Beneteau Oceanis 400 provides adventure therapy for Kemah boater
Brantly Minor grew up near Port Arthur, enjoyed water skiing and bought his first boat — a 1954, 16-foot Chris-Craft — by the time he was in his early 20s. Life was good. Then he went sailing and life got even better, he said. He was just past his 50th birthday, the year was 2005, and he was hooked.
Minor started out with a S2 7.3 sailboat, but two years later, bought a Beneteau Oceanis 400, renamed her Other Woman, and she’s been an important part of his life ever since.
Moored at Waterford Harbor in Kemah, Other Woman usually is out on the water competing in various sailboat races.
As a member of the Galveston Bay Cruising Association, Minor, a Kemah resident, is a serious racer. He participates in local races, including the popular Harvest Moon Regatta hosted by Lakewood Yacht Club each year in October. The offshore race begins in Galveston and ends in Port Aransas.
Other Woman features a teak and mahogany interior, three staterooms, two heads and a galley that can seat eight to nine people around the table.
“It’s basically a three-bedroom, two-bath condo and roomy enough for my crew, consisting of six to eight, depending on the race,” Minor said.
During racing season — January through the middle of November — Minor averages about 30 races, sometimes participating in the Galveston Bay Cruising Association Icicle Series in January, he said.
“The winds howl, the water blows up over the hull, and you find yourself ducking down a lot, so it’s a challenge, but fun,” he said. “In the summer months, we have the Rum Race Series, consisting of eight races with multiple categories.”
During any race, Minor depends on his crew, he said.
“They each have a specific job, and they’re all important,” he said. “Amanda and Rafael Fontela have been with me the longest.
Rafael is our technician and Amanda is exceptionally good on the helm, trimming the jib and she’s a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, so that’s a plus. Jeff Corbin and Steve Cates do main sail trimmings, my good friend George Cushing and his wife, Lisa, often come along, as well as Bonnie Ducharme, Reagan Jones and Jason Kitchens.”
Safety and preparedness are always at the top of the list when offshore, Minor said.
“We all wear personal flotation devices and most of us wear those that inflate automatically if you fall in the water,” Minor said. “They’re unobtrusive and I never take mine off. We also spend a lot of time looking at clouds and how they’re building. We check the weather in advance, starting 10 days out and twice a week before we leave and plan our strategy on the race course. Fog is always tricky, plus the rules of the road are different on open water since we don’t have signal lights or brakes.”
Minor has had a few close calls, one when another boat collided with his, causing a 13-foot gash, he said. But racing has many upsides, like winning, he said.
“I don’t always win, but it’s nice when we do,” he said. “Racing or sailing for leisure has its perks, like sailing parallel to the ship channel when dolphins play in the bow wake and do acrobatics. Going out to Trinity Bay, which is secluded and desolate, anchoring overnight, having mimosas for breakfast, and sailing back that morning, is always a treat.”
Sailing in Galveston Bay has its advantages, and although Other Woman has never left the Gulf of Mexico, Minor hasn’t ruled that out.
“I always thought it’d be fun to take my boat to the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, and sail for a couple of weeks,” he said. “I’d moor in an area that is fairly secluded but near an airport where I could fly home when needed, then fly back and sail someplace else until I’d had my fill.”
For Minor, a busy commercial Realtor with an office in Houston, sailing and racing have become adventure therapy.
“I enjoy my work life, but I also enjoy my sailing life, when you can’t think about anything else,” he said. “I like all the aspects of sailing — racing or sailing for leisure. You have to be prepared for what might come your way — it’s you against nature.”