Lesson from TS Faye
The other day, at the height of the wind here in Jacksonville, a couple of things were going on. The conditions: wind was steady at around 50 mph, according to the Weather Underground station just up the creek a bit. It was raining hard. My old Morgan 36T, Ruffian, was in a little trouble.
The river was up higher than I have ever seen in here in Jax. It had the main dock awash under an inch or two of water. (Fixed dock, the whole distance.)
As a consequence, the dock lines had gone slack, and with a SSE wind, Ruffian was jamming herself up against the dock on her port side. I made it to the end of the dock, got aboard, and attempted to pull her off.
People, you don't pull 13,000 pounds of sailboat, even with bare sticks, against a 50 mph wind with gusts to 60 or thereabouts. I'm an old geezer, but still reasonably strong, and all I was able to do was give myself a set of sore muscles. In addition, with the wind velocity, the raindrops felt about like small shot fired at long range. It was seriously painful.
Ultimately, one of the extra stern lines I put on for the storm was just long enough to make a couple of turns around my spinnaker winches, and I was able to pull Ruff's stern out a bit, which got her off the piling she was bashing into.
The lesson I learned the other day is that from here on out, my 'storm' lines are all going to be long enough to reach a winch somewhere, and I'm going to have snatch blocks set up in advance to reeve those longer lines through, rather than trying to do it in a storm.
The simple truth is, I should have known this, because when I was riding Wilma out aboard Island Breeze down in Coco Plum (Coral Gables), I had a similar problem. I didn't think about it, though, and paid the price. During Wilma, Breeze was being heeled over to starboard, and her lifelines and stanchions were being smashed by the fixed concrete dock. I crawled forward (yes, crawled. Walking was out of the question), and got the storm line wrapped around the windlass and used that to winch her over a few inches.
While I was doing that, my next slip neighbor's outrigger came crashing down, and the pointed end tried to poke a hole in the dinghy. I had to scramble back into the boat, find a set of heavy wire cutters and cut the S/S guy wires from the Hatteras to the outriggers to get the outrigger off of my boat. All of this in 75 knot winds. I tied a small piece of line to the outrigger and threw the whole thing in the drink between our two boats, which saved both of us from any more damage. (The Hatteras, which was only a month old had a couple of small scratches in the paint, and I had a scratch on the outboard for our dinghy.)
All in all, having a set of storm lines that can be winched in against heavy loads is now number one on my list of storm preparedness. Number two is having a way to cut S/S wire rope quickly and efficiently.
BTW, Ruffian did okay in the storm the other day. The old girl has a couple of new scratches, and an inch or two of water in the bilge, but otherwise no problems.
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