Grosse salvages dugout canoe beached on Matagorda Island
Grosse has obtained a 22-foot dugout canoe that he recently found lying in a remote area of Matagorda Island. The canoe likely came from Central America, said Rick Pratt, a boat builder who has studied dugout construction techniques of Central America.
The battered dugout, which isn’t seaworthy, now lies in a yard behind Grosse’s business, Mark Grosse Real Estate. He said he intends to incorporate the vessel into some landscaping.
Grosse first spotted the boat several months ago while piloting his 1957 Cessna 180 along the coast about 40 miles north of Port Aransas. The vessel was lying in the sand near the high-tide line on Matagorda Island, nearly all of which is uninhabited.
Grosse kept seeing the boat lying in the same place during later jaunts over the island. He asked Mike Roberson, who operates Tow Boat U.S., to salvage the vessel.
After waiting a while for calm seas, Roberson and his crew chugged up to Matagorda, tied some rope around the canoe, pumped some water out of it and towed it to Port Aransas on Monday, March 23.
Pratt took a look at the canoe after the crew hauled it ashore at Dennis Dreyer Municipal Marina. The dugout likely was built in Nicaragua and Honduras within the last 25 years, Pratt said. Square nails sticking out of the wood hint at a possibly older age.
The hull appears to be dug out of a mahogany log. Planks line the top edges. Some fiberglass also has been added. A square notch on the narrow stern apparently was used as a mounting location for an outboard motor.
The hull is slightly worm-eaten. Roberson, who has been salvaging boats for more than 30 years, said the canoe could have been adrift for years. Currents in the Gulf of Mexico have been known to sweep flotsam round and round in broad circles for long periods of time before items wash ashore.
Pratt said dugouts have floated ashore on the Texas coast before, but years usually pass between such discoveries.
Grosse said his habits as a longtime beachcomber compelled him to hire Roberson to bring the boat to Port Aransas.
“I just found it so interesting,” Grosse said. “It’s just such a novelty. I thought it would be fun to have.”