Oh the people you will meet

You looking for a sailboat? A man in a NASA t-shirt said as he finished his Coors. “Um, yea” we responded with a bit of confusion. “We’ve been looking at boats all day”, “Well, I may have one for ya.”

Shannon and I had just finished looking at several boats in Kemah, and were debriefing over a beer at the Voodoo bar. He must have overheard us, becasue he quickly began telling us of his friend who is currently sailing to Panama on a 55ft Nicholson. After a few minutes of pictures and stories, he remembered that he was trying to sell us some other boat.

At this point Shannon and I are rather skeptical as this guys seems a bit, um, spacey. He starts to tell us about this Valiant 40 that his buddy that is currently sailing to Panama has here just across the street. “Its one of them blister boats” he said. Apparently in the late 70s, Valiant started making boats with a new epoxy/fiberglass mix that caused some severe blistering. This issue eventually put the company out of business. The core of the boat though, is still a fantastic big blue-water boat designed by Robert Perry.

As we walked to the marina NASA guys started telling his stories of his years at NASA as an engineer, and all the work he does on all these boats here now with that expertise. As he seems to get more comfortable with his stories, his salty sailor side starts to show. Stories of getting kicked out of marinas skinny dipping with “many ladies”, and missing hurricanes by days with his skilled weather plotting. I think I’m starting to like this guy

The boat itself is great, its old, but well equipped and solidly built. Its quite large, and well proven with multiple trips to South America under its belt. It unfortunately suffers from, what is know in the sailing community, as the plague. The blisters that are forming in its hull are essentially incurable. Many have tried, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into repairs, only to have them reappear. From what I read though, they are generally cosmetic, and there are no reported case of any catastrophic hull failure.

Salty sailor though says that we can have this 40ft boat for $20k. That’s one hell of a deal. and one worth serious thought. It just goes to show that good things happen while drinking at the bar.

One month in

It’s now been a month in Texas, we’re on the Bolivar->Galveston ferry again to head to Kemah to look at some more sailboats. It feels like we ride this ferry a lot these days. There’s really nothing on Bolivar Peninsula. There’s only one decent store at all, and it’s a combo grocery and hardware store, aptly named “The Big Store.” Anything we can’t find there we have to head into Galveston, or 30 miles north to a small town called Winnie. There’s no Laundromat, so we have to either hand wash in the sink, or hop the ferry again. We’ve eaten all all local restaurants, all 5 of them, they’re nothing to write home about. So if we have a craving for decent food, well, you can probably guess. One of them, the Tiki Beach Bar, does have one interesting little quirk, it has its own private grass airstrip where apparently pilots from all over  come in a have themselves some lunch.

There are some great bonuses to living here as well. For one it’s really quiet, traffic is non existent, except on the beach. The weather is really not too bad, it’s hot, and humid, but a quick walk to the beach and it feels quite nice again. Oh, and the beach, I love the beach. Its half a mile from the house, and ten miles in either direction of sandy goodness. I’ve never been much for just wasting time, I usually want to be doing something (and playing video games or watching TV, does count as that) but I can just sit on the beach and drink a beer and be perfectly content.

It’s not all beer on the beach though, we’ve had some issues with our A/C, and power outages. We had a storm roll by a few days ago that knocked out the power for nearly 10 hours. No power is generally OK for the trailer as we have backup batteries, but no power means no A/C. 10 minutes without A/C it’s a sauna inside the trailer. We were having other issues with the A/C as well. Due to a lovely design feature of the trailer, the thermostat is mounted on a wall that, due to the refrigerator, has some direct outdoor airflow. That airflow with all its moisture flows directly into the thermostat. It hits the cold dry air inside the trailer and immediately condenses. This kills the thermostat. It we woke up one night at around 3am and it was nearly 90 inside. Looking at the thermostat, it thought it was 40, good thing the heat didn’t turn on. I opened it up and found it dripping with water. So I dried it out and hoped for the best. Over the next few days the screen started shorting out, and it started melting, and freezing us in the middle of the night depending on its mood, so we replaced it. (Yet another ferry trip to Galveston.) I also made an attempt to put some insulation in that hole as well, so hopefully we won’t repeat that issue.

We are also still actively searching for our new sailboat. Last Friday after work we, um, took the ferry, to Kemah to look at several boats up there. After our last adventure to Corpus Christi, we were pretty much sold on the Islander 38 we saw, but it’s not really for sale, so we can’t really do anything about that right now. The broker in Kemah has 2 Islander 36’s and a few other boats in our price range so we had to have a look. Turns out the Islander 36 is mostly the same boat as the 38, just without a bowsprit, a pilothouse (really great view from the salon), or the really cool swim ladder on the stern. It has a more standard interior layout with a v-berth main cabin, and smaller quarter berths. Overall the boat was quite nice, and actually really well equipped. Unfortunately, I was still so set on the 38, that I just wasn’t looking at it with the right eye. So today, a week later and no movement on the 38, we are on our way back to Kemah to have another look.

This search for a boat feels like it taking a long time, but we’ve only been at it for a month and we already have some good options. We have one more month paid for here in Bolivar, so we have a bit more time, but we are starting to think of the next place. Do we head across the bay to Galveston? Down south to Corpus Christi? Or across the bay to Kemah? Who knows, but that’s the best part. It doesn’t matter, just go.

Pete: Traveling Adventure Dog Extraordinaire

 

Since Pete was adopted in 2005, he has had to make quite a few adjustments in his life. He was adopted in Birmingham, Alabama and has since lived in Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado and now Texas. He has been able to camp and hike in the Ozarks of Arkansas, Wasatch Range of Utah and the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. He has jumped from rock to rock in the deserts of Southern Utah and forged his own path through freshly fallen snow in the mountains around Durango. He has canoed in Lake Vallecito north of Durango and he is currently learning how to navigate the crashing waves of the Texas Gulf. Through it all, he has been my trusty and steadfast sidekick.

Like most dogs, Pete has learned to roll with the punches and accept his current circumstances for what they are. He has learned to carry a pack with his food/water and swim across rivers when backpacking, jump from rock to rock when in the desert and to be the follower when he gets tired when snowshoeing. He learned that it is hard to say goodbye to his friends, Sumo, Alpe and Lopa. But he has also learned that, even though he doesn’t like car rides, he is going somewhere fun as long as his bed is in the back seat of the truck.

I am not saying that Pete isn’t concerned when there is a change in his routine. From the time that he was adopted, he has shown anxiety in one form or another. As a puppy, he tore up furniture and my favorite shoes when left alone. He eventually graduated from being disruptive to not eating when he was anxious. He has always been a grazer when he eats but would normally always finish off his daily rations by the end of the day. With his anxiety and health issues, his eating habits are more unpredictable these days and make it difficult to know when he needs to go to the bathroom. Eating and bathroom habits are the topics of a lot of conversations regarding Pete lately as well as breathing rates and overheating. Once his routine is settled for a few days, we all seem to relax and become regular again, pun intended.

In October of last year, 2016, we bought the camper trailer and Pete had to get used to our future home. We started selling/donating everything in the house in order to move into the camper and he started showing concern for what was happening around him. It helped when we moved his ‘camping’ bed into the trailer so that he could start making it his home too. It was also around that time that he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Vestibular Disease which caused him to lose his balance and his eyes rapidly moved from side to side. Luckily he started eating solid foods again after a week but was left with head tilt and wobbly back legs. Throughout this health scare it was also determined that his heart was significantly enlarged and that his previously diagnosed heart murmur was more pronounced. He was put on an Ace-Inhibitor and a Diuretic in order to make him more comfortable if everything started to go sour. All of this made us consider his health and quality of life as we moved forward with our travel plans. Ultimately, we decided that if Pete is healthy and able, he will continue adventuring with us.

On July 1st, we threw Pete’s big comfy bed in the truck, attached to our camper trailer, waived goodbye to Durango and began meandering our way to the coast. He really liked stopping at Mom and Jack’s Square Dot Ranch for a few days. He got to play with the cows and inspect a new calf while relaxing in the garden and flower beds. While Justin and I flew off to his brother’s wedding, Pete got to spend a long weekend with my sister, her two man children, and their two dogs. While there he got to see some long lost friends and go for long walks. Once Justin and I were back at the Ranch, we threw Pete’s bed in the truck once again and headed south. Final stop: Crystal Beach, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

Now that we have been at Crystal Beach for 2 weeks, Pete seems to be adjusting well. We just had a Vet appointment saying that he hasn’t progressed beyond where things were prior to the move and that his medications are doing more good than harm. We are all learning how to keep him cool when it is supper hot and humid outside. He is getting more and more used to playing in the water as it rushes up on the beach but is still not a big fan of the waves when they crash onto his face. Since he gets a bit overheated on walks in the sun and heat, he will soon be decked out in a life vest so that he can stay cool when exercising in the rolling waves.

Moving forward, I know that I can’t imagine this adventure without Pete. I also know that Pete would do anything to go on adventures with us, even if his old body is tired and worn out. But as long as the fates allow, I will have a nice comfortable bed ready for him.

Week One

Its hot, like really hot. All the time. Also humid. I didn’t know hygrometers ever said anything other than 20% humidity (that’s the lowest any of them I’ve ever had registered, and it never gets above that where I’m from.) So far, I have not seen anything below 80 degrees or 80% humidity since we arrived. I’ve never really appreciated A/C until now.

That being said, things are going rather well for us. Our little RV park is full, but there are only 6 spots, and everyone seems to go home all week. Friday afternoon, through Sunday afternoon, its a bit busy and noisy, but all week long we have the whole place to ourselves. The whole of the Bolivar Peninsula seems to be just a really laid back version of my stereotypes of Texas. There are very few people here, but they all seem to be friendly, but most everyone seems to just keep to themselves. The busiest place is the beach, and that’s clearly the “main drag” of the area where big trucks and confederate flags fly proud.

We’ve somewhat settled back into a routine. I went back to work last Monday, and Shannon has spends her time gathering resources for her work that starts in August, as well as lining up yacht brokers and boat viewings for us. Instead of our usual Durango happy hours after work of Carvers Beers, Rice Monkey sushi, or our favorite Tacos Nayarit, we’ve been just trekking the 1/2 mile to the beach and enjoying a cheap beer or three while we watch the waves. Its certainly a lot cheaper this way. We’ve tried to find a local replacement for our regulars, but nothing quite lives up to them. Oh well, I cant complain about the beach.

We’ve taken a few excursions down to Galveston Island, as that seems to be the closest place to do or get anything. We have to take a ferry to get there and it is always busy (at least a 20-30 minute wait to get a car on, sometimes an hour and a half or more), but we have taken our Durango bike lifestyle and figured out that we can skip the line and walk right on with our bikes. It may be super hot and sweaty, but that’s the new normal for us.We have a plan to head down to Corpus Christi next weekend to take a look at a few boats down there. One is an Ericson 32.5, and another is a Nicholson 35. Both look quite exciting, and it feels really good to actually be moving forward and going aboard a few boats.

Its all still really exciting and a bit overwhelming that this is really happening, but I have to say, its nowhere near as hard as we though it would be. If anyone reading this is feels that need to get out and start and adventure, just do it. All that fear and unknown in your head stopping you is far easier than you think to overcome.