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This story was submitted by Ken Abrahams abrahams@structurex.net of the Lake Charles Yacht Club http://www.saillc.org/ .  While this is not specifically a boat building article, Ken is an accomplished boat builder, and he has produced a compelling piece.

The Voyage of Excalibur
  
     August 4-8, 2000

Several of us in Lake Charles delivered a Lancer 29 to Corpus Christi last summer.  This is a "log" I wrote for our club newsletter.  The plan for the Voyage:  depart Lake Charles, LA and sail to Freeport, TX; drop off Alvin Touchet, and then continue on to Corpus Christi.  All of the sailing was planned to be offshore.

Ships Log:

Thursday Afternoon -Outfitted Ship
05:30 AM Friday - Arrived at LCYC
06:05 AM Friday - Left LCYC.  Boat aground and required backing out to deeper water. under engine power only. Engine 2500 rpm, smoking and quit.  Restarted and ran at 2400 rpm, 5.4 kn.

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Excalibur Motor Sailing down the Calcasieu

06:45 - Passed I-210 bridge. Raised Mainsail.
07:15 - Passing Citgo.
08:00 - Passing Moss Lake, Channel Marker 103; Mark took the helm.
08:50 - Turners Bay Marker.
08:55 - Autopilot on.  Mile Mark 20     
09:19 - Texaco Cut,  CM 84
09:40 - Gold Roof House,  CM70
10:00 - Dugas Bay, CM 77.  Ken at helm.
10:30 - Met Zip Gilmore and Max LeBeauf in Channel. Max had just caught a speckled trout to take the lead in the CCA tournament, about 8.3 lbs.
10:42 - CM 69.  Lower Mainsail.  Motor only.  Alvin at the helm. Met Lena Touchet in Channel.  She also told us about Max's catch. News travels fast over the outboard telegraph.
10:54 - MM 9,  CM 67.
10:59 - Alvin brought out shrimp and sauce.  Good! Thanks Cindy!
11:00 - Saw first of many Dolphins. 
11:10 - Increased engine rpm.  Engine quit.  Reset at 2400 rpm, Ok.
11:30 - MM 6, Bottom of Big Lake.
12:00N - MM 3, Cameron.  Frank at Helm.
12:20 PM - MM 1.
12:30 - Boat ramp at East Jetties.  MM 0. We are at the Gulf of Mexico. 
Still have to clear Jetties.
12:45 - Clear Jetties,  Raised Mainsail and Jenny, motor sail at 6 kn.
13:15 - Shut down engine.  Sails only at 5.5 kn.; pleasant.
15:30 - 6+ kn.  White caps.  Depower main.
16:16 - Tacked to clear Sabine Pass.
19:15 - Engine seized.
Night Hours - Full sail.  4 hr shifts, 2 hr tiller, 2 hr lookout.  Lookout was on the Bow, this was very treacherous as swells pounded the boat, one could just hang on to the bow pulpit.  Many platforms, etc.  The moon set at about midnight and it was difficult to see, but the stars were incredible. Many meteorites were seen and the water was peppered with phosphorescent plankton as the boat sailed through.
07:30 AM Saturday - Restart engine.  Will put into Galveston rather than Freeport.  Not making enough progress to Freeport due to wind direction.
09:30 - Lowered sails, no progress with sails.  Engine only.
10:00 - Pump the poop.
11:00 - Bolivar Jetties.
13:00 - Arrived Galveston Yacht Basin.  Purchased 3 gal diesel, 80 lb. Ice. Cindy and sister met us to pick up Alvin.  We cleaned up and went for sandwiches.
15:00 - Left Galveston Yacht Basin. Headed to ICW. (Intercoastal Waterway) 
16:30 - ICW clearing Galveston Causeway Bridge. 
18:00 - and on; Going through washout area of ICW.  Channel is shallow and narrow.  Tug boats go through singly.  We followed a tow.  Many depth warnings and bumping ground.  Nerve racking!
21:00 - Engine quit.  Raised Jib.  Had main up.  Tried to sail into the wind. Ran hard aground.  Wind on the nose, no engine, aground, narrow shallow channel, dark, etc.  Trouble shoot engine. After cooling for an hour, restarted.  Hand crank as battery and starter not working.
22:00 - Motor restarted.  Rocked boat to free from bottom.  Underway in the moonlight. Mud everywhere from two anchors.  
23:00 - Attacked by killer bees.  Ken repelled with Silver Cross and Deep Woods Off. 
Night hours - Motored to Freeport.  Tense due to engine questions. Cleared Freeport bridge and raised sails again. Wind angle Ok.
02:00 AM Sunday - Discussed resting for a while.  Decided to    press on.
03:00 - Cleared Freeport Jetties.  110 NM to Aransas Pass. (Near Corpus Christi.)  Shut down engine. Making good progress with sails.  Main and large jib, 6 kn. all night, 3' seas.  Employed Autohelm, what a Godsend, like having an extra person on board that never tires.  We were able to put only one person on watch and rest more. The wind was out of the SSW and we were able to maintain a course of about 240.  We were, however, still on a close reach but able to maintain our layline.  The engine was run for 15 min. every two hours to keep the battery charged.
05:00 - Attacked by giant squid.  Frank turbo-charged the engine to 5000 rpm, planed the boat at 23 kn. and outran the squid.
09:30 - Ran engine 15 min. every two hours to keep battery charged.  Mostly on auto-pilot.AM to PM - 6 kn. under sails only, wind 15 kn. SSE, blue water. Nice. Sailed out of sight of land all day.  Great Sailing!
15:00 - Course change to correct Southerly drift.
16:00 - Mermaid spotted and heard siren song.  Mark wasn't tempted and kept on going.
17:00 - Course 230, reaching at 6-7 kn.,  15 kn. wind, 3'  seas, 75'  water depth, 

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BLUE water.  Hour after hour after hour.

02:30 AM Monday - Aransas pass Jetties. 
05:00 - Corpus Christi Dock, Slip 23, Pier A.  We are there.  Frank went to find phone and breakfast. Unloaded boat and went to Franks House.  Coffee, etc., bath and bed.  Sondra met us at  9:30.  On the road home at 10:00.  Lake Charles at 5:00 PM.
Highlights of the Voyage:  Sailing the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and seeing many Dolphins. 
Low Points of the Voyage:  The diesel engine quit even before we were out of Lake Charles.  This set the tone for the remainder of the voyage.  The engine quit several times and caused many hours of worry. When it quit in the Intercoastal Waterway, among the commercial towboats, we discussed quitting and calling for a tow.  Then, after it restarted and we made it back to the Gulf, we figured that the remainder of the voyage could be made under sail alone if necessary.
Additional Low Points:  The voyage was very tiring and boring.  We used shifts of 2 hours on and 4 hours off .  At night we used 4 hours on and 2 hours off due to needing an extra lookout for rigs, platforms and other vessels.  Daytime sailing was HOT and rest inside the cabin was difficult due to heat.  Portholes were shut to keep out spray.  Winds were generally 15 knots and seas were 2 to 3 feet.  Perfect, but it was impossible to sit or stand without holding on to something, even inside the cabin. By the end of the trip everything, including the crew, had that wet sticky salty feeling.  YUCK!  It was difficult to sleep as only two spots were comfortable, the low side bunk in the cabin and the low side of the cockpit. If we slept in the cabin, the port had to be closed to keep out spray.  This made the cabin very hot.  The cockpit was generally in the sun and also hot and had nothing to retain you in position as the boat moved.

We were so smelly after three days at sea without bathing that we rode in the back of Frank's pickup truck for the trip to his house from the boat.  The shower at Frank's house was like Heaven. Would we make this trip again????  Not for a while.  However, a trip in a 40' trawler with Air Conditioning, shower, etc. might be considered.  

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