S/V Barbara Ann

Weathering a Winter Hurricane (cont.)

<< Previous

No matter where we set the anchor it would skip as we bounced around the basin.  We reset the anchor a few times and each time it started dragging a bit sooner.  We had to move but we had no idea where to go. 

We considered tying up at the dock again now that the tide was lower but we knew we'd need a lot of help.  We called John Steele to wrestle up some manpower.  LaHave was now pretty sheltered from the westerlies and in pretty good shape. He asked if we could motor down the river again and he'd have help to get us docked. We hauled anchor again and tried to turn down river. 

At this point a gust hit us and we nearly broached under bare poles.  We were spun around and pushed to the lee shore where we ran aground.  Barbara Ann's powerful 150HP Yanmar turbo and 28" self-pitching Autoprop saved us. As we lay almost on our side and a wave hit, Phil raced the engine and the prop kicked in.  We literally leapt out of the water and were off down the river.

This was about 1:30 AM and I learned later that winds of 154 km/hr were recorded in our vicinity.

We were motoring down the river with the raging wind and against the current  Seas were six to eight feet in the river.  The temperature had dropped to about 28F and the warm rain had turned to driving sleet.  Phil had the wheel and I manned a search light at the bow to try and find the channel markers in the winding narrows. 

By 2:30 we had snaked our way through the more

dangerous section of the river and were in more open water, surfing over the waves under bare poles.

I moved to the GPS and depth sounder and Barbara relayed directions to Phil. Visibility was near zero.  We at low tide now in this part of the river and dept readings were matching the chart exactly. Good chart and God bless GPS.  I kept us at the edge of the channel where I could navigate by depth if we had a GPS problem.  The radar was not too useful in these weather conditions. 

As we made our way down the river we periodically saw headlights facing us from the shore as John Steele followed our progress and tried to light up the particularly tricky stretches.  

At 5:30 AM we arrived at the LaHave bakery.  John called us on the VHF and told us to go down wind, turn,  and then head directly for dock. He and Colin O'Toole would be waiting to throw me a fender at the bow with a loop to throw over the windlass.  The wind would hold us out from the dock until we could be hauled in under more favorable conditions.

As we turned in the raging seas and winds, we nearly broached again. But we rounded to wind and headed for the dock at top speed.  Standing at the bow I was convinced that we'd slam into the dock but when Phil cut the throttle, the wind stopped us in a second as I grabbed the line and hooked it around the windlass. We were safe.

We tied off but made no attempt to leave the boat until some hours later when we could pull into the dock safely.  After polishing off a bottle of port and making a substantial dent in a bottle of rum, we tried to sleep at last.

- end -


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