Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Groundhog Gale

This week instead of featuring one of my paintings, I am going to look back 35 years to revisit the most powerful storm to hit Grand Manan in the 20th century, on Groundhog Day, 1976.  Two storms converged and delivered intense winds sustained at between 100 and 120 miles per hour.  Fish stands and sheds were smashed to pieces, smoke houses blew apart as if a bomb had blown up in them. Cars were washed off wharves.  Waves washed over the roads (here at Pettes Cove, North Head):

Amazingly no one was hurt, even though damage on Grand Manan exceeded a million dollars. I remember this storm well.  Carman Cook and I had bought a small purse seiner; we took delivery of the Miss Web on Thursday, January 29, insured it on Friday, January 30, and lost it on Monday February 2!  I had been aboard early that morning and checked lines and put out an extra set of lines to be on the safe side.  But tremendous seas crashing over the Seal Cove breakwater tore the side of the wharf away and boats were set helplessly adrift.  Our boat was one of them.

Still tied to the Connors carrier Irene Greenlaw, the Miss Web washed ashore on rocks at the head of Seal Cove Sandbeach.

Over the next several days, when the tide was down, we stripped the equipment off our boat (we had bought the boat back from the insurance company).

On the next set of high tides, after the Irene Greenlaw had been towed off, we made preparations to have the Miss Web towed off on the highest tide of the month.

Towed to a boat yard in Grand Harbour, we had the vessel completely rebuilt, replacing a lot of the planking and rebuilding her more to our needs.

With the vessel completely rebuilt, it seemed only fitting to rename the boat too:


1 comment:

  1. Very informative read! I had always heard of the groundhog Gale, but the pictures of waves nearly washing over the roof of Joan Barberis' house made me realize how big of a deal it really was. -Kate R.