Pike’s Bay: High Winds Threaten Marinas,
Create Near Emergency
By Gordon Ringberg
Just a little wind and a little rain!
Saturday, June 17, 2006, 3:30pm at Pike’s Bay Marina. The skies were dark and
ominous. From a dead calm, the wind rose instantly to a gale. Hail about one
half inch in diameter started to punish anybody foolish enough not to notice the
approaching storm. The caterers were setting up for a wedding in the clubhouse
when their tent outside was slammed into the building, dishes scattered across
the parking lot. The wind shifted 180 degrees and blew everything back the other
way. The phone rang and a frantic voice on the other end screamed, “Gordy, you
better get down here, the docks are breaking apart!”
WX Radar 06/17/2006, 4:04pm CDT
I shot down to the waterfront and immediately saw that docks 100 and 300 had
moved offshore about 60 feet. The far end of the 300 dock was up against the
fuel dock. Spud poles were separated from the piers and finger piers were
floating upside down. The marina didn’t look like it was suppose to look. All
this damage had occurred in the space of 5 minutes.
|The 300 dock moved 60 feet offshore.
The first thing we did was to make sure that all of the electrical power to the
docks was shut off. What happened next was amazing. In the pouring rain, marina
members came out of their boats and began moving along the docks, checking to
see if anyone was hurt or needed help. A few souls were shaken, but there were
no physical injuries.
|Finger pier upside down next to the fuel dock.
Next we organized to stabilize the docks and prevent any additional damage to
the docks and boats. Dinghies went scurrying through the marina, picking up life
rings and fenders, snatching up dock boxes before they sank, carrying lines from
the dock to the (now) far shore to brace for any severe weather yet to come.
My crew arrived soon after that, (most had the day off) and we proceeded to
move boats from the most severely damaged 300 dock to the less damaged 200 dock
and the undamaged 400 and 500 docks.
Dick Kalow and the crew from Superior Charters lent a hand and moved the severed
finger piers up to the breakwater were they could be hauled up out of the way.
They also assisted Mark and our crew to secure the docks and move boats.
After stabilizing the damage they had on their docks and securing the boat that
was blown off it's cradle, a crew came over from Port Superior Marina to see
what assistance they could render. The additional man (and woman) power was
|Docks tied to the inside of the breakwall.
By about 8:00 pm, we were ready to call it a night. The next day, Sunday, we
surveyed the damage, added additional support in areas that needed it and began
to plan for repairs.
Engineers, electricians and plumbers were called. Power is now back on docks 400
and 500. Water could be on those docks by tomorrow afternoon. Repairs have
commenced on the docks 100 and 200 and it shouldn’t be long before they’re back
in order. The 300 dock may take a little longer, but it’s all repairable.
Considering the severity of the weather and the damage to the docks, there was
very little damage to the boats. On first glance, the damage to most boats
appears to be limited to a few gel coat scratches and some torn canvas. But each
boat owner should go over their boats carefully to ensure everything is in
Some storm stories:
Steve Johnson and his family were on their boat “Lady Jane” at the end of the
100 dock, watching the storm come over the hill. They ducked inside to get out
of the rain, wind and hail. Steve looked out and was surprised to see the Fuel
Dock moving towards him. A second glance told him that it was their dock that
was moving towards the fuel dock. Steve started the engines and threw them both
in reverse, backing the dock into place. His son Eric jumped out and secured a
line to a nearby piling. Steve’s actions probably prevented severe damage to his
boat and his neighbor's boats. Steve then launched his tender and proceeded to
help with the clean up.
Seeing the dark clouds while out sailing on the lake, Peter and Poly Alfonso
made a quick run back to the safety of their slip on the 400 dock. The rain
started to fall just as the last line was secured. Peter retired to the cabin
and pulled out a brand new, fresh unopened bottle of Tanqueray. He set the
bottle of gin in the sink and filled two glasses with ice. But before he could
reach for the gin, the boat healed severely to starboard, then just as suddenly
to port (“we’ve never healed that much while sailing!”). The head sail started
to unfurl and the main let loose. After securing their boat, Peter and Poly
braved the wind and rain to help others on the docks. After everything was
settled down, they went back to their boat for that drink. But alas, sometime
while the boat was being tossed about, the bottle of Tanqueray was slammed
against the wall of the sink and shattered. Peter was shattered too. Wet and
weary he crawled into bed and didn’t come out until morning.
I want to thank all of our marina members, the SCI crew, the PSMA crew, our crew
and everyone else who helped in those frantic moments after the storm passed. We
appreciate the patients of our customers as we work hard to put the marina back
Gordon Ringberg manages Pike’s Bay Marina.
Meanwhile on Stockton Island
Ten boats including Thom Burns and crew aboard Aerie were anchored at Julian
Bay on Stockton Island. They were all waiting for the forecasted west to
southwest winds to fill in. According to Thom the weather forecast was
remarkably accurate, first the NOAA issued a thunderstorm watch with Bayfield
and Ashland counties potentially seeing violent cells. The worst was scheduled
to pass Bayfield from 4:00 to 4:10 pm and Stockton Island from 4:20 to 4:30 pm.
It was very calm with boats pointed in various directions while at anchor. Then
the clouds turned dark. We could see what looked like cells approaching. NOAA
reported a cell had just passed Bayfield. The first cell went south and east of
Julian Bay on Stockton and headed out into the Lake just north of Michigan
Island. The boat moved back and forth at anchor at least 120 degrees. Then
another dark cloud passed just west of Stockton Island. It spun us at anchor
through the rest of the swing circle. This cell was accompanied by some hail and
intense rain. We were prepared for the worst such as pulling anchor but nothing
happened. About 6:00 pm we greeted brother Steve who was returning from Isle
Royale. He saw no severe weather and enjoyed grilling at anchor later Saturday.
Upon returning to the marina on Sunday in pretty high winds, the damage was very
apparent but so were the efforts of the marina crews and residents. Someone had
retrieved my dock box and almost everything in it. My dock partner, Bill from
Judith Ann helped me move the box and contents from the secured but floating 300
dock to the temporary 400 dock home.
Captain Thom Burns publishes Northern Breezes.