Wow. What a week. We had nearly 6″ of beautiful, powdery snow Sunday night into Monday morning. Then Texas broke. Or at least the electricity generators did, leading to a majority of homes in Austin and other cities throughout the state to have their electricity turned off. It wasn’t a rolling blackout for many. It was several days without electricity, with temperatures between 0 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit for most of those days.
We didn’t lose power at our house, for which I can only attribute to sharing a circuit with hospitals, a firehouse, and a couple of assisted living facilities. But crazy, scary times for many people.
Five days later, the temperatures are now in the high 50s, and will be even higher over the next week.
We drove to the lake today to check on the boat, and everything looks fine. The water temperature keeps the hull warmer than freezing, which insulates the plumbing that is below the waterline.
There was a little snow left on the decks almost a week after it fell, a first for us to see.
I am thankful for our good fortune, and hope that life soon returns to whatever normal it was before the cold weather arrived.
Today was the day to re-raise the mast on Julie & Ryan’s boat. New windex, new lights, new halyards, new topping lift, new flag halyard, new sheaves, new wiring, new switches, refurbished outboard motor, replaced bulkhead mid-ships in the salon, chain plates reinforced, and some much-mended sails and boat canvas. I can’t wait to get out on the lake with these sailors. Next up: installing the boom, mainsail, and jib. Then we’ll take her for a sail!
After sailing Cupholder down to the marina on Sunday, Monte spent the next few days taking the rigging, booms, and mast down. Today we met Marty at the marina and we put Cupholder on the trailer and brought her home. Many, many thanks to Marty for his help and guidance as we worked to get the boat on the trailer properly. And thanks to Sue for the use of the 4Runner to do the hard work. We couldn’t have done it without you.
She’s back home. Hopefully not for long; and to return to the lake in 2021.
As Lake Travis’ level continues to drop, the water in the cove where Cupholder spent the last year is getting too low and the dock it is tied to will soon be aground. So yesterday, Monte and I took a drive upriver and sailed Cupholder back down to our marina, soon to be hauled out and parked at home.
It was a very windy day. A front had just passed through, so the winds were out of the north, which is what we hoped for to make for an easier sail 25 miles down river. Northerly is good, however, it was blowing 15-30 knots, with some gusts in the 40-knot range. So, it was a nice, but exciting, sail. The scenery that far up the river is always pretty, and the autumn color is finally showing up.
After a 6-hour sail, we arrived safely at the marina right before sunset. Kurt met us and helped us tie up in the strong winds. Another mission accomplished on the lake.
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 are making more frequent trips to the lake lately to get a break from the endless 100 degree days we have here in Austin.
Last Sunday when we came home from the lake, we realized we were missing our styrofoam cooler. It’s not just any styrofoam cooler, though. It is a cylindrical bait bucket that’s been in Monte’s family as long as he can remember. And it has been along on all of our camping and boating adventures for the last 20+ years. It makes a great, compact ice bucket. As it has worn thin and broken over the years, Monte mends it with wood and epoxy. One day, I expect it will be all wood. It’s special.
We went back to the lake Tuesday but didn’t find it on the boat. So we sadly assumed it must have blown into the lake from the parking lot while we were loading the car. Monte added it to our Lost-shit Log of things we’ve lost in the lake.
We looked for it on lee shores as we sailed, but didn’t spot it. Returning to the marina Wednesday afternoon after anchoring out for the night, we learned it had been found and turned in to the office. Awesome!
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:
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.
Monte completed the install of our new head on Nirvana this week! The work was interrupted by this shelter-in-place for a couple of months. But he made several trips this week and declared it done yesterday.
So today we went to the lake and took her out. We anchored and jumped in and floated in the lake for the first time this year. Water temps were still a tad chilly at 79 degrees F, but we sucked it up.
I knocked out a quick project today as rain soaked the yard. It’s a bag to hold a 3L boxed-wine bladder. Boats don’t much like things made out of cardboard; roaches do. So we don’t bring cardboard on-board. This bag will hold, hang, and dispense the wine instead, so we can toss the box for recycling. Yes, that’s right, I just ooze class. 🙂