Saturday, December 12, 2009

THAARR SHE BLOWS!!! (up on the beach)

On Tuesday evening (the 8th) and all day Wednesday we had cracking winds (20 to 30 knots) from the W & WSW with temps in single digits and corresponding wind chills which called for bringing in your "Brass Monkeys" to avoid their suffering "unspeakable" damage. In almost every case when we have high winds from that direction, we get some very heavy chop and pretty good size waves crashing in to docks along the main channel. We are still on stand-by mode in off season with at least one TOWBOAT in service. Around 1000 hrs on Wednesday (12/9)morning a Water Patrolman was dispatched to check on a 24ft Star Craft deck boat that broken free from its dock & lift and had blown up on the near-by shore and hung up in dock cables. I poured my third cup of coffee and waited for the phone to ring (sorta hoped it wouldn't). About a half hour later, the call came in - the patrolman was on scene and the vessel was pounding heavily port side on the rocks and was also hung on dock cable. He was in contact with the owner and told him to seek commercial assistance and anticipated we would be called. The owner called shortly after, he was in contact with his insurance company and needed information about what would be involved with the recovery. I provided him with information and "worst case" scenarios as we were not on scene. After a hour and a half he called back with the "go ahead" to proceed and recover vessel. (Weather: 19deg, wind WSW @ 26, with gusts to 30+, light snow and ice on docks). I contacted Captain & diver Tim McNitt to crew and we were underway within the hour. On scene, the vessel was trapped against shore in narrow space between docks and cables, we were taking some heavy rollers and decks were icing up. Capt McNitt was able to get on the dock and reach vessel, after quick inspection, he determined vessel had not taken on a significant amount of water as yet and we could re-float and head for sheltered water to check it out more thoroughly. He secured a line to stern of vessel and was able to re-board towboat and we ungrounded her with moderate power, shifted tow to bow and headed to sheltered cove and marina 1/2 mile away. The strand was inspected at dock and damage was noted. It was taking on water but its bilge pump was keeping up. Owner trailered it out at the marina and vessel was safely on land some 4 hours after receiving the call. Yesterday afternoon (Friday, 12/11/09) we received yet another call to retrieve a TriToon Pontoon boat that had been blown ashore during the same earlier storm and just discovered by owner's neighbor. MUCH nicer weather; sunny, calm, 44 degrees. This boat sustained some significant damage as well, having pounded against the shore port side to, and hung in dock cable long enough for the cable to saw a hole in the forward part of the port pontoon, which required us to remove dock cable from shore and "pull it through" the vessel in order to free the strand - - - - . The pontoon was ungrounded and returned to its slip (less than a 100ft away) placed on the lift and when it was raised, water poured from the broken seams in the port pontoon. It also suffered some major damage including a large hole port pontoon forward from the cable, several large dings, a broken swim ladder and lower outdrive banged up a bit from bouncing around and banging in to shore and docks for a couple of days. - - -

PHOTOS: TOP - DOWN - 1. Approaching the Star Craft, 2. Capt Tim making the slippery leap to dock. 3. StarCraft re-floated and headed for deeper water. 4. TriToon strand against shore 5. Cut in port pontoon from riding on cable for two days

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