Log: October 10, 2010
of 85 kts+ (97 mph / 157 km/h).
Location: Approx 10 nautical miles south of Ketchikan, Alaska
Be Storm Ready at anytime!
"It was a dark and stormy night..." So begins many a scary story told to
youngsters in the flickering glow of a fireplace, but for us on October
9, 2010 it was a story come true.
The night of October 9 - 10, 2011 was one to remember and a great
experience for us. We listened to
the weather forecast predicting overnight winds from the Northwest up to
35 kts (40 mph / 64 km/h). This was nothing new as we've routinely
anchored in these wind conditions and have never had a problem.
Just as we lay down to go to sleep, the wind exploded upon us. The
problem was that this was not the predicted Northwest wind but an East
wind pushing 40 - 50 kts (46-60mph / 74-90km/h). The wind hit so hard
and fierce that our anchor, which normally holds outstandingly in all
conditions, didn't have time to reset itself but was wrenched out of the
This was neither a good location nor situation to be in with these
winds. The winds were pushing us so hard we were unable to track back to
our Manson Supreme anchor to retrieve it. A fender was attached to the anchor chain and
the chain was cut free from the boat. We were away from danger (Rocks
and shallows along the shore), knowing
we would come back later to retrieve our
Manson Supreme anchor.
Meanwhile the storm continued to build on a monstrous scale. Our 40'
sailboat, a normal cocoon of safety, was being tossed about the seas
like a cork in a blender. With no sails out, and running the
engine full throttle, we spent the next 8 hours fighting to stay off of
the nasty rocky shore.
Mooring or anchoring anywhere in this storm was out of the question.
With no other options available and rocky shores around us on all sides,
we planned to spend the entire night in the cockpit driving the boat, as
best as we could. Suddenly, an unbelievable gust grabbed our
inflatable catamaran dinghy,
still tied to the back of the sailboat, and tore it away. All we were
left with were the metal “D" rings attached to the ropes – the wind tore
the “D” rings completely through the mounts on the dingy.
The next 8 hours was a lesson in preparation. We had expected 35 kt
winds and, after having spent the last 4 years cruising the Western
Alaskan and BC coasts, knew what to expect at these wind levels. The
tossing around, wind gyrations and smashing into the waves we
experienced that night were unlike anything we could imagine. Items
inside the boat that had never, ever budged were thrown around like a
child’s toys during a temper tantrum.
Outside in the cockpit, we took turns manning the helm through the rest
of the night. With the winds screeching and howling through the rigging
our 40' floating cork was heeled over most of the times up to 70º. Suddenly the
boat would catch a wave and lurch over the other direction suddenly
leaning over 70º the other way while the wind did all that it could to
push us completely over flat.
As we did all that we could to keep the boat pointed and moving away
from shore, we witnessed several explosions of light as the winds
shredded power transformer, leaving the city of Ketchikan area without power
(Previously in sight when we traveled North).
When daybreak finally broke through, the winds subsided and were now
constant at 25 - 30 kts (28-35 mph / 46-55 km/h) with gusts up to 45 kts
(50-83 km/h). We began moving on a Northwest course towards Ketchikan -
we would need to tie-up at the dock and assess the situation. Our dinghy
was gone, our anchor and chain were (hopefully) still waiting for us
near our "safe" anchorage, we had a pile of soaked clothing and gear to wash &
dry and a mess inside the boat to be cleaned up.
Once in the Ketchikan harbor, a commercial fisherman offered a hand to
tie up as we docked. He recanted that according to information recorded
at the Ketchikan International Airport, there were regularly sustained
winds during the storm of 85+ kts (97 mph / 157 km/h). Also, the
explosions we saw on shore were power transformers that were not only
shredded and destroyed by the winds, but several high tension power
poles had been snapped in two by the winds, several power lines were
torn loose by falling trees and a huge tree was blown over onto a power
station resulting in an instant and total blackout of all of Ketchikan
Having heard this information and details, we returned inside the boat,
sat down and began recalling the events of the previous evening. Our
actions were the right ones for us and we survived the storm with little
more than minor interior damage and a lost dinghy. It could have been
much worse (Such as hitting the rocks or enter shallow waters), but working together as a
calm & cool team, even in this incredible
situation, we came through unscathed and uninjured and a great
Click the button below
you have found our inflatable
Alaska photo pages to view photos of
Greetings from the The Mad Dogs
The Mad Dogs
Exploring to inspire...