The low railroad bridge across Highlands Bayou, Bayou Vista’s outlet to Galveston Bay and Jones Lake, prevented large boats from passing under it, so I became a 2 boat fisherman. I owned a 20” Cobia that I used for going offshore and fishing around the Galveston Jetties, but I needed something that would make it under the low bridge.
The new railroad bridge over Highlands Bayou, Bayou Vista, Texas. This one has 6′-7′ clearance, the old bridge had 3′ plus, a really tight squeeze. This picture was made at noon on Aug. 15, 2007 when Tropical Storm Erin was just coming ashore. I was fixin to get wet, but nothing like the ravages of the flooding in our midwest brought on by Erin!
That something was a 13’ Boston Whaler, no motor, no steering controls and a worn out trailer. Quickly I fixed 2 of the missing items. One fix, a new galvanized, trailer and, the other, being a 20 HP, Mercury with manual steering. My steering position was a small cooler/bait bucket placed by the transom. Maybe a little light on safety issues, but the boat would run over 30 MPH and would be great for fishing in Jones Lake.
So what was one of the first things I did with my Whaler? Roy Collins a former Galveston Bay fishing guide, and I trailered it to the base of the Texas City Dike, put in there and go screaming of to the northeast to drift around Dollar Point. Definitely “big water” and not the best place for a 13 footer, even a Whaler!
There were probably a dozen other large boats drifting in the Dollar Reef area. Never having drifted in the Whaler before, I mistimed and misdirected my first drift and before I knew it I was drifting into a twenty-three foot Mako. I yank the starter cord and nothing. Yank, yank, yank, still nothing. Roy grabs the side of the Mako to hold us off, while the Mako’s owner is giving us some very clear instructions, “#@$%^&*#. Keep that little thing away from my boat. Don’t drift into my engine! #@$%^&*#!”
We clear the Mako and I see we are about to drift into some fishing lines from a twenty-one foot HydraSport. Yank, yank, yank, motor won’t start. More instructions from the HydraSports owner, “#@$%^&*#, keep out of our lines. Don’t you know what you are doing! #@$%^&*#!” Very embarrassing! Yank, yank and then I remember, Viola, turn on the Mercury’s on/off switch, which I did, yank, put, put, put, put, put, it started and we eased away from these awful predators.
Getting control of our drifts, we began catching some real nice Speckled Trout, when a small rain squall popped up south of us and was heading our way. We really didn’t pay much attention to the squall and kept on fishing and catching fish. Then it started to rain, better said, then the bottom fell out. Blinding rain and the next thing I know water is up around my ankles, the gas tank is afloat and the rain is still pouring down! At the time I didn’t have a Tempo Two-Way drain plug on the boat that would have let the water drain out, so the water keeps rising and we start bailing. I pour the shrimp out of the thirty-three quart cooler that I was using as a bait bucket and seat, and we finally make headway against our small flood.
Ankle deep, the rain stops. I start the engine, pull the drain plug and gun the engine. We jump up on a plane and the boat drains. Whew, that was close! I reinsert the plug and we go screaming back to our trailer, and I think to myself, no more big water for this little boat.
I will say one thing about the little Whaler, it didn’t sink. These boats are made with positive flotation, and as their advertisement shows, you can cut one in half and it won’t sink!
I bought and installed a Tempo Drain Plug that afternoon.