Kelly IV Struck by Loose Boat
Kelly IV Struck by Loose BoatReport Abuse
May 30-31, 2009
Ollie Browne and I sailed a wonderful trip up the east side of Kelley's Island, then across the north of Kelley's into the channel between Middle Bass, Ballast, and South Bass Islands. The breeze was a very nice 10 - 15 knots with very small waves (1 -2 feet) through most of the day. Ollie was new to Kelly IV but he brought his experience sailing Flying Scots at Lake Arthur and sailing with a friend on a 36 footer out of Barcelona, NY. He proved to be a quick study learning to steer, trim sails, tie in reefs and shake them out on Kelly IV. We picked up a mooring at Put-In-Bay and wandered through the small town on a relaxing walk. After a dinner in the brewpub, we caught the 1st game of the Penguins series with the Red Wings at the Boardwalk before taking the water taxi back to Kelly IV, calmly waiting for us at her mooring.
While the wind had fallen to almost nothing when we returned to the boat, we knew that possible thunderstorms were forecast for the wee hours. I awoke twice as the wind picked up and began howling at 30+ knots. Each time I checked our tie off to the mooring ball and confirmed that the cleats were holding the line without any chafing. I had just dropped off to sleep about 3:30am when I was shocked back awake by a loud bang and bright white lights flashing through our cabin portlights. I dashed onto the deck without even grabbing my glasses. I was faced with the shocking view of a brand new Beneteau 40 with 3 frightened crew yelling questions at me, "what should we do?!", "what do you want us to do?!". Their anchor line was bar-taught across Kelly's bow, forcing their anchor roller to bash horrifically into Kelly's bow pulpit. I yelled for their skipper to ease out the anchor line so his boat would drift aft of Kelly and stop the terrible banging and crunching. As the Beneteau slid aft, it crushed a huge, tube-flattening bend into the starboard bow pulpit. After crunching, gouging and scratching down the starboard side, we got a line tied off from their bow to Kelly's stern cleat. The line was too short as the Beneteau's anchor roller gouged the transom and bent and twisted Kelly's stern stainless steel ladder. We rigged 2 longer lines from Kelly's stern to keep the Beneteau's bow clear of Kelly's stern. I cut the anchor line free, so the Beneteau would stop pulling its anchor line across Kelly's bow, possibly damaging the forestay or roller furler. Tied off to Kelly's stern the Beneteau stopped its wild ride through the mooring field and ended the onslaught of damage. While the Beneteau swung very close to a small power boat at its mooring, there was enough distance to keep both boats safe from each other. Ollie was a terrific help to me as he dug lines out of our rope locker so I could tie off the broken ladder as well as the drifting Beneteau. It was comforting for all of us on both boats to learn that no one was injured. Given the wild swinging and banging of the boats as they crunched together, it is a miracle that no one lost a finger or endured a deep cut.
As things calmed down, I went below to get my glasses and watch, only to discover the whole event lasted less than 30 minutes. Ollie was free to return to his bunk while I dressed in my foul weather gear. This let me be warm enough to sleep in the cockpit, as I wanted to continue to check our mooring as it now held both Kelly IV and the Beneteau on the single mooring. In an hour or so the winds dropped off to less than 12 knots, so I went below to catch some warmer and more comfortable shut-eye. In the morning I met our new friends and swapped contact info so we can resolve the repairs over the next few weeks. Fortunately, Ollie and I had no trouble with the forestay or the roller furling as it seems there was no damage there. However the damage to the starboard side, bow, and transom, are extensive. I'll be talking with the service manager at our marina tomorrow to begin the process of repairing Kelly IV. Other good news is that Kelly IV sailed and motored without any problems as Ollie skippered much of the return trip. I suffered a short bout of seasickness, but Ollie worked the helm as if he'd been doing it all his life. I'd expected nothing less of an Irishman who began his sea career fishing in the bay at Dublin, Ireland. That's right, Ollie was born and raised in Ireland, coming to this country with his wife to enjoy a successful career at Westinghouse. Now he's a US Citizen, enjoying the pleasure of paying his taxes with the rest of us! Somehow, Kelly IV seems to sail with a special feeling when the cockpit conversation is lit up with an Irish tongue.
It may have been the comforting company of an Irishman with me, but I decided to try my hand at docking singlehanded. Ollie did set up the fenders and spring line for me before we entered the marina, so I was ready to go. The breeze had picked up and was blowing from the north, so it would push Kelly IV away from her finger pier when I turned her into her slip. Knowing this, I pointed her close in to the pier, then quickly threw a loop of the spring line around the post which brought Kelly back close to the pier. Ollie stood by to help if needed and he did step to the bow to help keep the bow near the finger pier while I put the waiting docklines onto Kelly. Although I needed Ollie's help with the final detail on the bow, I was pleased that I was able to do much of the docking singlehandedly. I feel confidant that next time, I may be able to dock 100% on my own, a skill I've been striving for.