High winds and choppy seas caused by Tropical Storm Dolly chased nearly four dozen Mexican shrimp vessels into the Port of Brownsville late Tuesday as the storm made landfall south of Tampico, Mexico.
Not all of the ships made it safely into harbor, however, as two ran aground in the ship channel and another ended up beached at Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island. Many Isla Blanca surfers and visitors stopped to gawk or take pictures of the Jackie C., a trawler from Campeche, which was planted deep in the sand about 30 yards from the water’s edge at about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Although the U.S. Coast Guard station at South Padre Island handles maritime law enforcement in and around the Port of Brownsville, the grounding at Isla Blanca required monitoring from Brownsville Coast Guard officials that handle spills.
Marine Safety Supervisor Lt. John Robertson said he and others were working to contact the owner of the ship — legally the only person who can authorize the movement of the vessel — but were having trouble reaching him as the tidewaters ebbed in the late afternoon.
Robertson said the ship’s owner will need to come up with a salvage plan to remove the ship from the beach.
The U.S. Coast Guard said in a release that it began receiving requests for safe harbor from Mexican vessels at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Officials said by 8 p.m. there was a queue of ships — many of them shrimp trawlers — awaiting clearance to enter the port.
The Jackie C.’s captain, who identified himself only as Veno, said his ship drifted north of the ship channel while awaiting passage and hit something, likely a sandbar. Because the ship was taking on water, he steered the ship into the shoals and eventually ran it aground. The Coast Guard received a call about the beached vessel at 10 p.m. Tuesday, and officials with the Corpus Christi Sector asked the four men aboard if they wanted to remain on the ship at 11 p.m. Tuesday.