September 3rd, 2009 – by: Jennica11
Evening before the storm.
Previously, when I had read about or even watched on tv- sea storms and waves and boatmen having a hard time at sea.... I really could not relate.... I didn't really think much of it all until a few days ago. This was probably the most exciting part of the whole trip for everyone... it just so happened that we would be subjected to the worst storm to have hit this lake in the last few years and we were parked on the shore that took the worst of it. We had left Seymour Arm that morning and parked a little north of the Narrows Village to do some fishing. It was very hot and so we swam and fished for a while (the fish here really seemed to like steak which we used as bait). The radio was broadcasting a warning of severe impending thunder storms in the northern okanogan area.
The sea store which is normally anchored in the Narrows traveled all the way here, where it was visible from Twin Bays. The store's huge anchors were dragging across the lake bottom the whole way. It was headed straight for us.
Since we had weathered the previous storm quiet well, we really weren't too worried about this next one. We found a nice quiet beach called Twin Bays and parked next to a group of overly friendly Canadians who turned out to be a real blessing (this was their 3rd houseboating trip). The stakes we were given were very short... but the guys hammered them in as far as they could because of the storm warnings. It got dark, the wind picked up speed and the next thing we knew... we were floating and we were now parallel to the cliff that used to be next to our beach... the waves were coming right at the side of the ship driving us into the face of the cliff. The guys jumped out and made their way to shore.... and tried pulling on the rope to get it a little away from the cliff.
Before the Storm.
Meanwhile our neighbors noticed what was going on and all of them came out and started pulling on the ropes as well. All that pulling wasn't doing any good and so they just waited for the storm to subside so that the boat could be reeled into shore. Inside the boat things weren't quiet as simple as that. Every single wave that came at us banged us against the waves making all the cabinets open and close with a bang... we had dishes flying and were trying to hold down the tv and cabinet doors while keeping our balance. The boat creaked and heaved and we didn't think we would make it.... and then.... there was a very strong smell of gas... the propane kind that our stove runs on. It permeated the room and we had to run around opening windows to get rid of some of that dangerous gas (the sliding doors were locked because they kept opening and closing with every wave.
You can see the lightning competing with the sunset.
. and we were afraid of them shattering. It was later discovered that one of the propane switches was flipped on during the storm accidentally. After about 20 minutes of this nightmare the wind subsided a bit and the men on shore were able to pull us in and anchor us to some big boulders... the stakes weren't holding because the beach was sandy and when the waves started the stakes just slipped out. After things had quieted down we had a relatively calm night.
And then the next day the really bad storm hit us. Both our boat and the Canadians were anchored extra securely and all the guys went out in the morning and added wooden stakes and rocks to help reinforce the boats. The experience of the night before was frightening and nobody wanted a repeat.
My favorite photo.
The people who were on shore last night told us our house boat was rocking so bad it looked like it would capsize for certain. Anyway about late morning to mid day the really bad storm hit us with huge waves and lots of rain. Our neighbors had a motorboat which was tied to their houseboat and it gave them quiet a bit of trouble. First they tried tying the boat between our houseboat and theirs to stop it from banging around. Then one of the ropes got loose and so two of their guys got in and decided to wait out the storm in the lake.... only thing is this storm would not let up... it kept getting worse... we saw their tiny boat get thrown up 3 feet out of the water because of the waves.... finally they brought it in and all the man power got together and with the help of the waves they heaved it ashore onto a piece of plywood to try and save the fiberglass bottom.
Our gasoline cap got washed away.
The adventure just would not end.... after this... the back of the Canadian's houseboat started turning toward our boat! So all the men ran over there and started pulling it back... it turns out the sand that we were beached on was being washed out from underneath our boats and was loosening the boats from shore. At this point, we were running the danger of having our boats crash into each other! Now we started packing our stuff into waterproof bags, in the event that we would need to ditch.... things were getting worse quickly. Luckily their boat was gained control of, reanchored and turned around properly. And no one had to ditch or run for the forest. During all of this our radio was on.
Lightning. And lots of angry thunder.
.. and we kept hearing people calling in for help. The most memorable call I heard was a very sad guy who called in and said "My wife ran away into the forest and she's just sitting there and won't come back. Oh, yeah and she's very pregnant." The guy on base replies "just let her sit there and when the storm dies down we will come and get her. We all thought that was pretty hilarious- a pregnant woman sitting in the forest during a lightning storm waiting for several hours for the rangers to show up. Later on we learn from our mechanic (our engine was flooded) that the guy also abandoned ship and ran away into the woods after his wife.... the craft was hit against the cliffs, one whole side was torn out and they had to use a floating device and a tug boat to tow it back to base.
Camera doesn't capture lightning too well ))).
The mechanic said it looked like something out of the Jaws movie. Scary stuff. We were fortunate to get away with a few broken cups, a flooded engine, a dead fridge, and a dead generator.)))
I posted some pictures of the sunset and the lightening before the storm. Also some pics of the waves and the motor boat that was being thrown around by the waves. The pictures don't convey the experience of riding out the storm in a houseboat... even the waves look smaller in the pictures. In reality the waves were so big that the back sliding door was hit halfway up and water was coming inside even though the door was closed and locked.
Moral of this story.... always make sure you have long stakes..
.. try to anchor to solid trees or boulders and stay away from cliffs and other houseboats). Oh yeah, and if you sit their long enough, eventually the storm will subside and the mechanics will come, lol.