Galveston Bay and South Sailing
Looking for recommendations for places to sail to and from on Galveston bay. Am sailing a trailerable Catalina 250 so need to find marina to put in and then where are good destinations and or sailing points. GPS coordinates, places to anchor and eateries would be helpful.
I've lived in Keemah and Seabrook for a number of years, the sailing in the bay is not really that great most of the time because the wind is not so good but there are plenty of eateries and places to visit by boat.
I'm not sure of a good marina to launch your boat, but there serveral places to visit in the Clear Lake/Galveston are. One of the best anchorages on the Texas coast is Offats Bayou in Galveston. If you can, find a copy of "Cambell's Guide to Cruising Texas", there is a lot good info about marinas and anchorages all along the Texas Coast. There is also Campbell's Guide website, The Walter Eden Company, Inc.
I live in Houston, and have a large cat in the Kemah area. How long are you planning to stay? Are you a member of a yacht club that might have reciprocal privileges with either Lakewood Yacht Club or Houston Yacht Club? Both have transient slips, I think.
Other marinas here are located in protected Clear Lake, and the Kemah channel leads from Clear Lake out into Galveston Bay. Large marinas are Waterford Harbor Yacht Club and Marina, South Shore Harbor (both very nice, with floating piers and all amenities), Marina Del Sol, Watergate (although docks not floating), and Boardwalk Marina which is right in Kemah but pricey. Also Seabrook Shipyard, which is across the channel from Kemah. FYI, I pay $300 per month for a 35 ft slip at Waterford. All of these places have websites - just do a search. You can also see which are closer to Kemah, and which are further up Clear Lake (South Shore is farthest, but a very nice facility.) Closest to Kemah means less boat ride to the Bay, but also more $ in dock fee.
For launching, LYC and HYC have ramps. There is also a large ramp under the Kemah bridge which is a public use ramp. I know the power boats use it, as well a friend launched his Corsair F-31 there. TX Parks and Wildlife may have some info on that ramp, which I think they maintain. Also any of the marinas can provide info. And Seabrook Shipyard marina has a crane for launching.
Good dining on Kemah boardwalk - several choices all owned by Landrys, athough it is a bit of a circus in the summer. Otherwise my favorite for fresh seafood and very casual eating is Joe Lees on FM 2094. Best Italian is Italian Cafe on Nasa Rd 1, also casual, but it is BYOB as they do not have a liquor license. I think there is a liquor store in the same parking lot. Best greasy cheeseburger and cold beer is South Shore Beer Garden, also on 2094. But it is a bit of a dive.
There are two West Marines in the area, plus a Blue Water Ships Store, so you are sure to find anything marine that you need.
There are good cruising destinations, and by far the most popular is Redfish Island. But not much of an island, as the original was a long island of oyster shells that got wiped out in a storm, and was rebuilt with granite rock. Winds are predominately SE to S, and it will provide protection from that direction, as well as East wind. Wind this time of year is mostly light - 6-14 knots, and probably more like 8 avg. Although Texas has been deluged with rainfall for the last month, so nothing has been normal yet. The sea breeze usually fills in around 5 pm, and MOST of the platforms in the bay are lite, so late evening sailing is usually a joy. And an excape from the sun/heat.
Here is a link to some weather stations and wind data. Hmmm, and I see the wind id 15-16 knots on the bay now. So much for my estimates. Clear Lake - which is a mix of fresh and brackish water - is the body of water next to the Mud Lake labeled sensor.
Here is a good place to start for cruising desitinations:
BARR Local Knowledge Page
There is also a link to a satellite map of the bay, on their home page. Bring mosquito nets for the hatches if you are going to Double Bayou or Offats. Also be forwarned that the Bay water is more of a brown color than green, and certainly not blue, due to proximity to some rivers in the area. Definately nicer water than offshore LA, but not comparable to Florida. I go through shock each time I come back from a week in FL or Mexico!
I have a Tartan 27 that I keep at Watergate. Watergate does have some floating slips, but they are hard to get into.
The best launch point is under the kemah bridge on the North side. The south side is shallow and parking sucks because of the adjacent "boardwalk" You'll see the boardwalk when you enter/exit clear lake.
The "channel" from the ramp to the kemah/clear creek cut (main channel) is more like a ditch. It's very shallow so watch your tides. I had a C-22 for a while and used to use the ramp. I think you have 4' of water all the way and 6' in places. Of particular note there is a restaurant at the end of the ramp channel under the bridge, it's called outriggers. If the tide is going out there is usually a strong current there and you can get pushed up against their floating docks.
Best place for fuel is "3 Amigos".
Clear Lake is pretty shallow and you need to have someone basically point out where you can and can't sail. I'd highly recommend that you have a towing membership with TowBoat US or SeaTow (both have operations here). I refer to it as an investment not as insurance. lol.
As far as places to go, there are lots of neat things. Redfish island is a popular cruising destination. It's about an hour to motor sail to and is approximately 5.5nm from the boardwalk.
When using the clear creek channel don't leave the channel til you pass the second marker. I highly advise studying a galveston bay chart.
Redfish is a manmade island and you can anchor there and enjoy yourself. It's a great day-sail destination.
Galveston is about a 4 to 5 hour trip. There are 3 marinas there. Offats bayou is a great anchorage from what I hear. Be sure to check the charts before you go in or you will run aground. There is a area of 1 and 2 foot water in offats near the channel in the anchorage area.
Galveston Yacht Basin is a great transient destination. Clean showers, friendly fuel dock. They charge $5 for pumpout. Most marinas in Kemah offer pumpout for free to residents.
There are some things on the east bay that are worth visiting. A local cruising organization that I can't remember the name of has great writeups on the various destinations.
Most of the bay is 8 to 12 feet deep. Watchout for crab pots (marked by white foam bouys) and stay clear of the commercial ships in the Houston Ship Channel. There is a lot of space to sail, the weather is reasonable, and you can relax and enjoy Texas.
One other note, storms are very common. I got caught in one Saturday. I usually toss the hook and wait out the storm. They typically pass on by in 20 to 30 minutes. If you do plan to be near the ship channel make sure you have a functional VHF or two. I have a fixed and a handheld. Makes for a much safer trip when you can hail the commercial traffic and ask where it is going so you can stay out of it's way. The tows (tug traffic) looks deceptively slow but is normally cruising along at 15kts or more! Bolivar Roads (right off Galveston Island) is a very very busy intersection.
Again, welcome, enjoy, and be safe!
Each reply is worth much so thank you. This past weekend I went on a discovery journey to Kemah/Seabrook and found some great information which reinforced what you have posted.
Josh Johnson a CPYB at Sea Lake Yacht Sales met with me, shared a map (note gave) of Galveston bay and then showed me several places to sail to.
Check out their web site sealakeyachts.com for a link to useful destinations on Galveston bay or his sailboatcorner.com for helpful information.
Watergate marina is a very nice facility with many inexpensive transient slips. To launch I discovered the North end (Seabrook side) of the 146 bridge between Kemah and Seabrook has a nice launch ramp (Texas Parks and Wildlife) and paved pull through parking under the bridge. It is clear of over hanging obstacles so set up of a trailerable sailboat like my Catalina 250 WB is easy and safe. Another ramp and parking facility that is fenced, gated and secure I discovered through Josh, was not in on the weekend so I do not have their particulars yet; Gulf Coast Sailing Center.
Also, he directed me to North Upholstery who make really good looking bimini tops, sail repairs, modifications and such.
Re: Galveston Bay and South Sailing
My husband and I are also looking for places to sail in and around Galveston Island. We are currently working on getting our San Juan 24 hauled from D/FW to Galveston Bay area, and have had some really good bids from boat haulers.
Though we are hitting a dead-end when it comes to finding crane services to put our boat in the water once it arrives; since the mover will not. We are looking at Teichman Point Marina on Offats Bayou, but they do not have a lift. I have contacted Galveston Yacht Basin, but have-yet to hear back.
So...unless anyone would like to offer some much appreciated pointers to this 'newby-near-novice-sailor', I will keep searching the net for crane services and start studying the charts in Offats Bayou. I noticed one poster in this thread had said that there are many shallow spots there, and we have a fixed keel with a 4' drop; which was one of the reasons we wanted to relocate to deeper waters. : )
Any pointers would be very...very appreciated. Links to buy charts and crane services near Teichman would be wonderful too. Thanks so much in advance. Fair winds and blessings!
Re: Galveston Bay and South Sailing
Peniki, welcome to Sailnet. I'm afraid this thread is a few years old... No big deal, although some posters will make it seem like a carnal sin :)
As far as Galveston goes, I'm sure some posters around there will be able to help. We are farther south, around Rockport / Port Aransas. Water is pretty skinny around here if you are bay sailing. I did a quick search on Galveston Bay and they are showing an average depth of 7' - 9'. You will also want to check to see how much has changed from the last hurricane. (Ike)
You might want to check out some charts of the area. You can pick up a cheap, quick chart at many sporting goods stores. Ask for a fishing chart, "Hook-n-Line is a common one around the coast. Although they aren't suppose to be for navigation, they are updated by the area's fishermen probably more often than many actual navigation charts. It will at least give you something to look at. A depth finder and chart plotter is a good idea.
We have a Mac26s swing keel (actually a swing board) so we are good to about 18" which we have tested more than once.
Re: Galveston Bay and South Sailing
You should have no problems with your 25' just beware of the rough waves in galveston bay when it is busy or windy. Plus the rouge waves from the tanker ships on the HSC. Clear Lake should be good- check out the Wed night races on Clear Lake.
Re: Galveston Bay and South Sailing
Here is a free local cruising wiki sites, Tx Cruising Destinations
It is begins at Bolivar Road near the cities of Port Bolivar and Galveston at the intersection between the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (Statue Mile 349W) and Houston Ship Channel (close to HSC marker 25).
Divided up by the 6 major bays along the coast.
Brief and to the point for actively sailing the GIWW, and interlinked to all the updated NOAA charts needed for crossing Texas from Orange to Brownsville.
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