Read Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy Online

Authors: Michael J. Tougias,Douglas A. Campbell

Tags: #History, #Hurricane, #Natural Disasters, #Nonfiction, #Retail

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BOOK: Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy
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The oak planking was installed and Hansen wrote the checks, and by the end of that yard period, when
left Sample’s, Jakomovicz thought it was in much better condition than when it arrived.

All boats need constant maintenance and repairs. Wooden boats—particularly forty-year-old boats—prove this rule. In 2006,
was back in the yard, now called Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. Hansen and Walbridge wanted major work done, including replacement of the frames and planking from the waterline to the deck. Partway up from the waterline,
had a wale strake—a piece of planking thicker than ordinary—painted yellow. Below the wale strake, the planks were white oak. Above, Smith and Rhuland, the original builders of
, had used Douglas fir.

Jakomovicz was not fond of Douglas fir, thinking it more susceptible to decay than other woods. On the positive side, it was available in long lengths. Douglas fir came in two grades, Jakomovicz told Walbridge. To plank
with the lower grade would cost $20,000 as opposed to $50,000 for the better grade. The difference, Jakomovicz said, was that the better grade of planks had straight, vertical grain and few knots. Jakomovicz asked Walbridge what he wanted. Because of the knots on the lower-grade fir, the wood won’t take a good finish. But Walbridge chose the lower-grade fir for the planking above the wale strake, the job was completed to Jakomovicz’s satisfaction, and Hansen paid the bill. In July 2007,
was relaunched.

From 2001 until the summer of 2012,
visited various shipyards and was hauled five times, according to Jakomovicz’s tally. She was hauled in Norfolk and in Tampa, and the 2007 launching was followed by dry dock in Boothbay in 2010.

In 2012, Hansen was looking for a buyer for
. He was offering the ship through the broker WME Yachts Ltd. as “a master class example of square-rigged yachting.” Hansen’s asking price was $4.9 million.

The millions that Hansen had already poured into
came, in part, from a company he founded in 1992, Islandaire Inc., a manufacturer of replacement through-the-wall air conditioners for commercial customers such as motels. In 2004, the company had sales of $26 million and employed 120 in its facilities on Long Island, New York.

In 2005, Hansen had sold Islandaire to Fedders Corp., the giant air-conditioning company, for $16 million in cash and preferred stock, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He stayed on as president of the Fedders subsidiary. In 2008, Fedders, having filed for protection in US bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, sold Islandaire back to Hansen for $7.5 million.

But as early as 2008, Hansen had consulted with New York yacht broker Captain Bernard Coffey and put
on the market. As she sailed due south in the early-morning hours of Saturday, October 27, 2012, she had three suitors who had made offers, none of which were “up to par,” according to Coffey.

“I think two of the three would come back with something better,” Coffey said.

Coffey’s firm had brought eight or nine potential buyers to Hansen, he said. Two of them owned ships. A couple of nonprofit maritime organizations were interested. “We had several foreign buyers with resorts. We had a couple of investors that were taking a look at it” who wanted to put
into charter service. “All of them had valid plans for it.” None of the potential buyers, despite the marketing, were considering
as a private yacht, however.

’s condition probably did not help its sale, Coffey said. “I can’t recall if we had a true survey of it. That’s something that the buyer would normally do if they were truly interested in it. They were taking a look at price. Price was an issue, and then when they put it [price] into their business plan, that’s what generally caused them to take a second notice of it, to make sure it was what they wanted it to be.

“All of them wanted it. It certainly had appeal,” the broker said. “But on top of appeal, it’s got to produce break even or better. Most of them were having a hard time putting that together.”

Robin Walbridge knew that Bob Hansen wanted to unload
. And he himself had reason to think getting rid of the boat was a good idea.


I just spent six months in a leaky boat

Lucky just to keep afloat

—“Six Months in a Leaky Boat” by Split Enz

Jessica Black rose from her bunk at five o’clock Saturday morning to begin preparing breakfast. She found that overnight the seas had built.

C-Watch was on duty, and Joshua Scornavacchi, on boat-check duty, had some trouble keeping a prime when he ran the bilge pumps. Dan Cleveland, the watch captain, noted that one of the generators was spitting smoke, its engine producing a surging sound.

Little things.

And in the Nav Shack, the barometer had begun to fall. In small increments. Steadily. When the ship’s officers met at eight o’clock, they believed that Hurricane Sandy was behaving as predicted, and that Captain Walbridge’s plan was still valid: sail south by east and then veer to the west to get on the slow side of the storm and have a straight sail for Key West and the turn north to St. Petersburg.

The crew aboard
was confident that all the work they had finished a week before in Boothbay Harbor had put their ship in good shape to face what lay ahead. Few, if any, of the crew were aware of the emphatic warning Robin Walbridge had heard back in the shipyard.

had arrived in Boothbay in mid-September following its final public appearance of the season in Eastport, Maine. There, at the edge of the Bay of Fundy, where tides range up to twenty-one feet from high to low, there had been a small incident.

While docking, the port quarter—the rear of the ship on the left side facing forward—had made less than gentle contact with the pier. The obvious result was damage to some of the planking. The crew was uncertain if the damage extended to the framing below the planking. Repairs were needed when the ship was hauled.

On September 16,
was in place in the water next to the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. The author of the
, posting the following Thursday, re-created the scene. With the crew wearing winter hats donated by volunteer AB Doug Faunt, the blogger wrote, “A 700-ton railway system slid into place around us and a diver blocked and wedged our keel into place. By noon, after the crew had feasted on delicious, greasy pizza and [had] unsparingly ‘oiled’ the deck,
was ready for haul out. A great chain pulled her up the sloped marine railway system until she was in dry dock. Now, we can walk all the way around her and beneath her to re-paint her hull and to caulk leaky seams. When we look across the deck, no longer do we see the ocean—instead, there are houses on the starboard bow! I wonder what our new neighbors think.

“A day in the shipyard begins before the sun is fully up and lasts until dinner time. In just a few days, we have demolished crew quarters, removed four 900 gallon tanks, and scrubbed barnacles off the hull. I am constantly amazed at the amount of work our tight-knit crew can accomplish. I just hope that the first blizzard of the season doesn’t come in October, like last year.”

The blogger skipped past the damaged quarter, but it was on Walbridge’s mind when
arrived at the shipyard. Earlier, in a phone call, the captain mentioned the damage to Todd Kosakowski, the current yard manager, when the two were preparing a punch list of work to be accomplished in what both felt would be a short haul-out. In fact, except for normal maintenance work including recaulking seams, Walbridge told Kosakowski that the damaged quarter was his only concern.

rode up the rails that Monday, Kosakowski, who had some tall ship experience of his own prior to joining the yard six years earlier as a carpenter, had a good first impression. The hull looked clean and fair—smooth—with tight seams and no “weeping” of water where it should not have been.

The shipyard had assigned five of its workers to do certain of the jobs. The rest of the labor was to be done by
’s crew, under the supervision of the ship’s officers. This included recaulking those seams that needed work, moving the large fuel and water tanks farther back on the lower deck, replumbing them, and rewiring other parts of the ship. The aft crew quarters would then be moved away to just forward of the tanks.

•  •  •  

Every large ship, old or new, steel or wooden, is unique, and
was no exception. It took some time to learn all of her parts, her nooks and crannies, and where specific gear was stored, especially on the lower decks. On the tween deck, the chain locker—where the anchor chain was stored—was farthest forward. After that came Jessica Black’s workplace, the galley, and beside it the forepeak, including a storage area for the galley, a pantry, and the cook’s freezers. The toilet, called the head, was also in this forward area of the tween deck, along with two showers and a sink. A bulkhead separated this lavatory area from the next compartment, the wide and long saloon, a large open area that nevertheless housed some enclosures, such as the main companionway up through the Nav Shack and separate sets of steps descending to the aft crew quarters and the tank room. On the sides of the saloon forward were dining tables hung by ropes, a paint locker, and another locker for spare lines. At the rear end of the saloon, along the ship’s sides, were small cabins. Some volunteers, including Doug Faunt, were assigned individual cabins. Robin Walbridge used the cabin farthest aft on the port side. His office was opposite on the starboard side. Other cabins on the starboard side, across the wide-open saloon, were used to store immersion suits—the neoprene “Gumby suits” that crew members would wear if they ever had to abandon ship.

Farthest to the rear was an open space with no doors but with windows in the ship’s rear wall, the transom. This was the Great Cabin, where the officers met every morning.

Unlike the tween deck, where the crew was free to move from the bow to the stern without significant impediments, the lower deck, above the bilge, was divided into distinct compartments, some unreachable from others.

The chain locker descended through the tween deck to this lower area. Next aft was the forward tank room, where tanks collected sewage from the head and dishwater from the galley. Crew members could reach these tanks through a trapdoor in the tween deck sole and a ladder.

Stairs led from the tween deck down to the next space aft on the lower deck—the fo’c’sle. Here were found the forward crew quarters, to port, and storage areas, some used for canned food. The aft wall of the fo’c’sle had a big, flat, metal, watertight door that was opened by turning a wheel. The door led aft to the bosun’s locker, where three aisles crossed the ship between stacks of shelves holding various boat supplies. There was no passage farther aft from the bosun’s locker. A bulkhead there crossed the width of the ship.

Beyond this bulkhead, a new aft crew quarters was to be installed during the Boothbay Harbor yard period. This space had its own ladder down from the tween deck.

The next space was to become the redesigned main tank room during the yard period, with four large metal fuel tanks and four large plastic water tanks.

Next aft was the engine room, reached from the tween deck by its own ladder. A piping manifold was mounted along the bulkhead on the forward end of the engine room. Valves in the manifold could be turned to drain bilge water from individual compartments, forward and aft. On the starboard side of this bulkhead were two water makers for turning seawater into drinking water. A fire hose was stored in the same area.

The major machinery here—the four diesel engines—were mounted beside one another. The two propulsion engines were on either side of the center of the room. The engines that ran the electric generators were outside these, one to port, the other to starboard. Narrow walkways separated the engines and generators.

Finally, at the far end of the deck, to the rear of the engine room, was the lazaret, directly under the Great Cabin. The officers’ quarters were here.

•  •  •  

was hauled, most of the crew was set to work on board the ship. Third Mate Dan Cleveland spent his days in the boatyard woodworking shop, however, shaping new yards, the horizontal spars from which square sails are hung on the mast, and helping boatyard employees with projects laminating wood. Cleveland was not a professional shipwright. He had learned from Walbridge how to scarf two boards together by cutting each one on a long, tapered slant and gluing the faces of those two cuts together. At his skipper’s side the past five years, he had also learned how to make a dutchman—a small piece of wood shaped like a bow tie—to join together two boards edge to edge or to repair a crack. He could employ these unique skills making the yards, so his time in the woodshop was valuable.

On board, some jobs required no specialized skills, only sweaty labor.

Until now,
’s fuel had been held in four nine-hundred-gallon galvanized-steel tanks, next to the rear crew quarters. The ship’s freshwater had been held in four stainless-steel tanks. Second Mate Matt Sanders was in charge of updating the tank system, with the assistance of newly arrived engineer Chris Barksdale. Sanders sketched out some ideas that would connect the new tanks and some of the old, black iron piping with PVC—plastic—piping. Adam Prokosh, Drew Salapatek, and Mark Warner were assigned to the heavy lifting.

The four old fuel tanks were removed completely, as were the four water tanks. Two of the water tanks were then moved aft one compartment and became replacement fuel tanks. Two new stainless-steel tanks were installed for fuel as well, retaining the ship’s thirty-six-hundred-gallon fuel capacity. All the water tanks were replaced with circular plastic tanks.

BOOK: Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy
6.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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