The not-so-everyday presence of yachts on Buffalo Bayou has been bringing sight-seers to Allen's Landing this week. But the docking is no holiday for the boaters, who've been stranded at the downtown birthplace of the city of Houston since Sunday morning.
A barge in the Houston Ship Channel struck a tower early Sunday morning, suspending travel on one of the United State's busiest sea ports. Caught up in this spectacle were members of the Houston Yacht Club.
Every year the Yacht Club, which is based out of Shoreacres and is the oldest yacht club in Texas, sails up Buffalo Bayou. The trip usually takes about four hours, and is completed in a Saturday afternoon. The boaters dock at Allen's Landing, have a potluck, and spend the night before returning back to Galveston Bay via the ship channel.
On Sunday morning, as the boaters were preparing to sail back home, they were informed by the Coast Guard that the ship channel would be closed for a few days, according to yachter Suzi Hayes. Two days later, more than a dozen fancy yachts are still anchored in Buffalo Bayou, and they are bringing quite the recreation bonanza to the area.
Nancy Edmonson, the yacht club treasurer and coordinator, said she expects to hear from the Coast Guard tonight whether the channel will be open to non-commercial traffic tomorrow. In the meantime, the yachters are running out of diesel for their generators, fresh water and room in their wastewater tanks. As we arrived, one group was preparing to make a Spec's run, but they were lucky -- most of the boaters are stuck downtown with no other form of transportation.
Not that they stranded yachters haven't taken things in stride. One couple set up a pair of deck chairs on the concrete on Allen's Landing, and Edmonson, who pulled two kayaks behind her yacht, paddled up Buffalo Bayou for a little recreation.
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"It's been a little different kind of being a tourist in Downtown," she said.
Hayes and her husband were headed from La Porte to Galveston to celebrate their thirty-third wedding anniversary, but their plans have been temporarily stalled along with the rest of the flow of traffic on the ship channel.
The City of Houston was founded in 1836 at Allen's Landing by John K. and Augustus Allen. Since then, Buffalo Bayou downtown has undergone years of commercial development, but Edmonson says the stretch of the bayou between downtown and the ship channel is filled with beautiful scenery.
The Houston Yacht Club was also founded at Allen's Landing, in 1897, before moving to Shoreacres in 1926.