My wife and I arrived at Goose Island State Park on Sunday, March 12, and set up our tent in spite of about a twenty mile an hour wind in the �water only� tent sites off of Live Oak Circle. We then took a walking tour of the boat ramp and island part of the park. We decided that the wind was just too strong to do any enjoyable paddling with the kayaks (Perception Carolinas). The waves on the Aransas Bay side of the island were quite high and as they broke were spraying the motor home campers in the bayfront sites. (I would not recommend tents at these sites.) Since it was late afternoon, we had a nice dinner and turned in for a quiet nights sleep. The campground was extremely quiet in spite of it being spring break.
On Monday morning the weather was somewhat overcast and warm. We put the boats in at the boat ramp and headed north and then quickly made the northwest turn into St. Charles Bay. It was very pleasant paddling into about a 3 mile an hour wind. The water was still rather shallow more than 150 yards off the shoreline. We saw folks wade fishing along the way and cattle on the shore. We talked about paddling across the bay to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, about 2 miles, to see what birds we could spot but decided against it as it was quite nice along the western side of the bay. We saw a line of dark clouds ahead and commented that we might get wet if it rained. However, because it was a warm day we accepted the possibility. We had our sprayskirts packed into the hatch of a boat in case of the possibility of a real downpour and figured we could get them on and sealed long before getting too much water into the boats. We had no idea of what was to come next.
The dark band of clouds turned out to be a major cold front coming through the area. Before we knew it the wind had gone from 3 miles per hour to 25 to 30 miles per hour gusts with large 5 foot waves with whitecaps. We quickly paddled to a dock that was sticking about 80 yards into the bay in order to wait out the weather. Since we did not have painters on the boats that we could use to tie off to the dock, our arms were almost torn from their sockets trying to hold onto the dock. Waves were breaking over the docks and the boats and we started to take on quite a bit of water. In hindsight it would have been nearly impossible to hold on to the dock, open the hatch, and retrieve the sprayskirts. We would then need to remove our PFD�s, put on the sprayskirts, put the PFD�s back on, and then seal the skirt to the boat. It was not going to happen in those waves.
It was a mutual decision to make a run for the shore in spite of it being covered with large rocks and concrete and with waves breaking on it. We arrived on shore after some exciting surfing and paddling.
Since we landed on a road along the bay we made the decision to retrieve our vehicle, load the boats, and then drive back to the campsite calling it a day. Just about every powerboat we saw was making a beeline for the shore. I started jogging back to campsite while my wife stayed with the boats. I needed to go just under 3 miles �as the crow flies� according to my GPS. After about a mile I stopped a passing pickup truck to ask if I was going the correct way to the state park. The occupants offered me a ride which was a good thing since it turned out to be about an additional 4 or 5 mile trip.
The rest of our stay was without incident with some great camping. We did not paddle again as Tuesday was once again very windy.
1. Check the weather much closer than just listening to the forecast on a Victoria radio station that said a cold front might come through late in the day.
2. Wear your sprayskirt when paddling in open water even if it is a nice day. It is easy if it is already on to just attach to the boat if you need it and you do not need to take off your PFD to do so.
3.Have painter lines attached to the boats.
4. Carry a road map of the land area that you will be paddling
State Park Campground. Water only for tents to full hook ups for trailers.
Camping and entry fees
10 miles northeast of Rockport on State Highway 35 to Park Road 13, then 2 miles east to park entrance.