It’s an image that grips some with fear – being alone, at the mercy of the sun, the water and the critters in the water.
On June 20, Corpus Christi resident Paul Sova and his girlfriend Anna Silverstein, got a taste of that experience.
Sova said he figures the two of them had been floating, apart, for about two hours before two Beeville fishermen spotted Sova and decided to drive their uncle’s boat over to investigate.
Cousins Jason Perez and Aldo Morin, both 33, had launched uncle Jay Brionez’s 24-foot Carolina skiff boat on the bay at about 7 a.m. and had already been on the water for hours when they noticed something floating nearby.
They had just weighed anchor to head toward the JFK Causeway and fish around the Oso bridge. The two fishermen were about a mile from shore when they saw the object.
“I thought it was probably gear or something,” said Perez. A mechanic for the Corpus Christi Army Depot, Perez had fished the bay many times with Morin.
“It wasn’t like anything we were used to seeing,” Morin said. An instructor for the Windham School District at the William G. McConnell Unit, Morin had spent much of his time with his cousin growing up in Beeville.
As they approached the flotsam, the two realized it was a man holding a life jacket over his head.
The two said they almost did not stop for the man. “He didn’t ask for help right away,” Perez said. For a while, they thought he might just be a swimmer. But he was too far from shore just to be out enjoying a float in the bay.
Then the man started calling for help. So they headed straight for him.
“He told us he’d been hollering at boats that passed by,” Morin said. But none of them responded to his call.
Sova and Silverstein had launched their sailboat at Sunfish Beach near the naval air station that morning and the boat had overturned a couple of hours earlier.
Morin and Perez said Sova had to be calling to them because they were in the only boat on that part of the bay. Their engine had been running and they were unable to hear the man’s cries for help.
“It was pretty brutal,” Perez said. By the time they saw him it was 12:30 p.m. and the wind had picked up some. Morin said swells were up to about three or four feet and a current was carrying Sova toward the Intercoastal Waterway.
The wind was blowing toward the Harbor Bridge, in the opposite direction.
As soon as the men got Sova on board, he asked them to look for Silverstein.
“I got up on the bow and started looking,” Morin said. It did not take long for him to spot the woman. She was about a quarter of a mile away, waving her arms.
The two men sped to her location and got her in the boat.
Then they decided to try to find Sova’s 16-foot Hobi Catamaran and try to get it back to shore.
They found the boat in minutes. It was lying on its side. Sova said later the mast was stuck in the mud. Perez and Morin said the water there was about 13 or 14 feet deep, about normal for Corpus Christi Bay.
Several attempts to get the catamaran upright failed. The first time they got it up, the boat was blown over again, so Morin got on board and tried to hold it upright.
Eventually, the men abandoned the effort. “We were running on fumes,” Perez said. “I told Anna if we don’t get back to land, we’re all going be stranded out here.”
A quick trip back to shore solved that problem. After they gassed up, they went back and retrieved the sailboat.
Sova said the whole episode was more embarrassing than anything. He never felt his life was in danger. He said he was only a few hundred yards from the pier when Morin and Perez found him.
He admitted that he and Silverstein were tired and dehydrated. He said the mistake they made was leaving their boat.
“Of course, we were very grateful to be rescued and surprised to locate the boat more than a mile away, mast firmly planted in the mud,” Sova said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.