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by | Nov 17, 2021

2023 Trips Announcement:

Hi Seabirders and Texas Pelagic Fans,

I am pleased to announce that I am planning to run 3 trips in 2023.  Reservations for all the FIRST TWO trips are now open! 

  1. August 23 – 25, 2023; 48 hours; aboard the MV Fling from Freeportthe second trip on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast since 1999.  THIS TRIP HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO A LACK OF PARTICIPANTS
  2. Sat. Sept 16th, 14 hour; aboard the Kingfisher from Port Aransas;

3. Sept 27 – 29: 48 hour; aboard the MV Fling from Freeport

NEW FOR 2023:

I have chartered the MV Fling out of Freeport for two 48 hour trips. These trips will search farther east on the continental slope of Offshore Texas, an area that has rarely been birded. Being farther east gives us increased chances of finding a few very rare for Texas seabirds like the Black-capped Petrel and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. And of course, there are many other rare possibilities like Great Shearwater, Manx Shearwater and Red-billed Tropicbird to name a just few. I’m even holding out hope for very-rare birds like Red-footed Booby or White-tailed Tropicbird, or who knows maybe an exotic shearwater / petrel? Two exceptionally-rare first Texas record seabirds were found in Texas Waters in just the last year, a Wedge-tailed Shearwater!!! and a Trindade Petrel!!! Not to mention all the regular Texas Seabirds we are more accustomed to: Band-rumped and Leach’s Storm-Petrels, Audubon’s, Cory’s, and Scopoli’s Shearwaters; Bridled and Sooty Terns, Masked and Brown Boobies and all the Jaegers.

Trip Details and Schedule for 2023:

TRIP #123
TRIP DATES 2023Aug 23 -25Sept 16Sept 27 - 29
PORTFreeportPort AransasFreeport
DEPARTURE TIME7:30 pm5:00 am7:30 pm
RETURN TIME~6:00 pm7:00 pm~6:00 pm
TRIP DURATION48 Hours14 Hours48 Hours
REGULAR FARE$700 / person / single bunk$200 / person$700 / person / single bunk
The details for the all three trips are now finalized. Registration is now open for the first two trips only. Please read note about FARES in paragraph below.

A Note on Fares

The REGULAR FARE, shown in the Payment Form below, does NOT include tips to the Crew. It is customary for the crew to receive a TIP of between 15 – 20 % of the cost of the trip. 

Any reservation CANCELLATIONS beyond the “Registration Deadline” will not be refunded unless your seat is resold and the trip is full when we sail. Your fares are transferrable to anyone you choose as long as they are not already a signed up and paid participant.

I have priced the Freeport trips so they can sail with less than a full boat. A FARE CREDIT or REBATE will be offered for the Freeport 48 hour trips if these boats are full when we sail. The amount of the rebates depends on the final number of participants.

Why Longer Trips:

More bang for your buck! Because Texas has a very wide continental shelf. It is narrowest at 43 nautical miles off of South Padre Island and gradually gets wider to the north where it is 66 nautical miles to the shelf edge off of  Freeport. This means that on average it takes about 4 – 6 hours of cruising each way through the shallow waters of the continental shelf to reach prime deep pelagic waters beyond the shelf edge which is the habitat favored by most of the seabirds we seek. These shelf waters are usually less-productive for pelagic seabirds, so a 12 hour trip has about 8 hours of that time are less-productive for true pelagic seabirds. Jaegers, boobies, frigatebirds and the occasional shearwater are found over the shelf, but we prefer to maximize our time in water greater than 600 feet deep.

With any trip over 12 hours Coast Guard regulations requires the boat to have a second captain on board. This boosts the price of the charter. But the added few hours of time in prime deep water habitat makes up for the added cost in our opinion. On a 12 hour trip only one-third of the time is in prime deep water habitat, While on a 14 hour trip 43% or on a 16 hour trip 50% of the time is in productive deep water habitat. More time birding in the right deep water habitat, less time (percentage wise) commuting across the shelf equals more productive trips. It’s as simple as that.

The same logic applies to the new 48-hour ULTIMATE TEXAS PELAGICS. The first night while we’re sleeping is spent cruising over the shelf. We awaken well rested at dawn already in prime pelagic depth waters.  Breakfast is served in an hour or two. We have the entire day of maybe 14 hours of daylight cruising in search of seabirds and other marine life in progressively deeper waters, farther and farther from shore, perhaps up to 150+ miles from shore. The second night is spent drifting and sailing in very deep water. A night while we’re drifting there is also the opportunity to observe marine life that migrates up from the abyss to feed in surface waters. The second morning we again awaken in very deep water and gradually work our way back to port crossing over the shelf-edge around noon, and arriving at port around 6 PM.

Overall the 48-hour Ultimate Pelagics spend a total of about 20+ hours in deep pelagic waters, or about the same as five 12-hour trips or more than three 14 hour trips. All this for almost the same cost as three 14-hour trips, without having to traverse the shelf 6 times.

I found our first 48-hour trip to be much less exhausting than the 14-hour trips. I didn’t have to wake up at about 2:00 AM to meet the boat at 4 AM. Then wait for 2+ hours for the sun to rise.  It was nice to have a real galley with good meals served. For residents of the Upper Gulf Coast it’s an easy drive to Freeport and no hotel stays are necessary. Since the boat embarks at 7:00 PM people from most of Texas would be able to forgo a stay in a hotel before the trip as well, increasing the savings.

About TexasPelagics.com:

TexasPelagics.com is dedicated to promoting public pelagic birding trips and advancing the knowledge of pelagic birds in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas Coast. This website is the single location for the archiving of pelagic trip records and pictures of the Birds and Animals seen in Texas pelagic waters.

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