Father's Day Sailing At Texas City DikeBy Eric Comstock #759 (11es 13eo 12ea 12ad 53ar)
When my family asked me what I wanted to do for Father Day "Go Sailing" was the first thing that came to mind. So I took the opportunity to load the family up and go try out a new place to sail. I've been to the Texas City Dike many times before for various purposes, but never to sail. I knew that a lot of local small boat sailors frequent it and recommend it as a good place to sail, so I was eager to give it a try. It also has a nice sandy "beach" area near the end, 5 miles out into Galveston bay, so I thought it would be a good place to take the whole family. It is.
We loaded up and headed out as early in the morning as we could. We got there a little before 10:00 and found a nice roomy place to park and set up camp. Once the EZ-Up, chairs, cooler, sand castle building equipment, etc. were all unloaded and set up, I got started launching the boat. I got it off the trailer without too much difficulty, but dragging it down the beach over the rocks and shells was not very easy me or the boat. Next time I'll bring a dolly.
Before I long I had the boat rigged and ready to sail. I had to walk it out about 30 feet into the water before there was enough water to put the lee board down (waist deep). Then I climbed over the side and sailed away. The wind was coming directly over and perpendicular to the Dike, so that the beach is on the lee side. That is the direction that the wind almost always blows here. It was a very steady 8 to 10 mph with no gusts or lulls. The bay was blown almost completely flat by the wind coming over the Dike, except for an occasion wake caused by a ship in the channel a mile or two away.
Once I got away from shore it was some of the most pleasant, uneventful sailing I have ever experienced. I have never had my PDR out anywhere where the wind was so cooperative.
After a nice long sail I came back and had a snack and some water under the shade of our EZ-Up. Not long after that Malcolm arrived with his "Lazer-Bug". Soon were both on the water and trying to get away from shore.
This proved to be a little more difficult as a lot more people had arrived and they all seemed to want to play in the water right where we were trying to launch. Several fisherman were also encroaching on our area. Maneuvering through the obstacles was a little tricky but not to bad. After thinking about it, I believe that I should have launched pointed downwind instead of into it. With my boom sheeted all the way out 180 degrees and pointed downwind, ahead of my boat I could have just climbed aboard and drifted down wind until I was clear of the swimmers.
Finally we were both clear of the swimmers and sailing away.
After a very nice sail we both came back, packed up and headed out. It seems that with his larger "Racing" sail rig, Malcolm's "Bug" is faster than than my PDR. I may have to make a larger sail. ;) My current one is a little less than 55 square Feet.
The Texas City Dike is by far the best place I have sailed my PDR to date. It is a little more than an hour drive, so I may not be able to make it out there as often as I would like, but I will definitely be going back soon.
Chief Naval Explorer