December 29, 2010 through January 2, 2011
The Travis Traverse, a “do it yourself with others camp cruise,” was held during late December and into the new year. The planned route had us overnighting at parks with boat ramps so the idea was that people could do all or part of the cruise. The weather gods smiled upon us as the weather was spectacular for late December with mostly sunny days averaging from a high in the mid-60’s to a low in the 30’s with light to moderate winds. Four boats participated:
|Chris/Cathy: EasyBake, a Caroline skiff designed by Jim Michalak; built by Chris
|Doug/Lori: Sojourner, a Bobcat, designed by Phil Bolger, built by Doug.
|Frank/Beth: OziPearl, a San Francisco Pelican designed by Capt. William H. Short in 1959
|Stan: Too new to be Named Yet, a Family Skiff, designed by Jim Michalak, built by Stan.
Day 0: Chris and I arrived at the Narrows Recreation Area a day early to get EasyBake rigged and launched and get all our gear sorted out. We managed to get the boat rigged and in the water before dark and fixed ourselves a nice steak dinner over charcoal. We stayed up pretty late and awoke the next morning to the arrival of Doug and Lori with their Bobcat, Sojourner, quickly followed by Frank and Beth with OziPearl and Stan with his brand new paint-not-quite-dry-yet Family Skiff.
Day 1: The Narrows Recreation Area to Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, where we converge, launch and rig our boats, do the shuttle thing, and finally get on our way.
We got on the water a little later than planned due to the shuttle and ran out of wind late in the day so EasyBake became the tow vehicle for Sojourner and OziPearl. Doug and Lori made use of the tow by photographing the beautiful sunset and enjoying a wee nip of Lori’s blackberry brandy. We had lost sight of Stan early in the day as he had motored ahead before trying out his "sailing wings" on his maiden voyage. We arrived at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area and found Stan’s boat on the beach but he was nowhere in sight. We found him napping in his tent up on the hillside where we joined him after dinner for an evening campfire. Chris made his specialty drink, Dark and Stormy, a mixture of ginger beer and rum, which some drank and others discreetly poured out.
Day 2: Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area to Pace Bend Park; solo sailing, gusty wind, lots of tacking.
After our first night camping, Stan was first on the water. The wind had picked up a bit from the previous day and it was quite gusty. Frank and Beth had a little trouble getting away from shore and Frank slipped in the mud, sending Beth, a novice sailor, on her first solo sailing experience. She quickly took control of the situation and sailed to the opposite side of the cove where she patiently waited for Frank to arrive via EasyBake. I was worried about Frank in his wet clothes but didn’t have time to think about him much as we were busy putting in 2 reefs and handling the gusty conditions.
Sailing along a winding river is fun and challenging as all points of sail are experienced. On one particular stretch of river, I lost count of how many times we tacked before we finally made it around the bend. Sojourner and OziPearl were within sight but Stan had sailed ahead earlier in the day. We expected to see him when we arrived at Pace Bend Park shortly before sunset, but his boat was not there. Concerned that he had missed the park and was waiting for us further down the river, Doug and Lori joined us on EasyBake and we motored ahead, looking for him. After a short while, we saw him returning. He had been having so much fun sailing his new boat in the fresh breeze, he had continued on for several miles.
We returned to Pace Bend Park where Frank and Beth were warming up by the fire. Lori provided a bottle of champagne and we all toasted the new year and retired for the evening at 9 p.m. Happy New Year!
Day 3: Pace Bend Park to Arkansas Bend (our longest distance, shortest time on the water); Frank and Beth had previously planned to take their boat out at Pace Bend so, after bidding them farewell, we set out for Arkansas Bend. I wish Beth had been able to sail with us on this leg of the trip because it was probably our best day sailing. Most of the day was either a beam reach or down wind, all under very comfortable, light conditions. We made camp by mid-afternoon and Lori served a blueberry/crushed oreo backpacking concoction to all of us after dinner. We did some fishing and enjoyed another evening camp fire. We agreed to a late start the next day as we were all feeling a bit lazy and confident of the short leg of our last day.
Day 4: Arkansas Bend to Windy Point; Our last day; light wind.
As usual, Stan was first on the water and soon sailed out of sight in his Family Skiff. EasyBake and Sojourner cruised along together, mostly on a beam reach or down wind. We enjoyed photographing each other and stretched out the day as long as we could, not wanting it to end. The wind was light and the sun was shining – I can’t think of a better way to end the trip.