Violent Windstorm

This story was a little delayed as we only had wireless back up and running last night, Saturday. But, here is the full report.

Well, you may all have already heard about the storm that hit Killarney this week. But, as we just got our power restored yesterday, I have no idea what news has reached the “outside” world. Therefore, I will tell the tale.

On Monday at about 4:30 pm, we noticed a very black and threatening sky to the west. A few small boats dashed into harbour in advance of the rain and we spent the next few moments servicing them. Passing by the open door to the west, I remember saying that the sky had a funny greenish cast to it. Then the rain started.

At first, the rain wasn’t heavy but soon increased. The wind began to build. Inside the boat house, we watched the storm increase but had to force that west-facing door closed as the wind was funnelling inside at a tremendous speed. Then, came a solid sheet of white and all of the boats, that we could see, heeled or leaned way over. A radio call came in ” Dock 5 has broken loose”. Murray grabbed a rain coat and a huge bundle of line and headed out into the storm. Lightning was crashing all around. The dock staff also grabbed rain gear and headed out, with terror in their eyes. One ran to inform the maintenance staff that we had problems.

Every dock had broke loose and most also were broke at the joints. Boats and docks were forced to the east by the huge winds and some ended up in the shallows. Murray got into a boat along with an off-duty dock staff ( all of our off duty staff reported in to help! ), with bundles of line and all of the anchors that he could carry.

The Coast Guard vessel Cape Hurd had been tied to the government dock and was floating down the channel after their lines had broken loose. When they got the engines started they motored back up the channel, picking up chairs and barrels that were drifting away. The Muskoka chairs that are placed around the lawns here at the lodge, were thrown through the air like leaves from a tree before the wind.

I paced the floor inside the boat house unable to see what was happening, but finding line and anchors when needed.

By 7pm, we had every boat in a safe and secure position and the docks tied to shore with line. The maintenance staff had been called away hours before to deal with problems at the lodge itself, so Murray laboured on with guests and dock staff assisting him.

The wind had reached a speed of 67 knots or 125 km per hour! We were extremely lucky that it didn’t continue for too long. It was probably only 5 or 10 minutes of the strongest wind. Was it a tornado? We do not know for sure but that may explain some of the damage.

Around the property, trees were tumbled like pickup sticks, with branches strewn on all of the lawns. The roof had come off of one of the cabins and, of course, the power was out.

In the morning, the dock staff started picking up branches and this made a huge difference in the appearance of the place. The sound of chain saws and hammers echoed down the channel.

Two docking guest were also scuba divers and volunteered to find the anchors/cement barrels that normally hold the docks in place and mark the chains with floats so that they could be re-attached to the repaired docks. This was a tremendous help. By noon on Tuesday, we were able to move boats from the gas dock and break up the rafting situations ( one boat tied alongside another ).

Steve Tyson, maintenance supervisor, managed to hook us up to a generator and we were pumping fuel by noon on the day after the storm. In fact, we pumped 4000 litres that day! But, no pumpouts as the pump requires 220 volts. The girls cheered at that news.

Yesterday (Wednesday ) was Murray’s day off but he worked for 8 hours re-wiring and re-plumbing docks and making them usable again. The end of our longest dock is completely broken and not easily repairable. Maybe next year. Until then we will work with a shorter version.

Power was restored yesterday ( Wednesday ) at about 1 pm. You might have been able to hear the cheering all the way down south!

The rest of Killarney was dealing with their problems as well. Nineteen docks broke loose at the Sportsman and their big tent blew/ripped down. The main dock at George Island Marina was also broken in a couple of places. Trees were down all over town.

But,amazingly no one was hurt. Some fiberglass got scratched and that can be fixed. Our dock layout is different now and I will be scrambling to accommodate the reservations already in the book. But that is another day.

We sure hope no one was too worried about us, but we were working longer days than normal and exhausted at night.

Did the storm affect any of you? Hopefully not. Well, that is my storm tale. Hurricane force winds in Killarney! I hope never to see that again.

Hugs, Heather & Murray