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Sunday, March 12, 2006 

Bonfire of the Boathouse

I came up Saturday to my sailboat that I keep at Blaine Harbor Marina. My mission was to dive on my, and Jim's boat to replace the zincs and check them out. Not a fun job and one that I've put off for better weather. Zinc anodes are placed underwater on boats as sacrificial anodes that corrode faster than brass. Otherwise props, thru-hull valves and other fittings will rot.

I was amazed to see that my zincs we're in decent shape, even after a year. Jim's were even better. I cleanned up the props and shafts of barnacles and crud. Surfacing, I found two other boat owners talking to Jim and asking if I could check out their nearby boats. Oh well, make a friend.

One was a mess, but the bottom paint looked ok, so I advised an in-out haul and pressure wash to change his zincs. Jim's friend Bob had a trawler whose zinc also had about 4 months left on it, so I left well enough alone. Seems like Blaine Marina has got excellent electrical characteristics. Not so at some marinas where zincs only last 4 months. Out of the water, throw my gear in my dingy, and on to the 5th (!) boat, a Cruise-a-Home.

It's props and rudders were the worst of the lot, looked like a seafood buffet; barnacles, mussels, sponge, tunicates and lots of crud. Scraping it filled the water with a huge cloud of crud, so I had to work blind. Again, after a year, he still had some zincs left, maybe 25%. I started in adding and changing the 2 shaft zincs and hull plate. All went well until I dropped one screw and he didn't have a spare. But I left it in a lot better order, and will finish the job in a couple of months.

Hauling myself out of the water, I was cold and tired. After motoring back to my boat, and cleaning up my gear, my new friend Bob invited us back over to his trawler for a drink. Jim doesn't drink, but Bob and I tucked into a fifth of Jack Daniels and left it half empty in a couple of hours, swapping racing and boating "stories".

After we went out to dinner, I retired to my boat and was reading at around 11 pm when a boat in the boathouse across from me blew up and caught fire.

I heard shouts and stuck my head out my hatch to see sparks and flames shooting out from a fairly new 37' Trojan powerboat down the slipway from me. It wasn't a huge fire, but was very smokey. I heard sirens, but called 911 anyway. After that, I ran down the dock to get anyone else up and alert, so they could move their boats, or get out if it got worse. My friends Alan and Tammy soon joined me to watch the fire and ponder our options on moving our boats.

Not a good move, as we would of had to go past the fire. There was a sprinkler system and it was keeping the fire from spreading, thank god. About then, after maybe 20-25 minutes or so, the fire department got down to the boat, put a hose on it and vented the boathouse.

The Canadian-owned Trojan was pretty much destroyed on it's aft-end, but wasn't causing a spill, so the USCG wasn't called. One other man who lives aboard a boat a few slips down was taken to the hospital for a checkup after inhaling some smoke. Other boats were sooty, but undamaged for the most part. No question that had there not been a sprinkler system, the whole boathouse would of gone up. It would of been very hard to put out with the limited fire resources that Blaine has.

Still, a sad sight, I hope the owners didn't loose too much that can't be replaced.

Wow, Jack. After visiting you last summer and seeing the dock and boathouse, you were really lucky it wasn't closer to you. Being at the inside end of the dock could be pretty tricky, as you say.

Thanks for sending me the news!

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About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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