Land Ahoy! Oops!

Last Saturday, 1:15 A.M. the phone rang. Woke me out of a coma and I am thinking “goddamn telemarketers” (like they are going to call at this hour) so I waited for the machine to pick it up and the voice says “This is Chief Petty Officer So-and-so from the United States Coast Guard…” and I thought “Well THIS probably isn’t good…” so I picked up the phone.

He proceeds to tell me that there is a boat on the Spit. That means I gotta get dressed and drive five miles out to the lighthouse (which, ironically, is where the boat ran aground completely defeating the whole purpose of a lighthouse) at this time of night in weather that is windy and cold and it is pitch black. The tide was really high so I had to wait to go out to get the two guys who were on board. Then the phone rang again and it was the Sheriff’s office. They were up at the kiosk and I had to go up to get two of them and take them out with me. It was a good thing I had not left yet I guess.

We got out to the boat just short of 3:00 A.M. due to waiting for the tides, plus it was windy and the surf was rough. The boat was pitching b=side to side pretty good and I know if I would have been on there I would have been sick as hell. The two guys were okay, but thew boat was on the sand and not going anyplace until the next tide cycle came in. WE set anchor up on the sand as far as possible to make sure it would stay put. We got them out and back to the mainland were they were asked some questions by the paramedics and deputies. We all went back to where we were going, and that was bed for me and it was 4:30 A.M.

I got up at 8 and went back out to check on the boat and see what damage, if any, there was. I also needed to make sure there were no environmental problems like spilled fuel or oil. This is what I saw:

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

The boat was far enough ashore to avoid the rocks and settled on the sand thanks to a nearly eight foot tide and the waves kicked up by 30+ mph winds. There was a little damage to the trim tabs and possibly the left prop. There was no apparent damage otherwise so I fashioned some barricades and roped the area off to keep people away.

I made all the calls to the refuge personnel who needed to be notified. Vessel Assist was called by the boat owner at some point to get the boat off the Spit, and I went back out in the afternoon to catch the next high tide when it came in to offer my assistance. I got out there early since I was not sure if I could even make it out later after the tides came in. The boat was once again pitching violently and I wanted to make sure no one was hurt by either the chain for the anchor or the movement of the boat.

Vessel Assist got there earlier than what they thought. They sent a diver – Captain Novak – ashore hauling a tow line so he got in and we hooked it up, pulled up the anchor, and the tow pulled the slack tight after I got off the beached boat. They kept the rope tight, and with each wave rolling in the boat spun around until it was facing the water.

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

The boat was back on the water and my day was still not done. I headed back to the mainland and made it fine even though the tides were pretty high.

Still more things to do in my workday, but that was certainly the big news of my day.

Here is the newspaper article about it. I was the one the article mentions that went out to assist, but I am not a “lighthouse keeper”.

6 thoughts on “Land Ahoy! Oops!

    • No fine involved that I am aware of… at least on this one. Nothing was physically damaged and no wildlife was injured.

      As far as the tow bill, my understanding is that most boaters usually have insurance for this type of thing so they use that. I would think that there is probably some sort of deductible. I know someone who told me that they had insurance and they had a boat problem while out. The engine needed a small, inexpensive plastic part. It ended up costing them over $800 to get it delivered to them and get the boat operational again.


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