Thursday, January 18, 2018

Don’t Do What I Did!

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It was a typical hot summer day, and my wife and I were excited for close friends to join us on the boat. Our plan was to head from Northport to Lloyd Harbor, drop anchor, and then spend the day eating, talking, laughing, and watching the kids swim and entertain themselves.

By the time we were ready to leave, the temperature was easily 90o, and the sun was blazing. Though the forecast gave me a moment’s pause, we weren’t going far, and I knew the waters in the area very well. The channel from our marina headed past the town dock and around the mooring field heading into Northport Bay, and then across to Lloyd Harbor.  The “voyage” to Lloyd Harbor doesn’t require heading out of Huntington Harbor, so even on not-so-calm days, this trip is never very rough.

As we approached Lloyd Harbor, I could see that many other boaters had already arrived.  We went to the area designated for anchoring, found a good spot, and dropped anchor. Once secure, it didn’t take long for the kids to jump in the water, while the adults took to conversation and eating.

By late afternoon, I noticed that the sky off towards the west had turned very dark.  I kept watching until it became clear that the storm was heading our way.  I let everyone on board know that a storm was coming, and that we must quickly head for home! The kids scrambled back aboard and food and drink was quickly stowed while I started the engines and raised the anchor. Even in that short period of time, the storm rapidly closed the distance towards us.

Once clear of Lloyd Harbor’s no-wake zone, I brought the boat up to its maximum cruising speed of 14 knots, but oh, boy, this storm was out pacing us! By the time I reached Northport Harbor, the heavy clouds were practically in the boat and the zig-zaggy bolts of lightning were hair-raisingly close.

As we approached the town dock, I slowed down so as not create a wake.  But with the wind whipping around us and visibility vanishing, I made the decision to protect my passengers and try to outrun the storm.  I accelerated and radioed the marina for assistance getting into my slip, requesting dock hands stand by for assistance.

The BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! of thunder and the BANG! BANG! BANG! of pelting rain were the only sounds louder than my beating heart.  I quickly backed the boat into the slip and the dockhands grabbed the lines, secured the boat, and then (probably cursing my foolishness), took off for safe shelter!  As for me, I shut down the engines, left the generator running for power and A/C, and advised everyone to settle in.

While we were able to make it back just in nick of time (or a few nicks short), I certainly realize that I failed to stay tuned into the weather reports during our quite comfortable and very lazy afternoon at the anchorage. And reflecting back on this event so many years later, I realize that I should have considered the mariners’ warnings more carefully in planning the day.

 

 

 

 

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