Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hit and Run

Why do these things always happen when I’m fast asleep and naked? Could it be, just once, I’d be wide awake, fully clothed and there to see it coming? Of course they say beware what you wish for….

We knew the blow was coming—everyone did. To that end, we left Big Majors and set up in the lee between the Majors a day and several tide changes before the onset. Captain B is meticulous when deploying the anchor. Once we’ve pulled back to take up slack and see if it’s caught, he then does a visual check, either by swimming over it with a snorkel and mask, or taking the dingy and Lookie Bucket to ensure peace of mind. Through Friday and Saturday, he checked it after each tide change--four times. Yes, it was dug in, well-set, and unmoving.

After dinner and a movie last evening, we did the usual “walk around” before bed. Wind and Depth finders were on standby alerts, the monitors visible beside the bed. All was ship-shape and secure. Nelson is getting over his aversion to going potty on the fake grass we so sweetly provided for him on the forward decks, and so we all turned in for the night, rocking not too gently in the building winds.

Cruisers’ Midnight (between 9 and 10pm) found us engulfed in thunder, lightning, rain and darkness. The wind was whipping at 25 knots. The blast of an air horn, never a good sign, woke Captain B and he reluctantly threw off the covers to investigate. No, we had not lost our position, not dragging anchor, not too close to our neighbours. When he opened the port side door…


A dark-hulled sail boat was careening broadside towards our bow pulpit, riding directly over our anchor chain. The lady skipper had her in reverse at full throttle and the husband in the shrouds forward was screaming at her to

“Move it! Why are you in reverse?”

She had to move, but if she had gone forward, she would have run aground in the shallows. Did I mention we have a full moon, meaning LOW low tides? By the time of the collision, the sailboat had moved sufficiently back to miss having her salon windows impaled by our bowsprit. What disaster that would have been.

While the sailboat crew did their best to gain control of their runaway vessel, the crew on Steadfast was busily tying on fenders, readying lines and adding layers of whatever clothing came to hand in the dark. Spot lights, docking lights, deck lights, house lights came blinking on in all directions, as one vessel after another around us became aware of the situation. Captain B got the engines started and ready in case we had to take evasive action. In t his case, it was like locking the barn door after the horse has fled. The sailboat wanted to come along side and tie on to us.

The current in full rip would not allow the distressed vessel to maneuver close enough. Probably a good thing for us. With dogged determination, she made her way north thru the anchorage, where she finally reset her anchor for the remainder of the night. She didn’t “run” far, and being the only dark coloured hull in the anchorage, she was easy to spot come daylight.

Dawn found us rocking broadside to the swell coming down the gullet from the Sound, turned 180 degrees from where we had been 6 hours earlier. Captain B is sporting a double tensor bandage on his hugely swollen right knee and the first mate is resplendent with the biggest purple goose egg on her left thigh. Steadfast is now engraved with two four-foot gouges on her portside forward quarter. Nelson seems to be the only unscathed survivor. In the midst of the melee, he took one tour of the deck to get the gist of things and then hie-tailed it back to his crate, either to hide (likely) or go back to sleep (lucky dog).

I have now added an addendum to the Storm Preparedness List:

Wear SOMETHING to bed when turning in for the night.

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