I enjoyed my Saturday to the fullest. I got up early to go birding for a few hours at one of my favorite spots – Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park. I watched the sun rise above the prairie.
I headed down the path to the river, as the mist lifted. Everything was very dewy.
It was nice to be out looking for the birdies.
After returning home, I cleaned up and we headed to the lake. Monte and I enjoyed a long sail in mild-ish winds. As soon as we got into the slip the winds really picked up (of course). So, when Kurt and Kevin stopped by a little bit later, we all went back out, in more sporting wind. It was another great sail, though with 4 people in the cockpit, we wore masks.
We were tied back up in the slip in time to watch the sun set on a very nice day.
We baked in the sun while seeking refuge at the lake from the 100 degree temps this weekend. Julie joined us on Saturday afternoon. We stayed the night. We floated, kayaked, SUP-ed, and played on the lake with Marty, Sue, and some of the other sailors with boats nearby. I was tuckered out by the time we got home Sunday night. That’s hard work.
We headed to the lake yesterday for a mid-week overnight anchorage in one of our favorite coves. We had a nice, long, light sail up the river and back for several hours before we anchored in the cove for the night, grilling dinner off the stern under a colorful sunset.
Then, after listening to our neighbor (motor) boat in the cove playing non-stop, loud, expletive-laced music for several hours, just 100 feet away from us, we opted for a lovely moonlit sail back to our slip.
In the morning we decided to drive upriver to where Cupholder is docked for a daysail up to MM 48 and back.
The winds were light, but cooperative. The motor boaters were few. It was lovely. After we got back to our private dock we let it out a bit in anticipation of the lake levels continuing to fall.
Two nice days on the lake. Sa-weet. I’ll leave you with this quote from Wind in the Willows:
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. ”
I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE. Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it. It is getting very dim. I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute. Still no stunning captures. No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.
This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground. The lake level is 668′. Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.
My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE. Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.
A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:
A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:
And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:
I have been waiting for an opportunity to see the Comet NEOWISE since I heard about it at the beginning of July. When it was visible over the pre-dawn, northeast horizon last week, the sky Austin was overcast. This week it is supposed to be visible after sunset.
Last night the sky was clear, so I grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed out to try to find a vantage point looking to the northwest horizon. I found a parking garage that I thought might provide a view. Since it was in the midst of Austin’s bright city lights, “visible” wouldn’t mean visible to the naked eye. I was not able to sight it in my binoculars, either. Instead, I took a number of shots using long exposure pointing at different areas of the sky in the general direction of where NEOWISE was supposed to be. I did capture it in several photos. Here’s the best one:
It’s definitely not NatGeo material, but I was excited to get it. If conditions allow, I may try again. If so, I’m hoping that my experience from last night will help me get a better picture.
Monte and I spent a couple nights at anchor on the lake this week. We chose to avoid the wake-heavy holiday weekend. It was hazy, I guess from the Saharan dust remnants in the air. But it was lovely. Keeto enjoyed it, too. We’ve launched the kayak for the summer, so I have resumed my treasure-hunt-paddling around the coves. I was rewarded yesterday with this long lost 11 lb. Lewmar claw anchor and stainless steel tackle that someone had to cut loose at some point months ago when the lake was much higher.
And we were rewarded again with this treasure at sunset last night.
This is one of my favorite sunrise pictures from last year. It is from the trip up the Keys; I took it as we pulled up anchor at Rodriquez Key, just off Key Largo. It is a beautiful, colorful image of the sun’s glow on the horizon at dawn. It’s a good image to have in mind at the start of this brand new decade. I’m not sure what the next ten years will bring, but I’m ready.
Last week, Monte and I flew to Charleston to meet up with Lori, to crew for her as she moved S/V Trident south to Brunswick, Georgia for the rest of the winter.
Trident in her slip in Charleston is in the foreground, to the right, of the picture below, with 2 tankers getting ready to pass nearby in the narrow Cooper River ship channel just outside the marina, and the Ravenel Bridge in the background. The two-masted schooner at the dock to the left is the 140′ Spirit of South Carolina. We finagled our way on board her to watch the Charleston Christmas Boat Parade up close the night before we departed.
After we landed in Charleston, I had the Uber driver make a side trip to my old house. I moved many times when I was a kid. When I lived in Charleston, I was around 7 to 9 years old, and I think it is the first place I lived where I have lots of my own, real memories – as opposed to memories from snapshots, stories, or individual moments in time. The old chez:
After provisioning and finishing the short pre-departure list of boat chores, we had a chance to walk around Charleston a bit, and sample its great seafood, which was nice. I would like to come back with more time to see the sights. The Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park:
Colorful housefronts along Rainbow Row:
We took the Intercoastal Waterway from Charleston to Savannah, anchoring one night in a creek just off the ICW, and staying at marinas in Beaufort and Savannah. We strolled around Beaufort’s oak-lined and moss-draped historic streets, making a stop by the house where The Big Chill was filmed. We had a lovely visit with our niece and her family in Savannah. Amy Lee gave us the best car-tour of its historic downtown, as a slow rain fell. Then we took the outside ocean route overnight from Savannah to Brunswick.
It was very COLD overnight on the ocean, but we made it! Another adventure in the books.
Over the weekend, we took out Nirvana and Cupholder at the same time. Monte wanted to get some photos of the catboat underway. Kurt came along to steer while I stood on the bow and took photos. The light was lovely, with a slight northerly breeze.
Taking 4 years to build, starting in 2000; launched in Lake Travis in 2004; heavily sailed and thoroughly enjoyed for years; hauled out in 2012; driven to the coast for its saltwater christening and to sail the weeklong Texas 200 in 2013; lovingly restored over the course of a few more years; relaunched on Lake Travis in 2019. Monte has taken great pains over the years to keep her looking and sailing like new. A pretty boat, indeed. Also, still the best dancefloor on Lake Travis. 🙂
Rachel and her friend Becky are visiting this weekend. We didn’t think we could keep up with a couple of vivacious 30-something’s in downtown Austin on a Friday night, so I dropped them downtown tonight for an evening of fun. I was treated to a view of tonight’s lovely sunset on the way home.
Day 13 – We are still tied up at a boatyard waiting for the Belt Line Railway Bridge at MM2.5 to open. Below, we are second from the left, boats waiting…
We haven’t been idle, though. This morning Lori went for a run, I found a geocache, and walked through a nearby wooded park.
We are in an area called Great Bridge. The nearby historical markers tell a story of the first-ever Revolutionary land battle in Virginia Colony which was fought right here. And we won! The British forces were repelled with great losses, and that was the first victory for the American colonies in the war.
This afternoon we cleaned the boat top-sides and inside. Laundry, showers ashore, and then a lovely dinner of tapas and wine at a restaurant less than a mile away.
We learned tonight that the bridge is now OPEN!! We will leave in the morning to travel these last 12 miles. One last sunset on the canal!
I’ve enjoyed chatting with our temporary dock neighbors. Everyone has a story to tell.
Day 12 – 5 bridges. 37 miles. So close, but yet so far. Lori and I got up this morning at 5AM and were off the dock by sunrise.
We knew it would be a challenge today: maintaining a good average speed, the number of bridges, one lock, and some of them only open on the hour. But as of 2pm, we were ahead of schedule! We had worked so hard today to eek every tenth of a knot of speed from the sails. Then, just 12 miles from our destination of MM 0, we learned over VHF from a benevolent bridge tender that the last bridge up ahead that we needed to pass through today, at MM2.5, was stuck in the down position since yesterday. ETA for opening: 0700 Monday morning. Ack! Today is Saturday.
Luckily we were right next to one of only two dockage options for the night, so we hailed them on the radio and asked if they had room, and they did.
So, here we sit, VERY close to ground zero, but having to wait it out. We have electricity, food, and wine, so all is good.
But MAN we were so close!!!
On a positive note, I saw lots of flying things! 🙂
Day 5 – 5 bridges. 56 miles. The new thing today was having to time our arrival at bridges that only open on the hour, or on the hour and half hour.
We had to dodge some hellacious thunder and lightning storms by doing circles for a bit. The currents seemed to be fickle today. There are so many inlets to and from the Atlantic that one minute we’ll have the tide with us. But then we cross an inlet, and the current turns against us. Where inlets and rivers cross the ICW, sand builds up into shallow shoals, some are quite large and stick up above the surface of the water. We passed this one where the locals had erected a flag, a palm tree, and a parking meter with a cleat on the side for boats to tie up. 🙂
The ICW in these parts flows right past the United States Marine Corps’ Camp LeJeune. The ICW is sometimes closed here for hours due to live ammunition fire exercises.
There were no live-fire exercises today, thankfully. We had originally planned to anchor right off the ICW here for the night. But, we had to abandon that plan due to the anchorage being closed for military exercises. We saw a space-age amphibious vehicle enter right in front of us.
I wonder what they would have done if we pulled in there to anchor. 🙂
So we continued 15 miles farther north than we’d planned to be today, and are now at a lovely anchorage at the town of Swansboro. We grilled kebabs, watched a wedding reception on the waterfront, watched our boat swing until the currents changed 3 hours after high tide, and took in another lovely sunset.