Well I have finally managed to get around to writing up what happened to us on Wednesday 12th February 2014.
We knew there were high winds forecast and during the day it was getting windier and windier. I turned the wind reader on during the afternoon and we were experiencing 50-55 knots of steady wind with gusts. So far not too bad – although as always seems to be the case the wind was right on our side causing us to lean precariously across the pontoon. It is quite unnerving to look out the windows and see underneath the pontoon but I was getting used to it!
Steve rang me on his way home from work to see how I was and whilst talking to him I spotted one of our fenders bouncing across the marina and then straight out of the water onto the car park. We were supposed to be having curry for tea but I didn’t think that I would be able to cope with cooking at such an extreme angle and Steve suggested that we go out to eat. So when he returned from work he checked all the lines and fenders and I got ready to go out. We, fortuitously, decided to go out wearing our wellies and with a slight detour to see if we could recover the fender we left Pandora’s Legend to go to The Mill at Conder Green. This is a great hotel with bar and restaurant where we stayed when we first moved the boat up here and I have yet to have a duff meal there (and I am a particularly fussy eater).
After eating our meals and watching the news of how the rest of the country was holding up we returned to the marina. I stayed in the car whilst Steve went to check that everything was ok. He was gone for ages and I was thinking that perhaps I should go and look for him when he reappeared. In my innocence I gave him the “thumbs up” but got a shake of the head in reply along with “I need your help”.
Steve was worried about how I would react when I reached the boat as she had sustained a bit of damage. As it was, my main thought was how I could help Steve protect her and not to take any more damage. Apparently the wind had managed to push her up hard against the pontoon, several of the stanchions had snapped and the guard rails gone so the fenders that were so carefully checked were no longer able to do their job. She had been caught underneath the pontoon (steel edged), looking at the damage to the toe rail but was scratching up and down the side. We managed to place some fenders and Steve decided that the fender boards would work nicely as protection against the pontoon. Steve suggested, when the wind was particularly fierce, that I hang on to the electricity supply box, it soon became my new best friend. We appeared to be fighting an uphill battle and Steve said I should go and ask for some help. So I set off to Exodus and asked if Jake could come and help. He immediately grabbed his coat and hat and offered that I stay with Judith but I knew that we needed all the hands we could get! With Jake’s assistance we were making some headway and he said that he had a couple of fenders that would help (we had managed to lose a few) so he went and got them. We managed to finally place the fenders and fender boards into good positions and Jake suggested we head to Exodus for a coffee when there was a dreadful sound of wind whipping through the genoa. My heart absolutely sunk and I thought that things couldn’t possibly get any worse. So we spent the next half hour or so trying to wrap it up. After making no real headway my super skipper said that there was a chance that the rigging could go and there was no way he wanted Jake and I standing around with the risk of that happening and that we should leave. Jake’s response was “You are coming with us – more of a statement than a question, to which Steve replied yeah I’m coming too. We went off for a nice cup of coffee for Steve and a whisky for me (I don’t drink tea or coffee) and to make friends with one of the biggest and soppiest Dobermans I’ve ever met – he wanted to sit on my lap I think but contented himself with squeezing tight next to me. After a bit of a warm up we left Judith and Jake, Steve checked Pandora again and said there was nothing more we could do until daylight and we decided that we would sleep in the car! He got a bottle of Pepsi Max and a box of wine from the boat and we sat chatting and laughing, listening to the radio along with the howling wind. After a while we decided to get some sleep and must have managed about 4 hours each!
Bright and early next morning Pandora was still in the same condition as when we had left her, although we had lost one of the fender boards. Steve wanted us to get on board so he could have a cup of coffee but I chickened out and said I couldn’t get on board until the sail was down (that was my excuse and I was sticking to it). However it wasn’t long before Alistair and the lads from the marina came along and assisted Steve with getting the genoa down. Now I had no excuse not to get back on.
The damage was nowhere near as bad as I had envisaged overnight and inside all that was out of place was a couple of pieces of paper that had been on the chart table but were now on the floor. If it had been a wreck inside I don’t think I would have been able to cope!