Your guide to Lake Travis Sailing. Our Lake Travis Sailing Report is brought to you monthly by Sailing Charter Captain and Austin Yacht Club member Steve Ward.
Sailing Paradise – Getting to Know Arkansas Bend
Carlos leads the pack, paddling away from the sailboat like Daddy Duck and his five ducklings. We are anchored at Arkansas Bend, having sailed there from nearby Hurst Harbor. It’s a lovely warm afternoon and we’ve invited our friends to sail with us on Lake Travis.
Smiles and laughter abound.
Arkansas Bend is like that. It’s a calm respite from the sometimes rambunctious main body of Lake Travis. In the two main coves bordering the park it’s easy to anchor behind the protecting hills.
Down But Not Out
One of my best memories of Arkansas Bend is from summer 2012. The lake was very low (for those keeping track, 640’ versus the 668’ it stands at now.) I was having lunch at Iguana Grill (now Lucy’s on the Lake). Overlooking the lake I was delighted to see sailboats coasting by. Like many of my fellow Austinites I figured it was just too dry to sail. Was I wrong. Right then I decided to start searching for our next boat. We had been boat-less for five years after our daughter was born.
This past Independence Day friends joined us to watch fireworks at Arkansas Bend. It was a great protected place to see the fireworks put on in Volente. Although it’s a few miles away, we could easily see the fireworks.
Don’t be the guy we saw last summer.
One of those very large – I’d say 80 to 100 feet – houseboats was chugging along Lake Travis and cut the corner at the Bend just a little too short. A few minutes later my friend Andre texted a picture. The aft end of the vessel was riding low. They had steered too closely to the northern edge of the lake. That area is very shallow and easy to run aground, especially when the water is just high enough to obscure the rocks, but not high enough prevent running aground.
Enjoy the beautiful, peaceful Arkansas Bend but go slow and watch out!
If You Go
I think Arkansas Bend is best experienced by boat, but if you decide to go by land you’ll find the Travis County Park on the north shore of Lake Travis near the city of Lago Vista. It has two miles of shoreline and boat ramp. On shore are several picnic and camping spots. $10 for day use per vehicle.
Map the Park: 16900 Cherry Ln, Lago Vista, TX 78645
Note the park shoreside activities are closed until late 2018 for a major renovation project. The coves and shorelines are still accessible to boats during this time.
About the Author: Steve Ward lives in Austin with his wife and daughter and enjoys sharing his love of sailing. Steve owns sailATX a sailing charter co. on Lake Travis and is an active volunteer in youth sailing and a member of the Austin Yacht Club. Email Steve at steve@sailATX.com or visit sailATX.com.