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November 3, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

The art of water works

In order to get someplace, you have to know how things work.

Not always just point and drive.

Like with a sailboat, none of that going as the crow flies.

Marina on right, and Clear Lake Channel from Outriggers. NO permissions granted. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted

Outriggers. local favorite after tourists season. View west down Clear Lake channel. Fishing on rocks at right. Marinas on either side of water.©

See the little grey “house” in the picture above? It’s really a fuel dock for a marina.

Note the little white sails just to the left of it. The boat is under sail moving to the right.

small sailboaat now sailing to left. NO permissions granted. ALl rights reserved. Copyrighted

Small sailboat now sailing back to left. (port) ©

The sailboat is heading down the channel from Clear Lake to Galveston Bay into the wind.

The skipper has to put a little thought into it as the wind is coming from behind where we are sitting. The passengers/crew will have to be alert and be ready to move .

Try to sail directly into the wind and a sailboat stops: dead in the water (and the skipper looks foolish or inexperienced. Horrors!)

sailboat getting closer under sail. ALL rights reserved. COpyrighted. NO permissions granted

Making progress zigzagging to utilize the wind and keep the sails full so he keeps moving. Just turned back to make another pass across ©

Sailboat pointed at marina. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted.

Still sailing on the same leg – towards one of the marinas. Those “sticks” aren’t power poles everywhere. Those are sailboat masts. This is is one of the largest collection of sailboats and marinas in the US which is why the Texas coastline is sometimes called the Third Coast.©

sailboat by bridge. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted

After more turns and zigzagging, the boat is opposite our table. Sometimes boats tie up, people get off to eat here, or grab a beer from the breezy bar underneath. But maybe later. A nice Fall sailing day shouldn’t be wasted indoors ©

This is a J boat, about 22 feet, a racer which is why there’s not anything decorative or fussy in the design or cockpit.

It is steered by a tiller to the rudder instead of a wheel and when out for a leisurely sail, can comfortably hold four.

Yes, they should all have life jackets on. Slipping under the patrol radar since it’s not the busy weekend/summer season. (Still warm here – 80’s F. But windy Fall days are cool on the water.)

sailboat with wind in main sail. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted

You can see the main sail is curved and catching a strong wind gust that blew in from the bay (at left). Caught them by surprise. With 2 people sitting on the downwind side (right), and a sail full of wind, the boat was almost pushed flat into the water. Luckily the crew is nimble and swift – ducked down and moved to the other side to counterbalance, and the skipper steered up (into the wind) a bit to dump some air out of the sail. And voila – no problema other than slowing down a bit©

sailboat under bridge close to bulkhead. ALL rights reserved.No permissions granted. Copyrighted

The skipper had just enough wind to complete the turn he had planned as he started under the big bridge. He’s good. You can see the passage narrows here. The wind gets flukey. You have to know, you have to be quick, you have to know what your boat/crew can do, and you have to plan ahead. Or it can be costly.©

sailboat in narrow passage under bridge.ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted

He’s planning on just clearing the bridge passage and making another turn before running out of room, speed, or wind in the sail It was close. ©

It’s quite a ballet – more of a tango, perhaps.

Before long, the place where we are eating will be torn down as a twin tall bridge is built in this location. This is one of two roads out during hurricane evacuations. Long overdue.

There used to be a drawbridge here.

It was quite a trick getting boats out – especially during the hot summers with the crowds, weekend boaters, children steering, and beer.

There was a schedule for the bridge. You had to carefully make your way, then flow along with current and wind in the line hoping you timed it right so you didn’t arrive too early at the closed bridge. In that situation, you had to turn the boat around, square dance circle past all the waiting boats, then somehow manage to turn again and slip back into line. Lots of planning and strategizing

Tempers would flair – especially between motor boats and the sailors. Those that aren’t local often didn’t have manners, know the routine/pattern, and ignored the “No Wake Zone” signs.

The big bridge was a big improvement. Change happens. Things gained; things get lost.

Sailboat past the bridge and zigzagging across the mouth of the channel.. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted

Ah, they made it. Sailboat past the bridge and zigzagging toward the right bank.©

sailing towards Kemah boardwalk ...after a few more sweeping legs and turns. ALL rights reserved. No permissions granted. Copyrighted.

And now back to the left. You can see the Kemah Boardwalk with rides, restaurants, and tourists on the right bank.©

sailboat heading to Galveston Bay. ALL rights reserved. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted

There’s the mouth of the channel opening to Galveston Bay. A couple of passes back and forth, but not much more to go.©

Real sailors don’t paddle or turn the motor on (unless that super tanker or cargo vessel is going a whole lot faster than you thought…).

Speed boats may be fast and thrilling. Attract the pretty. Plenty of room for AC, cold beverages, assorted clothing, and pets. Often with loud music and mandated yelling over the powerful noise.

Not everyone gets sailing.

Many times slow.

“Long periods of absolute boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”

The boat leans, tilts, and feels unstable.

You can’t always go exactly where you want.

And you have to work to keep moving. (Call it Extreme Exercise…with some potential for “boat bites” from equipment.)

There is something to be said for focusing on how the winds blow, knowing where you’re going, looking ahead, and being willing to work to get there.

Afternoon reflections on skillful manuevers in the water.

Or do you think there’s any parallels eddying there?

Currently drifting,

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

restaurant view overlooking waterway and racing sailboat sotrage on right. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted NO permissions granted

Overlooking waterway and racing sailboat storage on right. Many of the smaller J boats and racing crafts are lifted out of the water between racing sessions. Keeps the hulls cleaner so they will be faster. Don’t be fooled. Small “plain” racing boats often cost more than a larger boat, maybe as much as a small car. Realistically, the chances are that the owner isn’t rich, drives an old car, doesn’t wear expensive clothes, or lives in a fancy place with designer furniture. Different priorities. Once the wind talks…©




  1. shoreacres / Nov 3 2016 7:23 am

    You know, I’ve never been to Outriggers. Not one time. If you’d asked me its name, I’m not sure I could have told you. It’s so funny, since I often work at Portofino, right across the channel. Sometimes, more than a palm tree is “just scenery.”


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 10:06 am

      Well, we’ll have to meet there-during the week with the lunch menu. Not the best hamburgers or prices, but nice porch, not crowded, nice breeze – and you can sit back, do nothing and enjoy the breeze and weather…and talk about how so much around there is all different.
      Portofino looks a bit shallow at times, but being so close to the bay is a real advantage.
      Will have to look for you over there in future pictures…like where’s Waldo marine style? Thanks for sanding up a comment to leave


  2. Littlesundog / Nov 3 2016 7:27 am

    I had a friend who shared a catamaran with her sister (wealthy farm family in Nebraska) and their family had three huge ponds on their ranch. I stayed with them a weekend one summer and the weather was perfect to sail… I had NO IDEA how much work it would be to maneuver that catamaran around that afternoon! Even though the ponds were huge and they fed into one another, I felt like we were constantly preparing to turn the boat around just about the time we had relaxed a little on a straight run. Their mother had packed the three of us a picnic lunch, but who had time to eat when we were continually preparing to change course, grab a rope, or reach out to snag a hat that blew off in the wind? “Extreme exercise”?? You’d better believe it!!
    We have a niece who lives in Seabrook and she loves to take family to the Kemah Boardwalk. FD and I keep saying we’d love to visit one of these days… when we’re not up to our eyeballs with deer and elderly dogs. 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:58 am

      With sailing, if the wind shift doesn’t cause you to have to change directions, obstacles or land will. Small catamarans aren’t for daydreamers or sleepyheads.
      Your sailing experience sounds like fun…always eat before or after. HA HA
      You should visit sometime. When the weather is mild – not summer! (We could help with a visiting eledry dog, but the deer might be a problem…I hear they always want to drive anyway.)
      Thanks for drifting by with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  3. pegoleg / Nov 3 2016 7:53 am

    Sailing looks so difficult! My family were always power-boaters, but of the quiet, courteous variety. Except when my brothers took over the helm. 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:54 am

      Sailing certainly counts as exercise. I’m sure the office wondered about all the scrapes and bruises I had each Monday…maybe the sunburn hide them?
      Even with so much boat traffic, mornings weren’t too bad on the water – it was in the afternoon when people (teens-mid 30’s) had gone through the beer coolers that was problematic. The coast guard and lake patrols are always during busy times writing tickets and pulling people over. If the kids can see where they are going, they often drive better than adults late in the day. We found it easier just to skip the upper bay and keep the boat in Galveston. Traffic of any kind is stressful.
      Thanks for splashing down with a comment


  4. Kate Crimmins / Nov 3 2016 8:21 am

    Hmmm…I thought this was a political post. Zig zagging, left of center, right of center. Your writings aren’t always about what you are writing about. (Did that make any sense at all?)


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:45 am

      HA – you’ve been around here far too long to recognize that.
      Nope, sick of politics at this point and we were escaping to a screenless/media free location….maybe need a return trip and muse over the seagulls or shrimp boats?…hmmm.
      Thanks for paddling to keep up and for floating a comment this way

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Roxie / Nov 3 2016 8:36 am

    While I love the idea that you’ll be getting another escape from hurricanes route, I hate that the lovely spot will be demolished! This priceless perspective shares so much, Phil, as usual your wit and wisdom gifts me with new knowledge – sailing. Oh wait, I can hear Christopher Cross’ song from decades ago:
    no reason I should have that song rattling around in my head all day when I can pass it along.
    😉 you’re welcome!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:43 am

      That song is always welcomed around here. Some think of fall’s crunching leaves and we think of cooler sailing with wind again.
      Eventually the road will be widened – it’s been planned forever…somehow the big developers of planned communities up north and west of Houston seem to have gotten the available highway money while we get lovely signs on poles saying “Evacuation route (with a cute little blue and green hurricane swirl design)” and multiple large ones that say messages and things like “Hurricane season is coming. Be prepared” Oh, great. As if anyone around here isn’t aware. It was OK we got to keep the local dives.
      Thanks for walking the plank with a great song!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. easyweimaraner / Nov 3 2016 9:34 am

    seems I am Sailing is not as easy as dad’s rival Rod said in his song. maaaaany moons ago I’ve tried to get a boating license… I passed the theoretical part and then we noticed that I’m the walking seasickness on two legs … so to sail with Rod stays as a dream, I even decorated the river ferry at a 2 minute ride… the ferryman (not the one of the song) said that he never ever had such a passenger like me :o))))


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:36 am

      I’ve not gotten seasick on sail boats of large ocean going type ferries, but motor boats? UGH Woozy woozy. It must be the fumes or vibrations or noise. Molly, however, is really hesitant to walk docks made of wood – it either worries her that she can see beneath her or it sways, but she’s turning around…unless you want to carry her (not likely). Molly votes for a convertible instead of getting a new boat. Thanks for dog paddling over, Easy!


      • easyweimaraner / Nov 4 2016 10:13 am

        Easy is 100% with molly… he wants the convertible by gucci… sadly our wallet looks more like aldi… :O)


  7. sportsattitudes / Nov 3 2016 11:44 am

    Watching sailing has always intrigued me, especially when the America’s Cup is contested every few years. I have to admit however the “boats” the various nations who compete for the Cup are using now are much more like rocket ships than ships. Not really sailing anymore…sad. Participating in sailing was something I did as a youngster. Fond memories? Well…if you count being on a sailboat out in the Chesapeake Bay as a massive surprise thunderstorm is racing in something to be fond of…yeah, put me down for a fond memory there. I never had any seasick issues but seeing those thunderclouds out of nowhere sure gave me a sick feeling. This was a time when we didn’t all have our handheld computers to pull up the latest radar ya know. Never saw it coming. Never sailed after that either. Coincidence? Maybe…


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:20 am

      We raced various catamarans for a long time with trophies to make up for all the bangs,cuts,and bruises. I’m sure the people at work wondered every Monday. The monohull was pure relaxing (although there’s always that need to go faster than all the other boats out there….it’s an illness…).
      Chesapeake Bay area is lovely for sailing although there you have to winterize boats and worry about winter storms. Not much more worrisome than seeing huge thunderheads growing and you’ve got this huge metal lightning attracting pole over you and you’re surrounded by water. We do know people that got hit during our racing era. Those boats didn’t have instruments/radar, you had to read weather and check weather service before heading out. During one race from end to end on Lake Travis (one of the big ones near Austin with rock cliffs) we coould tell by the sudden wind shifts, the water surface pattern ahead of us that it was going to get bad so we headed into a cove just before the storm hit, turned the catamaran turtle and tied it into a partially submereged tree, then sheltered under the cliffs until we could climb out, hike to a house, and then get a motor boat lift back to the boat.(which was unharmed). Sunk a couple of big monohulls that weren’t watching. Nobody was hurt serously. With water, you have to be alert.
      I hear there are other recreational opportunites. HA HA Thanks for sailing in with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  8. roughwighting / Nov 3 2016 11:55 am

    Your description of sailing reminds me of ballet even more than the tango. From an observer’s point of view, it’s so lilting and lovely, graceful and charming. But the ballet dancer/sailor is working her/his ass of to stay upright/afloat and maneuver everything just right.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:06 am

      You really nailed the analogy. Graceful performance for the audience who never is aware of the practice for skill, effort, and all the work involved. Thanks for sailing by with a beautiful comment

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Anne Mehrling / Nov 3 2016 3:00 pm

    I loved your anatomy of a little voyage. When I was in college, I got my instructorship in sailing on a North Carolina lake. I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in your area.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 9:03 am

      We enjoy lake sailing – no salt water! (Less work cleaning up!). The size of the boat or location doesn’t matter. It’s just nice to be out on the water and away from the noise. Thanks for anchoring a comment here


  10. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy / Nov 4 2016 6:38 am

    Looks like a great place for a bite. Plus, it makes me want to get out on the water – though that season has passed here, for the most part (and I would not be sailing – more work than I am keen on when it comes to a boat!).


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 4 2016 8:56 am

      This is the time of year the area seems to let out that deep breath it’s been holding and things get back to normal. Can’t beat the view. Nice to take a little time to enjoy before winter weather arrives. Thanks for docking a comment here

      Liked by 1 person

  11. roughseasinthemed / Nov 5 2016 3:20 pm

    Swish swash. Three men on a boat. Swallows and Amazons. Sailing off into the sun …


  12. The Hook / Nov 7 2016 8:10 am

    Your pics and prose help me to drift away, old friend.
    Many thanks.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 7 2016 7:27 pm

      Good to kick back and go with the flow sometimes…or just laugh a lot at the incoming tourists. Keep on keeping it cool, Hook. Always glad to see you around the neighborhood


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