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A Weekend On The Water

There’s nothing like the feeling of getting back on the water after life on land for awhile. Whether it’s been a week away, or for us – weeks away, being welcomed aboard a gently rocking boat by dear friends is one of the best ways to start a weekend.

 Peaceful Sunday sail aboard Our Way Too

We hit the road for the coast as the sun rose Friday morning for a long weekend with good friends aboard their boats and to check out the Southwest International Boat Show. Once we pulled into Kemah, which grows on us with every visit, it was all things boats all weekend.

  • We settled in aboard Our Way Too, where we’d be staying with Katie and Dean for the weekend. In our cabin was the cutest and most thoughtful gift, a Lil’ Legends life jacket to help keep our little sailor-to-be safe when out on the water.
  • The afternoon was spent checking out the recently expanded West Marine (which is now about five times bigger than when we were outfitting Kaleo) and visiting with Carolyn, our broker at HSH Yachts. It was great catching up with her and after all the sailing and cruising talk, we couldn’t help but let her know that  if the right boat comes through the area, call us – we’ll be ready. She knows what we’re looking for.
  • Next stop, Alternate Latitude, our cruising friend Steve’s Voyage 440 catamaran, which seems like a cruise ship compared to our former Kaleo and his former monohull, Anchor Management. Along with his sister, visiting from Milwaukee, we headed out for an easy sail, tacking back and forth across the bay while smiling about everything. In fact, Alternate Latitude is available for charter in Galveston Bay and the Caribbean if you’re looking for some time on the water. You’ll be in good hands under Captain Steve and on a very comfortable and sound vessel.

 Cruising around the bay aboard Alternate Latitude

  • And, it wouldn’t be a day on the water without a little seafood, so as soon as Katie wrapped up her work at the boat show, we all headed off the beaten path to a local favorite, Gilhooley’s for their famous oysters and shrimp. After a fun and filling meal with great company, we made our way back to our berths feeling stuffed like flounders.
  • The Saturday morning sun beamed as we hopped into the dinghy for some exploring. Two highlights included playing bridge limbo with the high tide and dinghying over to Wanderer, the actual boat from the cruisers’ cult classic, Captain Ron.

Scooching under a bridge with just inches to spare

 Up close and personal with the boat featured in Captain Ron

  • After lunch, it was off to the boat show, where we checked out a host of beautiful new sailboats, only furthering our fever. We chatted with Carolyn again, visited Katie’s booth for Redfish Island Marine and even ran into an old friend and sailing instructor, John Brown.

Scoping out a new Lagoon

Catching up with John at the boat show

  • We had a quiet evening on board and were up early Sunday for a dinghy ride for breakfast at Classic Cafe. The 20 hp outboard on Dean and Katie’s dinghy made it a much quicker trip than last time. Two new sailing friends, Chris and Tammy of Living and Loving Life, joined us for breakfast and we all talked about … you guessed it, boats and cruising. Soon we were all back aboard Our Way Too for a long Sunday sail on the bay
Sailing alongside Alternate Latitude

We stayed as long as we possibly could and eventually made our way back to the dock where we reluctantly wrapped up the weekend. Thank you again to our generous friends for opening their floating homes to us. We loved every sun soaked, sea breeze filled moment.


It’s Go Time!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, all in effort for tomorrow morning. The must-do preparations have been crossed off the list (either completed or deemed not truly a must-do) and we’ve enjoyed some treasured time with family and friends.

Kaleo staged for departure

Tomorrow morning, we set sail on the dream we’ve been pursuing for the past few years. We’re going into it with a lot of excitement, a little trepidation, and genuine wonder. But above all, we are thankful. First, to the Lord for a dream becoming a reality, to our families for all of their help and for lifting us up to reach this dream, to our friends for their encouragement and to our marina neighbors, who have become friends, for their advice, tool swaps, and making the marina feel like home.

To help us remember what has been a blur and to share with you what’s been going on since we left Dallas, here are a few highlights:

  • Our friend, Maurice, joined Matt aboard for a week to finish re-wiring the boat, mark the anchor chain, rig the reef lines, make a fender board, etc.
  • Survived some cuts, bangs and bruises as we worked in every nook and cranny of Kaleo
  • Installed a hot water heater (Kaleo now has almost all the luxuries of a modern home, just on a much smaller scale)
  • Finished loading and organizing provisions aboard
  • Spent a rainy night discovering a leaky gasket in the v-berth hatch (poor Matt awoke to water slowly drip, drip, dripping on his forehead)
  • Sold Christie’s car and tucked Matt’s truck in storage along with the rest of our land life belongings
  • Made about a million and one trips to West Marine, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and a host of other stores for final stock-ups
  • With the help of Christie’s dad, installed the chart plotter, loaded the safety locker (holds the liferaft, life jackets, safety harnesses, and EPRIB) and built a shelf for the dinghy gas can
  • Got to celebrate Christie’s birthday with her family (thanks for treating us to a celebratory dinner at her favorite local Mexican restaurant, Mas Amigos! and for having us as house guests for awhile)
  • Continued the birthday celebration with a visit from our friend, Crystal, for a dinghy ride to have dinner at Opus Bistro near our marina
  • Enjoyed a little send-off with our marina neighbors and received some great books, a set of Pardey cruising how-t0 DVD’s and lots of helpful advice
  • Received a visit from some fellow cruisers, The Sittons, who have their boat in a marina close to ours and have recently cruised the Bahamas. They generously shared their experiences with us and gave us a special super absorbent towel for drying off quickly and a conch shell they brought back from the Bahamas for us to return when we harvest our own.
  • Started adjusting our plans to the shorter days of Daylight Savings Time (sunrises at 6:30, sunsets at 5:30!)

Today Kaleo got a much needed bath, we painted the registration numbers on Squeak (our new dinghy), ran a few final errands (thanks Mike for letting us borrow your truck!), secured the dinghy on deck and are now off to get some much-needed rest. We feel a bit like kids on Christmas Eve with anticipation for what tomorrow will bring.

As we get underway, we want to point out a feature that’s now on the blog, our live track map. Click the GLOBE ICON in the upper left-hand corner of the site and you will see a map featuring the last position report from our SPOT tracker. It’s a new feature, so please contact us if you experience any technical trouble.

Introducing “Bubble and Squeak”

The dinghy is to a cruising boat what a car is to a house. It’s how we get to and from shore, carry groceries to the boat and see the sights in a new area. Last week Matt took our (now former) dinghy for a test spin and are. we. glad he did! Within seconds from motoring away from Kaleo, the dinghy started taking on water and the faster he motored back, the faster the this little dinghy was filling like a kiddie pool. Needless to say, we decided to go a more trustworthy route by investing in a new, shiny dinghy that we could rely on going forward. Part of the fun of a new dinghy is naming it, and within a week we stumbled on the right combination for both our dingy and outboard motor. Here’s a little backstory on how they came to be …

Last Saturday morning, our marina neighbors, Steve and Christina, had us aboard s/v EbbTide for a “FULL English breakfast” with bacon, eggs, mushrooms, sausage, bubble & squeak, tea and toast. A feast of a breakfast and great company punctuated by a beautiful sunny morning! It’s at this breakfast that we learned about Bubble and Squeak, a traditional English dish of potatoes and cabbage.

The next morning we got the day started briskly with dinghy races to breakfast at Seabrook Classic Cafe (thanks for the reco, Stuart!) and a Sunday “drive” through the marina neighborhoods. It was there, in a canal as our motor bubbled along and our new dinghy made squeaky clean sounds, that it dawned on us. Our dinghy and outboard motor are now known as “Bubble and Squeak” with gratitude to our marina mate, Steve!

What Would John Brown Do?

We just spent a full weekend aboard where we gained greater confidence and even more excitement about our sailing dream. In short:

  • We bought a great outboard motor for the dinghy and explored the waterways around our marina with it
  • Discovered the Clearlake Shores Farmer’s Market where we found fresh, local food to enjoy and share
  • Reached new heights as Christie was hoisted up the mast to plan for mounting our new LED tricolor/anchor light
  • And were coached and challenged to sail Kaleo to her full potential with a sailing lesson from John Brown of Sea Lake Yacht Sales

Christie’s view of Kaleo from the top of the mast

We started Saturday early at the Farmer’s market, then Christie’s parents joined us for breakfast and delivered our boat registration stickers. They stuck around for the show as Christie was hoisted up the mast. After snapping a few photos and taking in the view she came down so we could prep for our sailing lesson with John. John is a yacht broker and ASA certified sailing instructor who came aboard to spend the afternoon teaching us how to trim (sailing term for adjust) and shape the sails.

This was one of the most beneficial afternoons sailing and I’d recommend it to any sailor, no matter your skill level. We expected that John would show us just how far Kaleo could heel (the way a sailboat leans when sailing) while going faster but it was quite the opposite. He coached us on how to sail the boat with less heel, while going faster, making us more efficient sailors. We were also challenged to point higher into the wind than we’ve ever been able to. We even got to fly our (very bright) spinnaker and ran wing-on-wing back to port. We really enjoyed having John aboard as he has a wealth of knowledge and generously shares it. If you sail in the Galveston Bay area, we suggest you book a lesson with him.

That evening turned into a neighborhood gathering as a few of us got together in the cockpit of a neighbor’s boat and talked until the wee hours. During the conversation we made a plan for a three boat trip to Freeport in about a month. It will be another chance to build and refine our sailing skills. Sunday we wrapped up a few boat projects and planed for Matt to rebuild the anchor locker next weekend.

A little work and a long overdue sail

Over the past few months our time aboard Kaleo has been spent working on the boat, measuring for parts and anticipating our first sail of spring.

This past weekend we got the best of both worlds by getting some projects checked off the list and getting to go for a great sail in Galveston Bay. We both were able to take Friday off, drove down Thursday night, and had three full days aboard. Friday was spent finishing the install on the head (bathroom) sink counter, setting the actual sink in place and hooking up the water lines. We also picked up our dinghy from Triad Marine, where it had been repaired.

Saturday we had hoped to go sailing but the tide was far too low to get the boat out of the slip. During the winter a strong North wind blows and forces a lot of the water out of Galveston Bay. This gives exaggerated low tides and our keel is literally sitting in the mud, so we can’t go anywhere. Nevertheless it was a beautiful day so we fit the companionway doors, cleaned up the mess left from rebedding the chain plates, finished up some misc. projects, took the dinghy for a test row, visited our broker Carolyn at their new office and got the boat ready for her first sail of the year.

Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for sailing so we made for the open ocean (really just Galveston Bay) at first light (really about 10:00). The wind was 6-9 knots and blowing from the East. In fact the wind was blowing from exactly where we wanted to go. We had decided to make for Houston Ship Channel #59, the best entry point for pleasure craft headed to Galveston Island. It dawned on Matt that this was the first time we have ever had to tack Kaleo to a destination. All the other times sailing her we just went at the best angle to the wind with nowhere in particular to go to. This was good practice for us as you can see below the track we recorded on iNavX, an iPhone navigation app, turned out the be pretty spot on. We also practiced our two bearing fixes for coastal navigation.

Our tack path to Marker 59 & back

Dinghy Decisions

I inflated the dinghy in the garage this afternoon to see what this little boat is all about. The dinghy is the like the car is to a house. It is our means of getting to shore from the boat when we are at anchor. Kaleo has a draft (in water depth) of 5′ 6″ so she can’t pull up to the shore unless there is a slip. In fact, in our slip she sits in the mud at low-tide.

So the dinghy will be our means of getting around the neighborhood when we are our cruising. The one that came with the boat is a West Marine 8-footer. The decision I am trying to make is, hard or rigid-inflatable dinghy?

We are going to take the dinghy back down to the boat and give it a try for a few months. No doubt this decision, like so many in cruising will involve lots of research, lots of differing opinions and ultimately just going with whatever works out.

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