December 16, 2017
Midcoast Latest News | Poll Questions | Net Neutrality | Robert Burton | Opioid Epidemic

Storm that wrecked boats along Maine coast called ‘worse than Sandy’

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Updated:

As Monday morning’s wind storm subsided, the scope of the damage left in its wake in Belfast became more clear. Debris and bits of unidentified boats floated in the harbor or washed up on shore as the tide receded.

A deep pile of seaweed, flotsam and broken pilings lingered on the road that leads to the town landing, marking the place where the waves finally stopped.

Locals arrived by the dozens to examine the damage and lend a hand in the cleanup. Some locals along the harbor woke up to find a sailboat precariously lodged outside their windows.

At least a half dozen boats moored in Belfast’s harbor broke free during Monday morning’s storm. Several ran aground, at least one sank after being swamped by waves, and another smashed to pieces against the rocks at the town landing.

Cleanup is expected to take several days.

[Many roads remain closed after wind, rain slam Maine]

The most apparent damage was at the landing, where the Nomad, a pleasure boat, smashed repeatedly against the rocks that line Belfast’s dock. Four- and-five-foot waves crashed over the dock, forcing the boat repeatedly onto the rocks. The boat was soon in pieces.

The tide receded quickly, leaving the shattered remnants of the boat on the beach to be cleaned up before the tide came back in.

It’s unclear exactly how many boats broke off their moorings or were otherwise damaged in the storm. At least six ran aground or appeared to sustain significant damage. Katherine Pickering, Belfast’s harbormaster, was busy assisting in the cleanup of the wreckage of the Nomad Monday morning and declined to comment.

The Hobbit Hole, another small pleasure boat, broke free of its moorings and eventually ran aground up the Passagassawakeag River, beyond the Route 1 bridge. On its upriver, the boat wedged itself under the low footbridge, but wind and waves forced the boat through, shearing part of its top off.

Just before the footbridge, an unidentified sailboat washed ashore on Belfast’s East Side, tilted at a 45-degree angle. The rocks had punched a large hole into its hull. Another sailboat washed ashore near Young’s Lobster Pound. Still another washed ashore near the city park, according to the Coast Guard.

Front Street Shipyard owner JB Turner said Monday morning that boats docked at his shipyard, located in the inner harbor, avoided the worst of the storm.

He said employees prepared for the storm over the weekend by double checking to ensure the boats were secured to the docks, but the ferocity of the storm still took him and others by surprise.

“This hit us way worse than [Hurricane] Sandy,” Turner said, referring to the storm that swept up the Eastern Seaboard in 2012. “When things get calmer, we’ll have to assess the damage in full.”

Turner said several employees had to miss work Monday because of downed trees and powerlines. Two of them had trees fall on their cars. One was in the car at the time, but escaped injury.

The worst of the storm swept through between 7 and 8 a.m., which also happened to be high tide. The wind blew straight into the harbor, meaning there wasn’t any land mass to quell the waves. Gusts reached between 70 and 80 mph, putting immense strain on moorings. Some moorings were dragged hundreds of feet along the bottom of the harbor because of the force of wind and waves on the boats.

In spite of the dangerous conditions, both the harbormaster and Front Street Shipyard launched small boats out on the water in the midst of the storm to check moorings and secure boats that looked like they were at risk of breaking free.

Belfast pulled the last of its floating docks out of the water last week. Had they been in the water, they likely would have broken apart, damaging more nearby boats or smashing into the shore.

Harbor towns down the coast from Belfast fared better in Monday’s storm, with minimal damage being reported in Rockland and Rockport.

In Rockland, a local lobsterman’s boat was deemed a total loss after conditions caused the boat to smash up against rocks, creating large holes in the boat’s hull, according to assistant harbormaster Mark Tibbetts.

This morning, the lobsterman and harbor officials initially couldn’t find the boat, but as the tide went down the boat, Cocktails, was discovered to have sunk. “He’s pretty upset,” Tibbetts said. “It’s a total loss.

A sailboat from Owls Head made its way to the outskirts of Rockland Harbor in Monday’s storm, bashing up against the rocks and totaling the boat.

Aside from the damage to these two vessels, Tibbetts said Rockland was lucky to have fared the storm so well, given that hard easterly winds are not usually kind to the harbor.

In Rockport, precautionary steps taken during the weekend paid off, with the small harbor town having only minor damage to report on Monday. The town pulled all of its floats out of the water during the weekend, and harbormaster Abbie Leonard urged folks to take their vessels out of the water for the storm.

No damage to any vessels was reported on Mount Desert Island. The approximately 25 fishing boats that would have typically been in Bar Harbor beat the storm by seeking refuge in Southwest and Northeast harbors, said Harbormaster Charlie Pippen of Bar Harbor.

Winds of 35 to 40 knots, and gusts of up to 50 knots, made Bar Harbor untenable for them, but aside from some wind-relocated buoys, the harbor and its vessels were fine, Pippen said.

“I think we dodged a bullet,” Pippen said.

The cruise ship Seabourn Quest was due to stop Bar Harbor but canceled its visit due to the windstorm, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce officials said.

Acadia National Park officials closed Blackwoods Campground as a precaution. No significant damage was reported at the park, spokesman John Kelly said.

BDN writers Lauren Abbate and Nick Sambides Jr. contributed to this report.

Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.

 


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like