In my desperate struggle to attempt to catch up with my blog posts for the last few months I bring to you the story of the Canadian Captain Jack Sparrow. Please note that I put the date of this post to coincide as close as possible with the actual event. So hence why this looks like new content from the past. Cuz… Well… it is. Sorta.
Anyways on to the story:
After all the fun J and I had with Pathfinder’s hole in the hull, insurance fun as a result of said hole, and extreme fears that we may need to sell Pathfinder if the water levels in Lake Ontario don’t recover from their extremely low levels are nerves were rather raw. So after a nice long Christmas Holiday up at my parents we weren’t really expecting any surprises aside from a slightly cold boat to go home to and perhaps some rough weather ahead of us making the marina a bit more choppy than we like (some waves are fine… a marina that could double as a dishwasher is not). On our way back though we had some… issues. A severe storm had rolled on in from the north and was turning the entire highway 400 southbound into a skating rink making driving really dangerous for a lot of the way until we reached a traffic jam. The traffic jam wasn’t caused by car accidents (amazingly) but from the police setting up a road block to stop people from driving on an even WORSE part of the highway.
Immediately when we realized that this was the case to our left an car took out another car by rear ending it!
A split second later an SUV decided to take on the guard rail to our right. The guard rail however said “COME AT ME BRO!” and won in the struggle that ensued.
All drivers involved were fine and police were there immediately so we continued on our icy trek back to Toronto.
After getting thoroughly lost thanks to their weird detour signs we got a phone call from the Marine Police Unit in Toronto and the exchange went something like this:
“Hello is this the owner of Pathfinder?”
“Y-yes? Is it ok? DID IT SINK!?”
“… No it’s fine. There was a bit of an incident though involving your boat though so could you meet with us so we can tell you what happened?”
“Ok. Sure. WHEW. Is everything ok there though? It didn’t sink did it?”
“No no no… Everything is fine. Just show up when you can.”
We were pulled over then (as ALL people with cellphones should do… Honestly people if someone is calling you we can all hear your car noises. It’s not easy to understand anyone while they’re driving… Sheesh. Take 5 minutes and pull over onto the shoulder) and you can imagine the sort of head rush I had with a call from the police about our poor Pathfinder at this point. The roads were still a bit icy but once we got to the inner city roads we made our way down as fast as possible.
Sadly I don’t have any photo’s to share of what we saw when we got there but I’ll describe as best I can.
I got out of the car right beside the boat (it’s easier to unpack when the car is that close) and noticed that something didn’t look quite right at all. The boat was at least a yard and a bit away from the wall we tie up to during winter. I realized then that with this strong wind from the east we the ship was being blown away from the wall rather strongly (Yes I said from the north before but in Toronto the wind gets twisted around quite a bit with the buildings). Worse yet our usual collection of up to 6 lines we have (including to lines that are over 1 1/2″ thick) that we use to tie ourselves up only 2 were still tied there. If the lines snapped we’d cruise merrily sideways through the marina and crush the other boats potentially! Given how late it was at that time there was a good chance that no one would notice the large steel vessel sneaking up on them in the howling wind either.
So I made the leap over and had to find what happened to our lines. They were all over the ship it weird piles so I grabbed a few of them and toss the ends to J so she could throw them over the bollards on the wall and I could slowly cinch the ship closer to shore. Once that was done we got to unloading the car but we also noticed that our Christmas Wreath had been thrown over the little crane at the bow of the boat. Our summer stairs were positioned beside the hatch on the starboard side of the pilot house whereas a barrel we had on board was maneuvered beside the port side pilot house hatch. Also… our dingy for some weird reason was on the docks across the marina from us.
On top of all this mystery when we were about to go out and take the car back to it’s permanent parking a security guard from the Harbour Front Center asked us if we saw who it was that had done all this and if the person had green hair.
What the hell happened while we were gone?
When we got to the police station they filled us in on what had happened in total and over the course of a few days a few more details were filled in from various people that had helped out at the marina while we were gone. I’ll present this in chronological order as far as we know instead of how we had it which was in small snippets from people.
2 Days Prior:
The culprit (a rather scary lady with green hair) had been seen lurking around the Harbour Front Center a few days prior. She’s homeless and slightly mentally unstable from all accounts.
1 Day Prior:
The day before the incident involving Pathfinder she had attempted to set fire to the ice of an ice rink nearby our boat. The security guards chased her off but later on that night she came back, found the road salt and poured it in a huge X across the rink melting it right down to the concrete.
Day of the incident:
The day of the incident she was climbing all over our boat throwing stuff all over the place. Our neighbors couldn’t quite make out who the person was but assumed it must be me from distance… Just with green hair… and acting weird… Ok. That part isn’t unusual for me but there ya go.
They saw her banging on the pilot house hatches and shouted out “Josh? Is that you?”
In a high pitched voice she replied “Nope! I’m ok!”
They then asked (thinking I was VERY strange at this point) “Do you need a hand?”
Her awesome reply was “No thanks! I have 2!” and continued to attempt to open the hatches.
Apparently after not getting in (Thank goodness she didn’t just try to smash some of the windows) she decided it would be a good time to try to untie the boat from the wall entirely. Fortunately 1 of our cables was thoroughly frozen solid by this point so the boat wasn’t going to go anywhere too far unless it simply snapped. Getting frustrated at this point she decided to try to steal the little inflatable boat we have (It was still in the water at this point since we had yet to have any ice in the marina at this point). She got in and broke both of the oar locks (1 only a bit. The other needs to be completely replaced), lost an oar, and started to paddle out of the marina.
Fortunately she didn’t get far before someone in the marina stopped her. She had no life jacket on and the weather was getting very bad very quickly so she would most likely be flipped into the lake and freeze to death if they hadn’t stopped her. The way they did that was by convincing her to come over to the dock for a moment and just continuously talk to her. It was there that they asked what she was doing with the dingy. Her albeit honest/creative reply was that she was stealing it so she could get to her other ship The Empire Sandy (a large 3 masted sailing vessel at Toronto most notably not owned by a homeless lady with green hair). They managed to keep her on the dock by making up the story that the gate to the dock they were on was broken and someone was off getting a lock smith to fix it. In reality they were running off to the police to get them to take care of her.
She was then arrested under the mental health act and taken to a hospital where they could treat her.
At this point people would think that this is the end of the story. But it isn’t. In Ontario you can only apparently be held for 2 to 3 days under the Mental Health Act before being released. So…
2 Days After The Incident:
One of the marina guys noticed that someone with green hair had stolen a ladder and was trying to use it to climb over the gate to the dock to where my dingy was still floating (I figured I’d leave it there for now to dissuade anyone else from trying to go on a Shackleton-esque voyage). The guy threatened to call the police (again) and she ran off.
When all things were said and done we were out 1 paddle, and had a bit of damage to the dingy. We asked the police if there was anything we could do on that front to get some compensation. I didn’t figure there was anyway to get some but hey, might as well ask. They informed me that given that she was well known by the police for having mental issues and being permanently homeless in the area that literally there was nothing to do.
Now… As to why I called this post “Captain Jack Sparrow?”… Well when we pieced together the entire story it reminded me of an article from The Sun I had read about a drunk lady that tried to steal a ferry in Britain. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4548061/Woman-stole-passenger-ferry-after-drug-and-drinks-bender.html Short version she was on drugs and booze and decided she was the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow destined for adventure on the high seas! I figure that our green haired Captain was planning a similar voyage. Where would she have gone? Who knows! But it could’ve been interesting if she had succeeded.
One more Jack Sparrow link for everyone: http://youtu.be/GI6CfKcMhjY
Here’s the final installment of Hurricane Sandy… And in true Josh style it’s several months late.
First a quick confession. I had debated about not posting this as we were very close to possibly giving up and selling the boat out right after all the issues we had over winter which is why this blog hasn’t been updated recently. Part of it was to hide what damage had been found in case this would dissuade potential buyers. But after all the repairs were done and some other stuff that had gone on we decided to keep Pathfinder and continue our life on the moderately high seas.
Ok. Enough soul baring onto the Dry Dock.
When we finally were able to get going to the dry dock my Dad took the helm and I was on bilge watch duty (this is primarily because my arms are skinnier and I’m a bit more flexible than my Dad so if something happened to the plug when we were pulling out I could fix it a bit quicker in an emergency). Getting out proved to be more tricky than initially anticipated as we were extremely hard aground and backing up required several minutes over going at 1/4 power in reverse to blow out ground below us. Eventually though we managed to slowly pull backwards and into deeper water. The cruise over to the dry dock was uneventful if a bit stressful as I was running around checking for leaks etc.
Once we got to the dry dock area they weren’t quite ready for us so Dad docked us in a single smooth move into the wall just in front of dry dock ship. Honestly his docking skills are seriously mad at times. An hour or so later we met with the dry dock workers and they started to flood the old ship that they use as their floating dry dock and shortly after we were hauled into place and the dry dock started to pump itself… well… dry.
The dry dock takes about an hour or so to fully pump out but afterwards we (naturally) took a variety of photos… And ya. Pathfinder is a LOT bigger once she’s out of the water.
After the guys hydro blasted the bottom they got to work on the hull doing a survey and checking for any other weak spots. The welded over the patch and a few days later we were ready to launch.
So with the hole patched over they started to flood the dry dock again… When disaster struck! Another hole appeared! They quickly pumped out what had already filled in the dry dock and we were back on the hard.
What had happened?
Well a few things.
- Because a boat is meant to be floating on water and not sitting on land the hull flexed a bit making and other weak point weaker.
- Since when I picked up the boat it had been left in the ocean almost unattended for a few years the bilge in the cargo-hold had been partially filled with sea water which at the steel from the inside out
So with both those items we were forced to do a very thorough hull examination (even more so than what is typically done) and another 7 holes in were found bringing the total to 9. Given the history it was decided to simply ensure that the entire area was safe and 2 new steel plates were welded on for the entire length of the cargohold (and then some) to form 2 new garboard strakes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strake) which are essentially the plates of steel on either side of the keel. This took several more days naturally since it went from welding a piece of steel the same size as a small paperback book in place to 2 sheets of steel over 2 feet wide and 20 feet long into place.
WHILE this is going on (cuz of course we’re not really done yet) we were supposed to be going into our winter slip. Fortunately the ship that goes in after us (Kajama) to seal us in for winter was very understanding as they had gone through the same sort of ordeal before. And the ship that goes in after him to seal him in (Empire Sandy) is owned by the owner and operator of the Toronto Dry Docks. Luck was on our side for timing all through this along with the patience and cooperation of the Harbour Front Center staff.
After all this work (totaling $18,000… ouch) we were launched and able to head to our winter slip. My Dad brought one of his friends, Chris, with us to help with the lines
(sorry I can’t remember your name!) (Update: Got the name. Sorry for gaping on it. I’m really bad with remembering names), Dad was at the helm, and I was panicking in the bilge to make sure that there were no leaks. Which there wasn’t!
Fully repaired and not sinking anymore we slipped into our slip for Winter and buckled down to face off against mother nature again.
HUGE thanks to
- Everyone at the Toronto Dry Docks (http://www.torontodrydock.com/) you guys are a nutty bunch and do frankly awesome work
- Craig at the Harbour Front Center for helping keep everyone organized and informed with what was going on with our poor ship
- The captain of the Kajama for understanding our situation
- My parents and sister for being there when the days got particularly dark
And finally my wife Jeannie! They say your first year of marriage is the most difficult. I had always assumed that that meant just personality clashes and leaving the toilet seat up. But since we’re us NATURALLY it’d be something else entirely.
Here’s a few other photo’s of the underside of the ship and the dry dock itself.
Hey all. Sorry for the delay in the final installation of the Hurricane Sandy Saga but I’ve already got the next post after that being worked on as well. What I mean by that rambling sentence is that before I could even FINISH writing the 3rd post something else happened to Pathfinder that is blog worthy. Plus Christmas shopping, work etc. eats up time as well.
And now we continue with the second instalment of “Holes in Boats and the people who live on them” in 3D.
The next few days kinda passed in a weird blur for me as J and myself were kinda sleep deprived and I was knocked out of commission for a day due to migraines (probably brought on by the stress of the hole and lack of sleep). Ideally I’d have been on the boat to help my Dad when he got down there with the tools needed to cut through our floor along with everything else but I had to get to work (I had taken 2 days off by then right off the cuff and work was piling up). So the next part of the fix is what I had relayed to me after the work was done along with some photos I have of the work.
So the previous night J and I figured out where the hole was below the concrete using measuring tape, painters tape, and some staffs to attempt to triangulate where the hole was in relation to the floor. The hole, as we had discovered, was no where near one of the hatches through the concrete. This photo I took by shoving my hand as far under the concrete as possible helped locate where it was approximately and from that we were able to mark the floor with the tape.
We used the staffs to triangulate where the hole was approximately from the hatch in front of the engine room and the hatch under the stairs. We found that the hole was located roughly here:
(Actually after we measured a few dozen other times we moved our mark to the left. This photo was taken and edited hastily earlier when my Dad wanted to know where we thought the hole was)
So while I was at work my Dad and Mom came down to patch it temporarily until we could get some sort of permanent fix in place. They brought down a seriously huge hammer drill with extremely strong drill bits along with a cutting torch for the steel below and proceeded to cut through the flooring.
There they were able to see that the hole was apparently about the size of a quarter and started to figure out what needed doing. First though they noticed that something was restricting the flow of water a little bit. What turned out to be restricting the flow was possibly the unluckiest crayfish to ever live. Apparently the poor bugger had swam underneath my boat and got sucked against the hole. He was still alive too! The thing eventually got away after my Dad accidentally ripped it’s arm off (He was trying to pull whatever it was that was jammed there free when the arm came off and that’s when they discovered it was what it was).
So the way they built the patch was first the hammered into place a wood plug into the hole as best they could. Water was still coming in so they took a piece of 2×4 with some marine epoxy on the underside of it which they put in over top of the plug and with some large clamps I had on board force the 2×4 down into position. This worked very well and the leak was stopped permanently at this point.
Originally we had planned that shortly after this we’d head on over city side and wait there to go into the Toronto Drydock when it was our time. But we all agreed that although leaving later would increase the risk of us getting stuck due to low water levels it was better that than risking finding out that there was another hole somewhere else that’d sink us in deeper water.
At this point J and I were some of the last people on the island and it was getting more and more difficult to get back and forth from city side to our home. Even more after J left and the tender schedule to the island was shortened down to running only until 2pm. I had to take a water taxi back every night and even once I had to take the ferry at the opposite end of the islands and make the hike back across to the boat. A rather long walk to do when it’s pitch black out.
Regardless though I was able to sort out the boat and get it ready for our move over to the Drydocks to see what damage had happened to Pathfinder when she was finally hauled out of the water.
To be continued…
My Dad just found this link on a survivalist forum.
Good to know I’m ready for the Zombie apocalypse.
So as Sandy has finally passed us and we’ve managed to weather it relatively fine in comparison to other locations I finally have a few minutes to write an update as to what happened to us during the storm.
First I’ll tell you what our plan basically was for the storm.
- Batten down the hatches
- Weather the worst of it
- Go for a stroll once it passes and check out what happened to the rest of the Toronto Islands
Hurricane Sandy however had other plans.
We have been very hard aground for quite a while at the marina. Lake levels have been incredibly low this year. Not so shallow that we can’t get ourselves out but it is at a concerning level (Side note: We’re right now at the low point of the lake cycle so with any luck next year will be more regular). This is nothing to totally worry about on a normal year with normal weather.
The Hurricane brought with it extreme pressure changes and waves even in our protected marina (the waves had white caps in some of the basins because of the wind for instance). The Lakes aren’t affected by tides but what we do get is that big storms push large amounts of water around the lakes giving us something similar. Typically this is a gentle process but not under these circumstances. As a result we went from hard aground to floating (something we hadn’t been doing for near a month at this point) in very short time spans. Combine that with the waves and we started pounding on the bottom.
The Toronto Islands are mostly made up of landfill and sand. So buried below the soft sandy soil could be anything including concrete, steel, heck anything that is hard and ungiving basically. The pounding on the bottom essentially punched a hole in the bottom and a leak formed.
J and I were mostly in the galley keeping an eye on how things progressed outside and trying to keep our cats calm. Cosmo (our black cat) frankly didn’t give a crap what was going on and was lounging upstairs with us. Martini (our tabby cat) started acting odd. Normally he’s a rather skittish cat that doesn’t particularly like being held too closely. But he was running up to us and jumping in our laps. Stay for a bit. Jump off. Then run to the stairs. He did this over and over until J decided to follow him to the top of the stairs in the cargo hold. I was on the phone with my parents when she suddenly yelled for me to come on downstairs and that there was a problem.
What we found was that there was nearly a foot of water above the tile flooring in the cargo hold and rising. We do have bilge pumps available but they are 110volt pumps and we don’t have them plugged in, we also didn’t have any high water alarms installed either. This I know is a grievous error and not a good idea in any boat and I can only blame myself for not having such systems in place earlier (the 12volt pumps that were already in there from before have never worked).
J and I quickly jumped into action and threw in all out pumps that we had into the bilge of the cargo hold to try to make headway on the water before we try to totally identify where the leak was coming from. 1 pump was starting to slowly make headway but I threw in a second anyways just to make it go down faster. Once we started making headway I was able to take some photos.
We were holed in a bad way considering that this level of water had come in within a few hours (3 hours with our most generous estimates). On top of that when the waves were particularly bad the motion of the boat was acting like a pump and pushing water in faster.
Eventually we were successful in beating the water back and switching to just a single 110volt pump with a float switch.
By the time everything was squared away and we had everything under control and the floor partially cleaned we could make an assessment as to what had happened exactly. My immediate thought was that we had popped a through-hull. I checked both of them even when we were still pumping out (Side note: Water at this time of the year is freaking cold!). I felt no current of water from either of them. Even when the bilge water had been drained sufficiently to have a good look the weren’t leaking. I could hear the water pouring in though so I took my waterproof camera (just incase I dropped it) and started taking photos below the plating to see what was going on when I snagged this photo.
We had been holed there. After examining the photo I noticed that there was a round hole in the deck plate above where the hole was. The reason we can’t get at it is that there is concrete on top of the deck plates. We had beaten the water back for this night though and so we’d start anew tomorrow which by this point was fastly approaching as it was 11:30pm by this point.
During all this I had kept in constant communication with my parents up north giving them updates when I could. J was helping me keep warm and help with getting tools and clearing out the cargo hold as much as possible so things could dry. Martini (who I shall stop referring to as “The Dumb One”) eventually calmed down and Cosmo… still didn’t really give a crap. Ahhhh cats.
J and I grabbed sleep when we could. I had J sleep in the galley on our guest cot so she could stay warm and dry. I slept in the cargo hold so if the water got high again I’d know by virtue of getting wet. Not that I slept anyways but regardless.
Tuesday the storm was still raging and although Dad and Mom wanted to help I didn’t want them to risk getting stuck down here or try to brave the harbour incase it was a mess. J and I stayed on the boat all Tuesday to make sure things didn’t get worse and so I could spend time installing a high water alarm and trying to catch up on the sleep either of us didn’t get over the last 24 hours. I also rearranged the pumps in the bilge a bit so we could close the hatches to them to avoid breaking our legs by accident and keeping more heat in the boat (It’s amazing but you do lose a LOT of heat through an open bilge hatch).
Dad and I started planning to have him and Mom come on down to the boat with some specialty tools for cutting through concrete and tile so we could get at the problem area on Wednesday. My next update will start covering that period and the temporary fix he put in place with Mom’s and J’s help along with our plans for the upcoming week to get us ready for winter.
So normally I’d have done at least 1 if not 2 or 3 more posts with everything that has gone on lately. As such I’ve been so crazy busy that I have no real time to post… Plus the fact that at the moment the wifi at the marina is dead so what little surfing I can do through my phone has been devoted to immigration stuff for J and not updating my blog. So a quick run over what I have done and what is going on right now:
- More wood work on the utility room and the cargohold!
- Fun with West System Epoxy
- The rudder indicator
- Webcam and security system fun
- The cats are on board!
- Welding work on the boat
- Clean up all the things
So ya. Lots going on. Lots to write about. Lots of pictures. Just no time. ARGH!
I guess I could call this “What did YOU do on your weekend Part 2″ but it was a few weekends apart and I don’t feel like changing the title of this post now… So ya…
This weekend we (or rather I) decided that it was time to get back into the swing of things with reno’s on the boat in a big way. As a result we made a HUGE mess since the first step was to remove everything from below the deck of the pilot house (our utility room) and either throw out what we don’t need/want, store what we need for later but not now, or repack what we need soon. It resulted in us getting a LOT of space back overall which was fortunate since I was stuck in that area most of the weekend framing up where some walls would be going to finally seal off the utility room from the rest of the boat.
And just to give some context as to where this is here’s an old image I made up to help explain the layout.
Basically all this work was being don in the grey area below the pilot house on the port side where the stairs lead up into the pilot house from the galley and on the starboard side near the stairs into the cargo hold. This week we hope to get the framing completed for the rest of the wall on the starboard side for the inside of the outer wall so we can go ahead and throw up some nice maple plywood with some hatches and some pot lights to light the stair well. I’ll post more as time goes on.
So although this is the 3rd year I’ve been at the Toronto Island’s Jeannie and I have very rarely (if ever) participated with the events that go on on the islands themselves. It’s usually because we’re busy or our schedule for not being on the island doesn’t line up with theirs (either we’re up north at my parents, or out with friends, or just… out…). So this year we had a bit of luck and earlier we participated (sorta) in the Toronto Island Marina’s “Christmas in July” celebration (we literally got back to the Island’s the day of the celebration so we just had enough time to plug in our wreath from normal Christmas for the judging… Good thing I hadn’t taken the wreath down from Christmas eh?). We got an honourable mention!
Any ways this past long weekend I had a whack of stuff I wanted to get done on the boat (My next post will be about that) since we were going to be hiding out on the island away from Caribana going on at Toronto city side (turned out to not be as apocalyptic as we had initially anticipated traffic and wave of humanity wise). When one of our friends on the island mentioned to Jeannie (and someone else mentioned to me earlier in the week) if we were going to participate in the Gala. We decided to go to the first night at least and check out the other nights if we weren’t too tired from all the work we were going to do on the boat. Turns out that the first night is a play done to music (provided by a local Dixie band) followed up with everyone that went there participating in a “lantern parade” through Wards Island and ending with a bonfire at one of the beaches with fire dancing along the way… Ya. There was a lot going on.
SO like I was saying the party started off with a Dixie band playing and started shortly afterwards:
The play was about how this was the year of the anniversary of the war of 1812 and specifically how we had the help of the British and local native people push the US back (represented by a guy on stilts that vaguely looks like Uncle Sam waving a huge American flag). What was kinda funny was that some people were booing “Uncle Sam” there and a few other people they knew were Americans (in a playful manner not malicious no worries). The first photo there shows some of the lanterns people made.
Next up we all joined in a parade through the homes of Wards Island and then out to a sort of mini “volley ball beach” for part 2 of the play I guess. Which included fire dancing and some singing by the locals.
The fire dancing was pretty cool really. Lots of fire being flung around on hoolahoops, staffs, and sticks etc. The singing was ok but very quiet because of how far away we were. Oh well. But it was very nice sounding.
Next after that we all went to the beach where they started the bonfire!
During the bonfire a canoe came over that was shaped like a dragon and had a rather large blowtorch throwing blue flame out it’s mouth. They also set off paper balloons into the air. Most of them hit the lake but 1 of them made it quite far… Like to the point where everyone there went very quiet because we were worried that it’d crash in Toronto or Billy Bishop Airport. So ya. That was fun.
Overall it was a great time with a few friends there and loads of nice strangers (to us any ways) all hanging out talking and carrying on. The water by the bonfire was nice to walk in to cool off from the day as well and the moon was pretty awesome to look at since it was a deep red and nearly full on the horizon.
I can’t wait till next years!
We didn’t make it to any other events that weekend (dances, bands, dinners, drinks etc.) mostly due to us being super busy on the boat or because of the torrential downpour we had later on in the weekend but next year we’ll definitely attend again.
Note to self… Bring a better camera instead of my cellphone.