Day 2 of a Small Voyage, into the ICW


Candace and I woke up to rain coming through the bow hatch before sunrise. The rain was bad enough to keep us from shoving off, so we put our foul weather gear on and went ashore looking for coffee and a place to dry all our clothes (we hung the up to dry the night before, bad idea).

We stayed on shore, until around noon. The weather was better but still gloomy. So we decided to take the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) instead of the ocean to our next destination, Freeport. There were only 7ish hours of sunlight remaining, which wasn't enough to get there. But West Galveston bay looked accessible from the ICW and should be free of traffic. So it would be safe to anchor there overnight.

Through the ICW

The ICW is basically a 50ish yard wide ditch dredged to around 16ft deep. Things were going well but I think we were going to slow. At around 6pm Candace was at the helm and I was below deck. The whole boat lurched. We ran aground. The sides of the ICW can get shallow quickly.

We were stuck pretty good. I put the motor in reverse and revved it as hard as I could without the prop surfacing. We didn't move. I tried forcing the prop deeper into the water to keep from surfacing. No luck. We tried rocking the boat side to side while I revved the motor. Nope. And then I tried turning the engine in its mount to it would pull at different angle. Slowy this moved us out of the mud. I guess this is one small advantage an outboard has over an inboard. An inboard motor can only push/pull straight. Although it would not of had the surfacing problems.

Turning the engine was not so obvious to me as it should have been since all the steering on the sail boat is done with keel.

After we were back underway we noticed the depth-sounder was acting very erratically. This was pretty scary since knowing the depth in the murky shallow waters of the ICW is pretty crucial. And soon it was dark so, navigating was even more difficult. Some sections of the ICW are open to the bay on both sides but dangerously shallow. So we had to stay in the channel by spotting the unlit bouys at night. With only a $5 LED flashlight. The bouys are probably about 1/3 of a mile apart. This was nerve-wrecking, but we did fine. Eventually we got to west bay and creeped out into the 5ft deep waters and prepared to set anchor.

Anchoring in West Bay

Things were calm, I set the anchor. For an anchor light we hoisted a lantern to the top of the mast with the Jib halyard. I set my Anchor watch app thing and went to sleep. Throughout the night the seas and wind and eventually rain came. I woke up to the anchor watch app alarm twice. I went on deck and everything seemed alright. The boat was probably just swinging in a different direction as the wind and currents picked up.

I had so many nightmares that night about the anchor rope breaking and us drifting into the path of a barge on the ICW. That didn't happen. But sleep was rough, especially once the seas picked up and we were bouncing up and down.


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