Shell Morgan to Morgan City (Dec 15)

Today, so far, is a long, cold, rainy, dreary December day.  And today we broke our second cardinal rule – don’t travel in the rain.  Due to weather conditions, we traveled 60 miles at a very slow pace.  One good thing about going slow is that you don’t have to pass or confront so many commercial barges.

    

When we arrived at Morgan City, Jerry and Mack (his dog) helped us arrange our two boats on the short municipal dock.  Jerry lost his sailboat during one of Florida’s hurricanes.  His brother had this sailboat, “Tenacious”, in Texas.  Jerry is slowly moving it from Port Aransas to the Florida Keys.  No hurry Mon!  We shared a visit and cigars with Jerry before having another seafood platter at Cafe JoJo’s.

Look closely here – a lesson in tides.  When we arrived the “dock” was well above Karen’s office window.  When we returned from dinner, the “window” was well above the dock.  You can also see the seawall gate in the background – it closes during floods and hurricanes to protect the city, similar to the discussions Nashville is considering to do at it’s riverfront.

   

on to Shell Morgan, Abbeville, Louisiana (Dec 14th)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROTHER “CAPTAIN RONNIE” IN HOUSTON!

We got an early start out of Lake Charles.  Smooth sailing most of the day, some really glassy waters and dolphins swimming in our wake again.  With 2 locks, 2 bridges and a bit of tow traffic, it took us 6 hours to travel 92 miles on the ICW.  The tankers out of Lake Charles are still intimidating when you’re only feet away from a 700-800 foot tanker (reference:  nearly 3 football fields long).  Only in southeast Asia would they have such a bright orange tanker!  The orange tanker, “Eagle Klang” is a crude oil tanker from Singapore and over 800 feet long.

    

We passed Captain Kirk again on the rebound, he was glad to see Santa.  We always delight in seeing the abundant wildlife and fowl along the way.    

Karen will be glad to trade all of these tows and barges and snow and wind in for some tropical palm breezes and sail boats!  It’s funny, we pass tows and barges one day and a day or two or three later the same tow will pass us.  The reason we see them numerous times is that they run 24 hours a day.  We pass them and stop for the night, they pass us back during the night, which allows us to catch up and pass them again another day.

Today Karen moved from her corner office (with a view) – to the Penthouse.  Scenery is really nice up here so when she is not assisting with navigating or relieving the Captain, she is catching up on paperwork (or playing solitaire).  That’s what great First Mates do!

    

We are staying at Shell Morgan again, in Abbeville, Louisiana.  Great people and great fuel prices!  No other amenities, just great people and fuel!  We walked to the local grocery to dine at their grill, only to find they closed two hours prior to our arrival.  We bought a DiGiorno pizza, went back to the boat and settled in for the evening.  Ron had a long – and long overdue nap and then began charting our next several travel days while Karen played with the photos and blog.

Pizza is in the oven and the boat is rocking around…..after checking lines and fenders we realize HIGH TIDE has kicked in.  Ron rushes to adjust fenders and lines as Kara Mia is banged against the large concrete bulkhead…… another day in paradise!  (John Selby – don’t you laugh now!).

Galveston to Lake Charles, Louisiana (again….) (Dec 12-13)

It was a fairly windy morning when we decided to break one of our cardinal rules (don’t travel in high winds)!  Galveston Bay was white capping, cargo ships and tankers were lined up going into the Houston Ship Channel.  We were anxious to get “on the road again”.  Fortunately for us, this time we only had to “cross” their paths rather than travel with them in their wake (they had 5 foot wakes when we traveled in the same direction with them last month).

We had several congested areas getting from Galveston to Lake Charles.  You see in the first picture we are overtaking one tow, with another coming head-on, but we were “on the road” and hoping to make it to Lake Charles today.    

We were delighted to have dolphins swimming in our wake!  Always exciting, only wish we could capture more of them out of the water.  We saw several sets of 2 or 3 dolphins this morning.

    

And, yes – that’s the Golden Nugget again!  We enjoyed their small marina, extremely clean and convenient to restaurants and activity (which in some marinas is non-existent), when we were heading West so we decided to stop over again on our way back East.  And – just when you’re thinking you’re the “big dog” on the block, someone bigger and meaner pulls in next to you.  This 70 foot Johnson from Clear Lake, Texas pulled in and dwarfed us!  They were decorated “Texas Strong” – all 70 feet.  Made our little Santa shrink!  But they were nice people (as most boaters are), that came for a short gambling trip.  Last I heard one of them say was, “I just cashed out at $2,500”.  He did better than Santa!

    

    

The 13th., we decided to lay over for the day.  We enjoyed breakfast in the Casino’s “Claim Jumper” grille and hung out on the boat the rest of the day.  Ron washed layers of salt residue off Kara Mia while Karen caught up on photos, the blog and paperwork.  We will head to Shell Morgan for fuel in the morning.

With Ron washing the boat and chilly December winds, Santa decided to move in and watch a little television.

To “The Strand” and Pier 21 in Galveston, Texas (Dec 11)

Left Hitchcock late for a short voyage to Pier 21 on Galveston Bay.  Had to navigate a railroad lift bridge and Pelican Island traffic bridge.  Galveston was at one time a larger city than Houston.

    

We’re staying at the popular Galveston hotel, Harbor House Hotel and Marina at Pier 21, a short distance from the cruise ship terminal.  Near the hotel is the 1877 tall ship, Elissa.  Unlike some tall ships of today ELISSA is not a replica, but a survivor. She was built during the decline of the “Age of Sail” to fill a niche in maritime commerce. Over her 90-year commercial history she carried a variety of cargos to ports around the world.  Her working life as a freighter came to an end in a harbor in Greece, where she was rescued from a scrap yard by a variety of ship preservationists who refused to let her die.  Elissa’s 2018 sailing plans include sailing to Pensacola, Florida to compete as the Flagship in the Tall Ship Challenge-Gulf Coast.    

The Harbor House Hotel is only steps away from the historic Strand District.  The Strand is a part of the original old city that has survived many hurricanes and storms and is now home to many shops, restaurants and museums.  This is where Ron found buddy bear and Karen checked on Santa’s mailbox – again.

      

      

With numerous restaurants along The Strand and port, we enjoyed the famous “Fisherman’s Wharf”.

    

Other than the hotel and three restaurants, we had the harbor to ourselves.  The reflection of the Christmas lights and decorations gave warmth and spirit to our holiday travels.

       

Surfside Marina to Hitchcock, Texas (Dec 10)

With short daily travels, we are harbor hopping through south Texas, getting to experience all that the Texas coast has to offer.  Today we docked at HarborWalk Marina and Yacht Club, a gated upscale waterfront community in Hitchcock, Texas on West Galveston Bay.

    

    

The marina restaurant was hit hard by hurricane Harvey and was closed for restoration.  We were greeted by local resident, Robert.  Robert’s wife Beverly sent us homemade chicken soup for dinner – a very welcome site after traveling in the cold and wind and snow for a few days.  This just shows you how kind “water” people are.  Thanks again Robert and Beverly – stay in touch and let us know when you start your boating adventure!  Oh, Karen found Buddy Bear to compete with Santa!

    

Another beautiful Texas sunset.

    

Ron watched the Simpson’s Christmas (after football)…. Titans lost….

Heading East to Warmer Waters (we hope) (Dec 9)

We pulled out with snow on our bow and after watching our last beautiful sunrise over Matagorda Bay for a while (at least by boat anyway), we were heading east and hopefully to warmer waters.

    

It was a short travel day to Freeport, Texas with only two locks and one pontoon bridge.  Surfside Marina is actually a large dry dock boat storage.

      

Taking advantage of the nearness of the Gulf, we walked to the beach and Sharkies.  Only in Texas do they serve Chardonnay wine in a chilled beer mug!

   

    

On the walk back, and after seeing the pink birds,  Karen was inspired to begin decorating with her Christmas centerpiece – the pink flamingo (a gift from Jane Kirk)!

    

If you look closely, you can see the fake owl that was strategically placed to deter other birds from the marina.  Obviously it didn’t work!

     

Gabriel was a part of the helpful staff at Surfside Marina.  He helped us dock, fuel up and get squared away for a beautiful sunset in Freeport, Texas.  Thanks Gabriel!

     

Dirt trip to Granny’s, Houston, Texas (Dec 4th through 8th)

After several days on dirt (Houston), we were anxious to get back to the water.  Little did we know it would be in snow.   We traveled courtesy of Steve’s (Karen’s brother) jeep (we know, it is really Bobbie’s!).  This was our first wheels in over 30 days.  Thanks Steve and Bobbie!  We woke up Friday morning to a beautiful record snowfall!  It went from 80 degrees to snow in 2 days.

      

On our way back to Matagorda, Ronnie highly recommended that we stop for some “must have” provisions for our trip – “Bucee-nuts” from “Buc-ee’s”!

           

Snow was still standing on Kara Mia when we arrived back in Matagorda.  Santa was enjoying having snow being that he has been away from the North Pole for so long.

     

We had dinner at Waterfront Restaurant in Matagorda Harbor Marina and began planning for our departure the following morning.

  

Fun with family in Matagorda, Texas (Dec 1-3)

Our fun began on Dec 1 at Matagorda Harbor Marina in Matagorda, Texas.  As the sun was rising, the moon was setting.

    

Steve and Bobbie’s weekend home is on the Colorado River.  From their deck, you can see the Gulf of Mexico.

     

They regularly have friends and family drop by.  We enjoyed a visit from Barrett (our niece) and her new baby Gage.  John is a nearby neighbor.  Some come to visit, some come to eat.  Ronnie and Pam smoked brisket, Bobbie and Steve made chili and gumbo, and breakfast each morning was a feast.

     

Steve and Ronnie took Ron fishing on Steve’s flat boat.  As you can see – they were successful.  They also found this condo on the beach.

     

    

On Saturday, over 40 local boaters had organized a toy drive for those who lost everything in the hurricanes.  There were dolls and bikes and bags of toys on every boat.  They were headed to Port O’Connor for a big Christmas party.

     

Later that day we went to Bay City for the best Mexican food.  Meet the family:  Mom and me, Ronnie and Pam, Steve and Bobbie – and dessert!

 

               

On Sunday, as the Titans were winning, the storm clouds blew in.  It was a refreshing rain on the deck overlooking the river.

     

As the evening came to a close, we relaxed on the docks at the marina and began planning our dirt trip to Houston and Granny’s house.

       

See you in a few days after our trip to Houston!

Galveston to Matagorda Bay, Texas (Nov 30th)

What a difference a day makes.

     

Because it was an 84 mile voyage and not knowing what weather we would face between here and Matagorda, we planned for a leisurely start to our morning.  We had coffee while watching a sailboat glide by and were entertained by Jonathan Livingston and his buds (he is third from the left).

     

A beautiful start to a beautiful day.  We passed a little entertainment center (see helicopter) and were off to the Intercoastal!    

Thankfully there was not much commercial activity in this portion of the ICW and we made good time.  Interestingly, this is one of the sections of the ICW that is closest to the Gulf.  Only a small strip of land separates the two.  You can see the Gulf in the second picture.

        

As we entered Matagorda Harbor, we were guided by the local dolphins.

    

Once in Matagorda Harbor Marina, we tied our lines to our new home for a few weeks.  They were already in the Christmas spirit.

    

Fogged in at Pelican Rest Marina, Galveston, Texas (Nov 29)

We woke up to dense fog which lasted until well after noon.  Beautiful but not good for navigating.

           

This marina had interesting aspects, such as party docks with special carvings and thatched-roof covered boat slips.    

Being in need of provisions, we man-up’ed and walked the mile to the nearest Target.  Traveling Interstate 45 by foot after dark was more than adventurous, it was down right scary!  After the safe return, we treated ourselves to another night at “Number 13” with our favorite waitress, Tetiana.  Tetiana came to visit from Ukraine and loved it so much she decided to stay.