4 August 2014
Sorry about the delay in getting this posted, I wanted to make sure that there was a happy ending to the story.
As we go across Canada, “We have met the nicest people” has been something both of us have said over and over.
On Sunday, 27 July we had gone through Collins Inlet into Mill Lake. We had tried to fish and we had known how weedy the bottom was. I was watching the GPS and our anchor drag monitor. They both were showing that the anchor was set, we were good to go.
We went to bed about 9PM. Normally Susan and I get up to check. At 1:30AM we heard a great bang. We ran out back and there was an Island on our stern platform. Our anchor had dragged over 1000 feet to the other side.
The multiple squiggles where we were sitting before bed. You can see where we landed at the bottom. All we can figure is that the anchor grabbed again at the bottom of the picture (too late) and the wind pushed us forward.
We ended up in an L shaped section of the island. We were sort of floating but trapped by the wind coming from the north east.
We did a quick check of the boat, no water coming in, no leaks, bilge punps working, but no water.
Our next step was to get help. We didn’t have good cell coverage and since I was up against the rock face, I couldn’t get a response on the radio on VHF 16. But we did have internet! So I sent a pair of emails to Canadian friends, since they knew the area and would be able to deal with the Coast Guard. I also looked at Instant Messengers on the computer and I found my daughter had forwarded her IM’s to her phone. So I sent her a text telling her who to call and what to say.
She was able to get in touch with the Coast Guard and let them know what was going on. Susan had also kept trying the cell Phones and she was also able to get through in about 30 second snatches. The Coast Guard operator was good, Susan just needed to say “Quo Vadimus” and the next part of the information they wanted. (Exact location, were we in danger of sinking (no), injuries (no), conditions around us (winds from the NE at 19kts).
We could tell we were on the island, we could see it from the GPS and Susan had kayaked around it.
We put bumpers in the water to help us try not to bang into the rocks.
Via my daughter at 2:30AM we knew that help was on the way, from 40 miles away. For some reason we thought it was the parks people, but we had not gotten to that section of land.
At 3:40 PM we heard that the help that was coming had encountered high seas and turned back. But the Coast Guard sent the CCGS Constable Carrière from Little Current. It’s one of their midsized boats that carries two Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB). It would be at the mouth of Collins Inlet about 6AM. They would unload the RIB and come up the 10 miles to where we were.
The Coast Guard also asked that I try them on a different VHF radio channel and we were able to talk directly to them. I checked in with them every hour to give an update on our status that we were still OK.
At 6 AM they told me that they were offloading their RIB to come down the inlet. I reminded them that we were not in imminent danger, not to take any risks since it was just dawn.
In the dark we couldn’t really see what was going on.
But with the dawn we could see our exact location and what was going on. (Same picture as above)
And off to the side of the boat:
At 6:30 the RIB showed up. It had two Coast Guard sailors and an Ontario Police officer at the helm.
Note the life jackets. We were prepared to leave the ship and go onto the island if needed. We also had Belle in her cage for easy transport.
They asked lots of questions and assessed the situation. We all agreed that getting the anchor back on board would help, since we could be pulled clear and not need to worry about it. That went pretty quickly.
We then helped them set up a two point bridle to pull us off the island. One of the good things is we have lots of dock lines, so we were able to create long bridles so the RIB would stay in deep water. The first time was from a forward cleat and a mid cleat. It was unsuccessful.
Plan B was to pull from the side at the stern to pull it off then move the pull point to the a forward cleat. After we were off the island, they would then drop the bridle and grab a single line from the bow. That worked perfectly!
They towed us back to our original starting place and we dropped anchor. They then checked us over and found that the starboard running gear (shaft, propeller) would turn freely. Yay! But the port side was stuck in place. Possible bent shaft, jammed transmission, jammed cutlass bearing / seal.
The plan was that we would follow them the 13 miles to Killarney on one engine. We left at 7:30 and got into Killarney just over 2 hours later.
This is a better shot of the RIB
and the support ship:
We were at Sportsman’s Marina, and there is a post about our stay there. Our boat neighbor had a “Go Pro on a stick” We did some checking, the propeller looked banged up, but there did not appear to be any other damage to the shaft or struts.
We stayed at Sportsman’s in Killarney for a couple of days to decompress and do some mental recovery from the events. Being rescued by the Coast Guard was something that was NOT on our bucket lists.
On Wednesday we headed west to Little Current and Harbor Vue Marina. They were the only place within 30 miles that had the capability to lift us.
It’s driven by a custom truck that has the seat and controls in it sideways.
We were soon out of the water. We were able to spin the propeller by hand. It spun smoothly, no idea why we couldn’t spin it at Mill Lake.
Once out of the water we could see that there was some minor fiberglass damage. The 6 hours of bumping on the rocks wore off the gelcoat.
We could have gone with marine sealant, (it is like Bondo), but I opted for them to grind some of the fiberglass, put new resin impregnated fabric on and then the marine sealant to make the hull smooth.
This would be more expensive since we needed to be moved and blocked so the fiberglass guy could do his magic.
The mechanics on site then pulled the propeller off and replaced it with one of the spares that I carry.
The propeller was sent out to be repaired (flatten out the bent tip and re-balance it). It will be shipped to me at Sault Ste. Marie.
Once the marine sealant had dried, we got two coats of barrier paint.
We spent the night “On the hard”. While we were blocked up, they left us in the slings for safety.
The next morning we got two coats of anti-fouling paint. They didn’t have the same color, but that’s OK, it will let me quickly find the spot next spring. The repair job is so smooth, I’d not be able to find it otherwise.
We were back on our way.
Susan and I would like to say thank you to the Canadian Coast Guard and the OPP for their help. They were very nice, but most important they were very professional while the rescue was underway. Once we were safe and they knew that we would be OK on our own power they were much more relaxed.
Thanks to Terry who got us in touch with Ken of Gore Bay Charters, who then got us put into the front of the line at Harbor Vue.
Big thanks for all the people at Harbor Vue Marina that worked on our boat. Very professional workmanship, unless you knew, you would not be able to find the fiberglass repair.
And finally thanks to my daughter. If it wasn’t for her putting her AOL IM account through to her phone, and getting up to see who would be texting her in the middle of the night we would have been stuck getting help for many more hours.
As we were walking around the Harbor Vue yard, I noticed that they use all of these antique tractors to haul boats around. Very cool.