Captain’s Corner-Spring Break

The Diehl’s at Mount Vernon, Spring Break.

Growing up, Spring Break was code for travel to better weather. My parents liked to take us south from New York to educational

or historically significant destinations such as Washington, D.C. Later on, in college, Spring Break meant leaving Connecticut’s cold weather for the warm beaches of Florida, although I am waiting until my children graduate from college before I share the beach stories with them. Now, our Spring Break trips are much more tame. These days Annette and I join one of my East Coast friends at Bolivar Peninsula when he visits his family every spring.

One of the more enjoyable parts of our present-day Spring Breaks is getting to take the Bolivar Ferry from Galveston Island. We usually go early or late in the day to avoid the lines and are never disappointed. Even when it is foggy, I love the ride. I usually start out

Crossing on the Bolivar Ferry, Spring Break 2018

up front on the main deck and feel the sea spray; then I work my way to the top to take in the full beauty of the waterway. It includes arguably the busiest waterway intersection in the country – the Texas City Y, which is just northwest of the ferry route. The Texas City Y is where the Texas City Channel connects to the Houston Ship Channel, and, at the same point, the Intracoastal Waterway cuts across the Y.

The action is everywhere and highlights our diverse mix of vessel traffic, including shrimp boats, sailboats, recreational boats, cruise ships, deep draft ships, towboats, barges and tugs. Of commercial vessels alone, there are 200,000 transits per year in this area. It is so interesting that I feel the need to reiterate yet again to someone why it is so great, but my wife always mysteriously disappears. It is not a long ride, and I usually have to hustle to the car as they are docking. It is an impressive state-run ferry – the fifth largest in the U.S. – and the crew does an excellent job.

The brief voyage is particularly apt to my itinerary this year because I head out to Washington, D.C. as soon as the Bolivar visit ends to join colleagues in advocating for the dredging and maintenance of our hard-working waterway. Meetings with multiple elected and public officials have been scheduled to keep leaders up-to-date on the nation-wide economic impact the port region generates and keeping its health a focal point of the infrastructure budget.

A few days after wrapping up the D.C. advocacy trip, I fly to Boston to participate in the Global Resilience Research Network Summit, hosted by Northeastern University. Organizers of this event seek collaborators from each part of the community to construct practical applications for building and advancing resiliency. Houston has gained a well-deserved reputation for moving from surviving to thriving, and the speaker line-up includes leaders such as Judge Ed Emmett who will share some of our “lessons learned” to-date.

It promises to be a productive and informative two weeks. I am eager to tell the Houston Ship Channel story and to engage in instructive collaboration. By the next issue of the magazine, we will update you on our efforts and hope to have some new insights to offer our readers. In the meantime, if your family is in town, consider introducing them to the great national asset we call the Houston Ship Channel by taking them on the Bolivar Ferry. It’s educational, fun, and there’s sure to be some good dining nearby – all the elements of a great outing for Spring Break.

CAPT Bill Diehl, USCG (Ret.), P.E.
GHPB President

  • Date March 19, 2018
  • Tags 2018 March