Monday, April 20, 2009

Tornados on the Stern Deck: Getting Out of Vero

We were shamed into leaving Vero Beach by the arrival of BabyKiller bee bb the new sportfisher purchased by Toronto friends, Randy and Donna. We figured if a couple of city dwellers with a latte machine and air conditioning on their boat could get moving then Meredith was past due.

The night before we left we were celebrating birthdays: Connie's on the 14th and Randy's (the babykiller's husband) on the 16th. Connie was outside on the rear deck of Babykiller b bb with her espresso in hand (it really is pretty cool) when a Tornado grade squall hit Vero. Without warning she heard a freight train bearing down on her and grabbed hold for dear life. Literally.

Next day we left.

The day after that we met Peter and Heather on Radical Jack out of Yarmouth NS, also heading north. Heather told us about the tornado from where she had been sitting: on the deck of Radical Jack.

Radical Jack was on the water heading for Cocoa when the squall hit them. Again, no warning.

They knew trouble was afoot when the VHF sounded the "nuclear attack" siren and, in proper bureaucratic monotone, instructed everyone to "get to shelter NOW. You will not see or hear the storm coming until it is too late. SEEK SHELTER NOW".

This combo of siren and big brother, designed to instil nothing but confidence in those affected sounded endlessly as the storm they could neither see nor hear overtook Peter and Heather.

By the time they had pulled out of the channel the storm was on them. Zero visibility and a wall of water. Peter dropped the anchor blind with as much chain as fell out of the chainpipe. Peter figured it was not a tornado because the water did not seem to be going up.

Then to quote Heather "we hugged each other and agreed we'd had a good life."

As they watched the wind picked up their hard dinghy and turned it over.

Minutes later the storm had passed.

Radical Jack did not move for two days.

An aside about Peter:

Peter is English and wrote, in his words, "the good cruising guide to Nova Scotia". He designed and built Radical Jack himself and while still English docked at the same marina as Blondie Hasler and Francis Chicester (that or he is just another blowhard expat Englishman, which I doubt)

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