No Nursing Home for Me
By Louis Cisnero - San Antonio, Texas - USA

I arrived in Rockport shortly before Noel; about 1:00 p.m. Noel was in contact with Gerry & David who had sailed from Port Mansfield at about 6:00 p.m. the previous evening. Wayne arrived around 4:00 p.m. It was decided that Noel would go pick me up at Magnolia while Wayne readied and launched his boat. We had a good supper at the restaurant at Cove Harbor.

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We had a good supper at the restaurant at Cove Harbor. (L-R:Wayne, Louis, Gerry, Dave, Noel)

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In the morning (Wed), Wayne had engine problems, could not get motor to start. He went into Rockport and bought a set of plugs, no luck. we said our adieux and agreed to meet at Magnolia in three/four days. The ducketeers, four sailors in three boats; Noel in his Cortez 15, Gerry & David in a 15' open wooden boat sporting a lateen sunfish sail and a large "bimini", and myself in the prescision 165.

Noel had some motor difficulties but we managed to get under way around 10:30 a.m. Great cruise, light traffic on the intracoastal, no "big" boys. I lowered my jib and reefed the main to slow the boat down. At about 4:30 p.m. we entered San Antonio Bay. I was into the bay about six miles and made a usual turn to swing back and join the other two boats. It was getting dark fast, storm approaching. I met Noel who had also turned around. Gerry & David had already turned back around heading towards barrier islands to wait out the storm. I placed my instruments inside the cabin keeping the radio, binoculars & gps, exchanged my auto inflating pfd for a bigger fixed pfd and buttoned up the cabin.

It hit us when I was about one mile from the barrier islands. Strongest wind & rain I have ever seen. (Louis)

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It hit us when I was about one mile from the barrier islands. Strongest wind & rain I have ever seen. By this time, I had lowered the main and motor. Sans sail, the wind pushed me pretty fast. It was difficult to see very far. I headed my boat towards a "sandy" area I had earlier seen. It was difficult to slow down on approach. A complete turn was called for. I was successful, dropped one anchor and let out line very quickly. Anchor held well. The boat went sideways into the sandy/muddy ground, it held too. Thunder and lightning was all around. I didn't have time to worry about it, was concerned with staying on the boat. What seemed like four hours turned out to be about 30 minutes. Soaking wet and aground.

I saw Noel at the entrance of the bay. After floating the boat and changing into dry clothes, I went over and joined him. No sign of the other boat. Noel's phone was on the brink, little service connectivety. my phone had gone in the water. We were not able to appreciably communicate with anyone and our search was fruitless. It was dark.

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Noel's phone was on the brink, little service connectivety. my phone had gone in the water. (Noel)

We decided to anchor in the immediate area, lest the other boat miss us if we continued to move around. In the a.m. the wind had shifted to due North. We decided to sail back to Rockport and seek help. About three/four miles later, we located the other boat. They had plenty of food, Water & dry clothes. They had been pushed around the east end of the barrier island and were able to beach their boat. We had a great get together that Thursday a.m. The decision was made to stay put until the wind again shifted to the east/south east.

In his haste to dowse sail when he saw the other boat, Noel lost the main halyard. Being the prepaired sailor that he is, Noel had two main halyards. But he had lost the first one when he brought down the main prior to the storm the previous day. He mentioned he had to drop the mast to reinstall a halyard. We, Gerry, David & I thought that the operation might go faster if we pulled the boat on its side via the topping lift. It worked for a few degree, then the mast bent big time. Not to worry, Gerry and David and Noel devised a "clampdown table" using channel blocks and we went on to straighten out the mast. looked pretty good. At about 6:30 p.m. the wind shifted favorably. Gerry and David set sail. Noel & I agreed to sail in the a.m. Friday.

We thought that the operation might go faster if we pulled the boat on its side via the topping lift. It worked for a few degree, then the mast bent big time. (Dave in forground - Louis & Gerry behind)

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Friday morning, Noel & I believed the other boat was close to Magnolia Beach. We sailed at 6:30 a.m. uneventful sail. At the land cut, which starts at the Victoria barge canal, traffic increased. At one point, we met SEVEN tugs with barges. Some were double-wides. In the mid afternoon, we spotted Gerry & David. They were clearing Port O'Conner. We caught up right after turning north towards Magnolia Beach.

We stayed together for a while. I then left the group intending to reach Magnolia during the hours of daylight and help guide them in. Our communications were still having difficulties following the storm. my gps was not fully functioning either. Then, darkness was upon me. I could not make out the campsite. From the water at night, it looked like a residential area followed by undeveloped land. I could not identify Magnolia Beach from the water. My gps was not functioning. I veered east towards the intracoastal and followed the markers up to marker 57. There, I turned due North (compass heading). The area did not look familiar but I knew Magnolia was there.

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In the mid afternoon, we spotted Gerry & David. They were clearing Port O'Conner.

Finally, I reached the boat ramp & dock. it was about 11:00 p.m. I tied up and took my truck to the beach area. With lights on, I tried to reach the other boats on the VHF. No luck. I went to bed at about 2:30 a.m. believing the other boats had anchored out to await sunlight. In the morning, I was advised that Gerry had reported in. he spent the night at Indianola beach about one mile south of Magnolia. Wayne and I jumped in my truck and headed south along the beach road. we spotted Noel coming in. Total relief.

We had a good day Sat. Saw the PDR races and enjoyed choice commaraderie. All in all, Wayne stayed out of trouble and did not ram anyone, I think. I ferried Noel back to Rockport to pick up his LAND ROVER and trailer. He returned to Magnolia and I headed home.

For another version of this story, click HERE to read
Gerard Mittelstaedt's article at stexboat.com.