We had been watching the weather everyday, waiting
for a 3 or 4 day stretch with no cold blasts, no heavy rain, no
anomalies. We also had to coordinate those days (should they appear)
with 3 or 4 days with no life or death commitments. The planets
had to align. It happened last week. We loaded the car; we strapped
on the boats; we drove south.
We loaded the car; we strapped on the boats;
we drove south
We stopped to visit Charlie Jones in Victoria on the way down.
He’s building a B&B Princess 22 for a customer. The
last time we saw it, it was an upside down hull. It is right side
up now, and moving right along. We followed him home and visited
with him and Laura. Laura gave us a tour of the new studio. She
is working on a series of seabird paintings, and they are awesome.
See them at http://www.griffithart.com/birds.html
Besides just escaping from home for a few days, we wanted to
camp at the spot we have chosen for the Duckwork’s Messabout
this spring–the Calhoun County Park at Magnolia Beach, about
10 miles south of Port Lavaca. It is basically a long stretch
of oyster shell beach on Matagorda Bay with picnic tables under
shade shelters, bathrooms (no showers), a nice boat ramp and good
wind for sailing almost all the time. The wind helps keep things
cool and also blows the bugs away. On this trip, there were RV’s
at most of the spots, but they are winter Texans and will be gone
Shelter at Calhoun County Park
The next morning, the wind was definitely blowing. I thought
that if we found a paddling spot that was inland a bit, we would
have less wind. Chuck had his skin boat, and I had my Toto.
We found a little inlet that meandered down into the Aransas Wildlife
Refuge. As long as we paddled with the wind, we could practically
surf, but when we turned to go back the other way, it was like
slogging uphill. Chuck didn’t seem to have nearly as much
trouble as I did paddling against the wind, and I blamed it on
the Toto and its curved up front (which is my favorite part of
the boat visually), but the truth is, I am a lazy person, and
I like nice casual paddling. I like to check out the birds and
watch for fish over the side and just slide smoothly through the
water. Our first excursion did not last long. We strapped the
boats back on the car and drove off to explore.
it was like slogging uphill
We have fantasized about having a little place down on the coast
for years. The place we picture is always perfect, not too close
to anyone else, just the right distance from the water, and it
has a beautiful beach for walking on in the evenings. We have
looked for that spot many times, but it has eluded us. Probably
just as well, because I am not sure how we would pay for it. Nothing
wrong with dreaming though, and that’s how we spent the
rest of the day, driving around, looking and imagining. You never
know. We did find a patch of beautiful spider lilies.
Our last morning, the wind had calmed a bit and we went to a
spot Charlie had told us about. Chocolate Bayou winds up through
the area south of Port Lavaca for 3 miles or so. It was a good
mix of upwind and downwind paddling–a long series of S curves.
We were serenaded by redwing blackbirds and watched by blue herons
and brown pelicans. I have never had an alligator slide into the
water as I paddled past. Ever since we had one swim past the Caprice,
I have been a bit leery of being out in a small boat in gator
country. I must confess it’s why I did not bring my skin
boat. I didn’t think a gator would try to crunch through
the Toto. Chuck told me I was being silly–any self respecting
alligator would choose me over him no matter what kind of boats
we were in. Of course, we saw none.
I didn’t think a gator would try to
crunch through the Toto
I need to get the
kayak foot braces in. In the skin boat, you can brace
your feet on the ribs; in the Toto there are just smooth inner
walls. And I need to sit farther forward in the Toto. I had no
idea how far the front of the boat came up in the air when I sat
against the back bulkhead until I saw the pictures Chuck had taken.
I did find that if I scooted forward when paddling upwind, the
going was smoother. Always trying buck the laws of physics.
We’ll be back in May for the messabout
The wind began to pick up just about the time we got back to
the car, so instead of paddling out into the mouth of the bayou
and perhaps the bay, we loaded up and headed home. We’ll
be back in May for the messabout.