Sometime in the afternoon I awake with a question buzzing in my mind. Just as we stepped below in the dawn amid the onlookers on the dock, I had heard one say, " Too bad about the bow. She must have been a beautiful boat once." What did he mean?
I clamber on deck to find a foggy day and to see our survival suits draped across the main boom like three dead bodies. I step onto the dock and walk toward the bow. Then I understand the comment: the bow has been chewed up as though some great monster has been using Shiriri as a bone. The true culprit dangles from the bow; our Bruce anchor has broken loose sometime in the night and crashed repeatedly against the metal band that comes part way up the bow ("Clang, clang!") and when it missed that, had bitten into the stem piece and hull planks. ("Thump, thump!") Now I knew how close we had come to having a hole smashed through the hull and having a big jet of water hosing into the boat as we were towed through the turbulent waves. We would have gone down like a stone, in the dark. Only the iron band and the two-inch thick wooden planks have saved us. A modern fiberglass boat would not have survived.
Heather and Gwyn carry load after load of wet clothes up to the Laundromat and we begin to clean up the inside of the cabins. Several glass jars of fruit have smashed on the floorboards in the galley, but considering the turmoil, we have come through quite well. I survey the damage on deck and once again, apart from the bow, which I`ve already figured out how to repair, there is no major structural damage. Our inflatable, Rosie, is torn past repair. She had acted as a drogue, still wrapped around the propeller, and kept us steering straight behind the cutter. We need a new and improved steering quadrant made up by the local machine shop and some welding done to various bits and pieces, and that`s it. As a Coast Guardsman said later, "That is one tough boat."After a while, I haul out my tools and we develop a plan that will eventually take us two weeks of hard work at dockside to complete. We begin to notice the friendly helpful people who live at the Marina and know we will manage just fine. We are lucky that our precious vessel needs our help; we have no time to consider calling it quits and going home.
Repairing the bow, one piece at a time.
Our figurehead has lost Miss Chickpea from her arms.( She lost her head while we were losing ours.) and despite the press of work, I carve a new chicken head and fasten it on; this time strengthened with a stainless steel pin. The fishermen on our dock understand, because they are aware of the importance of luck and another good set of eyes at sea. They also tell us how to get safely around Cape Mendocino on our second attempt. "Stick close to shore inside the reefs," they say, "duck around the red buoy and back in behind the cape. The further out you are, the bigger circle you have to make, and the longer you are out there." And that`s a bad thing; as we have learned.
That "bad thing" visits me with nasty dreams for several nights at dockside and then fades away as the needs of the day occupy my thoughts and the necessity for a landfall in San Francisco before the beginning of winter storms on this coast starts to nag at us. The fog finally clears and sunny days allow Gwyn and I to paint our newly repaired bow. It is time to head out over the bar. We thank the Coast Guard again on the VHF as we put to sea.
* Some of the storm photos were courtesy of the Coast Guard who took a vidio of the rescue. These, as well as the ones above were used in Heather`s article in Cruising World Magazine. Dec. 2000.