Exploring Lake ConroeBy Eric Comstock #759 (11es 13eo 12ea 12ad 53ar)
A few weeks about Frank and I went to the Lake Conroe public boat ramp on hwy 830, to see what it was like. Here is what we found:
Frank and I made it out to Lake Conroe at the public ramp on hwy 830 (7 Coves) Saturday. It was a beautiful day with winds forecasted to be 5-15 out of the west. We agreed to meet at Noon.
Frank got there a little early. My son and I arrived a little late.
I had not been to this ramp in about 15 years, so I didn't really know what to expect. When I arrived I found that a LOT of other people had also decided that it would be a good day to take out their boats. Most of the parking was filled up and there was a constant stream of motor boats putting in and pulling out. It was very busy. Frank and I discussed the situation for a few minutes. Specifically noting that the wind was almost calm, perhaps 1mph occasionally "gusting" to 3 mph. But we were there so I started rigging #759 and put her in.
After launching I made my way past the fisherman on the dock and tied up on the NE side. What little wind there was, was coming from the West. Once #759 was secure, I went back and helped Frank launch his boat. Frank had only had his PDR out a couple of times before and was still perfecting his rig when I set out.
The water was rough and choppy from all of the boat wakes, even though I was in a no-wake zone, the boats outside of it were zooming past at full speed. I was pleased that my son didn't get sea sick. 759 made slow but steady progress and 1/2 hour later we had reached the end of the no wake zone, about 100 yards away from the ramp. About this time, I decided to head back as the wind I was hoping would appear after I made my way out of the wind shadow of the headland, was not there.
I tried to tack several times, but could not get enough momentum to complete the maneuver. Each time I ended up a little closer to the rock lined lee shore, but I was still at a safe distance. Once I decided to jibe, I was around and headed back to the dock in no time. We decided that now would be a good time for a snack. We had beef jerky and bottled water as we slowly approached the dock.
The wind seemed to be even slower now and I noticed that on the way out I had been going slightly down wind. Now I had to head up wind a little to make up for our leeway. With the boat rocking from all the wakes and the boom swinging back and forth, it was hard to tell if there was any wind in the sail, but I still had steerage so there was some. As we approached the dock I discovered that the bottom was shallower than I had anticipated and our lee board (port side) ran aground, instantly swinging us 90 degrees and bringing us uncomfortably close to the rock lined, lee shore. I quickly grabbed a noodle sword (no Viking should leave home without some sort of sword) and sunk it into the mud to hold us still while my son pulled an oar out of the air box and assembled it. With oar in hand, I paddled us the remaining 50 feet to the dock.
I helped Frank load his boat onto his trailer, then we loaded mine, unrigged both and headed home.
My conclusion is that the 830 boat ramp is not a good place to hang out. It is a well made ramp with plenty of parking and would be fine if the plan was to head off for some distant shore or a day "at sea". But it is not a good place to work out your rig or meet others to take them for rides. It should only be used in the way that the motor boats use it, launch and get away as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, getting away quickly was not possible Saturday since the predicted winds never materialized.
WE will be exploring more Lake Conroe sailing sites soon.