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The Blizzard

   We went up to the Office. All the Yard Crew and Staff were stranded for the night and were huddled in the corridor. The Office of the Marina was upstairs but the Harbormaster’s Office and the Electronics Store were open with lights blazing.  We heard grim news - the tide coming in was going to be even higher than the morning tide.  The whole Marina was threatened. The Coast Guard crew had been evacuated. They had been ordered off the Gas Dock so the Harbormaster could use it for emergencies but the inexperienced crew managed to tangle their aft lines in their propeller. They had abandoned their vessel and the Harbormaster had no

capability to rescue anyone. He looked out the window which now , for what it revealed, could have been swabbed over with grey marine paint - nothingness.

   There was a “ May Day!” from the “Global Hope” - the tanker on the rocks. It was upright, not going anywhere, not in danger of sinking. The Captain was asking for emergency evacuation.

The radio crackled:  up and down the Coast; not a single harbormaster

could go out, from Gloucester to Marblehead. The Coast Guard vessel was down. No helicopters could fly. Visibility was zero - “or less”, we joked.

   There were cries in the gloom: one of the crew discovered that the first float, or main winter dock on the outside, was floating up over the pilings which held it. We were all shocked - this was an “extra high tide”.  It struck us that it was also a “hundred years storm”. The pilings had been designed according to accepted engineering practice, but they weren’t tall enough tonight. The float and its three boats (no one aboard) were ripping loose from the mainland.  Our dock would be next.

   We scrambled to our slip and, as we did, we saw the danger: the gangway

was an uphill path to our dock.  We gathered a cooking pot and all our food

in plastic bags. The dog didn’t like being dislodged so we carried her to land. The wind whipped, the snow fell, the tide was again coming up the parking lot. We got to the concrete block Marina building and dropped onto the cheap nylon carpet. All of the paying customers (marina residents) were there with peanut butter, bread, fruit and cans, blankets and quilts, pets and partners. I was one the only woman, if I recall. There were about a dozen people sitting. The Harbormaster sat at his desk, intently listening to his radio, no emotion on his face.

   The brave Yard Crew (about four men plus their Supervisor) went out and tried to save our boats and the docks. We heard there was gasoline from the gas dock floating on top of the seawater.  We waited an hour or so until one man returned: they had saved the float from ripping loose and drifting out to sea with a block and tackle and sheer courage. Not only our “yachts” had been salvaged but the Marina’s livelihood as well. The stands under the boats in the Yards had swayed but the weight of the boats held them. The tide was going out once more.


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