A Bad Day On the Water

1 001By Steve Stephens
I hope I can teach someone what not to do on the water…..big time screw up.
Ok, lets start over, I had planned a wonderful 8 day vacation and things were starting out not so hot and I probably should have listened to the gods on this one. After several miss steps we finally got underway, we were late and decided we’d stay local for the nite We had a wonderful nite at the Port of Everett guest dock, the winds had kicked up, so it turned out to be the only smart thing I did.
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The next morning we got up early and got underway. The water was gorgeously flat as we headed north up to deception pass where the water was still very nice and the winds were mild at best. We crossed the Rosario Straights and navigated through Lopez Pass and again, the water was fantastic.
At this point I was really looking forward to getting to our destination, Brentwood Bay Marina in BC, first we needed to stop for fuel in Friday Harbor.
As luck would have it that we met up with Puget Mike and his wonderful wife Virginia at the gas dock, we had just finished fueling and were ready to head out, Mike and Virginia were on the way to Deer Harbor for their holiday. I CANNOT say enough thank you’s to Mike and Virginia and you’ll see why shortly.
We were on our way to Sidney first to go through customs and get some veggies. As we were running west the water started getting really snotty so I moved closer to an island to get into the lea. I suddenly got very distracted and should have just shut my damned cell phone off (here comes the lesson!!!).
My cell phone kept going off trying to text me and do some other wierd stuff such as a time zone change and border change (ie Canada), then I was checking my gps to make sure I was heading in the right direction and looked up just in time to see some bull kelp. This is where all hell breaks loose!!!
It was extreme low tide and I was not far enough away from the island and I nailed a huge a$$ed rock!!! There was a huge bang, the boat stopped, alarms going off, squeeling and screeching metal sounds that rocked my soul.
At this point I checked to see if Marsha and the dogs were ok, she was absolutely panic stricken. I then checked to see if the damage was terminal to abandon ship, I lifted the engine hatch and saw water coming in, I raced over and started a mayday call, then I hit the DCS emergency button.

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Within minutes I had 6 boats at my side ready to take us if the boat sank. A boat from the fisheries department arrived and Zach came aboard and helped get Marsha and the kids transfered to his boat. Vessel Assist had arrived, came along side and gave me an emergency pump to help keep the water at bay.
Roche Harbor was closest, we made it around to “A” dock to see if we needed to get a diver overboard to jam some putty into any holes. We then made the decision to head over to West Sound on Orcas Island where Island Marine was able to sling us up onto dry land.
Not only did I have 6 boats come to our rescue within minutes but Puget Mike and Virginia heard the call and ran up from Deer Harbor where they were just getting ready to dock. They gave up thier slip to come and lend assistance, stayed with us while Wild Whim was pulled from the water and took us too Deer Harbor in thier boat (dogs and all) so that we could stay the nite at the Inn. The next morning the took us to LaConner where my nieghbor came up and took us to get our car back in Everett. I cannot say thank you enough to mike and virginia for thier support, friendship and care to get us home and to safety.

Here’s my lesson to you.

The damage? The hull was trashed from about 3/4’s of the way fwd all the way aft, the only thing holding the starboard drive on was the tilt rams. The bottom skeg is gone, the port drive was leaking when she was pulled. Both drives and engines were replaced. The transom mounts plus all the fiberglass work will be repaired. Island Marine said they do this all the time, more people run into the rocks up there than you can imagine.

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