Galveston Bay – March 2006

Rhapsody’s Journey South

February 25, 2006

Today we Pulled Boat in preparations for the Galveston trip.

March 04-05, 2006

Prepped boat for the trip to Galveston!

On Sunday we moved Rhapsody to Poteau in preparations for the trip to Galveston.

March 9, 2006

Able bodied seaman Pudge (aka Alexander) arrived thus completing the assemblage of the crew.

March 10, 2006

We departed Poteau at 1000 exactly.  Mount Pleasant TX 1400 and NASA Road 1, Seabrook TX 2000 on the nose.  502 miles 9 hours drive time 10-hour trip time.  Spent the night in a motel near I45.  The boys were wonderful the whole drive down.

March 11, 2006

We arrived Hillman’s Shrimp and Oyster Co in Dickinson TX 0900 – Began loading Rhapsody with stores for the adventure.  We got the boat ready with the help of Chuck Gardner, and with visits from Carl Jones and George Shaunfield.  We used the Cherry Picker and had the mast stepped in 18 minutes.  The boys and I went back to Kemah to eat lunch with Chuck at Chilis.  After lunch we went to Lowes to get a 2×6 to make a fender board.  I’ll keep this kind of stuff on the trailer for future use.

The boat was launched at 1300.  This was Rhapsody’s first ever venture into salt (or brackish) waters.  After launch we had to return to Kemah and WAL~MART to get some stuff we had forgotten.  Also a trip to the grocery store.  I bought shrimp for dinner at the store because we could not be back to Hillman’s before they closed.  We had Grandmother Shrimp for dinner!!!!!   mmmmm….

George Shaunfield dropped by to loan us a chart and to give us some local information.  This delayed dinner until about 2100, but it was well worth the wait.  Furthermore, it was good to see and talk with George.

March 12, 2006 (Winds slight in the AM building to Small Craft Advisory in the PM)

We awoke, had breakfast and went to Texas City to the Kroger and BACK to Wal~Mart for fishing stuff!!!  Well it was closer and I could see if from the highway but just couldn’t get there from the highway I was on (perhaps a sign of things to come?)!  It took significantly longer than I had planned (at least an hour longer to go to Texas City than to Kemah).  Anyway we were back at the boat and prepared to get underway for Kemah and the Boardwalk Marina.

We pulled out of the shipyard at 1300, went about ¼ of a mile and immediately went HARD aground (ignoring local knowledge to keep #37 slightly to port and then bringing it to starboard).  After several efforts, to include attempts at kedging off, and about an hour later, I finally called TowBoat US.  Two hours later, they arrived and dragged us 15 or 20 feet to clear water.  Wind was SSW at about 20 kts gusting to 30ish.  Tow Boat guy said there were small craft advisories out on the bay (I hadn’t heard that and I listened to earlier Wx forecast) so it was back to the shipyard for the night.  The tow fee was $550.  I was devastated!  I thought maybe $150 or perhaps $200, but $550!  So I coughed up a credit card and was very dejected over the whole affair.  To say that my confidence was shattered would be an understatement!  I hadn’t planned on that expense or the error in judgment and it kind of sort of set the tone for the entire trip!

Boiled Shrimp, and carrots with ranch dressing for dinner (gotta have those veggies).

March 13, 2006 (Winds SSEish 12-15 early shifting N 15-20 with cold front)

The boys had been such great traveling companions and they had been cooped up in the truck and at the shipyard for 3 entire days!  So I decided to give them a day on the Kemah Boardwalk.  Also a cold front was coming through sometime this AM and Chuck called me three times to tell me to get going, but I had the phone turned off so we were stuck in the shipyard again for Monday night.  We arrived at Kemah around 0930 via land yacht and the front hit within minutes.

I bought the boys all day passes to the rides on the Kemah Boardwalk and they rode and rode and rode until the thrill was gone baby.  We had lunch before they gave out entirely, then it was back to the rides, and then we headed back to the boat for the evening.  The boys watched a movie while I took a very short power nap.

Back at the shipyard and we had salad and spaghetti for dinner.  Following dinner we began our Uno Tournament.  It was an odd game.  I lost (and I was trying to be competitive) and the boys tied!  We have a trophy for the overall winner.

March 14, 2006  (Winds NNE 20 kts?)

Jeff’s Birthday (my son, and Pudge’s father).  Stuck in port due to high winds again, but the forecast for Wednesday was great for a run to Galveston.  So we took the land yacht to Galveston for the day.  Once there we went to Moody Gardens and had a great time visiting the aquarium, the rain forest and seeing an Imax 3D movie.  I took this opportunity to check out the marina from a distance.  Nothing but slips, but we had reservations for Wednesday and Thursday nights.

While at Moody Gardens I bumped into my niece Jennifer and her in-laws.  In fact we had tickets to the same Imax movie.

Chuck called and was kinda perplexed about why we weren’t sailing.  Well the wind in Galveston was still well over 20 kts (or at least appeared to be), to the point where David (Jenny’s other half) could not rent a fishing trip.

Again back to the boat.  And by this time the kids had started fishing and doing quite well.  First, William caught a gafftop catfish and then a flounder.  Next Pudge joined in with a Blue Crab which had in snared himself with the hook and couldn’t turn loose.  Then Pudge too joined in by catching gafftops.  What slimy fish!  YUCK!

It was quite entertaining watching them catch the fish.  We had shrimp cocktail and burritos for dinner. William had a rash and it looked pretty bad so I rubbed him down with the Benadryl cream and told him not to eat any more shrimp.

March 15, 2006 (Winds E 20+ kts)

After listening to the wx forecast for today (the previous evening) I decided to make a break for it EARLY.  We left the shipyard at 0700 into the teeth of 20-30 kts winds dead on the nose.  We made it through the dreaded #37 (see entry for March 12th) just fine and out to the main Dickinson Bay Channel.  The wind was truly on the nose.  Gertrude could not hold course and so I (dressed in my foulies) was doing all of the helming.  We started out at 4 kts +/- a few tenths.  After rounding Flashing Red # 14 and heading more easterly and leaving the spoils islands behind the waves built and had an even greater effect on our forward progress.

All this time the boys were in bed.  But now they started to stir around.  Alex thought he was getting sick, but we were hanging in there.  However, about the time we reached the Flashing Red #4 at the entrance to the channel, we were down to 1 kt or less and going nowhere fast.  We were still 2 miles for the Houston Ship Channel and the more I thought about thought about it the more I thought there was no way.  We were still 5 or 6 hours from Galveston and once I turned south in the channel the waves would be on my quarter and this was going to produce allot of wallowing.  Furthermore, I would not be able to leave the helm and attend to the needs of the boys.  Soooo, it was back to the shipyard.

The boat was doing well and I felt that I could have made the trip IF I didn’t have the boys with me.  But, I did and that came first.

Once back at the seawall William circled the boat while I got everything ready to tie back up.  It worked really well.

So now it was back to Galveston via land yacht with a stop in Texas City for more Benadryl for William’s rash.

I cancelled our Wednesday reservations at Moody’s Marina and we returned to the garden to make use of the second day of our tickets and to see another Imax movie.  Back to the boat with Grandmother’s Shrimp for Dinner without complaint.

March 16, 2006 (Fog & Calm until around 1000 then SSW 10-15 kts)

At some ungodly hour in the AM I heard numerous shrimp & oyster boats departing the yard.  Then suddenly, crunch something hit us.  I jumped up to see one of the boats just off our starb’d bow on their way out to fish.  They never said a word.

After breakfast the facility manager came over to warn me that those guys didn’t give a damn if they hit my boat or not and that you would never be able to get anything done about it if they damaged the boat.  I relayed to him about being hit and he reiterated his warning and advised that I leave or at the very least be on the boat and visible when they returned.

Well this was to be the day we headed north for Kemah AGAIN with a favorable forecast.  But the forecast for the next day sucked!  Winds NNE 15-20 kts.  So I decided what the hell.  Everyone was tired!  We had been unable to sail (some my fault, some the weathers) so I decided to blow this pop stand.

I prepped the boat all morning and at 1300 she was pulled.  Shortly after that we unshipped the mast.  The cherry picker operator broke off my windex, but otherwise did a fine job.  By 1600 the boat was ready to go with the exception of a few last minute chores so we went to Chuck and Grace’s house for the evening.

Once there the boys went riding bikes around the neighborhood.  A short time later, Pudge came running in saying that William was hurt.  So off I go to find out the extent of the damage.  Sure enough he had been trying to ramp the bike and crashed.  At first I only noticed his busted lip (the most blood), then he said his tooth hurt and on inspection of that damage I found a chipped tooth.  Luckily the break had not reached the nerves, so there will be a dentist trip once we get home.

That evening the boys watched a movie and Chuck, Grace and I had a good visit until around 2200.

March 17. 2006

When I awoke, I decided what the hell, we were coming home.  I was tired and hadn’t done any sailing at all, so get the boat  home and try to launch her on Saturday to get her cleaned and the saltwater out of the engine.  That would give me Saturday and Sunday for any chores that would need to be done after being gone for over a week.

We arrived at the boat at 0830, saw to the aforementioned last minutes details and departed Hillman’s at 0930.  The trip home was uneventful.  9 hours 35 minutes drive time and ten hours and 10 or 15 minutes total time.  We were home at 1935.

Good Things:

  1. I cannot believe how well my grandsons get along!  They are the quintessential traveling buddies!!!

  2. The truck and trailer worked VERY well.  We got 11.2 mpg both ways.

  3. The boys were wonderful overall with some periods of boredom (hey they are 8 year olds).

  4. The boat worked very well for us while we were aboard.

  5. Dried hamburger meat.

  6. Hillman’s were very helpful and affordable.

  7. Fender board.

  8. More Prep time on navigation prior to arrival.

  9. Galveston Bay offers soft mud for grounding!

Bad Things:

  1. Running aground is costly.  Have unlimited towing insurance next time.

  2. Hillmans was too far from the open bay!

  3. Taking both boys was probably not a good idea.  Taking one of them would probably not have been a good idea either.  At least on the first trip.

  4. Perhaps this was too much work for such a short stay.

  5. Single-handed navigation is difficult.  What would work better?

What went Wrong:

  1. I wasn’t paying attention when leaving Hillman’s.  I knew where to go and I knew what to do!  Why didn’t I do it?

  2. Once I realized I was going aground, I should have either put the motor in reverse or tried to do a 180 degree turn around and go back the way I came.

  3. Having the boys on the boat was grand.  We had fun, but perhaps too much of a distraction!!!!!


  1. Remember where the boat sets best on the trailer.

  2. Get a new coupler!

  3. Rig a metal “tool” box on the trailer.

  4. Get the rigging redone where I can step the mast without a crane.

  5. Paint the trailer.

  6. Get the bearings re-packed.

  7. Rig the trailer for wet launch/retrieval.


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