Laguna Custom Rods

The popularity of high-end fishing rods has continued to evolve through the years. In the past, you were forced to choose mostly between mass-produced rods and custom-built rods. My Dad had a nice workbench where he built up custom rods on Fenwick blanks with decorative thread wraps. Now, the serious angler on the Gulf Coast has a number of great options. Today, we take a look at Laguna Custom Rods.

We were looking for new rods to be used primarily wade-fishing for trout. I am familiar with a number of professional guides who use Laguna so I decided to visit their shop in Katy to check them out.

Laguna Custom Rods
Laguna Custom Rods

Laguna Custom Rods is a cool shop founded by two hard-core professional tournament fishermen who wanted the best. The blanks are manufactured in a separate facility but the final production work is all done at this location. The showroom is through the front door with the shop on the right. You can see for yourself first-hand how the rods are assembled.

Continue reading “Laguna Custom Rods”

Bart’s Bay Armor Protective Wading Boots

As an avid wade fisherman on the Texas coast I am always looking for gear that can up my game. Sometimes that means the shiniest new lures that don’t really work better than everything else in the box but we all know how that works! Sometimes it is about comfort out on the water or in this case, a little bit of comfort and safety rolled into one. If you have spent much time in the water you know about stingrays and the danger they present. I grew up fishing Rockport down to the Laguna Madre and was taught to always shuffle your feet to avoid stepping on a stingray.

I never really gave a whole lot of thought to the boots I had seen at Academy made by Everlast until one day at Estes Flats about 5 years ago and we were drifting and I touched the back of a stingray with my rod tip, holy crap that thing EXPLODED! I expected like a rattlesnake strike, a quick jab and that was it. NOPE. This thing thrashed it’s tail for several seconds. Before my next trip out I went to Academy and bought a pair of Everlast boots. I felt much more protected from not only stingrays but also underwater hazards like oysters and I have seem all kinds of debris that could cut you up. With the apparent rise of Vibrio which is a flesh eating bacteria in the hot months, protecting your feet and shins against cuts is a damned good idea as well. Growing up we used to go into the saltwater if you got a cut, but that stuff is scary. It’s not going to prevent me from going fishing or wading but I am also not going to knowingly put myself at risk. We carry antiseptic soap on the boat that is used for surgeons should someone get a cut.

While I liked the protection the Everlast boots provided I also rather hated them. They were heavy and a pain to put on and off. First time out my shins got shafed badly too. Fast forward a few years and I hear about the Bart’s Bay Armor boots made of soft kevlar. No buckles to mess with and made of a soft impenetrable kevlar. There was a video of the owner stabbing them with a knife while wearing them! I ordered a pair as did my brother Mike. We both immediately fell in love with them. Lightweight, easy on and off and VERY comfortable. I don’t even feel the need to wear socks with them on shorter wades.

I waited a year to write this review as I wanted to see how they held up and I am happy to report they are doing great and I like them so much I am ordering a pair for my son for an upcoming trip and will retire his old Everlast boots for guest use.

Highly recommended 5 stars

https://barts-bay-armor.com/product/protective-wading-boots/

The perfect hog hunting rifle!

Hunting wild hogs has become a mainstream sport in Texas due to the proliferation and destructive nature of this invasive species. Being a non-game animal, there are very few restrictions on how they may be hunted. They may be pursued year-round by almost any means necessary. So, what makes a good hog hunting rifle?

The answer to that question is dependent upon your intent. If you are a professional intent on eradication you have different needs than the weekend warrior who simply wants to have a good time and harvest some free-range pork along the way. In this article we will discuss hunting pigs for sport, not high-volume eradication.

First of all, despite all the hype and hysteria, most wild hogs are not all that difficult to kill. For decades, deer hunters have harvested plenty of hogs with whatever rifle they took to the stand that morning. I think much of this misinformation comes from people who come across a pig and blast away with 55gr FMJ ammo out of their AR-15. Bad ammo choice along with faulty bullet placement will lead to poor results every time. To be sure, a mean, old, full-grown boar is a formidable beast! However, proper bullet selection and accurate shot placement will drop most wild hogs dead in their tracks. I’ve done it many times. Dead Right There, as we say.

The perfect hog hunting rifle for me is a lightweight, easy to carry, accurate, suppressor-ready, 6.8 SPC short barrel AR-15. Mine is a premium build using the best components I could find:

  • Wilson Combat 11.3″ match-grade stainless barrel
  • Samson Evolution 10″ handguard
  • Magpul furniture
  • Geissele Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced trigger
  • PRI Combat Latch
  • FailZero Bolt Carrier Group
  • Crux Ark30 titanium suppressor
  • Magpul single-point QD sling

For optics, I run a Trijicon AccuPoint 1-6 Circle-Cross during the day and a FLIR ThermoSight PTS233 at night – both on QD mounts. My preferred method of hunting pigs usually results in shots of less than 50 yards to I don’t have any problems with accuracy swapping between scopes. The Trijicon AccuPoint 1-6 Circle-Cross allows for super-fast sight acquisition (put the hog’s head in the circle and squeeze the trigger) and excels in low-light conditions.

Thermal Hog
Thermal Hog
Continue reading “The perfect hog hunting rifle!”

Bennett SLT10 Self-Leveling Tab System Review

We added a pair of Bennett self-leveling 10″ trim tabs to our Gulf Coast Classic 18 and could not be more pleased with the performance! One of the best investments ever at only $123. They have made a dramatic improvement in our hole shot while fishing the flats.

Like most boats, our Gulf Coast will run on plane shallower than its draft. That frequently leads to a bit of apprehension as we slow to a stop – will we still be floating? Kind of tough to gauge the depth at speed when you can clearly see the bottom is only about a foot deep. The follow up question is, can we get out of here?

Our Gulf Coast tends to squat quite a bit as it takes off. We raise the jack plate all the way up, trim the motor in tight, and punch it. This immediately causes the bow to rise, the stern to sink, and the motor digs into the bottom. Sometimes we can get out by easing off the throttle, and then trying to surf the follow up wave. That extra 2″ of lift can make all the difference. Other times, we can “spin” or “snake” our way onto plane. Sadly, other times we are forced to idle out a ways before we can get up.

Amazingly, the Bennett tabs have proven to be a revelation. It took a while to mount the starboard tab because we debated endlessly where to place it. In reality, there was only one good spot but it is crazy how you go down the rabbit hole of moving it 1/8″ one way or another. Probably spent an hour on the starboard tab and five minutes on the port tab. A cordless drill, screwdriver, and 3M 4200 is all you need.

Bennett SLT10 Self-Leveling Tab System
Bennett SLT10 Self-Leveling Tab System

First trip out we were coming out of the marina and I goosed it. I wasn’t entirely impressed by any improvement to be honest but I chalked it up to being in the deeper water. Second test, we were in about knee deep water, and again I wasn’t that impressed. It seemed like the prop was catching lots of air and the hole shot was so-so. Jack plate all the way up, motor trimmed in tight, same as always. To be fair, the bow rise was greatly reduced but we were kind of sluggish taking off.

Third test, knee deep water or shallower, but this time I bumped the jack plate down just slightly. Like a half-second bump, maybe lowered the motor less than an inch. Hit WOT and wow! The boat jumped up and forward like out of a slingshot! Stayed flat, bow flat, stern didn’t squat, and it just leaped onto plane. Amazing difference. I found the sweet spot for our rig.

My brother took the wheel and experienced the same sensation. Night and day improvement in hole shot performance.

The Bennett SLT10 Self-Leveling Tab System is highly approved!

Bennett SLT10 Self-Leveling Tab System
Bennett SLT10 Self-Leveling Tab System

Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Review

The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 is a great choice for both work and play. Living on the Gulf Coast has taught me the importance of having backup power for when the electrical grid gets knocked out by a hurricane (or freak ice storm!). Jackery is a leader in clean, green, portable power solutions and their Solar Generator 1500 kit includes the Explorer 1500 battery pack along with four SolarSaga 100W solar panels. Featuring over 1500Wh capacity and 1800 running wattage, this awesome device includes a variety of output ports to power electronics, home appliances, and tools.

Unlike a traditional gasoline powered generator, the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 can be used inside as there is no dangerous carbon monoxide exhaust. It is also virtually silent, which is a real plus while camping. Who wants to be enjoying the great outdoors with an old noisy generator hammering away in the background?

One of the things that I like best about the Jackery is its versatility. The Explorer 1500 can be charged by solar panel, 110V outlet, or vehicle 12V port. So even though it is marketed as a Solar Generator, you can easily charge the battery pack from a 110 outlet or from your vehicle. The unit can power up to 7 devices at the same time via one USB-A port, two USB-C ports, three 110V outlets, and a 12V vehicle port (cigarette adapter). In addition, each SolarSaga panel includes USB-A and USB-C ports that can directly charge electronics.

Jackery produces a robust product line and the Solar Generator 1500 is near the top of their offerings. Your choice from the 160Wh Portable Power Station all the way up to the powerful 2000Wh. You can purchase the power stations and solar panels separately or buy the Solar Generator kit which includes matched Explorer Portable Power Station, appropriately sized SolarSaga panels, and the ancillary cables to put it all together.

Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Jackery Explorer 1500 battery pack

In direct sunlight, the MPPT technology can charge the battery from zero to 80% in approximately four hours. That is quite remarkable. The Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controller optimizes the match between solar array and battery pack for improved efficiency and faster charging. A while back I added several USB rechargeable lanterns to our emergency kit. It is awesome that even while off the grid we can recharge the Jackery battery pack through the solar panels and then charge up all of our lanterns, flashlights, and cell phones in preparation for the evening.  Personally, I don’t take a tv camping (isn’t the point to get away from tv?) but you can easily watch the big game by plugging a television set into the battery pack, hooking up an old-fashioned tv antenna, and watch the game in HD from the woods or lake.

The Explorer 1500 weighs 35.2 pounds and is slightly larger than a car battery (14 X 10.4 X 12.7 inches). There is a built in handle for convenience. The highly efficient SolarSaga 100W panels are easy to set up. Simply unfold them, place them facing the sun, and plug in. Adapters are included that enable you to connect all four solar panels to the battery pack. A zippered pouch on the back of each unit holds the power cable and the USB charging ports. A handy kick stand is available to optimize placement. When folding the solar panels, magnets click together to hold it in place.

Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Charge your devices straight from the solar panel!

Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Charge devices straight from the solar panel!

An LED panel provides all of the data you need to manage the device. Jackery has done a wonderful job designing the display and all of the controls. It is very simple to understand the input, output, and battery status. Each output section has a small switch to turn the respective power ports off / on. The entire Solar Generator 1500 kit has a clean, professional, high quality appearance.

Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Jackery Solar Generator 1500

The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 is an awesome choice for outdoor adventures and home preparedness. We were without electricity for three days during the 2020 ice storm that knocked out the power grid in Texas. It is a comfort knowing that I now have this fantastic backup power supply at the ready.

Jackery Solar Generator 1500 MSRP $2,699.

Jackery is celebrating their 9th Anniversary by giving away some fantastic products including solar generators. Enter the picture contest # Outing With Jackery.

Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Jackery Explorer 1500 is a workhorse

Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Jackery Solar Generator 1500

CHECK STREET PRICE

KAHLES K318i 3-18X50 REVIEW

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Kalhes, they are the oldest optic manufacturer in existence. Based in Austria they have been in the game since 1898. They have never been a huge name in the US due to the lack of a consistent US distributor. That all changed a few years ago when Swarovski Optics, who is their sister company became the US distributor and service center.

This is a first focal plane tactical scope with a 3-18 zoom range, 50mm objective,  tactical turrets, illumination, etc.. in a very compact package.  I have used this hunting in very low light and shooting matches out to 1k.  It has performed flawlessly as expected.  Kahles is the oldest optic manufacture on the planet and are made in Austria.

I will fully admit to have a positive bias towards Kahles scopes.  I got turned on to them like 15 years ago when I was frequenting the OpticsTalk forum. They had a great reputation for having incredible glass and I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a CL 3-10X50 hunting scope with the turret that allowed you to preset zeros at different yardages.  This was before the big FFP “tactical” scope thing really came in to play. I was amazed at how much better in low light that scope was in comparison to the common hunting scopes of the day, Leupold, Nikon Monarchs, etc.. In fact I vividly recall hunting with my dad late one evening and I was on a big buck out in the field at 300 yards and had him dead to rights so to speak.  My dad was looking through a Nikon Monarch which as decent scope and a big step up from his trusty old Leupold.  He was saying he couldn’t find the deer.. I switched rifles with him and he went “oh wow, there it is!” Suffice it to say he “got” the need for great glass that evening.

Fast forward a few years and I got a Kahles 3-12×50 FFP tactical scope and was again, blown away by the optical performance.  I recall having a competitor, a USO 3-17 out at the 1k range and how the Kahles resolved the targets, even at the distance better and make shooting easier, despite having less magnification.  I coined a phrase that day “glass trumps magnification”.

If you read those older reviews you can see they care clearly some of the absolute best scopes on the market at any price. 

Now to the details of this optic.

Highlights

  • Ultrashort and lightweight riflescope for demanding shooters
  • Absolutely reliable repeat accuracy and precise, clearly defined click mechanism
  • Wide field of view and exceptional high contrast image
  • Innovative TWIST GUARD windage (patented)
  • Parallax wheel integrated into the elevation turret (patented) (25 m to ∞)
  • Precise illuminated reticles in 1st focal plane

Technical Data

Magnification:3.5 – 18
Eye relief:36 in
Field of view:27.8 – 5.5 in/100 yds
Diopter compensation:+2.5 / -3.5 dpt
Twilight factor (DIN 58388):13.2 – 30.0
Impact correction per click:0.1 MRAD
¼ MOA
Adjustment range (E/W):30 / 20 MIL 102 / 69 MOA
Parallax adjustment:25 m till ∞
Length:123 in
Weight:33.2 oz
Focal plane:1
Illuminated:Yes
Warranty:10 years  

A few standout features:

Clockwise or counter clockwise elevation adjustment.

I got the CCW as being a right handed shooter and using my left hand for elevation adjustments means that for me, it seems more natural to “wind up” by rotation my wrist towards the front of the rifle for longer shots.

I have done extensive testing on tracking. I have a .1 mil (.36″) grid on a large poster sized target. Placed in ranges from 100 to 750 yards. Given that the host rifle will shoot damned near one hole groups if I do my part it makes for a great tracking platform. All my elevation and windage adjustments went exactly where I expected them to go and always returned to the same zero. I always do a box test where start with a round in the dead center. I go right 10 mils, then up 10, then left 20, down twenty, over 10, and back up 10 to get back to my zero. Shooting out to 1k my rounds impacted where I expected them to based on previous data. Good to go. I am generally a dial for elevation and hold for wind but I do sometimes dial for windage correction.

Kahles K3-18i turrets

Left side windage adjustment with Twist Guard

Again, being a right handed shooter having the windage be on the left side of the scope makes so much more sense than being on the right.  I maintain a positive grip and rifle mount with my right hand.  It also features the “twist guard” which is essentially a plate that rotates freely on the outside to prevent it from getting accidentally bumped off center

Elevation turret location for parallax adjustment.

The parallax adjustment is located under the elevation knob and is easy to read and very convenient to use.

Turret mounted parallax adjustment

Zero Stop

Like most tactical scopes, it features a zero stop and this one was easy to setup.

Reticle Illumination

Located on the right side of the scope is the illumination control. Being mil based reticle with a center dot, what gets illuminated is the center dot and the reticle out to the first mil hashmark along with the .5 stradia marking. It is capable of being extremely dimly lit making it actually useable in very low conditions unlike scopes that can’t get dim enough and are actually counter productive by being too bright and causing your pupil to constrict and making matters worse.  I wouldn’t necessarily call it “daytime bright” like a red dot but it is bright enough to make the rather fine reticle easier to find, especially at low magnification settings on a dark target.

MSR/Ki Reticle

This is a mil based reticle featuring a center dot that is .04 mil with .5 and 1 mil hashmarks along with two different ranging reticle features.  Below is the detail on the reticle substensions.

Conclusion

This is an incredible scope and would be ideal on either a competition PRS type rifle or a “tactical” precision hunting rifle and it can certainly serve dual purpose.  I have it on a custom 6.5 Creedmoor with a 22” barrel and it makes for a extremely capable dual purpose rifle.  I like that the glass is outstanding of course, great resolution and clarity.  Works very well in low light.  It has generous and consistent eye relief in all power settings.  I find it very easy to get behind so to speak. It doesn’t exhibit any tunneling (fisheye effect) at lowest magnification settings like some FFPs I have used.  The elevation turret is easy to see where you are at, it has a very positive click and there is a button that pops up when you go into the second revolution making it very easy to know if where you are at.  I love the compact size and for what you get is on the lighter side for a tactical scope.  I can’t recommend the Kahles K3-18 strongly enough.

For more details.

https://www.kahles.at/us/sport/riflescopes/k318i-3_5-18x50i

Green LED light bar for hunting vehicle

It frequently amazes me that hunters often feel the need to light up the woods as if it were daylight. I am the complete opposite in that I want just enough light to safely drive from camp to hunting area with minimal disruption. When driving my F-150 I turn off all of the lights other than the amber fog lights. After some research, I purchased the Kaper II L16-0075GR Green LED Hunting light to install on my 2017 Polaris Ranger XP 1000.

I bought the light right before the 2020 deer season so I simply spliced in a cigarette lighter plug and temporarily mounted the light in an existing hole in the Polaris metal roof. Worked well enough for its intended purpose but was not the way I like to roll. I wanted to mount the light in the grill area and install a proper wiring harness and dashboard switch.

Once again, I turned to Amazon and settled on the Nilight LED Light Bar Wiring Kit. This kit includes long wires, heavy 14 gauge wire, fuse block, dual leads, and lighted dashboard switch.

wiring harness and bus bar
wiring harness and bus bar
Nilight wiring harness
Nilight wiring harness switch.

I knew where I wanted to mount the Kaper green LED light but wasn’t quite sure how to access the area required to tighten the nut. Turns out the lower grill insert simply pops out! Super easy installation drilling one hole through plastic. Mounting hardware is all stainless steel.

Continue reading “Green LED light bar for hunting vehicle”

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Review

Be prepared for the next weather event with the Jackery Solar Generator 1000.

The polar vortex hit Texas in February 2021 with a vengeance, inflicting freezing cold temperatures that partially knocked out the power grid for days. We were without power in our residence for almost three days but some homes were offline for much longer. Fortunately, I have a Honda EU3000is generator that I faithfully start each month and let run for 10-15 minutes. It has always immediately fired up and run smoothly. Until February 15, 2021 when it would not start despite my best troubleshooting efforts. Unbelievable! Thirty months of flawless performance until the very day I needed it. That is when I determined to get a backup power source, preferably one not dependent on a carburetor.

Jackery Solar Generator 1000

Research quickly led me to Jackery – the industry leader in portable power stations and solar generators. Their best solution for me was the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 which consists of the Portable Power Station Explorer 1000 along with two Solar Panel SolarSaga 100W chargers. The two solar panels can be connected to the power station at the same time using the included adapter. Each SolarSaga 100 also includes a USB-A and USB-C port so that you can charge mobile phones and other small electronics directly from the solar panel. Free, clean, green energy!

Jackery Solar Generator 1000
Continue reading “Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Review”

Review: J.B. Dillon Chambers Boots

J.B. Dillon Chambers full quill ostrich boot review. Great boots at a fair price!

Living in Texas, I have purchased my fair share of boots through the years. Through experience, I have come to rely on certain brands for specific functions. Specifically, Lucchese dress boots, Ariat (with rubber soles) for general ranch work and light hunting, Wolverine for serious hunting, and Red Wing work boots. J.B. Dillon now joins my list of preferred cowboy boots!

I have been wearing the J.B. Dillon Chambers full quill ostrich boots for several months now. They are exceptionally comfortable and easy to wear all day. And they look fantastic in Chestnut!

One question I get asked, is “How do they compare to Tecovas?” This is a fair question as I would consider them competitors working the same space.

Continue reading “Review: J.B. Dillon Chambers Boots”

Orbea Occam: Is it the best trail bike on the market?

Full disclsure.. I am a gnarly old dude, 55 years on planet earth and the last 25 years I have been a mountain biker. I love it, it gets me out in the woods (or the desert) and I get my adrenaline rush, physical fitness and mental health therapy all in the same day!. I have owned a LOT of bikes, I mean 30 or so probably, my first year I went through 4, and in fact got so involved in riding and racing and the quest to have the best I opened a high end shop.

Continue reading “Orbea Occam: Is it the best trail bike on the market?”

History of Portland Marine

Portland Marine officially opened at the end of 1967 with a new building, which was quite an improvement over the rented three car garage which served as headquarters for the oilfield and charter boat service operated by Liz and Glen Coker for 11 years. The new 1200 sq. ft. building was split equally between showroom and shop and Portland Marine employed one full time and one part-time employee. The business was located at 500 Moore Avenue next door to the Portland Volunteer Fire Department.

Family legend has it that one day Glen came home and informed his wife, “Liz, I just signed with Chrysler, we are in the boat business!”

Glen Coker Portland Marine
Glen Coker Master Boat Mechanic

All was well until 1970 when Hurricane Celia destroyed all buildings and stock. While rebuilding, a 1400 sq. ft. shop was added and a storage lot purchased across the alley (next door to Royal Foodtown which was owned by Buddy Ganem).

Portland Marine
Original Portland Marine abandoned circa 2015 (after Richard Foley moved to new location)

In 1972 a new 5000 sq. ft. air conditioned showroom was purchased along with the city block it was situated on. The old quarters were converted into the South’s most modern shop including the first full-size drive-in test tank for testing motors under power. By the late ’70s, Portland Marine employed seven full-time and five part-time employees (including myself).

Portland Marine
Portland Marine showroom circa 1978

Along the way, Liz and Glen won many national sales contests. Their hard work resulted in Portland Marine being recognized as one of the premier dealerships in the country and they earned international reward trips to such exciting destinations as England, Ireland, Jamaica, and the Canary Islands.

Liz and Glen Coker
Liz and Glen Coker in Jamaica 1974

Portland Marine was one of the first Yamaha Outboard dealers in the USA. The Yamaha 200 was revolutionary and simply outclassed the domestic makes. At the time, Portland Marine had strong sales of both Chrysler and Evinrude. It soon became a fact that those boaters who could afford it always picked the Yamaha. It was superior in every way.

Throughout his life, Glen had a deep hatred for those black Mercury motors. He strongly believed that they were heavy, slow to spin up, overly complicated, and did not survive in the harsh salt water climate.

Portland Marine
Liz Coker in center. The Butt family (HEB) were customers of Portland Marine

Glen was President of the South Texas Boat Dealers Association. He fought to protect the interests of recreational fishermen – at times putting him at odds with his commercial fishermen customers – and made many trips to Austin to lobby against gill nets and trot lines.

Glen Coker fishing in Mexico
Glen (far right) fishing in Mexico

Our number one selling rig was a Robalo 21′ with a Yamaha 200 horsepower outboard. Boats have grown tremendously in size (and price) over the years but at the time this was considered an ideal boat to run down to Baffin Bay or to take 30 miles offshore. Outfitted with a T-Top, and sometimes a 20hp “kicker” for safety, it was an awesome boat to troll for kingfish in the open Gulf. From personal knowledge, it had the performance and quality construction to jump Gulf swells – clearing the prop always produced a distinctive scream combining excitement and terror. Glen ran full-throttle. In rough water he would shout, “Get her on top!” as he put the hammer down.

Ronnie Hubbell started working at Portland Marine part-time while in high school. Turns out that Ronnie is a master mechanic and quickly rose in rank to service manager. Ronnie eventually left Portland Marine to start his own dealership in Aransas Pass. Ronnie’s Marine grew into three locations – the original store in Aransas Pass, a second location in Corpus Christi, and a third dealership outside of San Antonio. Ronnie and Glen were two of a kind.

Ronnie Hubbell
Ronnie Hubbell

Thinking of Glen, Ronnie recently commented, “the most important thing I think I still remember day to day, was if you’re gonna do something, try like hell to do it right.”

Glen was always trying to bring value to his customers. He designed and constructed at least three different boats to offer performance at a lower price point than the name-brand boats. The Apollo was a 19′ center console that was an alternative to the much more expensive Robalo. The Salty was similar but featured a square bow. The Apollo and Salty were both manufactured in Florida. The Critter was a simple fishing boat designed by Glen and built by Johnny Majek (yes, that Majek).

Critter boat
Critter, designed by Glen Coker built by John Majek
Portland Marine
Portland Marine Boat Show Special

Sample pricing from 1977-1978:

  • Chrysler 30 hp outboard $695
  • 16′ Commerical Polarkraft $553
  • 18′ Richline aluminum boat, 30 hp Chrysler, and trailer $1495
  • Starcraft 15′ with 75 hp Chrysler $2795
  • Manatee 18′ bow rider with 130 hp Volvo I/O $5466
  • Salty 19′, 135 hp Chrysler, EZ Loader trailer, fully loaded $5995

Glen Coker and Portland Marine were actively involved in racing boats and sponsoring races down at Sunset Lake. With ace driver Ronnie Hubbell on the throttle they won numerous state and national races.

Glen Coker Portland Marine
Glen Coker and Mike Coker with Race Boat 1968
Ronnie Hubbell Portland Marine
Ronnie Hubbell accepting winning trophy as Glen proudly looks on

In 1978 the dealership was sold to Mr. Justice. Quite frankly, he drove the business into the ground.

Richard Foley soon stepped in and bought Portland Marine in 1980. Richard steadily restored Portland Marine to its position today as a top boat dealership in the Coastal Bend. Richard had been the service manager in the shop earlier and was the right man to carry on the tradition. The dealership was relocated into the old Jeff’s Auto Parts building on 7th Street. Sadly, Richard passed away in 2008. Today, Portland Marine is owned and operated by Carol Foley. Stop in, they will treat you right.

Although it has been 41 years since my family sold Portland Marine, the values I learned while working there still guide me to this day.

Portland Marine
Portland Marine
Portland Marine
Portland Marine

Glen Coker story on Tactical Gun Review

Tecovas Boot Review “The Earl”

As with any good Texan, I own and wear boots.  Through the years I have developed a fondness for Lucchese dress boots, Ariat work boots, and Wolverine hunting boots.  I was in the market for a new pair of brown ropers and started looking at the Lucchese boots and balked at the $400 – $600 price tag.  That is when Tecovas caught my attention.  Tecovas promises, “Handmade, high-quality boots that don’t break the bank.”

What is a roper?  A roper has a lower heel and, generally, a shorter shaft than the traditional cowboy boot.   They are often described as being a bit more comfortable to wear and look great with jeans.Tecovas The Earl

Browsing through the Tecovas website, I quickly landed on The Earl.  The Earl is a calfskin roper available in four colors – bourbon, chocolate, desert, and midnight.  I really liked the bourbon, a dark brown.  Price?  $225, roughly half the price of the Luccheses.  Sold!Tecovas The Earl

Tecovas operates on the direct to consumer model.  This means I would be buying the boots on faith, without trying them on first.  No fear, Tecovas offers an excellent refund or exchange program.  They even include a special card and return postage in the box.  My other boots are size 11 D, so that is what I ordered.

There was more good news.  Tecovas are based in Austin so I would be supporting a Texas company.   And they are made in Leon, Mexico.  Now for those not familiar with Leon, it is a city in the state of Guanajuato which is my favorite part of Mexico.  I have been to Leon several times and I know it has a strong reputation for manufacturing excellent leather goods.  These are skilled craftsmen with generations of tradition.

Tecovas The Earl

I anxiously awaited delivery.  When the shipment arrived, I was impressed with the attention to detail in all areas.  You can tell the company takes pride in their products.

Tecovas keeps the price at a reasonable price point through several good business decisions.  First is the direct-to-consumer model which is gaining popularity.  Internet shopping and fast home delivery make this possible.  Second, they have streamlined the product line.  You won’t find square-toe boots or a crazy variety of models.  They focus on making a straight-forward high-quality traditional cowboy boot.  A simpler model lineup results in lower production costs.

Tecovas The Earl

Everyone comments on how “soft” the Tecovas are.  And they are.  However, I also have boots that are not quite so “soft” and yet are very comfortable.  The fine leather surely makes a great first impression but how do they fit and wear?

Unfortunately, I do have a minor complaint about the Tecovas.  There is a bar (for lack of a better description) that runs across the front part of the heel.  This is noticeable to me and detracts from an otherwise comfortable cowboy boot.  You can see this in the photo below.  I did get used to it but I still notice it.  Not a deal killer by any means but if they could improve this I would give the Tecovas an A+ rating.  Tecovas The Earl

As I wore the boots around the house on carpet, it became apparent that they were too snug, or tight, for me.  I had ordered 11D because that is what I wear in Lucchese boots and Johnston & Murphy dress shoes.  However, that was not going to work.  This is where Tecovas customer service really shines.  The exchange process was super simple, fast, and free.  I returned the old pair, along with a card explaining the problem, and quickly received a replacement pair in 11.5 D.  The new pair fit perfectly!

Tecovas The Earl

I have worn The Earl for several months now in a variety of circumstances.  Around town, out on the ranch, and to the dance hall.  I very much like the Bourbon Calf color and overall high-quality appearance.  Great looking boot!

Tecovas The Earl.  $225.

Tecovas The Earl