Holy crap!  What a storm!

Brad's boat, 'Gini 2'
Brad's boat, 'Gini 2'

I’ve been down in Seattle for the past few days visiting Miya, and woke this morning to several text messages from friends asking how I fared through the windstorm last night.  Currently I’m on the Amtrak bus hurtling back towards Vancouver, praying that Tie Fighter is still comparatively safe, bouncing around in the waves just off of Kitsilano Beach.

Last week there was another windstorm, but since the wind was from the southeast, I had very little to worry about – I got call after call asking if I was ok, but when Tie Fighter is only anchored 300m from shore, there’s hardly enough room for any serious waves to build.  Still, with 45km/h sustained winds and gusts up to 65km/h, I saw wave heights of up to about a foot, and until I actually got into the rowboat and started rowing for shore I wasn’t sure if I’d actually make it or if I would be blown out to sea!

a random neighbor
a random neighbor, blown ashore

Today, on the other hand, the wind is coming from the northwest – which is the bad direction.  There is no shelter to the northwest!  Actually, there’s no shelter from about south-southwest through to about north-northwest, so any winds coming from those directions will mean a bumpy ride.  The biggest waves I’ve actually seen out there to date were about 1m tall, which were pretty crazy to row my little dinghy through – but on another weekend, when I spent the night at another friend’s house in town, we had a northwesterly blow that apparently brought 2m waves and made life pretty crazy for most of the neighbors anchored at Kits.

My first sign of the problems today came, as I said, from a flurry of text messages this morning from converned friends.  Of course my instinct was to be somewhat glib, but then I started hearing about news stories depicting a sailboat blown up onto the shore.  I checked CBC only to find this story, reporting that three sailboats were blown up on shore, and showing a photo of my friend Bob’s homebuilt trimaran up on the shore with one of the outer hulls smashed off!  That got my attention, and I immediately started getting packed up to return to Vancouver.

(Since then there have been several other news stories about the situation:

Randy's boat (right) and another random neighbor
Randy's boat 'Tuesday Sunrise' (right) and another random boat

That’s when Ernst jumped in on the text message flurry, sending me these photos from his iPhone and giving me the straight goods.  In total, six boats pulled anchor and washed ashore, four of them stranding on the beach, one utterly destroyed, and one sunk near the rocks.  I’m not sure who’s boat is out at the rocks – I had a bit of a panic when I thought it might be Theresa aboard her sailboat ‘And-E’, but after getting in touch with both her and Ryan from ‘Helen Kate’, it would seem they both took the opportunity to move back into False Creek after hearing the weather warnings yesterday.  It would seem that Brad, Bob and Randy weren’t so lucky, and ended up feeling the full wrath of the March winds.  Brad later spoke with CBC about the situation.

saddest pic
the saddest photo - an unknown boat sunk near the rocks, only the mast showing

So I guess the question becomes – why did these boats drag while Tie Fighter did not?  There are a couple of things to consider – the main one would be ‘ground tackle’, which is how you refer to anchors and anchor chain on a sailboat.  Currently I have my delta anchor out as usual, but about a month ago I decided – pretty much on a whim – to add a second anchor in series with the delta.  Now, basically, I have a 10kg “Fortress” anchor, 7m of heavy steel chain, a 15kg “Delta” anchor, 15m of heavy steel chain, and then about 25m of 3/4″ heavy nylon anchor rope, or ‘rode’.  Argh, I hate having to switch back to the imperial system – ie. 3/4″ instead of 19mm)… but anchor rode is sold in imperial sizes!

As I’m typing this on the bus I’ve been receiving reports via text message that Tie Fighter is still holding strong out in the bay, and that the winds have died down significantly from their former fury.  I’m nearly home, and shortly I will have to try to battle the waves and get myself out to her to see if there was actually any damage done – I sure hope not!  I will update this post after I am home and safe.