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

July & Boats

Man, is it toasty here! It must be very hot where you are, as most of you are further south than we are. At least here, it cools off over night and allows us to get some sleep.

Sorry that I haven’t written much but the twelve hour days, six days per week started on July 1st. There weren’t too many boats for another week or so, but they are arriving now. The traffic seems to be down this year. Likely the high cost of fuel and the high Canadian dollar is affecting the numbers. Here, our gas is 1.309 per litre and diesel is 1.289! That works out to approx $5 US per US gallon. Too much. Personally, we try not to drive any more than we must. Once a week, I drive to the laundry, just a few blocks away. Otherwise, we bike or walk around town.

The antenna that we had purchased to enable us to extend our range of wireless reception has been sent back to the company for repairs. It’s failure was very disappointing and will curtail our communications somewhat. Now, we will only receive e-mail when we take our computer into the Lodge. We will try to do that at least once per week. If you need us urgently, phone here ( Lodge’s phone number 705-287-2242 ) and we can call back when things are not too busy. In between times, I will try to check e-mails on-line with the Lodge’s computer.

The dock staff are doing very well. We have mostly females again this year. Murray’s angels. One is from Switzerland and one from Denmark. The others are from Ontario. Our token male, other than Mur, is a local guy and only 15 but doing a super job. The girls from Europe have a small problem with snakes, mice and turtles. They scream if they see any of these things! The rest of us just laugh at them. But, they all work hard and are feeling this excessive heat.

My joints have been fairly good for the last week or so, allowing me to sleep most nights. Perhaps they respond to the increased temperatures. I may be able to have surgery sooner than expected through a doctor who works out of St Mike’s Hospital in Toronto. We shall see what happens this fall.

Murray is doing well, working too hard as usual and not eating too well due to the heat. In his spare time,he is doing some more carvings. He has been involved in a couple of rescues locally. Today, we received a radio call from a boat anchored in Covered Portage Cove saying that someone aboard had broken their arm. Murray went out to bring the patient into the marina while I arranged for an ambulance to take them to Sudbury. The strange thing was that we knew the people and had cruised with them in the Bahamas. Yesterday, we also got a radio call from Cover Portage Cove informing us that one of our rental fleet boats had broken down and the 4 persons aboard needed to be brought back to the Lodge. They were guests from Holland who had an adventure to entertain all of their friends at home.

In our spare time, we try to go sailing a couple of times a week on Fandango, the Goman Express 20 that we bought last summer. It is great fun to sail and moves easily in the slightest evening breeze.

Preparations have started already for the 2nd annual “Round the Island” Sailing Race being held on Sept 2nd. It is a fun race and a fund raising event that raised in excess of $1500 last year towards the local Health Centre Building Fund. Flyers are posted now and paperwork being organized. Advertising needs to be addressed along with donations from the local merchants. Where will we find the time?

How are things down in your neck of the woods? All healthy, happy and wise? I assume that none of us are wealthy. Take care all and write when you have time.

Hugs, Heather & Murray