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1986 Transfer Trip

Day Three: Goderich to Port Elgin

Monday, June 16, 1986. Aboard Serenity

Part Four: The Stormy Night

The importance of wind waves to the mariner cannot be overstated. With increasing wind, the state of the sea to a large extent determines his heading and progress, his comfort and discomfort, and ultimately tests his ability to survive.
William G. Van Dorn, Oceanography and Seamanship.

Now that we are safe and sound the first thing I do is call my family on the telephone to let them know. Of course, they don't understand, because they had no idea I was in any peril! This confuses me and dissappoints me; I am so excited to be back on firm ground, I want everyone to rejoice in it, too.

As we talk with people on the dock and in the harbor office, we discover that our progress up the coast has been monitored by the "coast-watchers". They are glad we made it in safely. They were standing by to attempt to lend us aid if we had needed it, but they weren't looking forward to having to go out in this blow.

Behind the breakwall of the harbor, the wind's fury is more apparent. Huge waves rush in from the lake and break on the outer rip-rap, throwing spray up thrity feet in the air and over the breakwall. As we look back to seaward, it impresses us, too, even though we've just spent the last four hours out there in the middle of it.

We double all the docklines on the boat. The wind is still very strong. We can't find any official measurement, but it must be over 40 knots. After the boat is secure, we head, as always, to town for dinner, leaving the Skipper, Ray, behind, with the fellows from the other boat, where they are cooking aboard again.

In Port Elgin, the marina is a long haul from mainstreet, and tonight no one feels like walking. I flag down apickup truck headed for town. The driver agrees to give us a lift, so we jump in the hay-covered truck bed. He drops us off in downtown Port Elgin, a large city by eastern shore standards.

In town, we quickly find a nice place for dinner. These evening meals together are becoming more fun each night. There is a growing sense of crew spirit and togetherness. We have all relied on each other, and especially today, and this has built our sense of unity. Everybody has an extra round to celebrate. When dinner is finally over, it is late, past 10 p.m., and the marina so far away that this time we do call a cab.

Back at the docks, we feel we have a little notoriety: we're the bunch from that sailboat that made in it off the lake today. While we've been in town, the wind has been increasing, and the waves are even bigger now than this afternoon. It is a good night to be safe in the harbor and not on the lake.

So strong are the winds that the boat, although in the calm water of the marina behind a huge breakwall, is being driven rapidly up and down in its slip. It bobs in the wind, straining at its doubled docklines. The motion is the worst in the bow, where I try to sleep in the vee-berth. The bow plunges up and down about six to eight inches, rapidly and repeatedly, in response to the wind pressure on the bare mast and stays. During the night, several unattended sailboats in the harbor have their roller-furling jibs unwind from their forestays. They make a lot of noise until they tear away in the wind.

It's another night of little sleep for me. I really am getting fatigued.

Continues with Day Four: Port Elgin to Tobermory.

Copyright © 1995, 1996 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
Page Last modified: October 20, 1996