Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Winds of Winter

We have what our yacht broker called, "a million dollar view," of Seattle and Lake Union.  This is because we have an end-dock slip.  There is nothing between us and the Center for Wooden Boats at South Lake Union except the length of the lake.  That means, when the winds blow from the south, the entire fetch (waves) end up against our starboard side.  So, we have learned to deal with her rolling and bucking then the winds pick up.  It's not that bad, really.    Then...

Brigadoon weathered her first real storm at the dock this last Saturday.  We have had a rocking boat before, with winds pushing two or three foot waves, which pushes Brigadoon against the dock.  It's why I upgraded to spherical fenders.  They don't jam like the cylindrical ones and they squeak less, due to the fact that they act like large ball bearings, allowing the boat to roll on them a bit.

However, though they had weathered some pretty hard winds the week earlier, like when the previous Sunday night was pretty high, they weren't enough the morning of the 18th.

As Kerry and I lay in bed, in the early hours around dawn, Brigadoon struggled with the winds, both the constant and the gusts.  The constant winds held us firmly against the dock, putting the fenders to the test. Then the waves started to build, causing Brigadoon to buck like a pissed off 22,000lb Clydesdale wanting loose of a loaded beer wagon.

We were pretty snug in our bunk, dealing with most of the hard rocking, until the heavy waves hit, slamming against the boat.  Brigadoon bucked and heaved, in large figure eight motions under the approximately four foot waves that were forcing their way against and under her hull.

I lay there, being tossed about a bit, listening to the fenders hold us off the dock, wondering if we needed more.  I knew we had enough lines but, I wasn't sure if the fenders would take it when she really heaved.  Kerry wondered if we should get up.  I joked that I was going back to sleep.  Just as I closed my eyes on my pillow, nature's alarm clock went off.

The the wind gusted.  Brigadoon heeled at least thirty degrees to port and, held by the wind, stayed there for a good thirty seconds.  Then the waves got under her...

And the port cap rail hit the dock, I'm sure of it.  Now, sometimes the waves hitting the bottom of the hull can bang but this was different.  Kerry was a little scared as the motion was getting pretty violent.  When Brigadoon leapt and rolled and I heard that bang again, I was dressed, told Kerry to do the same and was outside in the cockpit in less than a minute.

"Be careful!" Kerry warned as I headed out the hatch.

"Don't distract me, luv!" I yelled back.  "I'll be careful."

I grabbed fenders out of the dingy and tossed them on the dock.  Timing my step off, as Brigadoon was rising and falling three to four feet with the wind and waves, I found my self on the dock.

Brigadoon looked angry.  That was the only way to put it.  She looked angry.

"Ok, girl," I thought.  "Let's get you settled."

Carefully, I stuffed the four additional fenders between her and the dock, being careful not to get my hands between an irresistable force and and immovable object.  I didn't want to have my arm torn off.  I'm not kidding here.

Finally, all the fenders were set.  I boarded Brigadoon again to check on Kerry and to encourage her come on out. We went ashore and stood back to watch Brigadoon dance against the fenders and her moorings lines.  Again, an angry Clydesdale came to mind.

Kerry took a video.  This is what Brigadoon looked like, when the wind calmed a little.

Knowing that there was little we could do, aside from getting aboard and casting off to finding better shelter, even riding it out in the center of the lake, we decided to trust the six dock lines, a good ten fenders, and go to breakfast

As we sat there at breakfast, at the Fremont Dock, we watched the traffic signals hang at 45 degrees as gusts continued for a good half hour.

Returning after breakfast, we found things much calmer.  I surveyed Brigadoon for damage.  One brass rub rail has lost a screw and the port cap rail was scuffed in a couple places.  Aside from that my stout boat was just fine.  Good girl.  Good Brigadoon.

So, I'll make some adjustments in fender placement (a little higher I think) and keep additional fenders on her for the hard stuff.

I guess a million dollar view comes with some costs.  In our case, it was a little drama, some lessons in boat rigging and a couple minor scuffs.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful adventure it would seem.
    Glad to hear you, Kerry and Brigadoon weathered the storms well.