Matagorda Bay Pilots

History of MBP

Dually licensed by the USCG and the State of Texas, the Matagorda Bay Pilots have been guiding ships to and from Point Comfort through Matagorda and Lavaca Bays on the 23 mile long Matagorda Ship Channel (MSC). This deep draft channel for ocean going vessels was original constructed for the Aluminum Company of America in 1960. Today, the ship channel is now used by several customers through the “Tri-County” area and their cargos reach all corners of the globe.

In February of 1685, La’Salle navigated the first ocean going vessel into Texas waters through Pass Cavallo thence to Matagorda Bay.   Since that day, Matagorda Bay has been no stranger to commerce and the Matagorda Bay ghost town, Indianola, was one of Texas’ biggest ports in the late 19th century.   Ships continued to enter though Pass Cavallo, a treacherous and unforgiving pilotage.  Pilots in those days were dispatched from Saluria and Decros (or Decrows) to guide commerce through the shifting sandbars and shoals into Matagorda Bay and up to Indianola.

Today, pilots are dispatched from their station in Port O’Connor, Texas.   While not as treacherous with the shifting sandbars of the early days, the “new” entrance to Matagorda Bay is through a 300′ wide channel roughly four miles to the NE of Pass Cavallo, making Matagorda Bay both Texas’ oldest and newest port.   The MSC entrance now has a different type of difficulty, some of the strongest currents in the country.   Its not uncommon for currents to reach over four knots during normal lunar phases and upwards of seven knots in the winter.  Pilots have intense training to guide todays deep laden ocean-going vessels through this waterway.  The pilots first and utmost priority is SAFETY.