If you're cruising along the Simon Bolivar Peninsula, don't be surprised to see cattle drives with Texas cowboys moving their herds over two-lane highways crossing the ICW. The wide Texas beaches on the coast hide cattle country and oil derricks and slowly give way to raised beach houses with names like "Gulf Breeze" or "Jolie's Hideaway." The inevitable one-horse beach shop with their airbrush artisan and seashell wind chimes are also there, but sail past historic Fort Travis and the Bolivar Lighthouse rising on the western tip of the peninsula, and Galveston Island beckons with her historic architecture, beaches and maritime culture. Once known as a gambling mecca until the Texas Rangers raided the town, Galveston was also the largest port on the Texas coast, pulling down cotton and cattle from the interior and ushering in generations of Indian fighters and future Texas land barons. Crossing the Houston Ship Channel to the island is spectacular, with its never-ending run of modern freighters bypassing Galveston and heading into Houston or sailing to points unknown. This leaves the island town with a different sort of nautical energy today--one of history, charter captains and resortwear. Located on the island's northwestern edge, the Galveston Yacht Basin is a full-service private marina and an ideal transient slip location to begin an exploration of the island. Filled with charter fishing vessels, the piers hum with skippers tinkering on their boats or, more likely, catching naps in the ubiquitous land tenders--their golf carts lining the marina. Dockside restaurants are sprouting up around the marina, and certain piers in the channel will get transients within easy walking distance of the historic downtown and seaport. The Texas Seaport Museum with her beautifully restored 1877 Tall Ship Elissa is an ideal start to get your bearings. Lunch next door waterside at the Olympia Grill or Willie G's and savor the contrast of Elissa with berthed luxury yachts and the modern cruise liners that now call Galveston their home port.