S/V Barbara Ann

Weathering a Winter Hurricane

Lunenberg, NS (01/14/02) -  Warnings of easterlies in January didn't prepare us for the vengeance of a winter hurricane.  The storms of the North Atlantic in winter don't have names like the tropical storms of the Caribbean but they attack with every bit as much ferocity.

We awoke on the morning of the 13th with a knock on the companionway hatch from Phil Sharpe of Covey Island Boats.  I hadn't checked the weather, thinking that we were tucked in snuggly and safely behind the bakery near the mouth of the LaHave River.  We had already experienced gale force winds in this spot without much discomfort.  We were not prepared for the immense storm that was about to pass over us. 

Phil recommended that we move up river to Bridgewater immediately.  The local weather predicted storm force easterly winds in a few hours in our vicinity.

An hour later the winds had picked up from a dead calm to about 25 knots and we were motoring up river 10 miles to Bridgewater where we could tie up next to a retired Canadian frigate for the night.  By noon we were settled in to wait out the storm. 


The basin in Bridgewater was calm all day.  Barbara turned in early and, at about 10:30PM, I felt the wind picking up and went out to check the lines.  The tide was rising much higher than expected and quickly approaching the top of the dock.  There was barely room to set the fenders.

The wind was picking up from the west and was already at 40 knots.  I called Phil to see if he could lend a hand to fend us off.  By 11:30 when Phil and John Steele of Covey arrived things had taken a turn for the worse.  Although the tide was now lower, the wind was up to a steady 65 knots and pounding us against the dock. 

Phil and John both felt that our best bet would be to anchor in the middle of the basin and keep a watch.

Phil volunteered to stay on board for the night.

We set the anchor, a 110 lb Bruce, about midnight and I took the first watch. Barbara woke up as we motored off and I was glad she had been able to get at least a little sleep.  By 12:45 the wind had picked up to well over 75 knots and we were dragging.  I've thought about this a lot today since this anchor could hold a battleship and we are not a heavy boat.N

I think we had two problems: We didn't have room for adequate scope to set the anchor properly, and we had enough windage to sail off under bare poles. The basin is only 200 to 500 ft wide and is very shallow. 

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Bill & Barbara Southworth
39 Pickering Street • Portsmouth NH 03801 USA
Cell: (617) 905-6800 or (617) 905-6803 Fax:(888) 300-8888