A Close Call

As spring turned into summer I was really getting the feel of the little Boston Whaler and its small size and shallow draft had helped me to find a short cut from Jones Lake to all of the fine fishing in upper, West Galveston Bay – Greens Cut, Confederate Reef, the wrecked shrimp boat, and North and South Deer Island. The short cut changed a twenty-five minute trip down to ten and remained my favorite route for over ten years.

Here I am guiding the Whaler over safer waters!

Randy, my son, and I were heading out, under the railroad bridge, to chase the birds around Greens Cut and he asked me, “Dad, let me drive the boat.” “Sure,” I replied, adding, “We’ll take my shortcut and I’ll guide you to it.”

We were skimming along close to thirty-five miles per hour and I told Randy, “See the stake up ahead on the right? Steer close to it and we will be OK.” This stake was the right side of a four, foot cut, in a live oyster reef. We found out the width of the cut on this trip.

For some reason Randy did not steer as close to the stake as he should have and CRUNCH! We hit the left edge of the reef and missed the cut. As the boat unexpectedly stopped, I flew over the bow, tucked quickly and covered my head with my arms, did a half flip, and crashed down, on my back, into the twelve inches of water covering the reef.

Randy was half in and half out of the Whaler. When we hit the reef, he had the presence of mind to pull back on the throttle, idling the engine, and since it had no shear pin, it was OK. Randy got all the way out of the boat saying “Gee Dad, I’m Sorry. We missed the cut!” My shirt was shredded and my back was cut up, but I stood slowly, thankfully I wasn’t hurt bad. I told Randy, “Don’t worry, I’m OK. Let’s lift up the front of the boat and make sure it’s not damaged.”

The boat was fine, Whaler can really make ‘em! We still had our shrimp, there’s not much wind and the tide was coming in, so I said, “If you’ll wash off my back with salt water and clean out the cuts we’ll go ahead and fish.” Later that morning, while we were catching speckled trout, Randy said, “Dad you’re a tough old guy! I thought you were going to end our trip after my wreck.” I thought to myself, “Old, I’m not even 60.”