Day Thirty: The Sea Comes Over The Island

14 February 2014 (Friday)

0630.

Wake up to a spectacular scene. It is hard to convey the awesome force we are seeing around the island on this Valentine’s Day. The daylight and lower tide gives us IMG_8912confidence to step out of our lighthouse haven and take a look around. Massive blue and green swell rises above us all around. We all stare in a bit of shock and wonder, mouths agape, as white froth spans out in all directions for well over a quarter mile. We are in a different universe. Columbia ledge, 1/2 nm to the south, is erupting, heaving huge green swell and white water into the IMG_8931sky. The size of the sea cresting to the east, breaking over the seal ledges, seems impossible. At times the ocean becomes background but MDR now feels like the speck that it is, and it almost feels strange to not be moving. I am shocked into submission. Tanya takes hundreds of pictures. And, of course, Kathy and Kerry fly a kite!

We notice that the VHF antenna that I had cable tied to the porch is on the ground. I had wanted to make it off better but forgot, but it’s confusing because the sea never reached the porch. The winds were strong enough to shear it from the porch. It is no worse for wear, and I move it up and inside the porch this time.

I start a pot of coffee and it’s the scariest one I’ve every made. The tide is coming up and we need to get back into the tower soon. The kite is hundreds of feet in the air and plumes of sea spray explode above Kathy and Kerry to the south. Tanya is up in the driftwood forest taking pictures and I’m watching the sea to the north, through the window, next to the coffee pot.

Chris tries to help Kerry bring in the kite as swells splash behind them

Chris tries to help Kerry bring in the kite as swells splash behind them

Kathy asks if I can help Kerry with the kite while she puts up a slide on the fog horn platform. We are conducting normal tasks while this out of control marine roller coaster twists around us. I go out to Kerry to help bring the kite in. I convey the fact that the lighthouse steps are actually lower than much of the southern part of the island and we do not want to be caught unaware. The ocean is getting close and I am nervous. I try and pull in the kite but am having a hard time without leather gloves. Kathy comes out to relieve me. I get back in to find Tanya putting coffee in mugs.

Back in the tower Becca is wondering if she can get her camera back in the house and I hesitate to give the OK. Then Kerry and I go out to tie the extension cords up high. We are running the generator at the tower now, but powering the batteries inside. So we need a cord to go to the house and then back to the tower.

Kerry goes up to undo the main extension cord and I run into the house one last time to use the head. I make a last

Columbia Ledge breaking

Columbia Ledge breaking

minute decision to drag the heater up to the lighthouse. We were pretty chilled last night. I am a little frantic. I rip the copper pipe out of the window, which is really long and awkwardly bent. I try and walk the heater and the pipe through the house and outside and I hit just about everything in the house doing so.

Back in the tower Tanya sees the heater and knows I’ve been to the house. Can she and Beccca go back? It was not too threatening and I agree. They want to grab some groceries and video camera.

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I start the Coleman standing grill, which also acts as a stove, and make oatmeal for the crew.

The morning is spent watching the sea inundate the island from all sides. The crew take hundreds of pictures. We watch as the sea gets closer and closer to the house, eventually touching the northwest corner briefly. Near the IMG_0206solar panel frame the surge is just underneath. Swells pounding on the souths side stream over the island to the west creating waterfalls we never new existed. Whitewater covers the ramp, platform, and walkways. They all survive. The secondary weather station that also houses the GoPro is set on the rocks on the south side near the western cove spire. It is awash at times but fares the storm OK as well.IMG_9330

An hour or two after high tide and we emigrate back to the house. We will get some home time for a bit and then make our way to the tower for the next high tide, which is 2200. Kerry heads out with Becca to help her do a microphone calibration. The wind is still gusting very high and I watch as something of hers flies away. It was her only her glove and they were able to retrieve it.

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At 1900 we re-convene in our emergency bunker. Tanya makes us all homemade mac & cheese. We sit down to play cards again. Halfway through Kerry is falling asleep and Kathy is not too far behind. I suggest we take a break and everyone agrees. Kathy and Kerry will continue to work through the night, or at least until the wind dissipates. The forecast is for 15-19 ft seas tonight, subsiding to 8-13 after midnight. The winds are to drop out as well. They plan on working through midnight and then making their way back to the house late if the weather is OK. Tanya, Becca, and I are content to stay in the tower. We are pretty beat from the day’s excitement and have no interest in going to bed twice.

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Last night was very drafty in the lighthouse and quite cold. Tonight we have the propane heater going. I set up a tarp across the staircases to keep cold out and it works well. Tonight I start with a deflated mattress and add fleece blankets, then the mummy bag. Great combination. I will sleep much more soundly tonight.

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Bed by 2130.

-Chris

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