A Windlass Rips Out

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Aftermath of the Storm, by Daniel Sipes (continued)

A Windlass Rips Out

The wind and seas calmed down a bit around midnight but then picked back up. Shortly after, I heard on the radio, “Epic is free!” Epic is a large, luxury sportfisherman, maybe 65 feet long. Her forward mooring line had been secured to a very strong attachment point—the windlass on the bow, designed to deploy or retrieve her anchor in all conditions. Nevertheless, the windlass had pulled out of the deck and set Epic adrift. I watched as the harbor patrol chased the vessel down, put a man aboard, and secured a towline. This time the procedure went as planned and Epic was towed over by the casino and secured to a dock.

But another boat came adrift—a 60-some-foot pilothouse motoryacht. She was moving quickly through the harbor, about to enter a densely packed area of smaller boats. Two harbor patrol vessels rushed in and were seemingly determining a course of action when an operator repeated a fateful announcement on the VHF, “I’m going to try to get the engines going.” 

One of the harbor patrol boats pulled alongside and a patrolman attempted to board the 60-some-footer just as her owner put her in gear and revved the engines. The yacht lunged forward, the patrolman missed his mark, and ended up in the water, luckily avoiding the powerful propellers. The harbor patrol boat had to maneuver around several other boats before returning to the patrolman, but he was brought back aboard safely and the motoryacht eventually made its way to safety in the calmer end of the harbor.

Seaview is free!”

Seaview is a glass-bottom watercraft, fairly large, heavy, and very wide. She bounced off a few boats before being secured and side-tied to one of them, still in the exposed area of the harbor. Given this scenario, I figured both boats would certainly sustain serious damage but fortunately, thanks to careful attention by the harbor patrol, each of them made it through the night.

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