expectations.  What it really drove home for both of us was that there’s a good reason why most passages have a recommended time of year to undertake them.  We knew we where choosing to cross the gulf outside that time but it was time to get BABOO home.  Now the worst time of year would have been during hurricane season and there’s no way we where going to do that, but winter in the gulf, while not overly dangerous, is far less than comfortable.  The next time we cross the gulf (Mexico…New Orleans ?) it will be in warmer conditions, so that it’s actually enjoyable.

Anyway, we followed the safety fairway all the way into Galveston.  The closer we got to Galveston, the more shipping traffic we began to see.  It really is amazing how big some of those ships are and how fast they’re moving.  25 knots may not seem like much but when you’re moving at 6-7 knots…that’s freaking fast.

We made it to the ship anchorage outside the Galveston jetties about 2 hours before sunset.  It was incredible to see the massive number of ships that where anchored outside.  I really wish I’d gotten more pictures, but it was so cold that I just didn’t feel like taking my gloves off to mess with the camera.  I did get one short iphone video that I’ll post if it’s not too crappy, we’ll see.  We motorsailed just outside the channel and up between the jetties and made the turn north towards Trinity bay and Clearlake.  As the sun set we opted to continue to the marina since we had captain Blaine with us and he’s pretty comfortable with this kind of thing.  To be clear, if it had been just Kara and I we would have found a spot to anchor and just waited until daylight to continue.  Since we where inside the water was super calm and even though the wind had shifted to pretty much right in our face, we where able to motor at 7+ knots pretty easily.  As always we left the main up to stabilize us, but also used it to increase our visibility, hitting it with a light every time one of those tugs, pushing the massive barges decided to bee-line straight for us.  It was nice, for the most part as soon as we lit up the sail, they would adjust course around us.  I’m still not sure if that’s because they didn’t see us before or if they realized we really where a little sailboat, and new we could exactly get out of there way quickly.  We where almost always outside the red side of the channel, having to duck in briefly to avoid a couple shoals but then got right out.  We’d had a close encounter with a ship a couple days prior and did everything possible to avoid a repeat of that.

As we got close to the Clearlake area it was all hands on deck with someone always monitoring the depth sounder, someone spot lighting and helping look for the unlit markers while Blaine piloted us through.  On a related note, we really need to move our instruments off the binnacle and over the companionway.  We almost never drive from the helm when offshore.  It’s nice to be up behind the dodger out of the wind and spray and since our trusty B&G auto pilot has a wired remote we can adjust course from anywhere in the cockpit or even down below.  The problem is with our wind instrument, knot meter, and depth sounder all mounted at the helm, you have to walk back every time you want to check any of them.  We’ve seen many other IPs with the instruments mounted just above the companionway and really like this setup, since you can read everything from anywhere in the cockpit.

We finally got into the Waterford harbor marina about 9:30 PM, found our slip and tied up.  Then it was time for a nice LONG hot shower and some rum.  Now that we where on shore power we saved the propane and fired up our electric space heater to take some of the chill out of the air and got some sleep.

Kara and BABOO - Glad to be home!


  1. Sounds like quite the trip - Hope you keep updating the blog, it's interesting reading!

  2. Thanks Matt - We'll do our best to keep it up to share our progress all the projects and hopefully improving our skills along the way.