Thursday, October 22, 2009

Northers Are Back!

In the fall and early winter, the island is subjugated to "Northers." These are cold fronts that come down from the north bringing with them cooler temperatures, rain and rough seas. We get several at this time of year; sometimes mild, sometimes quite fierce.

The Northers affect the West side of the island more as the seas come rolling in, crashing upon the beach and reshaping the seashore. People on that side of the island are pretty much prisoners of the sea during a Norther as one does not want to risk launching their boat. People bring their boats up to land or secure them in coves or anchor them out off their dock hoping the anchors will hold.

When the seas start coming out of the south on our side of the island (the East side), we can expect trouble, especially when the waves start building. We have had several Northers over the years here - the worst ones, of course, after hurricanes have passed.

We have a place to haul out one of our boats out of the water to avoid its destruction or damage to the dock. The larger boat is strapped to poles and is in partial suspension between the dock and the poles. Normally, when we know a storm is coming, we prepare the smaller boat, the skiff, by tethering it off one of the large dock posts with the back end held fast to the shore by a series of ropes tied to a tree. This is for mild storms. In more severe cases we must pull the boat up on shore, rolling it out on a series of posts laid out on the beach. Both of these precautions are time consuming and laborious.

Unfortunately, this past week a Norther approached which was stronger than expected. It appeared to be a mild storm and this early in the season my husband did not think it necessary to secure the boat and left them both tied to the dock. The first day was not bad but by the end of the second day, late into the afternoon, it was quite apparent that we had to get the boat tethered to the land by ropes attached to a tree. We did not have the luxury of pulling it up out of the way as the seas were too rough by now.

In hauling the boat around to the north side of the dock we discovered that one of the posts was weak and during our efforts, it broke off and part of the dock collapsed but not into the water, as the photo will show.

Also, during this time, while I was attempting to get the boat off one of the bumpers located next to the skiff, the boat slid off so I was left with one foot on the dock and the other on the boat! I decided it was not a good idea to fall between the boat and the dock, so I fell into the boat landing on my shoulder. Luckily I was not hurt, bruised maybe, but okay for the most part. The real problem was standing up in the boat which was now bucking like a wild stallion! It took several minutes to regain my feet and then a few more to time my jump from the boat to the dock, something I really do not want to do again!

With great effort we managed to get the boat around the end of the dock and tied the bow to the dock and its stern secured to the shore. The storm roared through the night and died down the next day. We awoke to sunny skies and calm waters.

My husband, our worker and me then proceeded to make repairs the dock. It is serviceable now after my husband spent much time in the water jacking up portions, nailing boards in place and securing what he could. We will definitely have to put in a new dock next year. This one lasted 11 years so we cannot complain. The creatures of the sea have eaten away at our support posts and it will be a small miracle if the dock can stand many more Northers that most certainly will be heading our way.

But, if one lives on the ocean one must put up with the small "inconveniences" to enjoy the beauty of it all!

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