Sunday, December 26, 2010

Galveston Trip, Lake Charles to Laguna Harbor

It was quite a chore to get "Opus One" out of Bridge Point Yacht Club. BPYC's harbor is not really designed for boats as large as "Opus One." So, we walked her out of there with lots of lines and a little TLC so we did not damage any boats. We woke one guy up who was sleeping in his sailboat - he was an additional hand once he saw our challenge. There was only a small and narrow channel to get out of the harbor and "Opus One" used it all! By this point, we were on Day 18 of the trip. With all the mechanical issues and cold weather we had, we were ready to get to Galveston. Also, Clint really needed to get home soon to deal with business issues. We had 2 options for the day - go about 50 miles and anchor out for the night or continue on to Bolivar Peninsula and dock at Laguna Harbor, which would put us only 15 miles from our destination, Harborwalk Marina. We made good time early on and decided to go for it.

We passed more large ships. Here's "Opus One" side by side with one which gives you a good perspective of what it's like to mix with the "big boys."
Some of the cleanest water we saw on the entire trip was around Port Arthur, TX, shortly after crossing into TX from LA.
Another sign that we were in Texas - longhorns grazing on the banks of the GIWW.
As we got closer to Galveston, it was clear we would not make Laguna Harbor before dark. About 15 miles out we had to cross two areas that slowed us down. They are narrow passages where some of the water out of Galveston Bay crosses to and from the gulf as the tide comes and goes. The water can be difficult for the barges to navigate - some of the cruising guides say the barges may at times have to crab 45 degrees to get across. One of the passages is appropriately named "Rollover Bay" and the barges will not cross with oncoming traffic. There were several barges waiting to cross which delayed us even longer. We finally worked our way through all of that and were getting close below but sundown was clearly winning the race.
As much as I don't like to boat in the dark, we were OK with it that night - we were familiar with this area by car and we had an almost full moon to help out.
Besides, if we had gotten there before sundown, we would not have seen the beauty of more sunsets. Sunrise and sunset are definitely the special times of day for me on the boat - again, true reminders of God's majesty and glory.
We finally made our way into Laguna Harbor and yes, it was dark. This is a subdivision that Rhonda and I visited years ago when the real estate boom was in full swing. The real estate bust and Hurricane Ike pretty much stopped it in its tracks. The entire Bolivar Peninsula was under about 20 feet of water for 2 weeks. There was so much water inland, it took that long for it to work its way back out to sea. 3400 homes were completely wiped out on the peninsula by the hurricane and only about 700 have been rebuilt. Consequently, there has been only minimal amounts of boat traffic in and out of Laguna Harbor and we noted when we made our arrival that the normal 6-foot depth entry was now shoaled in at about 2 to 3 feet. So, we had to get some tidal planning in place for the next day. We had arrived only about one hour after high tide and the next day's high tide would not be until afternoon. Here are some shots at Laguna.
There's a steady stream of barge traffic by the harbor entrance - our shoaled-in exit challenge.
We finally left around noon, deciding to get a "running start" out, shift to neutral and coast through the shallow spots so we did not damage props or transmissions. Clint and Bryant went through but lost their hydraulics again and their rudders got off of center. "Help Me Rhonda" has a deeper draft of about 4 feet and we almost made it before getting stuck in the mud. We had no choice then but to blast our way out of there and as far as we know, we did no damage - it's all mud and everything seemed to run fine afterwards. We delayed for about 30 minutes so Clint could get the rudders in order again. We crossed Galveston Bay which is one of the busiest ports around. There are all possibilities of boats, large/small/tankers/ferries/etc. You can see some of the activity behind us below - two ships behind and a smaller barge next to us.
Ten miles to Harborwalk.

No comments: