I’ve survived twice being drawn inside a rogue wave

By Roy Edwards

The Bulletin


Over the last couple of years, I have shared with you some of my adventures on Texas, lakes, bays, and rivers. Some were weird, wild, and wonderful, and a couple were downright terrifying.


Chester Moore, Editor-in-Chief of Texas Fish and Game magazine, wrote in this month’s issue that he was researching local rogue waves. Think of the “Perfect Storm” wave or the “Poseidon Incident” wave.


I have been fortunate to survive two rogue waves.


The first was in Trinity Bay. I was alone in a 14-foot StarCraft Mariner, and I had anchored on the eastern edge of Tin Can Reef. I had a Danforth anchor with 6 feet of chain and 50 feet of rope out that put me about 10 feet from the edge of the reef. Free-shrimping, I was boxing a 5- to 7-pound trout about every 15 minutes.


Scanning the horizon, I noticed a tanker headed to Port Houston. The bulbous bow nose was completely out of the water, and the stern looked like it only had a couple of feet of free board.


About 15 minutes later, my boat gently made a 180 off the anchor. Then I saw a wake (wave) coming fast. It appeared to be about 8 feet tall and was gaining height. As it passed under my boat, and the boat turned bow into the wave, it had reached 12 to 14 feet. Then it hit the shallow edge of the reef, about 10 feet behind my prop. The wave instantly grew to 15-plus feet, then broke. If I had been 20 feet back over the reef, the breaking wave would have sunk my boat and rolled me across the oyster reef.


The second incident was at Port O’Connor. A friend of mine, Dale, and I left Houston on a Friday morning, and we launched about noon. After fishing Friday evening and all day Saturday, we were tying up the boat when another of Dale’s fishing buddies came over and told us that trout were holding in the pocket between the right (south) jetty and the surf line, about 50 yards from the beach.


Next morning, we headed to the pocket. The wind was almost dead calm, and the wavelets were about 6 inches tall. We anchored in the pocket and were catching trout on almost every cast.


Suddenly, Dale ran from the stern to the helm of the walk-through windshield of the 15-foot M.F.G. (Molded Fiberglass boat) and yelled, “Cut the rope”.


“What?” I asked. He yelled back, “Cut the blankety, blank anchor rope NOW!”


I ran to the bow and cut the rope, then looked out to sea. An incoming wave was breaking over the top of the jetty rocks on our left and on our right, crossing the surf line and into the dunes.


Dale started the motor, yelled. “Hang on!” and gunned the motor. When we got to within 40 feet of the wave, he shut down to an idle and headed straight into the wave. By now, the wave was 10 to 12 feet tall and growing. The leading edge of the wave was almost vertical.


The square bow of the MFG dug into the wave. We went through the wave. I was hanging on to the left windshield supports. Completely under water, I looked over at Dale. He had a two-handed death grip on the wheel and was stretched out parallel to the deck, above the seat back. Then we came out on the other side of the wave. The Evinrude never missed a beat.


The boat had upright flotation and was self-bailing. Level, we slowly rose as the boat bailed itself of the water. We lost no gear but were soaking wet.


If you have a rogue wave story, e-mail it to: chester@chestermoore.com


(Write Roy in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Or write to: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)