Collision Course

Ahoy from Halifax! Welcome back virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Theodore Too welcomes the crew to Halifax

Summary of the Week

This week the crew left St Peter’s and made way to Halifax. On the way, they had some interesting experiences. Starting with getting fuel delivered by a fuel truck at the St Peter’s Lock. Later that night they moved from Dover Cove to Raspberry Cove because the anchor would not set. On the way to Liscomb on Tuesday, they assisted a fellow boater by towing them to Liscomb Lodge. Wednesday they arrived at Jeddore River where they again had problems anchoring. Then made Halifax on Thursday to find power and water available after they were told there was none.

Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. How many swimmers participated in the Swim the Canal event?
  2. What was Monday’s first time event for the crew?
  3. Who did the crew provide assistance to on the water?
  4. What world record did the Halifax Explosion hold until WWII?
  5. Who is credited for being the first solo around the world sailor?
  6. What is the nickname of Sable Island?
  7. Where and when was Canada’s first life saving station established?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she dreams of cruising and exploring Sable Island. Notice she only dreamed of going, that is just too far to go in the open ocean for her and the crew. Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, August 4th

The Grand Finale of the week long Deny’s Festival was the 6th Annual Swim The Canal event. The crew walked down to the canal to watch the show. Some 350 swimmers paid to swim the icy 72 degree waters, for the length of the canal.

The swimmers start on the lake side of the canal where the water was reported to be a bit warmer and swim towards the Atlantic Ocean side of the Canal where the water is much cooler.

There was no obvious advantage to being fast because once you reach the lock, you have to wait for the last swimmer to arrive so the lockmaster can shut the gate. Therefore you may be treading water for about 45 minutes waiting on the casual swimmers.

Once all swimmers are in the Lock, the gates on the lake side are closed and the water level adjusted in the lock to match the Atlantic Ocean side. While draining, a chant developed: “Open that Gate, Open that Gate!”

Once the gates cracked open, it was a sprint for the finish line for some, and a leisurely crawl for others. Hey, they only get to swim the canal once a year and some try to stretch it out as long as possible.

Monday, August 5th

The skipper’s plan to take on fuel and pump out the holding tanks came to an abrupt halt this morning. A 132 foot yacht landed on the fuel dock, overhanging both the bow and stern from the dock. Because the yacht was so large, she effectively blocked any other boats access to the fuel dock for their two night stay.

The dockmaster was not happy, but not much he could do. He did arrange for a fuel truck to meet Still Waters II on the Atlantic Ocean side of the St Peter’s Lock. So the crew shoved off and passed back through the lock. Once on the Ocean side, they tied off along the wall and waited for the truck to arrive. This would be the first fuel truck delivery for the crew.

Once the fuel transfer was complete, the dockmaster arranged for the payments and the crew was finally off on their first day cruising the Atlantic Ocean this season.

The run went well until it was time to anchor. The cruising guide said that Dover Island was a good Anchorage. But the crew could not find an adequate hole to drop the hook. After three unsuccessful tries to set the anchor, they decided to move five miles further west and try in the next Cove.

Upon arrival in Raspberry Cove, the crew found a good spot to anchor and finally called it a day.

Tuesday, August 6th

Well if yesterday was a strange day with fueling and anchoring, this day would prove to be a strange one also. The crew set off for the Liscomb River.

Late last week, the docks at the Liscomb Lodge broke and they can only accept two boats until the docks are repaired. The dock was already reserved so the crew was just going to anchor in the river and skip the Lodge.

When the crew approached the Liscomb Island at the mouth of the River, the Coast Guard announced a boat in distress not far from Still Waters II. The crew decided to try and see if there was anything they could do to help. The skipper talked with the Coast Guard and got the vessels name (Red Tail), GPS position, and asked the Coast Guard to pass on their telephone number.

Lighthouse on Liscomb Island

Captain Kevin called a few minutes later, and the skipper was able to figure out that Red Tail was anchored on the north side of Liscomb Island. The two agreed that Still Waters II would approach the starboard side of Red Tail and raft up together.

Red Tail and Still Waters II rafted together

Once the two boats were secured together, they decided that Still Waters II would try and pull Red Tail the five miles up River to the Liscomb Lodge. Once both boats were satisfied that the lines were secure enough to tow, Red Tail raised anchor and Still Waters II was able to safely maneuver the two boats tied together.

The last challenge would be landing on the dock. The skipper approached the dock slowly, and the Red Tail crew were able to get a few lines across to the dock help. Kevin, the Captain of Red Tail, then began giving the skipper instructions on how to move to bring the boat along side the dock. Between Red Tail’s bow thruster, and Still Water II’s twin engines, they were able to get Red Tail secure with no drama and no damage to the dock or boat.

After docking, the crew walked up to the water fall along the river and sat down to watch the water go by and relax.

They then joined Kevin and Caroline for some great conversation and dinner. The crew quizzed them on their purchase of Red Tail on the west coast of California, bringing her south down the west coast and through the Panama Canal. Sounds like something our crew would like to do someday.

Wednesday, August 7th

Well, after the last two days of excitement, today was just the normal run of the mill day. The crew left early to try to get in some extra miles today so tomorrow would be a shorter run.

The wind was less than ten mph on the stern for a nice push, but the ocean swells were 3-4 feet at normally 12 seconds apart. This made for an ok ride except when the time between waves would shorten which would cause the boat to to roll heavy to starboard. Then rock back and forth a few times before settling back down.

The skipper tried to weave inside the islands as much as possible, but getting out in the ocean and being rolled by the swells seemed to be the norm for the day. The crew had put in 70 miles by 1500, so they found a place in Jerrode Harbor to drop the hook for the night.

Thursday, August 8th

An afternoon storm was predicted to roll into Halifax around 1500. Armed with that info the crew left at first light and headed towards Halifax. When the crew got to the open Atlantic Ocean they found 3-5 foot swells at 8-10 seconds apart.

The rule of thumb for a smooth ride on the Ocean swells is a wave period double the wave heights. So if you have 5 foot swells, you want at least 10 seconds between each crest so that the boat just gently glides up and down the face of the swell. Today, it seemed as though the time between swells was closer to 8 seconds than 10 so it made for a more roly ride than hoped for. The good news was that it was less than two hours out on the open water which minimized the frolicking good time.

Upon arrival in Halifax, the first order of business was to find a facility with an operational pump out system to drain the holding tanks. The fourth marina the crew contacted had a working system, so the crew cruised up to Dartmouth and drained their tanks.

On the way to Dartmouth, they passed the location of a large explosion that took place back in 1917. A French War ship carrying ordinance for WWI collided with another ship in the most narrow point of the harbor. People heard the collision and saw the fire burning out of control on the French vessel. People rushed to the waterfront to observe the two vessels. Twenty minutes later the French ship exploded sending shrapnel over a two mile radius from the ship. The pressure wave flattened the town of Richmond as well as the structures within a half mile of the ships. All those people who rushed to the scene became part of the 2,000 deaths and 9,000 injured. The Halifax Explosion held the record for the largest man made explosion until the end of WWII when America dropped a couple of atomic bombs on Japan.

Friday, August 9th

The crew visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The museum told the story of Halifax and its contribution to maritime interest from sailing vessels, to steam ships, to modern vessels.

The customary parrot and pirates in the sailing section of museum.

Captain Joshua Slocum, born in Nova Scotia, was featured as the first man to sail solo around the world. The Captain left Boston in April 1895 in a sloop named Spray, and returned to Newport, Rhode Island On June 27, 1898.

Captain Slocum aboard Spray

Also of interest was the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic,’ or Sable Island. The Island is located 190 miles southeast of Halifax. In the era of navigation by sextant rather than modern radar and GPS, the Island was responsible for an estimated 500 sunken ships. A few other fun facts about Sable Island:

  • The Island is 26 miles long
  • There are over 500 horses on the Island
  • The Island has the world’s largest breeding colony of grey seals
  • Canada’s first Life Saving Station was established here in 1801

After a fun filled day at the museum, the crew met a pod of other boater’s for Happy Hour and dinner.

Saturday, August 10th

The skipper bought a book about the Halifax Explosion at the Maritime Museum yesterday. He completed the book and confirmed his suspicions that the authorities deflected blame from the event to the Pilot who was on the French vessel and tried to make him the scapegoat.

Anytime there is a disaster of the magnitude of the Halifax Explosion there are at least 3-5 precursor events which have aligned which then allow for the disaster to strike. Some call it the Swiss Cheese Model, where a hole in 5 pieces of cheese all align to allow a straight though hole and no barrier for prevention. And so it was for this senseless loss of life also.

The area called Richmond that was flattened by the explosion

For instance, here are but a few of the precursor events, that if had not of happened, could have prevented the accident:

  • The Imo was supposed to have left the Bedford Basin the day before the collision, but the coal barge was late so they had to wait to refuel
  • The Port Authority did not communicate with the Chief Examining Office of the departure delay of the Imo
  • The Examining Officer told the Pilot of Mont Blonc that they had clear passage to the Bedford Basin because the Officer was not aware of the Imo, and was also unaware that she would be departing the Basin shortly
  • The Port Authority knew that Mont Blonc was carrying a dangerous load of munitions but allowed them to proceed to the Basin without any additional security measures.
  • The Imo was traveling faster than she was supposed to because she was a day late leaving
  • Imo was traveling on the wrong side of the channel while exiting the Basin, she should have been on the Halifax side of the Narrows
  • When the two ships were within 300 yards of each other, they were parallel with enough room between them for a safe pass. The Imo then realized because she was traveling so fast, she would run aground before getting past Mont Blanc. She put the engines in reverse to slow down, which then caused the bow to swing around and caused the collision.

By all accounts, the Imo was clearly at fault. When the Admiral Board of Inquiry met though, they had a problem. Neither the Captain nor the Pilot of the Imo survived. By a quirk in British Law called British Fair Play, because the men were dead and could not defend themselves, no blame could be attached to them. Well, that just left the Pilot of the Mont Blonc to pin the blame on and that is just what they did. Kinda hard to see ‘fair play’ in that but charge him with manslaughter was what they did.

The Imo blown ashore at Dartmouth from the explosion

Along with the Imo, the government also should share the blame in the disaster. Supervision, training, and procedures are all good barriers to accident prevention. By all accounts the Pilot’s were well trained and experienced. However, the supervision (government Port Authority) and procedures were lacking. As the port authority, they should have been making sure communications were making it to all the key stake holders and the Pilot’s knew what ships were moving in the harbor. Also, the procedures should have never let a war ship carrying that much munitions that close to civilian populations. The Port Authority should have kept Mont Blonc at anchor southeast of town. But as the skipper is fond of saying, “To err is human, to blame the other guy is more human.” In this case, the government failed the people by allowing munitions to be brought through the Narrows, and then deflected blame to the Pilot.

Interesting enough, when you do not actually identify the actual causes of an accident, but focus on blame, you do not fix the problems, and are doomed to repeat the folley. So it should not surprise anyone that during WWII the Port Authority once again allowed munitions past Halifax and into the Bedford Basin. And once again their was a huge explosion in July 1945.

Boat Name of the Week

Next Week –

The crew hopes to make Yarmouth on the west coast of Nova Scotia by next weekend. The weather will probably cause delays leaving Halifax until Wednesday, then the crew will need 4 travel days to make it to Yarmouth. We will see if they make it or not.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

2 Comments on “Collision Course

  1. As always such great pictures…and what an adventure it was this week. Really awesome that you were able to help out Red Tail. But we didn’t see your pictures of Claudia participating in ‘Swim the Canal’ event.

    Your ears were probably ringing on Sunday during our visit with Rob and Glenda. We both had some pleasant memories to share about you guys with each other. 🙂
    Stay safe and keep blogging!
    David & Barbara


  2. “Neither the Captain nor the Pilot of the Imo survived. By a quirk in British Law called British Fair Play, because the men were dead and could not defend themselves, no blame could be attached to them.”
    Kind of interesting that they don’t “blame the dead guy” like, well, like you and me. 😉 I have a new ENT and I told him the hole in my nose is due to a broken nose by a wild pitcher who happened to be my younger brother. I told him my younger brother blames the bad pitch on his younger brother and since he can’t argue the point that became our mantra about 32 years ago…blame the dead guy.


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