OK, it looks like I’ll be the first to attempt to give you some sense of our experience. Maybe the rest are just trying to put the whole thing behind them. But I’m going to write it all down just in case I need to refresh my memory next year when Mikey comes around asking for money.
Half of the crew traveled down on Tuesday to get the boat checked out and provisioned. Before we got to the boat we met up with Phil, who happened to be in town visiting his newly acquired power boat.
After our visit with Phil, we proceeded to the boat to check it out and unload the truck before it got too dark. We completed our chores, and we went looking for one of the restaurants Phil suggested. After a great meal, we slept on the boat that night. On Wednesday, we spent most of the day shopping and securing the provisions. On Wednesday night the rest of the crew arrived. So we stored their luggage and readied for the Thursday morning launch, and went to sleep.
On Thursday morning we arose with great anticipation, and sailed for the 2:00 start. At the start, the winds were a bit light. The weather forecast indicated that the wind would build to around 15-20 knots with 3-4 ft. waves. That didn’t seem too bad. But they were wrong. As the day wore on, the waves and the wind kept building. Late Thursday night we found ourselves in 20-25 knot wind and around 8 ft. swells. And it lasted all day Friday. The trip turned into a blur. Once the waves came up, sleeping was almost impossible, and eating was out of the question for most of us. There was a constant wrestling match between the boat and the helmsman. The boat spent most of its time laid over, wallowing in the swells. When the boat crashed into a wave just right, a torrent of water came over the bow quarter and soaked the cockpit. We had to trade our shorts and tee shirts for full foul weather gear. We managed to finish the race on Friday evening without major incident, but were a bit disappointed in our finish position. Friday evening and Saturday was spent trying to recover and catch up on our alcohol rations.
Saturday evening was highlighted by lots of rum, a satisfying barbecue supper, trophy presentations, no trophy, a good band, and, for some of us, alcohol-induced dancing.
I, personally, don’t have an explanation for why we didn’t finish better. We were beaten by boats we had beaten before, and by boats that were rigged similar to ours. The only thing that I think might have improved our position would have been to have sailed a course that was a bit more southerly than the one we chose. However, I can’t imagine that we could have made up enough time to have beaten any of those who finished ahead.
Somehow, the two master chefs on board had managed to feed us two wonderful supper meals and some great breakfasts at some some time during the race and on the way back. Much thanks to both of you. I seem to remember sandwiches for lunch one day. Once again, we managed to buy a lot more food than we could consume. But, then again, maybe more is better than less.
We got some relief from the high waves on the trip back to our marina by staying in the intracoastal waterway. However, we still managed to have several adventures, including three groundings, being chewed out by the Colorado River Lock Nazi, jamming and freeing the main sail roller system, spotting and notifying the Coast Guard of an overturned power boat, and being delayed for over an hour by the boat Cache’, skippered by Robert Giles, from Lakewood Yacht Club. It seems that Mr. Giles and crew, in their infinite wisdom, decided to tie up their 50′ sailboat at the only available fuel dock between Port Aransas and Galveston, and then leave and walk into town to a restaurant for supper. They managed to dock such that no one else could get fuel. They eventually wandered back to the boat with full bellies, and then decided to fuel up, while our boat continued to circle around. Another sailboat that was circling around became badly in need of fuel, so they had to precariously tie up and wait, since they were on fumes and in danger of running dry. I guess it exceeded Mr. Giles’ capacity for comprehension that any of the more than 100 sailboats returning to Galveston via the intracoastal just might be in need of fuel before the docks closed for the night. Other than those incidents mentioned above, the return trip was quite uneventful.
Upon returning to the marina, we started cleaning up the boat and ourselves. At some point it was decided that we would all return to Dallas that evening instead of spending the night on the boat. So, we packed up, went to eat a nice supper at our favorite Mexican Restaurant, then headed for home.
Was it fun? No, not really. Were there any highlights? Well, it was an adventure. Is that all? I did get a new appreciation for those sailors who have found themselves subjected to this kind of misery on long passages. Any other positives? Maybe, but none come to mind right now. Will you do it again? Only if, in the next eleven months, I manage to kill off all of those exact brain cells that hold the memories of this race. But don’t count on it.