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Old 04-09-2007, 23:48   #1
Kai Nui
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Saving Cecilia B

Well, I had planned to finish a couple of major projects on the trimaran. But, best laid plans....
Got over to the boat at about 8:30 Monday to start work. Third day of a long weekend, and at that point where we could see the light on a few big projects. A freind came out and told us the Cecilia B was on the beach.

We headed out to see what we could do.
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The skipper is 78, and was returning from a short trip before his final run, then plans were to retire.
I confirmed the skipper was still on board, and waded/swam out to talk to him. He was a bit beat up, and his deck hand was gone, hours earlier.
I should say at this point that the skipper is about as tough as any old school fisherman ever was. He has a reputaion for deck hands not lasting because they can not keep up with him. I suspect this one had had enough as well.
Susan stayed ashore to take a few pics, and keep everyone on the same page. My plan? I had sent a friend over to get a skiff to run the anchor out to keep her bow into the surf, and kedge off when the tide came up.
When I got aboard, the skipper was resting in the bunk. half in shock, but not panicked. His plan was to wait out the tide, and run back out.
We discussed the plan, and I told him I would need him to help me figure out his windless, as his boat is "personalized".
About this time, the vultures began to circle. First, it was the local lifeguards. They brought aboard the forms to sign to acknowledge that he would be responsible for any damage to the marine santuary. At least this guy seemd to have some empathy. The next one was the local Vessel Assist. She had the bedside manor of a rattle snake. I won't get into the misinformation she included in her sales pitch, but it came down to being told no by the skipper, then NO by me when she didn't want to take no for an answer. She finally made her retreat.
I went ashore after this to update Susan and talk to officials. Generally, all were polite and professional, and very helpful. I have to say the NOAA rep that was there was determined to play the "tough card", but when my response to his implictions of incompetence by the skipper were countered by a reminder of a problem with the local navigation light configuration, he had to admit that it might not be the fault of the skipper.
So, back in the water. Found the high spot this time so I didn't have to swim
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You might notice in the pics above, there is a seiner skiff near by. My friend was having problems with his skiff. He was able to get a local seiner to bring their skiff out to help. The problem is the 4' draft on the skiff. Plenty of power, but not much good with 2' of water. I ran around the boat searching for lines. There was about 20' (not kidding) of usable line. The skiff had 50'. We had plenty of people willing to swim the line out, but not enough line to get to the boat.
Now started the mad rush to find line. My guess was about 300'. We ended up with about 200'.

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We got the line to the skiff, and swam the other end out to the boat. As it turns out, this was a fortunate change of plan. I found out later that the windless was not functional. We also had an extra hand come aboard. An old friend of the skipper who was better at getting his way with the control of the vessel than I was (like I said, the skipper is a tough old guy).
The tide came up, and we began to power out. We had been keeping power to her the whole time to keep her bow to the waves, and keep the prop free. As soon as we started pulling out, the skipper shut the engine down. He said there was too much water in the bilge, and the batteries were getting dowsed. I wont go into his bilge pump system, but suffice it to say, it was not doing the job.
I went below to search out the leak. Nothing was visible. I felt the water level was not rising fast enough to be an issue, and we had a brief discussion about getting a pump on board. A pump was called for, and the skipper was convinced her back was broken. We had been taking a pounding as the swells lifted us, then violently slammed us back down. One in particular had the mast moving in the deck fitting, but I was convinced she was sound enough to make the short trip to the dock.
We fired up the engine, and the skiff began to pull. She broke loose and made a 20' lurch. The crowd on shore cheered.
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Gradually, she moved out with each swell. The skiff working, and a secondary line on a local boat working as well. Across about a hundred feet of shallows she bumped, finally breaking free. We had a few stressfull moments with a tired skipper at the helm as we came around the jetty, but we got her in.
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We headed for the fuel dock to tie off and assess the damage. As we approached the dock, we lost steering. This is a seperate story in itself, but I will leave it at, we could not get peope to coordinate, and I got irritated, and repaired the steering. We lost to pieces at once. The other friend on board put the chain back on at the helm, and put the chains back on the quadrant.
We got into the dock, and got the pumps on board. Tried to get some help from the harbor, but all of their pumps were in derelict boats getting them dried out to auction off. It took about 10 extension cords and 6 or seven pumps scavanged from everyone there to get a couple of working ones, but they kept up fine. We found two seams that opened up, but all said, she seemed OK.
The skipper was wiped out, and recovering ashore. One note on that. Among the people there to help, someone felt it would be a good idea to give the skipper a pill to relax him. There are a number of people who would really like to know who you are.
So, the skipper was taken to the hospital, and we set up a few people to take shifts until the boat could be taken to the yard to be hauled out.

All said, an eventful day. I will update this when I can get back over there and take a look at the boat out of the water.
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Old 05-09-2007, 00:53   #2
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Wow - Sounds like you are a great guy to have around during an emergency.

My curiosity is running wild. So just how did she get beached in the first place?
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Old 05-09-2007, 04:26   #3
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Great story Kai. Well done.

If that were me on my boat just fill my fuel tanks and point me out into the Pacific on a one way trip. Can't think of a better way to "retire"!

Hope the poor ole' fella gets along well after this near disaster!
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Old 06-09-2007, 15:04   #4
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The boat is on the hard, and the skipper is back aboard. I have not been able to get there to talk to him yet, so I can not say for sure what happened. I will say that that is what we do in this harbor. Nothing special, just help each other when the time comes.
Rick, I am leaning towards the Viking funeral myself, but hopefully that day will be a ways off
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Old 06-09-2007, 20:17   #5
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I'd like to go quietly in my sleep in the beautiful mountains like my grandfather. Not screaming and wailing like the passengers on his bus.
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Old 09-09-2007, 17:17   #6
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Wow!!!

Gee, Kai!!! With me being stuck here, in Phoenix. I'm missing all the action!!

That is great. That your marina has boaters. Who come together, and help one another.

Also, that is a very good story, Kai. Look forward in hearing, the other story about the steering.
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Old 10-09-2007, 00:35   #7
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Respect / Kudos. Good work.
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Old 10-09-2007, 18:29   #8
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First, thanks for the Kudos. I hope you all know that was not the point of all this. None the less, I sure appreciate a pat on the back
Stopped by the yard, and took a few pics. The only damage was caulking pushed out of a few seams.

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Still have not talked to the skipper. What I know for sure is, It was foggy. The 12 volt was out, leaving only the 32 volt radar, and no other electronics, and our harbor has a problem with the lights when approaching from the north, that can put you right where he ended up. I also know the steering did not give out until we were in the harbor. Lot's of speculation, but only the skipper knows what happened for sure.
Just glad for the happy ending. My guess is the boat will go back fishing very soon. Likely, so will the skipper.
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:47   #9
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Yep....there is a big differance between a crowd around watching and a crowd around helping.....One day we could be the ones being watched....or perhaps helped.

Kai Nui I hope I never have to be on the recieving end of your practical help and never have to help you.......many back pats!!
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Old 12-09-2007, 11:04   #10
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I look forward to being in your neck of the woods just in case Oz is definitely on the list.
It always helps my confidence in human nature when I see people wanting to help rather than watching. Not something I experience very often in my professional life. The people out there that day all had the same goal, to help a fellow mariner. No judgements were made on type of boat, or experience. It was a positive experience with a positive outcome.
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Old 12-09-2007, 13:28   #11
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It is probably the one thing left in the world that brings out the "good" in people. There is somethign about sailors and digging in to help out.
I am curiouse though, was the "pill" a good one? or bad one". Did that put the skipper in hospital?? Do the people that want to know who the donor was, want to pat the person on the back or????
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Old 12-09-2007, 20:03   #12
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Probably a good pill for most, but not for someone already on lots of other meds, and, and yes, a pat on the back alright, but not a gentle one
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Old 26-04-2008, 18:45   #13
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After this incident, the boat was declared a total loss by the insurance company. The skipper took his settlement, and sold the salvage to another fisherman who is well underway to repairing the boat and putting her back in service.

Sadly, the skipper of the Cecilia B has passed on. He was found floating on April 14th in the harbor. He had a long history of not making it back to his boat from the bar without a swim, and it appears this time, he just couldn't make it back onto the dock. Many of us feel he died when his boat went on that beach, and his body just took a few months to catch up. That fits Donnie.
We will be lifting a glass to him Monday night to celebrate a life, that was, by anyone's definition, lived to the fullest.
Fair winds my friend.
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Old 26-04-2008, 21:17   #14
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Telling story of a great bunch of neighbours led by Kai, trying to save a barnacled personality from himself.

When age opens up our seams and loneliness floods in…… you have to wonder why some people never understand that friendship and love for others, is the best bilge pump for that kind of sinking.

Good job Kai, but there is a lesson in there for all of us.
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Old 26-04-2008, 21:36   #15
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Very well done Kai. The world needs more good guys like yourself.
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