The 3rd Coast Cowboys wrapped up the 11th day of their trip by forging across the Galveston Ship Channel to Bolivar Peninsula, where they’re currently sacked out, amidst a field of trash and sand.
The paddlers – leader West Hansen, plus Jeff Wueste, Jimmy Harvey and Branndon Bargo – began today’s journey (not an expedition, and definitely not a cruise, but positively a journey, I’m told) at the western tip of Galveston Island.
I met up with them early afternoon at the end of Sportsman’s Road, where I tossed over a few jugs of water and some snacks purchased at the closest gas station. Harvey took his usual afternoon nap, and the others sipped instant coffee to boost their enthusiasm.
“I’m never fucking doing this again,” Hansen told me, but in a positive, upbeat way. Maybe he’ll do the same 385 miles in reverse direction next time.
I intercepted the team again a few hours later, in front of the tall ship Elissa, which launched in 1877 and now serves as a museum on Harborside Drive in Galveston. That ranked high on my excitement-o-meter, but the biggest accomplishment for the paddlers came in the form of the channel crossing.
The team got a fairly calm harbor, and bunched their four boats together before starting across the busiest stretch of waterway of the mini-expedition. Halfway across, they spotted a large reddish-orange freighter coming in from the Gulf, “just hauling ass right at us,” according to Hansen.
They paused a moment, wondered if they could outrun it, then turned around and started to beat a hasty retreat to the Galveston side. After a few minutes, the ship passed, the guys rode out the wake, and continued their way across without further adieu.
“It took forever to make crossing – exactly forever, because we timed it,” Hansen said.
I’m planning to catch the 5 a.m. ferry to Bolivar Peninsula to meet up with them early tomorrow. Looks like they’ll make it to Sabine Pass late Monday or early Tuesday, where they plan to pull out at Walter Umphrey Park in Port Arthur.
In the meantime, Hansen’s already dreaming about doing the trip again – only in a cabin cruiser, with an ice chest and a good supply of wine.
“I think that would be kind of neat,” he said.