Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 24, 2013

Crossing San Antonio Bay

Preparing for the 2013 Texas Water Safari

The start of the Texas Water Safari ultra-marathon canoe race is only sixteen days away. For the past several months Doyle, my tandem paddling partner, and I have trained on various segments of the 260-mile race route. Yesterday we completed our final training run on the last 33 miles of the course — starting at the Invista Plant south of Victoria all the way to the finish line at Seadrift, Texas.


A mandatory stopping place to and from our training runs.

These last 33 miles of the race course are my least favorite for several reasons. First, because the water is flat — no current. Second, because there are three big and grueling portages at the infamous log jam section of the lower Guadalupe River. The first portage is a half-mile long. Third, because the bay crossing is always unpredictable, often putting you at the mercy of the wind and the waves. However, although this is my least favorite part of the course, this was the training run we needed the most.


Pulling our canoe up a steep bank at the second log jam portage.


Dragging our canoe through the woods at the second log jam portage.

I have warned Doyle several times that the toughest part of this race will be the final 33 miles. After yesterday’s training run, Doyle agrees. As we were paddling across San Antonio Bay Doyle said, “As if this race was not already tough enough, they had to throw in a few more things at the end, like this bay crossing, to make it even tougher.” That’s why we must make certain that we have the reserves to make the final push from the mouth of the Guadalupe River and across San Antonio Bay to the finish line.


Spray skirt on our canoe. Getting ready to cross San Antonio Bay.

By the time we reach this section of the course in June, we will be battling exhaustion, sleep deprivation, hunger, bug bites, and more than a few aches and pains. But we will have no choice but to do the portages and to paddle across San Antonio Bay to the finish line. I will never forget what I felt last year as my son Jonathan and I saw the finish line at Seadrift come into view. As exhausted as we were, we were re-energized and paddled feverishly to the finish line.

Bay Crossing

Crossing San Antonio Bay near Foster’s Point. Headed to Seadrift, Texas.

I am grateful to our other Safari friends who paddled with us yesterday, including my son Jonathan and his team-mate Bob and our friends Ben and Jay who are competing in the solo kayak division. I am also grateful to my friends Daren and Isaac who came along to encourage us, waited for us to reach the mouth of the river, and then followed us to Seadrift while fishing in the bay.


My son Jonathan (back) and Bob arriving at Seadrift.

As Doyle and I battled the wind and the waves in the bay, it was comforting to see our friends. Their presence reminded me of the words of an old writer who observed, “Satan is a pirate looking for a vessel without a fleet.” Whether paddling in a race like the Texas Water Safari or just navigating life, it’s always good to do so with others. Thanks to each of you who have been following our preparations over the past few months. Your words and comments have been a great encouragement to us. Thanks for paddling with us.


  1. Very nicely written !

  2. Awesome! I’d love to do this race if we ever get back in TX. It’s great to see some real-life examples of how tough this terrain is to cross – it’s no sailing, that’s for sure!

    • Hope you will get to do the race someday. It is a fantastic albeit grueling experience. Best wishes to you on your travels.

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