Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night

My lovely wife and I left our boat in the Bahia Honda maria and drove into Key West for dinner. On the way back to the marina, we saw a huge storm move in. Rain, lightning, high winds, the works. The weather forecast had give only a 10% change of a storm. That turned into 100% in the real world.

The Bahia Honda marina is pretty empty after dark. All the workers go home. With the exception of fishermen coming and going, we pretty much had the place ourselves. So there we were sitting in our truck, in a darkened marina, waiting for the storm to blow itself out.

I saw a small dim flashlight moving around out there, and a Coast Guard boat came into the marina. I went out to see what was going on.

That's when I met a very wet and cold couple, Roy and Dawn. Their Flicka had dragged anchor. Roy tried to deploy a second anchor and start the engine. Unfortunately, the anchor rope tangled the prop and the shaft bent. The boat's mast and rigging smashed into the old Bahia Honda bridge. Roy was able to get a mayday out on the hand held radio. His main radio lost its antenna on the bridge.

As the boat came closed to the bridge abutment, Roy decided to abandon ship. Dawn's inflatable life jacket worked, but Roy's didn't deploy. Fortunately, he was able to put on an old fashioned horse collar life jacket. They had an inflatable kayak as a dingy/lifeboat. It capsized. Dawn got hold of one of the kayak's ropes with her feet and held on. Using the kayak as a float, they made it to the base of the bridge and worked their way to shore.

When I caught up to them, they were giving their information to the Coast Guard and trying to line up a towing company to rescue their boat. I went back to the truck and got them some blankets. All they had was on the boat. Roy just had a swimsuit on.

My wife had all our cool weather clothes in a suitcase in the truck. She was able to find some clothes for Dawn and Roy. We let them spend the night in our truck. We were able to sleep on our boat as the Bahia Honda's small marina is well protected.

Some adventures, it's fine to play a supporting rather than a starring role. My lovely wife and I were very happy to be spear carries in that opera.

During the night, Roy and Dawn's boat was towed off the bridge to a mooring. The tow people reported the hull in good shape and dry. Of course, the mast was bent, rigging messed up, and motor disabled, but it was floating. When we left them, Roy was looking to borrow a kayak paddle to get back to the boat to retrieved their things. Things weren't quite as grim as feared.

The Coast Guard and tow people had a very busy night. A Canadian boat almost dragged into the rocks, but was pulled off just in time. A 50 foot Cat flipped and was destroyed on the Long Key bridge. Initial reports looked bad for the crew, but all were eventually rescued. I've really got to hand it to the Coast Guard and the commercial companies that head out in such nasty conditions.

It was an interesting end to our stay in the Keys.



  1. Sounds like a night full of adventures, for sure!

    Glad everything worked out for Roy and his wife!

  2. I'm glad they're ok. and glad you 2 made it through the storm fine yourselves. and proud of you for being the good people you are.

  3. *hugs* We'll be happy to see you in a few weeks! Glad everything worked out ok.

  4. Quite often the weather likes to take meteorologists' "predictions" and slap them upside the head with them. Putting to sea automatically enrolls you in the "amateur meteorologist" club. I often nail the weather more accurately than the suit on the boob-toob : ) If they'd actually stick their heads out the window once in a while, they might surprise themselves! And maybe even prevent some "adventures" like you witnessed...

  5. You are certainly right about us becoming amateur meteorologists. A friend of mine recommended putting a whole weather station on the boat. At first, I thought it overkill, but now . . .

  6. A good barometer and a set of eyeballs go a long way, as does knowledge of weather patterns.