Written by Richard L. Withington
posted on January 13, 2013 07:33
Throughout the winter season Dr. Richard Withington provides a unique service to Round Islanders. He writes a letter describing the life of a winter resident – while many of his neighbors are basking in the sunny south or in their respective cities toiling away. He graciously shares this letter with TI Life readers…
Here's a shot at the first update from the island in 2013.
Many of you will recognize the significance of the warning, "The nylons are in the shower". It means that it is cold and wet here. The cold
is from the Arctic Clipper that occasionally drifts across from its rightful home in Canada. Sub-zero readings are expected tonight, and the river is
gelling. The wet is from the spray that the waves cause against the boat.
At these temperatures the spray from the waves freezes to the metal hull on contact. It can slow the boat, and alter its center of gravity. Obviously, the dock lines get wet and freeze; thus the need to take them off and let them thaw in the shower before they can be used again.
For those of you who were here late in the season and were following the activities at Frink dock, there is good news. ..... Against almost insurmountable odds, the stranded ferry has safely reached Norfolk, Virginia, on its trek to Honduras. This is an accomplishment that borders on heroic.
For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the background story.
The weather was seasonably cool, and Superstorm Sandy was working her way up the east coast. In the late afternoon we noted the slow approach of a vessel that looked much like the Cape Vincent ferry. It was an older Island ferry that had outlived her usefulness in Canada and had been sold to interests in Honduras. She was on her delivery cruise by way of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Nova Scotia. As she passed Clayton, she seemed suddenly askew. She veered to port and headed toward the red buoy just below Calumet. A little investigation revealed that she had been delayed in the Welland Canal due to a steering problem; it appeared to have recurred.
Local commercial mariners were alongside in minutes and assisted the crew in deploying the anchor. A tow line was prepared, but the anchor
caught just in time. A 25-knot southerly wind was blowing her right toward the shoal west of Pine Island. She was assisted to Frink dock, and Clayton opened her heart to the four Hondurans aboard. Dock rate was provided; Customs and Immigration inspection facilitated; and they were welcomed in some of the local establishments.
After about a week or two, the antiquated steering system that was older than anyone aboard, was replaced with a Rube Goldberg system that utilized the hydraulic power unit that operated the loading ramp. The ingenuity of local craftsmen had conquered the steering "monster", and the tests were satisfactory.
By late November she was ready to resume her voyage. Clayton was apprehensive. This was a flat-bottomed, under powered vessel, heading out into the North Atlantic late in the season. The crew was small, and probably ill-prepared for the cold that could be encountered. No one aboard spoke French well enough to get the weather forecasts that they might encounter in Quebec.
To their great credit, and to our relief, we understand that they have arrived safely in Norfolk. The fall hurricane season has passed, and hopefully, the remainder of their trip will be without incident.
How fortunate that their "event" occurred right in front of Frink Park!
I guess that's enough rumbling and grumbling from Round Island for this outing. Here's hoping for a great 2013 for all of us.
Dr. Richard (Dick) L. Withington is a retired Orthopedic Surgeon, living out a childhood dream spending his fifth consecutive winter alone at the head of Round Island. His wife Roseanne heads to Florida when "Rivercroft" is closed in October and Dick moves into the former servants' quarters, "Wintercroft". Dr. Withington has an airboat which he keeps at his own dock in winter ready to help. The Sheriff's office will call him directly if and when there is a problem. His first article for TI Life, A Winter Islander, was published in January 2009. To see all of Dick’s island experiences search TI Life under Richard L. Withington.