Wreckage of boats and docks at Lieber Haven, Nov. 16, 2006

Each winter seems to have a personality.  The winter of 2006-07 was dominated by tempests both with people and the weather. It started early.  In a storm the first week of November, the float of the county dock at Obstruction pass was torn off.  The county decided not to try to re-install it until after the weather settled. It was late February before it was back..

There is a small private marina, Lieber Haven, next to the county dock.  Its owner, Dave Baxter, said they had some places where we could tie up when we came to Orcas for groceries, mail, etc. That didn’t last long.

On the 14th, when I came over to go to Orcas, the wave action was so strong the boat wasn’t safe the first place I tied it. The raging seas were either going to tear out a cleat or swamp the boat. I finally squeezed in on the back side of the dock and headed to my meeting, arriving late. I didn’t know we were going to lose even that moorage.

deerpt1106On November 15th, the wind was raging up to 50 knots. The watercolor class I was going to each was cancelled. The power went out.  We decided to walk around the island.

When we got to the northeast corner, the winds were roaring out of Rosario straight toward Lieber Havern (east to west).  We circled on around as trees tossed and branches snapped. When we got to the beach on our west side, huge white-capped rollers were tearing past (south to north).  I said to my husband, “This has to come together somewhere.”

He said, “At Baxter’s.”

The remaining dock at Lieber Haven. The county dock is missing its float. Taken from my rowboat.

The docks weren’t able to withstand the scissor effect of waves from two directions. Floats were torn out. Three classic wooden boats were smashed to pieces.

dock1116People pitched in to save the 1928 tug, Kitty B. The schooner in drydock was all riight but not much else.

The day I took these photos, I had rowed on with an ebb tide, figuring that I could leave my boat on the beach until I returned from town. After several different attempts at launching a loaded rowboat into the surf and ending up soaked, this solution was abandoned.

Fortunately our other boat, a simple aluminum-hulled outboard, could also be run onto the beach. It couldn’t be left there however so, every time one of us needed to go docktaxisomewhere, the other became the chauffeur — running the traveler over and returning to Obstruction; then coming back over at the appointed time for a pick up.

Left: Jeffrey as chauffeur (on a calm day) talking to Dave as I pull up with the groceries.  When it was rough, the chauffeur held the boat steady while the other loaded up.  Transporting paintings was a nightmare.

A week after Lieber Haven suffered so much damage, another pwerful storm rolled in.

Sunset from out dock, November 21, 2006

Our dock was taking quite a pounding.  It has started losing part of the ramp. The  storm, in excess of 50 knots, blew in this time from the southwest, nailing the dock we have in front of our place.   The ramp and float were both torn away and tossed up on our rocky shore. Our runabout and rowboat were tucked around on the Island’s North Dock, safely out of this one. The Sea Sport rode out the storm on her buoy.

It was a long winter of walking down the steep trail to the Island’s North dock, chauffeuring each other across, and either carrying our things up the 77 steps of the North dock or running the aluminum boat on the beach with road access, unloading it, and then taking it around to the North dock.

docksnowYou might remember this winter as the one with the Thanksgiving storm, with snow, long power outages,trees downed with their loads of ice, roads impassible. That was the same winter.  That storm followed our 3rd-dock-out storm by a week.

It is true that every year we have some nasty gales. But many years we go without storm force winds. We usually have a Northeaster with gales and temperatures below freezing once during a winter.  For us, the winter of 2006-2007, the winter the docks were out, was the one we hope we never have to repeat.

It took a while but the county installed a stronger float, Lieber Haven once again has its floats in place, and we rebuilt our dock. We are hoping for calm seas.

Looking toward Orcas 11/27/06


Dock, August, 2008