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  • Known Obstructions
  • Redfish Island
  • South Boaters Cut

GBCA map to known obstructions in Galveston Bay

The sailboat racers with the Galveston Bay Cruising Association (GBCA - www.gbca.org) have kindly kept track of a number of visible and underwater obstructions that they have encountered in their racing on Galveston Bay. They have created a map using Google Maps that show the locations. When you see the various marks on the map, you can just move your mouse over them, and they will describe what is known about the obstructions, as well as give the exact latitude and longitude per the skipper of the given boat) that the obstruction was encountered at. A graphic of the reported obstructions courtesy of Google Maps is shown below (as of 08/28/2011). To get a better view and use the dynamic descriptions and features, click here to go directly to the Google Maps site.

Google Maps Galveston Bay Obstructions

Well known to Galveston Bay mariners is a feature known as Redfish Island. The island runs NNW to SSE along the Houston Ship Channel about halfway up the bay. Word to the wise. Never try to go around the island's south end to get to the anchorage behind it. A quick peek at the Corp of Engineer map links below will make this self explanatory (water is 1' in many places). Always go around the north end of the island giving it a good amount of room. It does make a great anchorage when the wind is blowing anywhere from East to Southeast. When the wind moves to due south, boaters may find their anchor dragging unless you can tuck in the SE corner, as the wind and the waves will be running nearly parallel to the island.

The island has actually become part of the music scene with a song by Tropical singer/songwrite Kelly McGuire in his song "Where Did Red Fish Go?" on his Redfish Island CD. To understand the song, you have to realize that a major storm literally wiped the island away, leaving nothing but a submerged hump. The Corp of Engineers rebuilt the island back around 2003 for a variety of reasons, one of which was to provide a safe anchorage for boaters.

Galveston Bay Sail and Power Squadron was fortunate enough to have as one of its commanders, P/C Danny Wyatt of the Army Corps of Engineers. Danny provided us with a variety of information during both the planning and constructions phases. It is this information that we have posted below for your use. Much of the information refers to the project in a future tense. The project has long since been completed, but remains posted here for historical purposes.

Redfish Island Information and South Boaters Cut Info :

Dear Galveston Bay Waterway Users:

The US Coast Guard is planning on installing navigation aids marking the South Boater Cut at Houston Ship Channel Light 61 sometime between February 1 and February 15, 2003, in accordance with the following 8th Coast Guard District Notice to Mariners Number 53/02, dated December 31, 2002:

TX - UPPER GALVESTON BAY - Houston Ship Channel The following changes to aids to navigation will be made in the Houston Ship Channel between February 1, 2003 and February 15, 2003:

South Boater Cut Lt 1 (LLNR-23136) will be established in approximate position 29-32-35.1N 094-53-12.2W showing Fl G 4s 17 ft 3M.

South Boater Cut Daybeacon 3 (LLNR-23136.3) will be established in approximate position 29-32-32.0N 094-53-37.0W showing SG on pile.

South Boater Cut Daybeacon 4 (LLNR-23136.4) will be established in approximate position 29-32-36.0N 094-53-37.6W showing TR on pile.

Houston Ship Channel Lt 61 (LLNR-23130) will be relocated to approximate position 29-32-24.1N 094-54-09.9W.

Houston Ship Channel Lt 62 (LLNR-23135) will be relocated to approximate position 29-32-28.9N 094-54-01.9W.

South Boater Cut Daybeacon 5 (LLNR-23136.5) will be established in approximate position 29-32-24.2N 094-54-39.3W showing SG on pile.

South Boater Cut Daybeacon 6 (LLNR-23136.6) will be established in approximate position 29-32-28.2N 094-54-39.9W showing TR on pile.

South Boater Cut Lt 8 (LLNR-23136.8) will be established in approximate position 29-32-25.1N 094-55-04.8W showing Fl R 4s 17 ft 3M.

Charts: 11326, 11327

Ref: ANDP 08-03-02D

According to US Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District personnel associated with the Mid Bay project, this timetable appears valid. Therefore, assuming no unforeseen delays, the south boater cut should be available for use by mid February.

Recent rescheduling of dredging priorities associated with the Mid Bay Project has resulted in a revised estimated closing date of the Houston Ship Channel crossing at Light 68 to around mid-April 2003. However, the Mid Bay project contractor, Weeks Marine Inc, can start construction of the mid bay placement area, which will block the crossing near Light 68, at any time after the US Coast Guard completes marking of the south boater cut. Boaters are encouraged to visit our website, <http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/so/>

http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/so/ for the latest information. A chart prepared by the Coast Guard in early 2002, and recently revised to include the word "Proposed", depicting the proposed marking of the south boater cut is included below as the first attachment. The second attachment gives the latitude and longitude of the boater cut's west and east ends.

The reconstruction of Redfish Island by the Galveston District is complete and will be turned over to the Port of Houston Authority, the project sponsor, to operate and maintain. See attachments three and four for pre-construction water depth information around Redfish. Boaters are reminded that water depths south of the reconstructed portion of Redfish remain as shallow as one and two feet. Hard copies of a new map, depicting post-construction water depths around Redfish, will be distributed to Clear Lake area marine stores shortly.

If you are unable to open the attachments, they can be viewed on the above web page as part of our public briefing slides.

Thanks are extended to all vessel operators, both recreational and commercial, for your assistance in going over a year so far on the Mid Bay deepening and widening project of the Houston Ship Channel without any personal injuries involving vessel collisions.

For additional information concerning the Houston Ship Channel deepening and widening project contact the Galveston District Project Manager, Dalton Krueger, at 409-766-3026. If I can provide assistance with safety aspects of the project, contact me at 409-766-3101.

Danny Wyatt
Chief, Safety & Occupational Health
Galveston District
US Army Corps of Engineers

EDITORS NOTE: Danny Wyatt also provided the following three files regarding the boaters cut and Redfish island. Two are PDF files (requiring acrobat reader - Click here to install) and one picture file (JPG). He also included a link to the Corp Of Engineers web page. I have not condensed any of the three so that you can download them and view them in full resolution:

RedFishAnchorage.pdf (102 KB)
RedFishDesign.pdf (168 KB)


Another feature now regulary used by Galveston Bay mariners is the South Boaters Cut. This channel provides a safe point of passage through the spoils to go from Galveston Bay into Trinity Bay, which is by far the larger of the two. As witih Redfish Island, our Corps of Engineers insode source (P/C Danny Wyatt) provided some great information, which is posted below. Like Redfish, this project is referred to in the future tense, but has in fact been long since completed.

Boater Cut Update (1/31/2003)

Dear Galveston Bay Waterway Users,

Dredging for the 300-foot wide, 8-foot deep south boater cut Houston Ship Channel Light 61/62 was completed by the Galveston District, US Army Corps of Engineers, last week. The US Coast Guard remains on schedule to mark the cut during the week of February 10. Once marking is finished, another message will be sent indicating that the cut is officially available for use. For additional information regarding dredging activities on the Houston Ship Channel visit the Galveston District Safety Office web site at www.usace.army.mil/so .

Thank you.

Dan Wyatt
Chief, Safety & Occupational Health
Galveston District

South Boaters Cut - Galveston Bay