News travels fast so many of you already know, Belle Starr went on the rocks. That sounds a bit like one of my sly jokes, but it's not.
Two hours after we'd made a positive visual check on her position from shore, the Coast Guard called and said she was on the beach. At an extreme low tide, that's where I found her, in sand pocked with barnacle encrusted rocks and only a couple boat lengths from a rip-rap jetty.
After watching the tide come back and the surf rise while assessing all options, I called Vessel Assist. In most cases I would much prefer a self-rescue but it was clear I didn't have the resources this time.
Vessel Assist at first told me the seas were too high and they couldn't approach the wreck. We must wait for the wind to die down, possibly another six hours according to predictions. But barely had I digested this news than their boat appeared just 100 yards off shore. They deployed an inflatable and a diver swam a hawser in-shore. With the boat leaping in the surf, the diver lassoed the bow bits and Belle was towed carefully off the beach. I'd been told she was breached, though she made a mighty effort to float, so soon she lowered herself in thirty five feet of water to spend the night on the calm sand below.
The salvage crew told me that while they were working, gusts had been clocked on their boat at 80mph.
Break of dawn the following morning in a calm, flat sea, divers wrapped Belle in a cocoon of air bags until her cabin deck was above water and she was towed to the travel-lift in the boatyard.
She's on her trailer now. My very good friend, the superlative shipwright Paul Miller from Cowichan Bay, BC, drove south Wednesday to help me cut away the damaged portions of Belle and prep for repairs. He's started a thread on his favorite social media, lumberjocks:
Paul is having way too much fun.
Belle Starr now looks like a cut-away view of herself. There is a very good chance she will be back together and weather tight in a month.
Please stay tuned..........