To Part One
To Part Three
Drive slow and enjoy the scenery— drive
fast and join the scenery.
Up at dawn for an early launch, easy to do when getting ready
means throwing my sleeping bag in the watertight storage compartment
and stepping my duct-taped mast. I’m off. A relaxing sail
down the ICW. Very relaxing… Jagular may now be
a contender for slowest boat of the Texas 200, with my newly mangled
mast and reefed sail. I settle in for another long day on the
Leaving the Land Cut, there’s open water
to the east. It’s windy, but the new rig has really calmed
things down. I set my self-steering gear and kick back in the
cockpit, shuffling two float cushions and my life jacket into
a good approximation of luxury. A series of low islands to starboard
offers intermittent shelter alternating with occasional open stretches
of bigger waves. Jagular handles it all—almost
too easy, this sailing stuff. I get out a notebook, start writing
about yesterday’s mast fiasco. Boat after boat passes me.
I glance up now and then and Jagular seems to be following
everyone else without any help from me.
A lime green proa astern—unmistakably Kevin.
He sails past, moving fast by Jagular standards. He looks
busy, with the sheet, tiller, other lines, maybe a gps; there’s
all kinds of sailing going on in his boat. Looks exciting. As
he goes by he leans over, staring down at me. “Are you reading
a book?” he shouts, incredulous.
“No,” I call back. “Writing one.”
And then he’s gone, shaking his head. Jagular follows
in his wake.
I keep writing. More boats pass. I must be close
to the tail end of the pack by now. A little further on and Mike
goes by in his bright blue Cartopper, Noble Plan. I learned
to sail in a Cartopper, so I’m interested to see how Mike
does here; it’d be a scary boat for this, I think. And man,
he is flying! His boat’s got a great big unreefed leg-o’-mutton
sail sticking way up there, and Mike is skipping across the surface
of the water like a madman. Looks fun. Luckily not an option for
me anymore—circumstances have forced me into the sensible
course of action I might have rejected if I still had a real mast.
The day goes by easily—it’s either
less windy, or it’s just a measure of how stupid I was trying
to sail unreefed yesterday. Maybe both. The only excitement comes
from occasional dolphin visits, but unimpressed by Jagular’s
jury rig, they never stick around long. Later in the afternoon
I get to watch Andrew Linn capsize his yellow bullet-shaped Puddle
Duck, the Salem Electron. Before I can think about turning
back to offer help, Andrew grabs the rail, stands on the leeboard,
and pops the boat up by himself. The other Ducks zip back and
forth around him, waiting for his recovery. It takes me a moment
to realize that I’ve actually passed someone! Jagular
is still faster than the Ducks, at least. I think.
I get to the turn-off for the Padre Island Yacht
Club by late afternoon. It’s easy to find, with the sudden
appearance of bridges and buildings, and the number on the nearest
buoy actually matching my chart. Turning up the channel to the
Yacht Club, I take as long a tack as I can get away with, sailing
up onto the beach a quarter mile downwind of the docks. There
I unstep the mast and grab the oars. It’s windy for rowing,
and heading dead upwind as I am feels like prying the boat through
congealed oatmeal, but I finally get there. The place is full,
all kinds of boats already tied up along the Yacht Club seawall,
at the docks, even some boats beached on the other side of the
channel. I’m about to give up on a shower and a civilized
meal and head over to join them when someone waves me forward
to the docks. Dock space! I cram in next to Chuck and Sandra’s
Caprice, tucked in close behind Jack’s green Michalak
||The advantages of sailing small: Jagular
finds a spot at the crowded PIYC docks.
Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody
stands around reloading. —unknown
The Padre Island Yacht Club is a welcome outpost of luxury after
Fred Stone Park and the camp at Happ’s Cut, but the constant
activity makes me feel like the world around me has been put on
fast forward while I’m still in regular time trying to keep
up. The docks are filled with people scurrying from one boat to
another, and the air-conditioned clubhouse is filled with tables
of people fiddling with GPS units and charts, arranging rides
into town for tools and supplies, discussing things and repairing
things and making plans and back-up plans and alternate plans.
After a quick shower and a set of clean clothes, I hang my wet
pants (nothing in the cockpit stays dry, I’ve discovered)
on a railing and step back into the clubhouse. The contrast between
the slow silence of sailing and the harried buzz of the Yacht
Club is unsettling. All the planning and consulting and chart
marking and coordinate programming going on gives me the feeling
that I should be doing something to prepare for the days ahead
but I don’t know what it is. Instead I wander off to find
a ride to Snoopy’s.
Turns out the first shuttle to Snoopy’s is about to leave,
so I run to the boat to grab my shoes. Which aren’t there.
Instead, they are back at Happ’s Cut on the beach. Right
where I left them. The dozen or so Raspberry Newtons left in the
package chuckle quietly, nudging and elbowing each other. Marooned
his own shoes, the idjit, I hear one of them say. I eat him,
then wonder what to do next. As the rest of the Newtons settle
down sullenly, I waver between trying to sneak into Snoopy’s
barefoot or giving up on the thought of a restaurant meal altogether
when a fellow sailor offers me his spare flip-flops. They fit
perfectly, and I’m off.
There are about twenty of us crammed into the first shuttle,
which is someone’s RV. Apparently the owner has driven down
to meet his son, who will be launching his new boat from the yacht
club and finishing the Texas 200 with us. I wonder if he knew
what he was getting into when he offered to give rides. I shuffle
in my borrowed flip-flops to the way back while more passengers
pile on behind me, filling up the beds, the tiny bathroom, and
every available seat and space, including each other’s laps.
I end up on the back bed, where it’s pretty comfortable,
only two or three of us aboard. Hanging on the wall—bulkhead?—above
me is a framed photo of a woman with a full-grown lioness on her
lap. I wonder if that’s a good omen, or a bad one.
At Snoopy’s I find a table with a few others, among them
Chuck and Sandra Leinweber of Duckworks. I’m happy to meet
these people who have cost me so much money lately—normally
those aren’t the kind of people I like, but Sandra and Chuck
are definitely exceptions to the rule. We have a good time at
dinner, although for me the table seems to be rocking and waving
slightly. Haven’t got my land legs yet after ten hours in
Jagular. Still, I manage to down three Cokes and an obscene
amount of seafood. Beats canned ravioli.
Afterwards we all go out to the parking lot, where we find an
exquisitely varnished, smoothly finished wooden sailboat on a
trailer. We take turns guessing what it is—looks like a
Michael Storer design. Beth, the kamikaze canoe yawl? Looks a
little too big for that, but it’s definitely a Storer rudder.
I’m struck by the happy coincidence; of all the parking
lots in Texas, this guy, whoever he is, managed to park his boat
in the one place where there were people walking by who would
recognize it for what it was. Eventually the mystery is solved
when the boat shows up at the yacht club with Brian, the motor
home driver’s son. There is no coincidence. Brian is rigging
the boat, a Storer prototype lug yawl called a Raid 41, at the
Yacht Club, and plans to launch tomorrow with us on the boat’s
maiden voyage. It’s a gutsy move, launching a new boat on
a big trip, but if he sails anything like he build boats, he won’t
have any problems.
Still, Brian’s braver than I am, I think. Tomorrow is
Corpus Christi Bay and Aransas Bay, our first real stretches of
open water. A big day. Big wind, big fetches, and maybe some big
waves. Should be interesting. My standard euphemism for anything
I wander around the yacht club for a while watching how busy
everyone is, then start looking for a quiet corner. There aren’t
any. Eventually I throw my sleeping mat on the lawn in the shadow
of the balcony, set my alarm for 5:45 so I can get Jagular
out of Jack’s way at the dock, and collapse on the lawn
amid the continuing chaos.
Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome,
dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. —Edward Abbey
I’m up at 5:30. After a quick shower I stow my gear and
untie from the dock. I row across the channel and beach Jagular
on a nearby island where I’ll have room to step the mast
and re-rig the backstay. A gray day, and windy. By the time I
convince myself I’m ready to face Corpus Christi Bay, there
are already some boats ahead of me, heading west down the Yacht
Club channel to the ICW. I follow them, risking a couple of short
jibes to tack my way downwind.
Today is where the Texas 200 gets interesting. It’s an
easy mile down the ICW to the high bridge where Highway 358 connects
Padre Island to the mainland. Maybe a mile after the bridge comes
Corpus Christi Bay, a wide stretch of water with a reputation
for building steep, aggressive waves when it’s windy. The
main channel, the ICW, takes the shortest route, heading almost
straight north across the bay. With the winds likely to get stronger
as the day goes on, though, anyone going that way could be in
for some serious conditions.
Instead, most of the smaller boats will leave the marked channel
as it enters Corpus Christi Bay, cutting east to hug the shore
of Mustang Island, the long thin stretch of land separating the
ICW from the open waters of the Gulf. On the windward side of
the bay near Mustang Island, the waves should be smaller, more
suitable for an unballasted boat like Jagular. I’ll
be hugging the shore and threading my way between Mustang Island
and Shamrock Island, then on to Stingray Hole, another narrow
pass just west of Mustang Island.
Heading that way, it’s about five miles to Stingray Hole;
two hours of sailing is my guess. It will probably be the roughest
stretch on the whole trip, and I’m not exactly sure how
well my boat will handle it. Jagular is long and lean—the
flat bottom is only thiry-nine inches wide—and narrow boats
don’t stand up to wind and waves as well as beamier ones.
But Jagular also has decks and large watertight compartments
that should protect it from taking on much water, and with its
reefed sail it’ll have a lot less wind to stand up to than
on Monday. I figure it’s a horse apiece. Besides, the worst
that can happen is that I’ll be capsized, lose my boat and
all my gear, and have a long swim to shore, followed by an even
longer walk to someplace where I can buy a bus ticket. Doesn’t
sound too bad. I make sure I have my wallet tucked safely away
in the cargo pocket of my shorts and decide I’m ready to
give it a try. You don’t have to be prepared as long as
you’re willing to suffer the consequences.
By the time I reach the high bridge over the ICW, I’m
caught in the middle of a long procession of boats, most of them
steadily passing me. There are dolphins popping up everywhere,
too, but as before they avoid Jagular. I’m getting
a little nervous. It’s only 7:15, but the wind is already
strong. My two lasting impressions of the Texas coast: Flat. Windy.
Not long before I’ll reach the open waters of the bay
now, so I glance around to make sure everything is ship-shape.
It’s not. When I rigged the backstay this morning, I managed
to tie it to the wooden pole duct-taped to the mast instead of
to the mast itself. Will it hold? Or will the wind be strong enough
to peel the mast away from the improvised splint, crumpling the
mast again? I can’t make up my mind about what to do, not
wanting to waste time stopping but afraid of how little mistakes
grow into big ones. Might be better to re-rig it.
Nearing the last of the tiny islands flanking the channel’s
approach to the open bay, I make my decision: I’ll stop
to fix the backstay. I steer west toward the island, only thirty
yards away, and sail right up onto a smooth beach made of millions
of crushed oyster shells. Simple enough, and I’m pleased
that I’ve made the smart decision. It’s really windy,
maybe the windiest day yet—always easier to notice when
you stop—and it seems to be getting windier. Wouldn’t
want to lose my mast in the middle of Corpus Christi Bay.
I look around. The island I’ve stopped on is the perfect
setting for a marooning, a low small treeless stretch of sand
and weeds lined with oyster shells. Beached here on the southern
edge of Corpus Christi Bay, I can look northward across a long
stretch of open water. It’s a lonely place. I shouldn’t
be here long, though. It takes only a few seconds to pull down
the mast and adjust the backstay and then I’m ready to go.
The wind is blowing almost directly toward the my landing point;
I consider wading around the tip of the island to launch on a
beam reach instead, but decide it won’t be a big deal to
launch from here. There’s the inevitable shuffling the boat
back and forth, trying to hold the bow into the wind as the sail
and sprit flap overhead. I adjust the rudder and leeboards, trying
not to step into the deep water just offshore. As I’m about
to climb aboard, the rudder catches on the bottom just as a gust
shoves the bow to port. I hear a distinct crack, a sound like
breaking bone, and Jagular gives a small lurch.
Shit. The rudder. Could be an inglorious end to my trip. Plans
to rig a steering oar are already flashing through my head as
I turn to look, and I wonder if I’ll have the nerve to try
crossing the bay if I have to steer with the wobbly contraption
in my imagination. But it’s not the rudder. It’s the
tiller, broken when it wedged itself against the cockpit side
where it couldn’t follow the rudder’s sudden movement.
The rudder is fine. Still—shit. I drag Jagular
back onto the beach and unstep the mast. The tiller is broken
cleanly across at the rudder head, almost completely severed.
I wiggle it gently and it comes off in my hand, leaving a short
stub bolted to the rudder cheeks.
Such a stupid mistake, and so easily avoidable. But already
I see what I have to do, and once again there’s no dithering
or deciding. It’s simple triage: I have to make the new
shorter tiller fit between the rudder cheeks, then drill a new
bolt hole through the tiller to attach it with. Easy enough. I
pull out my Farm & Fleet knife (See? I told you I needed a
knife, I remind myself), sit down on the starboard side deck,
and start whittling. Only ten seconds have gone by since the tiller
came off in my hand. Part of me is beginning to like these small
emergencies that seem to bring out the best in me.
Another part of me is wondering how I’m going to drill
a hole through the new tiller, but I do my best not to pay attention.
One thing at a time. I keep whittling. Meanwhile, boat after boat
passes my island. People are shouting to me, asking if I need
help. No, I shout back. Not unless you have a quarter-inch drill.
No one does. I keep whittling, checking the fit occasionally.
Finally I have it; the new tiller, shorter by five inches, fits
snugly between the rudder cheeks. Now for the bolt hole.
I fold up my knife and stare at it for a moment. (Plain knife,
or multi-tool?) Tucked away alongside the blade is the Phillips
screwdriver bit. I unfold it. Seems about the right size for a
bolt hole. Carefully trying not to expect too much, I jab it into
the tiller where the new bolt hole needs to be. It sinks in slightly,
and I start to spin it back and forth. After a minute I pull the
knife away and examine the result. There’s already more
of a hole than I’d hoped for. This might work.
Twenty minutes later I have a new tiller, shorter but still
serviceable. I’m almost getting to like making mistakes
just for the simple satisfaction I get from fixing them. Not a
very seamanlike attitude but it’s all I have. Just one problem:
now that the tiller is shorter, the cockscomb braiding I tied
around it for a chafing guard is in the wrong place now—bare
wood will scrape the cockpit coaming every time I move the tiller.
Still, I’m satisfied. I can re-tie it later. Right now I
want to get moving—a lot of boats have passed me. For all
I know I’m at the tail end again. Time to go. This time,
though, I drag Jagular around the island so I can launch
on a beam reach.
* * * * *
The open bay is bad, the worst conditions I’ve ever been
in with Jagular. We’re far from land, and wherever
I look, the surface is broken into endless jumbles of water, wave
after wave after wave. I’ve cut across the ICW and am heading
for the lee of Mustang Island, which means Jagular is
almost broadside to the wind and waves. For the moment we’re
doing all right, but I’m not sure we’ll make it without
something going wrong.
The waves are maybe two feet high, and steep. Any one of them
looks like it might be able to roll us over, but somehow Jagular
keeps sideslipping up to the crests, where we balance for a moment
before dropping off the back side with a splash of spray. I can
trace the passage of each wave by listening to the booming thuds
echoing from the watertight compartments as Jagular thumps
up and down in the chop. Every once in a while an even bigger
wave comes along, so I steer by hand, heading bow-first into the
bigger waves, then falling off again after we’re safely
past. Everything aboard is wet. The wind is steady enough that
I’ve tied off the sheet and am bailing with my free hand.
We’re crawling along. Still moving, but not very fast.
We seem to be doing all right, though. The new tiller is working
fine, and the backstay is holding. If I can avoid more dumb mistakes,
we’ll probably make it. Soon I’ll be able to turn
Jagular more northward, which will put the wind at our
back. Much safer that way. Just have to get a little closer to
the shore of Mustang Island.
Then up ahead I see a large white boat—can’t see
a mast, so I assume it’s a fishing boat. But as I get closer,
I see it’s Skip Johnson aboard his proa, which is drifting
broadside to the waves, no mast. I sail in closer and ask if he
needs help. I’m not sure what help I can give him, though.
I don’t have a radio or cell phone. Even if he wants to
abandon ship, there’s no room to bring him aboard. I’m
not even sure how I can approach him in these waves without bashing
the hell out of both boats. Skip waves me off, though, says he
lost his mast but is ok. Someone is coming to tow him in. I wish
him good luck and sail on. Soon his boat is invisible, lost in
the waves behind me. It makes me think, though. What the hell
am I doing out here in Jagular if a boat the size of
Skip’s proa can’t handle it? I’m all alone out
here now, not a good feeling.
Soon, though, I see a sail behind me. It’s Yves in his
elegant black-hulled coble, moving a lot faster than I am. Yves
and Laurent are the only Frenchmen I’ve met, I suddenly
realize. And they’re both here at the Texas 200. Makes you
wonder. But Yves knows what he’s doing, obviously. He catches
me quickly, and sails past looking completely calm and in control.
It’s nice to have someone to follow after so much time on
my own, though Yves is soon so far ahead I can barely see him.
We’re almost past Shamrock Island now, halfway across the
bay. With luck I ought to make it.
Behind me, two tanbark sails break the horizon, a ketch or yawl.
Whoever it is will catch me quickly, I’m sure. Can’t
see the hull yet, but in my mind I’m running through the
boats I remember. Chuck and Sandra, I think. Their boat is a yawl
rig with tanbark sails. Must be them. Just as I decide I know
who it is, I see the masts disappear, knocked flat. They’ve
been capsized! A moment later the masts reappear as the boat slowly
rights itself. But it’s only a few seconds before the masts
are knocked down again, and stay down. They’re in trouble
But Sandra and Chuck’s Caprice is a big boat, way more
capable than Jagular! What the hell am I doing out here,
with bigger boats being capsized and dismasted? I’m spooked.
I want to go back and help, but there’s no way Jagular
will make progress to windward in these conditions. Even if I
wanted to, there’s no way to turn back. Besides, I tell
myself, if it is Chuck and Sandra back there, they’ll probably
be all right. They may have lost their rig, but their boat will
keep them safely afloat. And unlike me, they have radios and cell
phones, I’m sure. Still, I don’t like leaving them
At least I’m sailing downwind now, and well past Shamrock
Island. With my smaller sail, it feels much safer than it did
on the Laguna Madre, even though it’s windier today. We’re
surfing, but only for a few seconds at a time, a much calmer ride.
If I don’t do anything stupid, I’ll make it across
the bay. Far ahead I can just make out Yves’ sail, and I
follow him toward Stingray Hole.
||Yves running downwind, moving fast under a tall
Gunter sloop rig.
* * * * *
By the time I reach Stingray Hole, the narrow pass between Pelican
Island and Point of Mustang, I’m alone again. Yves is out
of sight ahead, and I can’t see anyone following. But I’ve
made it through Corpus Christi Bay. Here there’s another
choice to make. The simplest route would be to turn right after
passing through Stingray Hole, following the main shipping channel
eastward about a mile, then turning north up the Lydia Ann Channel
for another couple of miles. The channels are well marked, just
a matter of following the buoys. Simple enough, but I’ve
seen pictures of some of the traffic that passes through these
channels. I don’t want to be run down by a cargo ship twenty
stories high, or a tugboat towing an offshore drilling rig. And
this sailing from one buoy to the next is getting a little boring.
Instead, I pass through Stingray Hole and keep going straight
ahead, aiming northeast. Any boat able to fit under an eight-foot-high
bridge can follow this route, cutting across the shallow backwaters
to avoid the traffic and the big dogleg detour of the shipping
channels. I’ll sail up to the bridge, beach Jagular
to unstep the mast, and wade underneath. Once on the other side
I’ll re-step the mast and follow a twisting, unobvious route
through the series of mudflats and islands that make up Corpus
Christi Bayou. If I don’t get lost, I should rejoin the
ICW just after it leaves the Lydia Ann Channel. As an added benefit,
the Puddle Ducks and some of the other small boats will probably
be going that way, and I may even catch up to them. I’m
still thinking of the t-shirt slogan.
So I head for the bridge, and for the first time in the trip
I’m following my chart closely, making sure I know exactly
where I am. My chart, and my hand bearing compass—the only
navigation tools I have. I like the simplicity. I like the satisfaction.
No, you’re just not smart enough to learn how to use
a GPS, one of the remaining Newtons says.
Heck with that, I say. I like navigating with a chart and compass.
If I wanted to play video games, I’d stay home on the couch
where it’s dry and comfortable. Besides, how come you’re
speaking up now? Where were you out in the bay when it was rough?
No answer. In retaliation I open the package and eat two of them.
They’re getting a little soggy. What do you expect,
taking a boat like this out on Corpus Christi Bay, genius?
one of them says. Everything is soggy. I pretend not
The bridge is easy to see, so there’s not much navigation
involved at first. But it’s getting even windier. As I near
the bridge I see a crumbling marina, the Finn and Feather. No
boats, just some old wooden docks and a parking lot. I’m
not sure if it’s still operational, but it makes a convenient
place to land. I sail Jagular up onto a boat ramp and
hop out, take a look around. I’ve come ashore in the middle
of an industrial wasteland. An occasional car crosses by on the
bridge overhead, and drilling platforms, power lines, refineries
and huge factory chimneys line the skyline. Not the most glamorous
cruising grounds I’ve ever seen. I feel like I’ve
sailed onto the inexplicably flooded set of The Road Warrior.
I unstep the mast and wade under the bridge with Jagular
in tow, carefully sidestepping the rocks, broken concrete slabs
and mangled rebar that lie under the water. Again, now that I’m
no longer sailing directly downwind, I can feel how windy it is.
Real windy. Once under the bridge I pull the boat up onto the
shore and pause to give the chart a good study, and it almost
flies away from me. From here I have to follow a curving channel
that may or may not be marked. If I stray, I’ll risk getting
into water so shallow even Jagular won’t be able
to float. I’m not eager to drag my boat a mile or more through
thigh-deep mud if I miss the channel.
Luckily, though, the channel begins as a passage between two
islands only a short distance away—I can see them from where
I’m standing. The rest of the channel is marked, on my chart
at least, by small white circles that may be pilings or stakes.
If they actually exist, the channel should be easy to follow.
Time to give it a try. I re-step the mast. The sail flogs crazily;
the wind is really ripping. But everything goes smoothly for a
change, and soon I’m heading down the channel between the
For a while afterwards the channel is marked, lined with wooden
posts that rise about eight feet above the water. Occasionally
there are drilling platforms that I can find on the chart, too.
Pretty simple stuff. But soon there is nothing, just a broad empty
stretch of water that all looks the same. I’ve sailed alone
for much of the trip so far, but this feels like the most alone.
There are scattered islands marked on the chart, but everything
is so flat that features are difficult to identify. I sail by
compass headings from the chart, estimating the distance between
turns. Seems to work, though the rudder bumps the bottom a couple
of times. After a while I come out between two obvious islands,
and I’m through the worst of it. Not too bad.
You got lucky, one of the Newtons says. I eat him.
||Jagular’s path from Stingray
Hole to Aransas Bay; the winding back channels that look so
obvious on Google Earth are almost invisible at eye level.
Now take the traveler and the tourist; the essential difference
the traveler don’t know where he’s going, and the
tourist don’t know where he is. —David Lee Roth
I’ve made it through Corpus Christi Bayou, but I’m
not sure exactly where I am. The exit from the Bayou falls on
the very edge of the chart, and my new chart doesn’t seem
to fill in the entire gap. But up ahead, almost due east, I see
a line of buoys: the ICW. If I can get close enough to read a
number, I’ll have an accurate fix. If the buoy is in the
right place. Having spent a few months working on a Coast Guard
buoy tender, I’m not sure it will be. But it’ll be
better than nothing. Besides, my disorientation bugs me. I want
to know exactly where I am again.
I line up on a buoy a little bit to windward, but can’t
make any progress. The waves are too big, my sail too small and
poorly shaped with its improvised reef. And it’s rough,
too, bashing into the wind like this. Not a day for beating. Still,
I want my fix, so I keep trying. After a few more minutes of no
progress, I see a sail up ahead. It’s moving fast, and soon
I can tell it’s a Hobie cat. What the hell is someone doing
way out here on a Hobie cat, I wonder. Looks vaguely familiar,
though. Turns out it’s David, coming up the Lydia Ann Channel.
His Hobie 14 is one of the fastest boats in our fleet, so he must
have slept in at the yacht club and had himself a late start.
It’s the only explanation for how he can still be behind
He sees me while he’s still a long way off, tries to make
a tack to approach closer. But he miscalculates, and the Hobie
runs into the chop and stops, caught in irons. I can see him clearly,
standing on the back right corner of the tramp. The wind catches
the underside of the tramp and lifts the entire boat backward;
he’s in for a major dunking. But David crouches down and
launches himself into the air just as the bows start to rise.
Making a tremendous leap, he throws his body across the tramp,
putting his weight on the high side and hanging on desperately.
The boat teeters for a moment at a crazy, steep angle, the bows
pointing into the sky. I’m sure he’s going over, and
wonder if he’ll be able to recover on his own. But slowly
the Hobie settles back into the water and falls off on the new
tack, still upright. If that’s how you have to tack a Hobie
cat, though, I’m glad to be aboard Jagular.
Once he gets going again, David heads over and asks where I’m
going. The wrong way, I realize, now that I’ve figured out
where he’s coming from. My disorientation is gone. What
I really need to do is cross the line of buoys and keep going
straight ahead. I give up my feeble attempt to make windward progress
and follow David a short distance down the ICW. Don’t want
to go too far, though. The channel soon cuts across the middle
of Aransas Bay, another big stretch of open water. I need to hug
the shore again, avoid the waves. In a few minutes I turn due
east, heading for the shelter of Mud Island’s northern shore.
David keeps going up the ICW and soon I’m alone again.
Aransas Bay is rough, too, but once I reach the lee of Mud Island
it’s not too bad. Should only be about eight or nine miles
to the camp at Paul’s Mott, and for the first time all day
the sun breaks free of the clouds. Nothing is quite as scary in
bright sunlight. Or maybe the wind is dropping. Maybe both. Either
way, the rest of the day is uneventful except for a near miss
at running aground when I go too close to shore. By late afternoon
I see a clump of masts on the horizon. Soon afterward I see the
camp, a long finger of oyster shell reef sticking out into Aransas
Bay. There are boats pulled up all along the reef and anchored
offshore. I steer around the point and approach from the downwind
side where I’ll have some shelter from the waves. Several
people wade out to meet me. Together we lift Jagular
all the way out of the water, setting it down on top of the reef
between David’s Hobie and Kevin’s green proa. The
stern hangs cantilevered out over the waves, a foot above sea
level. Jagular is high and dry. We’ve made it.
Jagular hanging with the multi-hulls
at Paul’s Mott. My boat is beached between Kevin's
proa and David's Hobie 14.
Photo by Stan Roberts.
To be continued...