The "Spring Fling" hosted by the Texas Mariners Cruising Association has been our target completion date and goal since we attended last years event on the motorcycle. (land yacht?)
After scrambling for the past many weeks to finish "Spirit of Jessica", we hit the road last Friday morning (5/17/2013) for our three day trip to the event.
We live an hour from the boat ramp in Seabrook, TX where we put in. During our build, any time we needed to get "re-inspired" for our project, we would head to Outriggers to watch the water and the boats go by. We felt it would only be appropriate to start our first true "voyage" from there!
Following a quick lunch, it was time to head out into Galveston Bay...
....toward our final destination in Baytown, Texas.
The Bayland Marina was the site of this years Spring Fling so we had 11 miles to cover. I know they say get the "uphill" part out of the way first, but we had a destination in mind, and today it was all downwind. Winds of 15 gusting 20 kept me on my toes to keep her aligned with swells, but we did see 7.3 mph on the gps at one point. Not bad in a 15 foot boat! (Sorry no sailing pictures. It was very "busy" sailing for us as we learn our new boat!)
We had to motor the last stretch up the Houston Ship Channel to avoid the BIG boats, but soon the Hartman bridge showed us to the marina just short of the span.
Spirit of Jessica arrived to great fanfare at Bayland Marina, and we returned the favor by "dressing ship" for the event.
Although we aren't members of TMCA (yet!), our hosts were wonderful. They even created a category to award "Spirit of Jessica" with the top prize for "Most flags displayed per foot"! In a world and party of big boats, Jessica was the star for sure. Lots of questions and praise all weekend. What a blast. It was actually hard to remember the earlier stages of the project. Did we really do that?... The only tools we allowed ourselves to bring were "fun" tools. That kept us from "working" on the boat. We just wanted to enjoy the weekend..
...and enjoy we did! What a way to break in our new little vessel. We even had her inspected and now have the sticker from the CG Aux to prove it.
The trip home Sunday morning proved to "spirited!" Wind was howling from the south all night. We left early to take advantage of the lighter winds. They were "only" 12-15mph when we left, but forecast for 20mph by noon, right from the direction we planned to go. The reality was that we sailed close hauled into winds SSE at 20 gusting 28 (!) for the last three hours of the trip with 2-3 foot waves and the occasional 4 footer. We had to learn Jessica's heavy weather traits quickly. The bigger waves did make it difficult to tack as they slowed us down through the wind, but we eventually got better at tacking in rough seas.
Spirit of Jessica's namesake was a feisty, spirited individual who required alot of attention at times... a trait our new little boat has certainly inherited. :)
The only thing we broke was the mainsail outhaul, a rope I should have replaced anyway. I can't tell you how happy I am with this little boats ability in weather that heavy. I don't plan to be out much in conditions like that, but it's wonderful to know she can take it. (this wasn't the day to convince Kathy we could take this little boat to the Bahamas..!:)
Kathy and I worked together as a team and the voyage was great! Again, sorry for no sailing pix. We were too busy, but we did have several boats slip by and take pictures as we sailed home. If we can track those down, we will post them.
See ya on the water!!!
Pirate and da Babe