Where do we even start with his one?
It is probably best to offer a video summary first, then tell the story.
I could spend a lot of time talking about the storm even though from start to finish was only about 16 minutes – though it surely seems like hours. In a nutshell, I knew there was a tstorm coming, was watching it on radar on the phone which showed it moving north of us. We were only 3 miles from a very safe harbor, had just turned around a light marking a shoal, and had put out about half the Genoa sail as a light breeze was just starting that would help us get in a little faster.
With it beginning to sprinkle, I had just finished putting my rain gear on when the light breeze turned into 70 mph. And it was that fast with no warning. No waves in advance, no wind increasing, no noise, just 70 mph and driving rain. The waves caught up a minute or two later and were at least 5 feet. The wind took the sail and the boat completely out of my control and changed our heading by 90 degrees.
We went from a ENE heading up a channel to a WNW heading straight for the Jaynes Island light and the shoal on the other side. The boat was standing on her beam with the decks under water with water pouring in the hatches below. The noise was deafening.
Within a minute or two it was clear we were not going to be able to make it to deep enough water and the boat needed to change direction – like right now! With about 100 feet left to the shoal, I yelled at Shelly below to hang on and jibed the boat. We went from the starboard rail and deck under water to the port rail and deck under water instantly with a lot of crashing and things breaking and the boat flying through the water heading SSE. The engine is racing, the awning has ripped off the dodger and wrapped around the steering wheel and boat cushions, the cooler, and everything else is trying to go over the side.
The next few minutes are really a blur but I know that somehow I got the sail sheet off the winch which meant it was blowing, flapping like crazy and the sheets were being flung around trying to hurt someone. I know I was able to go up to the bow and let go the anchor. The boat was moving so fast that I just prayed the chain would hold in the windlass and it wouldn’t tear the the windlass right out of the deck.
The chain caught and jumped out of the windlass several times with a sickening crunching noise then seemed to grab and hold. The anchor seemed to hold but I really didn’t take much time to wait and see with the sail above my head making an awful noise and the engine still in gear and running full out. The waves were coming over the bow as well.
I got back to the cockpit and started winching in the Genoa on the roller furling. With the wind and the lines all wrapped up it was very difficult to do. The next thing I remember was feeling the boat give like the anchor had let go. I went back to the bow and saw the anchor, 180 feet of chain and 200 feet of 3/4 inch line was gone. It had obviously jumped out of the windlass and run itself out. (Later we found the line and chain had melted the roller and shredded it where it had to be replaced.)
By now the storm had almost blown past us. We were able to turn the boat with the motor and get into the dock.
Whew. One for the late night stories.
And here we sit making repairs. Shelly has been sewing – the sail, the awning, the dodger and the dinghy cover all needed repairing. We are still dragging a grapnel out in the bay by the shoal looking for our anchor and chain. The wind generator mounting bolts were sheared off. It had to be removed, welded and remounted. And of course, it took most of that afternoon to clean up below. A lot of water came in and soaked all kinds of stuff. There was broken glass, pots and pans, pictures, books etc strewn all over the boat.
But it is all good. We are here and no one was hurt. We have met some great people who have been super friendly and helpful. And we really appreciate the thoughts and prayers from you!
Just remember that if not for the storms we would not be able to really appreciate the sunrises, sunsets and calm beaches like we do! And shoot me if I ever, ever underestimate a thunderstorm’s power again.
Up until “the storm” Shelly and I were quite enjoying a relaxing, leisurely Chesapeake cruise, with short hops to places we have not yet visited like peaceful, remote Back River where we got to watch the new F35s practice landings mornings and afternoons!
We visited Gwynn Island, supposed to be named for the man who saved Pocahontas and whose father gave him the island in reward. Then on to Reedville for the menhaden capital of the bay.
And finally to Smith Island – a real throwback to an earlier time where crabbing and bay men are still the mainstays.
With a few more days here to tidy up, we will be heading back out this weekend and looking forward to getting in some more ‘cruise time’ and maybe even a visitor or two before getting back to work in DC.
Oh – and we got to go see Bruce Hornsby one night in old Williamsburg VA and had a great time out!
And Goose is fine.