Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hard aground with the tide going out

Poor little yacht stranded on a falling tide

Kedging for your life

While out on one of the islands ready to enjoy a picnic on a beautiful day, we came upon a sailboat hard aground with the tide still running out. Our friend Philip, casually said, "Hey, there's a sailboat aground."  We all ran to peer over the dunes to see what we could see. Indeed there was a lovely little boat hard aground on the rocky shore. And the tide was only about 3/4 out.  Our hearts dropped as we imagined the circumstances. This is one of the possibilities all sailors dread. Questions popped into all our minds unspoken, "I wonder if there is anyone onboard and if they are okay?"

Philip discussing strategy with the skipper. 

Philip, a GP and sailor himself, ran down to the boat and, much to his surprise as he approached the vessel, out popped the unfortunate sailor. It turned out that he was heading into the inlet between the two drumlins when the prop caught a lobster pot line and fouled. His fine little vessel was dead in the water; unable to free her prop, and realizing the water was rushing out beneath him, he fought to keep the boat off the rocks as long as possible hoping to effect some solution. As he scampered about trying to determine the best course of action, she went hard aground. That was it. He'd have to wait.

Lynda and I decided things were well under control and made lunch while the boys managed the rescue. Forget the lack of opportunity for salvage, this was much bigger and involved both life and property. You should have seen the eagerness that accompanied the prospect of coming to the rescue of a ship in distress.

Philip and Alex, being rather experienced yachtsmen, suggested a few things that might assist in re-floating the yacht when the time came. They cleared the fouled prop and tested the rudder. All looked fine. They took an anchor out into deeper water and set it to keep the boat from going onto the rocks when the tide came back in. It would also allow the skipper to kedge off when the water rose enough to float her. They took a halyard from the mast to secure it to our punt which would heel the boat over on her side, reduce the draft, and free her as soon as enough water came in. After inspecting the hull as best they could, they determined she seemed to be intact and placed a fender under her tender boards to cushion her. That would also hopefully limit the amount of bashing against the rocks with the incoming tide.

Tide is still going out. 

She was a lovely little wooden boat which could have easily suffered major hull damage. She was as secure as she could be for the moment and now all we could do was wait. They hardly ate a thing as they were chomping at the bit to get her off the shore and safely underway.

Brave little Moytura waiting for action on Inishoo

When the tide turned and started to come back in, they got all set with our small but strong motor boat, Moytura, ready to pull as soon as there was enough water beneath her to attempt a tow. With Philip in the water pushing and directing the bow, the skipper aboard winching in the kedge anchor, and Moytura tugging on the stern and mast halyard, she slowly lifted up and spun around.  Alex towed her into water deep enough to start her engines and off she went. Fortunately, there was no ingress of seawater and the lovely little boat was safely on its way home.

Tide coming back in 

The skipper was so grateful to the two good Samaritans that he gave them some of his pickled mackerel in thanks. No need, as the boys were all smiles feeling very satisfied with a great day on the water assisting a fellow sailor in need.  It was a textbook maneuver and thankfully worked exactly as planned.

One of the things Alex has been suggesting to local lobster fishermen is to tie a lead weight a few feet from the marker buoy on the lobster pot line. As polypropylene line floats and can foul props unsuspectingly, keeping the line in the water and away from potential fouling will save everyone some angst. It saves the passing vessel from distress and the lobster man from losing pots. Everyone wins.

Heading home all smiles after a day well spent rescuing a fellow sailor.

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