Most people ask me why I initiated this trip from Kemah, TX, rather than some other place. The reason is simple. My brother Suren lives in Houston, which is about a 45 min ride from Kemah. That made accessing and staging the boat there super easy. Suren is a has always been remarkably generous with integrating people into his home, so basing the boat in Kemah was a no-brainer — family support.
There were three people on board Pearl for this leg of the journey: James, a friend form Portland, Denise who had helped glue this trip together more or less from the beginning, and myself. While all of us had varying degrees of sailing experience, none of us had any significant blue water experience and experience being in open water for as many days as it would take to get to Tampa.
The trip from Kemah to New Orleans lasted about a week. We took off on April 01 from the South Texas Yacht Services facility where Pearl was recommissioned and did a short 2.5 mi hop to the Seabrook Marina just so we got the dock lines untied. This first step, however trivial, was in some ways the hardest — pushing off into a new lifestyle that was more or less unknown.
View Kemah, TX to New Orleans, LA in a larger map
From Seabrook, it was another short run to Galveston, our jump off point for Florida. My original plan was to head directly from Galveston to Tampa. Due to the nature of sailing, however, I wasn’t sure that we would get James to Tampa in time for his flight out. Additionally, i wasn’t sure how all of us would handle an extended period in open water. On the basis of advice from an experienced local boater who’d done a bit of work on Pearl’s electrical system, we opted for the more conservative route up the GIWW (Gulf Intracoastal Water Way) from Galveston to New Orleans.