Appropriate ‘min draft’/keel for Clear Lake, Galveston TX - Page 2 - SailNet Community

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Old 12-22-2011
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My Cal21 with swing keel only drafts 9" of water, keel up.
Here on the little lake I live on there is a thin area between the upper and lower lake. About a foot at the end of the summer. Swing keel boat is the only option.
And I only have about 3-5' of water at the end of my dock depending on season. The swing keel allows me to put the boat anywhere on the dock all year.
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Old 12-22-2011
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Check McGregor line of boats they have a cabin and can be beached they only draw about 18" to 2 '
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Old 12-24-2011
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We race J24s with a four foot draft every Wednesday from April through September, all over Clear Lake. As long as you stay off the south shore that is fine. Galveston Bay is plenty deep. I do believe that it does get shallow in West Bay where Tiki Island is located, but that is a 4 or five hour sail from Clear Lake. I believe you could visit your aunt, but you will sail for 3 or 4 hours and then have to motor to stay in the channels under the causeway to Tiki. You would need more knowlege than I have to actually do it.

Here is a chart for Galveston Bay for Clear Lake and south. You can also sail several miles Northward and 25 or so miles east and northeast.
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Old 12-25-2011
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Thanks for advice baileyrace, and the map is very nice.
I am still not sure about the draft though. I noticed that J24 has a draft of 4', so I guess you are limited to where you could go.

It is possible that the draft is not that important, that people just motor out of shallow areas and than just cruise. I am not sure if that is the case
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Old 12-26-2011
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No, you do not motor through mud to get out of shallow areas. We rarely even put the outboard on unless the wind dies or if there is so much traffic in the channel that we feel it is rude to go tacking back and forth. It confuses the power boaters.

On Galveston Bay, most people sail out of Kemah, or several marinas around Clear Lake. There is a deep channel between Clear Lake and Galveston Bay. All the marinas have deep channels servicing them also. (It is true that some of theses marinas get too shallow to leave when there is a strong north wind. There are probably only 3-5 days/year this happens. I sail out of Seabrook Shipyard and it has never happened to us.)

Galveston Bay is around 600 square miles of water, most of which is 9 to 13 feet deep or so. It is really divided into 4 bays----Galveston Bay, Trinity Bay, East Bay, and West Bay. 90% of all sailing is in Galveston bay which is about 12 miles long and 6 miles wide. Trinity Bay is much larger and just as deep, but you need to cross the Houston ship channel in one of three channels if your draft is over 5 feet or so or if the north wind has pushed the water out of the bay. Only the ship channel and spoil banks separate Galveston from Trinity Bay.

Clear Lake is deep enough that 60-80 sailboats race in the lake every Wednesday evening when we have enough day light.

Tiki Island is in West Bay. West bay is very shallow, so you would have to stay in narrow, marked channels to get there. You would need to motor these channels. It is around 30 miles from Clear Lake to Tiki Island, so you would rarely visit your aunt by boat. I do see a few sailboats behind houses on Tiki, but I am not sure where they do their sailing.
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Old 01-10-2012
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I went to check the area.

I was kayaking around since I don’t have a sailboat yet and I noticed that Clear Lake is very crowded with narrow channels which sailboats use.
Only small sailboats (~15’) stay in Clear Lake, and all other boats seem to head out and sail in the bay.

So I guess the answer to my original question (which draft is the most appropriate for Clear Lake) would be that any size draft would do, since the sailing would be mostly in a deeper bay, and not in the shallower Clear Lake anyway.
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