GASP! Gulf Area Sea Paddlers
This trip was a Thanksgiving holiday trip for sea kayaks to Matagorda Island.
The eight of us put our boats in the water at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day at the private boat ramp ($3/boat launching fee) marked "Fulghum Camp" on my road map, but "Charlie's" by the current owners. It's the south running road from state highway 185, close to midway between Seadrift and Port O'Connor. We paddled 8-10 miles out across Espiritu Santo Bay, and into Power Lake, from which a dirt path/road could be followed across Matagorda Island to the Gulf side. We trucked our kayaks and all our gear on 2-wheeled dollies for a mile to camp on the beach on the other side of the island, looking out on the Gulf of Mexico. The six men did all the kayak transportation on Thursday. and I found out what really hard work it was on Sat. when I insisted on "toting my own load" and drug the boat myself. Oh my achingbody.
Thanksgiving dinner was candied yams cooked over a one burner camp stove, and steamed broccoli. Smoked turkey came from the deli and was warmed in aluminum foil next to the campfire. Pumpkin bread was baked at home before the trip. Red beans and rice, cranberry sauce, and all kinds of other goodies assured us that starvation was kept well at bay.
Friday was "beach day" and although it started out inauspiciously with overcast skies and light rain showers, the day got better and more sunshiny as it wore on. Most of us had to try out the surf, which was really wild, roiling, and continuously nasty. Waves broke, reformed, broke again, it was hard to find a long enough stretch of unsnarly water to turn boats around - if you stayed right side up long enough to think of it! I got flipped three times, rolled twice. After the first roll, I got trashed by a huge wave that broke 5' from where I had just resurfaced and before I had a chance to even get my bearings. That did it - time for the ejection seat! Gathered my equipment up, washed back in to shore, emptied and then jumped back in the boat for a bit more cautious run at the surf. Next flipper I lost my bearings again, but pleased to find I had rolled back up with the nose pointed back to shore, the perfect surf position, so carried on until I was too tired to play much longer - and too waterlogged!
Had a lovely long stroll on the totally deserted beach. Deserted except for miles and miles of human trash off oil rigs, work boats, pleasure craft, and who knows what else. Even coconuts that had floated, presumably, from the Yucatan. Took us no time to find enough 5 gallon plastic containers to construct an eating table, a cooking table, and seating for 8. Behind the beach it's mostly wildlife refuge or state park, quite a treat to see so much undisturbed habitat. Birds and insects were singing. Lots of places where feral hogs had torn up the ground looking for who knows what delicacy. Didn't see any of them, or the deer or coyote who left fresh tracks in the sand every morning. John got a nasty pinch from a ghost crab he got too blase about handling but no other worse disasters than that.
Sunday John and Fred and I took a three person paddle out of Port O'Connor, the rest of the crew having headed back to Houston on Saturday. Boy, what a wonderful paddle we had. Perfect blue skies, cool and breezy, but ideal paddling temps. We put in at a very nice concreted public boat ramp, amidst a constant stream of duck hunters, airboaters, and others. John has a real kayak sail (commercially produced) and the wind was strong enough it pushed the three of us, rafted up, two miles to the tip of land where we changed direction to circle under paddle power back to the put-in spot. Saw more wild dolphins than I've ever seen before and thrilled to be accompanied out of and into the Intracoastal Waterway by twosomes of them, blowing their airholes and showing all of their backs only 40' - 50' from my boat. All kinds of birds too, including many brilliantly pink colored roseate spoonbills bottom-filtering for their post-Thanksgiving dinner. Perfect ending to the weekend.
Hope your holiday went as well as ours!
Report by Natalie Wiest, Houston Canoe Club
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